Dab Pen Vs. Vape Pen - What's the Difference?

Dab Pen Vs. Vape Pen - What's the Difference?

In today's rapidly evolving cannabis landscape, the debate over "dab pen vs. vape pen" is hotter than ever.

Both are popular and convenient methods of cannabis consumption, each offering its own set of unique benefits. Whether you're a newbie to the world of cannabis or a seasoned user, knowing the distinction between these can provide you with an enjoyable, tailored experience that suits your needs.

Dab pen vs. vape pen

Here’s a quick table comparison of dab pen vs. vape pen.


Dab Pen

Vape Pen


Usually more expensive due to its larger, more specialized design

Generally more affordable with various models

How it works

Heats concentrated cannabis to produce vapor

Heats e-liquid or oil to produce vapor


Cannabis concentrates like wax, shatter, or resin

E-liquids, nicotine, or THC/CBD oils

Best for

Users seeking potent effects from concentrates

Casual users or those transitioning from cigarettes


What are dab pens?

Dab pens, also called wax pens or concentrate pens, are specialized vaporizers designed exclusively for vaping cannabis concentrates. These concentrates can range from waxes and shatters to resins and oils. Unlike vape pens, dab pens are preferred by those who want a more potent and intense experience. Its more compact design provides a more discreet way to enjoy concentrates without lugging around bulky dab rigs or torches, making them a popular choice for on-the-go consumption.

How they work

First, cannabis concentrate is placed inside a small chamber in the dab pen. Then, the cannabis concentrate is heated up using an electric coil or atomizer until it reaches the vaporization point. This results in a vapor that offers a full spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids, resulting in a more flavorful and potent experience.

Unlike traditional vaporizers, dab pens usually have adjustable temperature settings. This lets you find the ideal heat level for different concentrates, ensuring optimal flavor and potency. This feature, along with ceramic heating elements, also helps you avoid burning the concentrate and achieve a smooth, clean vapor.

How to use one

Before using a dab pen, make sure it’s fully charged. Then, place a small amount of your chosen cannabis concentrate into the pen's chamber. With concentrates, a little goes a long way, so begin with a small quantity and add as needed.

Once the concentrate is loaded in, turn the dab pen on. Some models might require pressing a button, while others may have a simple on/off switch. After activating the pen, adjust the temperature setting if applicable. Wait a few moments for the pen to heat up, then take a gentle inhale from the mouthpiece, exhale with ease, and savor the moment.

Possible benefits

Here are some of the potential pros of using a dab pen:

  • Potency: Dab pens provide a stronger and more intense experience than most vape pens.
  • Discretion: Dab pens are compact and odorless, allowing for discreet use.
  • Portability: Its compact design makes it perfect for on-the-go use.
  • Temperature control: Its adjustable settings allow for a customized vaping experience.
  • Flavor: Using concentrates allows you to experience the full spectrum of terpenes for a flavorful experience.


While dab pens have their perks, it's crucial to be aware of potential drawbacks:

  • Cost: Dab pens are typically more expensive than regular vape pens. They also have more expensive parts.
  • High maintenance: Dab pens require more upkeep, such as regular cleaning and coil replacement, especially compared to vape pens.
  • Learning curve: It might take new users time to figure out the best settings and usage practices.

What are vape pens?

Vape pens, often simply called "vapes," are sleek, pen-shaped electronic devices designed to vaporize various substances, most commonly e-liquids or oils. These e-liquids can be infused with nicotine, THC, CBD, or just flavorings for a pleasant aroma. Vape pens are popular for their portability and convenience. Vape pens are a modern and discreet alternative for many individuals looking to transition away from smoking or explore a broad spectrum of flavored vapors.

How they work

Each vape pen has an atomizer or coil that’s responsible for heating the e-liquid to its vaporization point. This mechanism avoids combustion, meaning there's no smoke involved — only a vapor that users inhale.

The atomizer is powered by a rechargeable battery, usually housed in the pen's base. Modern vape pens frequently feature adjustable voltage settings, granting you the flexibility to fine-tune both the vapor's intensity and its flavor.

How to use one

First, make sure your vape pen is fully charged. Unscrew the tank or open the chamber to fill it with your chosen e-liquid or oil carefully. Avoid overfilling it, which could lead to leaking.

