vape pen

Vape Pen, Wax Pen, Dab Pen - Understanding the Difference

Vape pen, wax pen, dab pen are all words you've probably heard to describe cannabis vape devices - in this article we explain the similarities and differences between the three terms.
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As many begin to immerse themselves into the world of vaping concentrates they may become confused with the assorted terminology used to describe different methods of vaping and types of vaporizers. In this article, we’ll look to explore the definitions of three common types of vaporizers - vape pens, wax pens and dab pens and the similarities and differences that have given them their unique names within the cannabis space.

All three of these products broadly fall into the category of vaping or vaporizer devices which have grown in popularity thanks to their portability and ease of use. The inconspicuous design of vape pens have offered a means for people to enjoy the benefits of THC just about anywhere. There are now more options than ever when it comes to vaporizers for concentrates, not all are built the same however. Let’s dig into the three most popular types of vapes - vape pens, wax pens and dab pens and what makes each one distinct.

What is a Vape Pen?

vape pen

Vape pens is the most general term used when it comes to vaping and most commonly refers to a prefilled THC cartridge and vape pen battery. Most vape pens used a 510-thread cartridge connection, which is often referred to as a universal connection point. This makes it easy for consumers to interchange between vape pen batteries and cartridges with ease. The name 510 refers to the connection point used to match the cartridge and battery - 10 threads and 5mm apart. With vape pens typically one will purchase prefilled THC cartridges from a dispensary and replace them once they are empty. The vape pen battery will often be a rechargeable lithium ion battery that can be reused as one enjoys their prefilled carts.

Vape pens are the second most popular item purchased in dispensaries after cannabis flower thanks to their affordability, portability and ease of use. Vape pens can be used fairly interchangeably between THC or CBD oil cartridges. There are also vape pens designed for use with nicotine products. Vape pens are extremely easy to use but a few simple tips on how to use a vape pen will help ensure you get the most out of your vaping experience. Vape pens can be heated to different temperatures, often between 2.4 volts and 4.0 volts. The temperature setting used and oil extract being vaped will yield different experiences and more potent puffs are often referred to as dab pens. More on that later. 

Disposable THC Pens

There are also THC vape pens that come prefilled with a battery attached, making them ready to use right out of the box. There is no charging or loading required, the cannabis oil is preloaded inside the vape pen. 

Why Do People Use Vape Pens?

Vape pens are rising in popularity for good reason, and are quickly becoming a favorite with frequent consumers. Beyond being widely available and cost-effective, here are some of the top perks of vape carts and pens. 

  • Discreet and practically scentless 
  • Convenient for on-the-go use 
  • Small and compact
  • Long-lasting without re-filling concentrates
  • High potency levels 
  • Available in disposable options 

As the industry evolves, vape carts and pens have never been more customizable. Batteries now come in a wide range of sizes, and types, while strain-specific and various types of vape carts are abundant on dispensary shelves, and online too.

What is a Wax Pen?

wax pen

Wax pen batteries have similar characteristics to vape pen batteries. But they may have a stronger battery inside, making them a bit bulkier. The main difference between a vape pen and a wax pen is the use of an attachable concentrate chamber and atomizer used to vaporize the user's concentrate of choice.

While vape pens often use a lower temperature, wax pens can reach anywhere from 315-700℉, allowing users to choose the best option for their specific concentrate. Consumers opting for wax pens typically select a thicker style of concentrate such as wax, shatter, live resin, and more. The upkeep for wax pens is more significant than vape pens because it requires the user to diligently clean the chamber, from where the vaporizing wax comes, after use and replace atomizers from time to time. But the portability and potency offered by wax pens are a great option for concentrate users on the go.

The strength of the vaporizing wax delivered from a wax pen is similar to that of taking a dab and therefore is often interchangeably referred to as a dab pen.

Wax Pens Vape All Types of Cannabis Extracts 

Shatter, rosin, budder, crumble, and wax are all forms of cannabis that can be vaped from a wax pen. The devices are designed to handle the thick consistency of these concentrates. A wax pen uses a ceramic heating atomizer area to warm the wax into vapor for inhalation. They require more heat because of the thicker viscosity of the concentrate.

Load Your Own Concentrates

Rather than being designed for use with prefilled cartridges, wax pens enable the user to vaporize their concentrate of choice with a dab tool. The task can be messy, but it's great for concentrate enthusiasts who appreciate the whole experience of smoking, not just the end product. Wax pen owners will need to to clean their wax pen regularly - an area where vape pens have an advantage. However for those who want to personalize their experience with vaping concentrates, wax pens are a great, versatile option.

