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Dry Herb Vape vs. Dab Pen: Everything You Need to Know

Deciding between a dry herb vape versus a dab pen can be a challenge. Though both provide a discrete and portable way to vape cannabis, they have distinct differences. Read on to learn everything you need to know about dry herb vapes versus dab pens. Discover which variety is better for your smoking needs. 

Dry herb vape vs. dab pen - What’s the difference?

Heating dry herb through combustion (aka smoking) sends unwanted toxins and tar into your lungs. Dry herb vapes and dab pens provide a potentially healthier, discrete, and portable alternative to smoking cannabis. 

The two types of devices use differing methods to vaporize different products:

Dry herb vape

A dry herb vape is a device that heats ground cannabis flower to produce vapor. This vapor contains natural terpenes and cannabinoids from the plant, resulting in a flavor profile and high similar to smoking dry herb. 

Dab pen

A dab pen is made up of two components: a battery and a cartridge. The cartridge typically contains cannabis oil or THC concentrate. The battery heats up your wax or oil to produce an inhalable, THC-rich vapor. 

Differences between dry herb vapes and dab pens

Though used for similar purposes, dab pens and dry herb vapes are very different. 

Dry herb vs. wax 

The biggest difference between dry herb vapes and dab pens comes down to the type of product you’re vaporizing and how that product is heated. 

Dry herb vapes generally heat your flower through convection. These devices have a chamber to place your ground herb. The chamber heats up, in turn heating up your herb. Vapor is produced that contains the plant’s natural cannabinoids and terpenes. 

Dab pens generally use cartridges that contain cannabis oil or THC concentrate. These devices use a coil to heat your concentrate. An electric current is passed through the coils for direct contact with your wax. Your wax heats up and produces vapor. 

Loading your chamber

Because these devices vaporize different products (wax versus flower), preparation looks different for dab pens and dry herb vaporizers. 

A dry herb vape contains a chamber for your flower. Grind your dry herb into a fine, workable texture, and pack it into the chamber. Once your herb is spent, empty the chamber and pack it with brand new flower.

To use your dab pen, simply make sure you are getting a cartridge compatible with your battery. Most batteries are 510-threaded (meaning they are compatible only with cartridges that are also 510-threaded). Dab pens mimic the experience of smoking wax or THC concentrate without the torch, tool, and banger: with a dab pen, you get a strong high without handling any wax. 

Battery power 

A battery’s mAh is a measure of your battery power and lifespan. Dry herb vapes typically have a more powerful battery than the average dab pen: it takes more energy to heat the chamber full of dry herb than to transfer heat from your coil to your wax. 

Battery mAh is much more impactful for dry herb pens than dab pens, and it varies widely between devices. Do your research and determine what you’d like your battery to be capable of: if you want more power, a dry herb vape may be the way to go. 

Temperature

Dry herb and wax require different temperatures for activation. Wax requires a higher temperature to vaporize, while the ideal vaping temperature for dry herb varies from device to device.

For your dry herb vaporizers, look for a device with more customizability: you can play around with different temperatures and determine your ideal settings. Stay away from the higher temperatures to avoid accidental combustion. 

For dab pens, temperature control is less essential, as wax can’t combust like flower. Nevertheless, the temperature still has an impact on the flavor of your dab and the amount of vapor produced: most dab pens boast 3-5 temperature settings controlled with a single button. 

Maintenance

Once the cartridge on your dab pen is empty, you can simply unscrew it and throw it away. A dab pen requires very little maintenance: just keep the charging port clean and keep a watchful eye on your battery power. 

Though maintenance is still minimal, keeping your dry herb vape clean is a little harder than maintaining your dab pen. Dry herb vapes require more maintenance: the chamber has to be cleaned and periodically unclogged. Screens will occasionally need to be replaced. 

Dry herb vape pros and cons

Like any device, dry herb vapes have their benefits and downsides. 

Pros

  • Portable: Dry herb vapes are great for taking your cannabis on the go. Simply load your chamber with your ground flower before leaving the house, and slip your device into any bag or pocket. 
  • Possibly a healthier alternative to smoking: Smoking via combustion sends unwanted toxins and tar into your lungs. Vaping can bypass these icky substances by using convection rather than combustion. The flower is simply heated and vaporized instead of burned. 

Cons

  • High price point: Portable and tabletop vaporizers both cost a pretty penny. While some tabletop vaporizers cost as much as $500, portable dry herb vapes typically cost anywhere from $50-$250. 
  • Battery life: Dry herb vapes don’t last forever: whether that’s between charges or in general, the battery life of a dry herb vape is not eternal. 
  • Maintenance: Just like any device, dry herb vapes require cleaning and general upkeep between uses to make them last as long as possible.

Dab pen pros and cons

Just like dry herb vapes, dab pens have pros and cons as well. 

Pros

  • Discrete: From the slim size down to the more mild smell, dab pens are more discreet than smoking or vaping cannabis. 
  • Powerful: Dabs are manufactured to contain higher, concentrated levels of THC. These higher levels lead to a stronger high. 

Cons

  • Less cannabinoids: With that stronger high comes its downsides. Because the wax is chemically manufactured to contain higher concentrations of THC, it contains lower concentrations of CBD, HHC, CBN, and other cannabinoids that can potentially provide relief from pain and anxiety. As a result, you may feel a stronger high, but the relaxing effects of the cannabis are lost.  
  • Different flavor: Though wax has its own unique, notable flavor, it’s certainly different from consuming the cannabis plant directly. Dry herb vapes maintain the natural terpenes better than THC wax or oil.

The bottom line

Dry herb vapes and dab pens have notable similarities and differences. While dry herb vapes emulate the smoking experience better than dab pens, dab pens provide a stronger, more psychedelic high. Use this guide to decide which method works best for you, and vape to your heart’s delight.

FAQs

Are dry herb vapes better than carts? 

Dry herb vapes emulate the experience of smoking cannabis more closely than carts.

Is wax better than dry herb? 

Wax contains a concentrated amount of THC, which produces a stronger high. Dry herb contains the natural terpenes and cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant for a more relaxing, well-rounded high. 

Can you put dab in a dry herb pen? 

Only use your dry herb vaporizer for dry herb: wax will gunk up your chamber and damage your device. 

Is dry herb vape stronger? 

Dry herb vapes produce a high similar to smoking weed without the toxins. Its flavor and effects are comparable to smoking flower.