Once filled, reassemble the pen and turn it on, usually by pressing a button or simply inhaling on the mouthpiece. Take a smooth draw from the mouthpiece, hold briefly, and exhale. Depending on your pen, you can adjust the voltage for a preferred vaping intensity.

Possible benefits

Vape pens are one of the most popular ways of consuming cannabis, and here are reasons why:

  • Versatility: E-liquids used for vape pens provide various flavors and strengths.
  • Discreetness: Vape pens’ slim designs and minimal odor make for subtle use.
  • Transition tool: Vapes help smokers gradually reduce or quit smoking.
  • User-friendliness: Simpler mechanics make it user-friendly, especially for beginners.
  • Low maintenance: Vape pens require less cleaning and maintenance compared to dab pens.


As with any product, vape pens come with their own cons:

  • Environmental impact: Single-use or disposable vape pens produce more waste.
  • Inconsistency: Depending on the quality of your cartridge, you may experience fluctuating hits.
  • Battery issues: There's a risk of battery malfunctions or explosions, especially with low-quality vape pens.

Differences and similarities between dab pens vs. vape pens

Dab pens and vape pens each offer different features and experiences. Let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences between these two devices.

Dab pen vs. vape pen price

Dab pens usually come with a heftier price tag since they have a specialized design with components made specifically for concentrates. Meanwhile, vape pens are more wallet-friendly, with different models and designs available on the market.

Dab pen vs. vape pen smell

While both pens offer a more discreet experience compared to traditional smoking, dab pens produce a more noticeable smell due to vaporized concentrated cannabis. Vape pens, especially those using flavored e-liquids that smell like the flavor they contain.

How they work

Dab pens heat and vaporize cannabis concentrates directly, resulting in a more potent experience. Meanwhile, vape pens heat e-liquids or oils, which result in a smoother vapor.

Size of pen

Though both pens have a portable design, vape pens are usually slimmer and sleeker. Dab pens tend to be bulkier to accommodate different components for heating concentrates.


Both pens usually have rechargeable batteries. However, dab pens require more intense heating, so they usually have stronger batteries that can efficiently vaporize concentrates. 


Dab pens use sticky concentrates, so they need frequent cleaning to ensure optimal performance. While vape pens also need regular maintenance, they’re usually more simple to clean since e-liquids leave behind less residue. 

Strength of high

Concentrated cannabis tends to deliver a stronger and more immediate high than e-liquids, so expect a more potent experience with dab pens. Vape pens are more focused on flavor and sensation rather than intensity.

When to use a dab pen

Specifically tailored for cannabis concentrates like shatter, wax, or crumble, these pens are ideal for cannabis enthusiasts who want a strong and immediate experience with cannabis. Dan pens are also more recommended to people with high cannabis tolerance or those who need higher doses for medicinal purposes.

When to use a vape pen

Vape pens can be enjoyed by anyone, from seasoned cannabis enthusiasts to absolute beginners. They’re designed for vaporizing e-liquids or oils, which can range from nicotine-infused solutions to CBD or THC oils. Available in different flavors and strengths, they offer a customizable experience, be it for leisure, transitioning away from traditional smoking, or for therapeutic reasons. 

To sum it up

When choosing between dab pens and vape pens, it’s important to recognize their unique offerings. While dab pens are more suited to those looking for a strong high, vape pens offer versatility and a variety of flavors. In the end, always consider your preferences, needs, and level of experience to find the right device for you. 


Do dab pens smell?

Yes, but dab pens produce a less pungent smell than traditional smoking methods. Just note that while the vapor it produces is less noticeable and tends to linger less, the smell of vaporized concentrates is still recognizable. 

Are dab pens stronger than carts?

Dab pens use concentrated cannabis, delivering more potent hits than carts. This is because carts, prefilled with cannabis oil, are usually diluted with thinning agents, which usually dilute the overall potency. 

Are dab pens bad for beginners?

Dab pens can be quite intense, especially for newcomers. While not inherently "bad", it's crucial for beginners to start slow, use small amounts, and be fully aware of the pen's potency.

Is a dab rig or pen better?

It depends on your preferences. Dab rigs are less portable than pens but offer larger, more flavorful vapor clouds. Dab pens, on the other hand, prioritize convenience, discretion, and ease of use. For on-the-go sessions or discretion, pens excel. For home use or a more immersive experience, rigs may be the better choice.

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