Why Do People Use Wax Pens?

Concentrates are most frequently used for ‘dabs’ with a rig or bong, but wax pens allow you to take and use the highly potent extractions on the go. With wax pens, you can load your favorite concentrate and puff on the portable pen throughout the day, and discreetly. 

Other benefits of wax pens 

  • Practically scentless 
  • Small and compact 
  • Versatile in use for different types of concentrates 
  • Rechargeable and replaceable parts
  • The ability to fine-tune temperature levels 
  • High potency levels

How Do You Vape Wax?

Here are the steps you should go through for vaporizing wax and inhaling it. First, carefully check if the coil is alright before putting wax in the chamber. After that, put wax in the chamber. If your vaping device supports it, then select a temperature that suits the kind of wax you’ve loaded. Next, press the fire button and start inhaling the vapors.

What is a Dab Pen?

dab pen

Dab pens get their name from the popular dab rig, a water pipe designed for use with concentrates, known for providing a strong high. Dab pen really refers to the intensity of the high and experience provided by the vaporizer, rather than the device itself. A vape pen or a wax pen can provide a dab pen like high, it just will depend on the heat settings and the quality of the material being vaporized. 

Dab pens can be referred to when speaking about a variety of types of vaping devices, so long as they provide a dab like experience.

How to use a dab pen?

Next, let’s cover exactly how to use a dab pen. Keep in mind, all dab pens are different so it’s always best to read the product instructions beyond knowing the basic steps. However, here’s an overview of the basic steps below.

  1. If necessary, power your dab pen on. For most models, you can hit the button 3-5 times or until it blinks.  Ensure that the heating coil is working by pressing the power button. This way you don’t waste any precious concentrates with faulty apparatus.  
  2. Remove the mouthpiece from the dab pen exposing the heating chamber. 
  3. Using a metal tool, scoop up the concentrate you plan on vaporizing. Carefully, place the concentrate directly onto the coil or wick. 

Pro tip - metal coils can be fragile so take extra caution with this step.  

  1. Place the mouthpiece back on and put it up to your lips. Hit the power button and hold while you inhale simultaneously. Let go of the power button when you’re satisfied with the length of the hit. 
  2. Repeat as necessary, and refill the concentrate when empty. 

Keep in mind, lower temperature dab pen hits will be more flavorful. Here are a few other tips and best practices for taking care of your dab pen device.

  • Keep your dab pen clean, by wiping the parts down with a q-tip and isopropyl alcohol frequently. 
  • Don’t overpack your dab pen with marijuana concentrate as some heating coils can short-circuit. 
  • To avoid overheating, if your pen feels hot, allow it time to cool off. 
  • For both use and storage, keep the pen upright.

Similarities Between Vape Pens, Wax Pens & Dab Pens

These three types of cannabis pens have a few things in common, including discretion, portability, and battery life. Vapes, wax pens, and dab pens are all great vaporizer options because they offer stoners a way to discreetly smoke anywhere and keep storage to a minimum.

They're super portable and can generally fit in a pocket or purse. Additionally, each type of vape pen can be found in various styles and shapes, including the classic small pen shape.

Differences Between Vape Pens, Dab Pens & Wax Pens

Explore the nuances between vape pens, dab pens, and wax pens, primarily driven by the concentrates they accommodate. Vape pens excel in using cartridges filled with refined marijuana oil, emphasizing simplicity and compatibility with prefilled THC cartridges. On the contrary, wax pens offer versatility by handling thicker concentrates like rosin and shatter, requiring a slight learning curve.

Opt for vape pens for an easy and beginner-friendly experience, showcasing diverse style options and budget-friendly prices. Prefilled THC cartridges paired with vape pens deliver the benefits of vaping concentrates affordably and effortlessly. Consider the O.pen line for premium vape pen batteries and THC cartridges, backed by award-winning products and satisfaction guarantees since 2012.

The O.pen line of products are a great option for those looking for both vape pen batteries and THC cartridges. Since 2012, we’ve been developing award winning products that are backed by satisfaction guarantees.

Vape Pen vs Dab Pen vs Wax Pen Comparison Table (Compare only dab vs wax vs vape pen)

Vape Pen

Dab Pen

Wax Pen 

 Temperature       Controls

Most models temperature ranges from 350 - 600°F 

Most models temperature ranges from 300 - 450°F

Most models temperature ranges from 300 - 450°F

 Concentrate     types 

Oils, distillates, live resins 

Live resin, rosin, rosin, shatter, budder, crumble, wax, etc. 

Live resin, rosin, rosin, shatter, budder, crumble, wax, etc. 

 Heating   apparatus

Quartz or ceramic coils - conduction

Coils, or wick - convection/hybrid availability 

Coils, or wick - convection/hybrid availability 


5-10 sessions depending on brand specifications 

5-10 sessions depending on brand specifications 

5-10 sessions depending on brand specifications 



  • Wax pen v. dab pen, what’s the difference?
  •  While every individual type of pen will differ in material, function, and features, at their core there is no difference between wax pens vs dab pens. Both pens have a heating apparatus, like an inner coil or wick that you’ll place concentrates on, to vaporize and inhale. In the end, the terminology is the only difference in wax pen vs dab pens. Wax pen was the original term used for the devices, before dabs became highly popularized. Now, the pens go by both. 

  • What’s better, a wax pen or a vape pen?
  •  When deciding what is better, a wax pen or a vape pen, you’ll have to consider your own personal preferences. Vape pens tend to be more convenient as you won’t have to load your pen with a concentrate like you would with a wax pen. 

    Vape carts are pre-loaded with oil, distillate or live resin by the manufacturer and are ready to use once connected to the vape pen battery. However, if you prefer the quick and intense effects of dabs or high potency concentrates, wax pens are better and more suitable. 

  • Dab Pen vs vape pen, what’s the difference?
  •  The biggest difference between a dab pen vs vape pen is the type of concentrate you’ll be consuming, and how you consume it. Vape pens consist of a battery that’s normally 510 threaded, that you’ll connect a vape cart into for heating, vaporizing, and inhaling. 

     A dab pen has a chamber with a heating apparatus, like aluminum coils, or ceramic wicks that you’ll fill with concentrates or dabs, manually. 

  • Are vape pens and wax pens the same?
  •  No. Vape pens and wax pens are not the same. Vape pens use a pre-filled or refillable cartridge of oil or distillates. On the other hand, wax pens have a chamber that you’ll place a non-liquid concentrate into for vaporizing and inhaling. 

     The most common types of concentrates used in wax pens are shatter, budder, live resin, rosin, crumble, and other ‘wax-like’ consistency extracts. 

  • How do you hit a dab pen?
  •  Now that you know what a dab pen is, how do you use one? To hit a dab pen you’ll need to take off the mouthpiece of the pen or access the heating coil, or chamber. With a metal tool, scrape up the amount of concentrate you’d like to hit. Place the concentrate on the heating coil or wick, and close the chamber or reattach the mouthpiece.

    Depending on the type of dab pen you’re using, you’ll often need to select your temperature or voltage. Then press the button to heat the dab, and inhale simultaneously. Repeat, as necessary. 

  • How do you hit a wax pen?
  •  Hitting a wax pen is similar to the same as hitting a dab pen. You’ll need to access the pen’s heating chamber and place the amount of concentrate you’d like to vaporize onto vaporize, onto the coil or wick. Reattach the chamber, or mouthpiece, and set your temperature or voltage. Then, hit the button to heat and inhale simultaneously. 

  • How to charge a wax pen without a charger?
  •  Unfortunately, without a charger, there is no other way to charge your wax pen. Most wax pen models come with a provided charger, and are equipped with the power to conveniently and quickly charge your wax pen battery, so you’re back up and running in no time. 

  • How long does a wax pen take to charge?
  •  In general, it takes most wax pens anywhere from 1-2 hours to charge. Although, some models may take longer, and more advanced models may take less time. 

     That’s why it’s important for consumers to review wax pen, vape pen, or dab pen specifications carefully, to ensure they meet your needs or standards.

     Now that you know the answer to, what is a dab pen and how to use a dab pen, you can become a concentrate connoisseur on-the-go. Not to mention, with the information you’ve gained today you can also better decide what’s best for you when it comes to wax pens vs dab pens, and dab pens vs vape pens.

    No matter which type of pen you choose, always choose a high-quality brand committed to manufacturing vaping equipment and materials for the elevated high life. Like, O.pen and our collection of premium vape batteries, carts, accessories, and more. Join the O.pen family, and level up your vape routine now!