what is a dab pen

What is a Dab Pen?

Dab pens or vape pen cartridges are convenient, easy-to-use, and provide a superior platform for cannabis extract consumption. In this article, we cover how to use a dab pen, average costs, and what effects you can expect. 

According to Forbes, the cannabis concentrate market is estimated to grow from $3B in 2018 to $8.4 billion dollars by 2022. This is propelled largely by easy-to-use vape cartridges, filled with THC extract inside. Dab pens or vape pen cartridges are convenient, easy-to-use, and provide a superior platform for cannabis extract consumption. Many cannabis consumers turn to vape cartridge pens as a discreet and convenient way to enjoy both the recreational and medicinal benefits of high potency cannabis extracts. Users can simply find a private area, turn their dab pens on, inhale the vapor, and nonchalantly exhale the vapor, which quickly dissipates. In states and markets where adults can purchase cannabis legally, vape cartridges provide a way for cannabis users to try cannabis concentrates in a less intimidating format than dabbing. 

The technology core to the dab pen cartridge is the ceramic coil that efficiently absorbs cannabis oils, even at higher, thicker viscosities. Typical vape cartridge coils have electronic atomizers designed to produce rich vapor clouds with deep flavor. Although cartridges can have different connection points for varying battery types, the most-popular connection type is the 510-thread atomizer and is generally a universal connection for batteries and cartridges. 510-thread refers to 10 threads per 0.5mm and is typically 7mm in diameter. To get your vape going, cannabis users will want to connect their vape cartridge to their vape pen battery at the 510-thread connection point.To recharge the battery after use, the cartridge is unscrewed and the battery is then screwed onto the changer using the same 510-thread, however, some batteries have a micro-USB port for charging. 

Thanks to their popularity, there’s a wide assortment of options available for users to try different cartridges, exploring the assorted effects and flavor profiles of cannabis strains. Once a cartridge is completed, it's typically disposed of or recycled but the battery is kept, ready for the next cartridge to vaporize.

How Do You Use A Dab Pen?

what is a dab pen

Dab pens are perhaps the most straightforward way to enjoy cannabis concentrates. For most cannabis consumers, dab pens are easier than rolling a joint and less messy than grinding up flower and loading a bowl. The vapor from dab pens, while producing a cannabis odor, are less smelly than smoke from combustion and the vapor dissipates quickly, making it a more discreet option. Here are some tips on using and purchasing dab pens.

  1. Make sure the battery is fully charged and the 510-thread connector is clean of any debris. You can use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to quickly clean it. Failing to clean the 510-thread connector may lead to improper voltages sent to the cartridge and potentially shorting out the heating element of the atomizer.
  2. Acquire a pre-filled 510-thread cartridge from a legal cannabis dispensary or retailer. There are many options and strains when it comes to the concentrates inside the cartridges with varying effects and flavors. The order ahead dispensary platform I Heart Jane has a great showcase of vape cartridges from the O.pen product line. Alternatively, cannabis users can purchase empty 510-thread cartridges and fill with their own cannabis extracts, typically distillate cannabis oils and live resin oils.
  3. Remove the 510-thread cartridge from the child-safe packaging and remove any silicone protectors from the mouthpiece and the 510-thread connector.
  4. Inspect the mouthpiece, 510-thread, and surfaces of the cartridge for any leaking cannabis extract. Cannabis terpenes can act as solvents and may possibly wear any seals on the cartridge. If your cartridge is leaking, immediately replace the cartridge back in the original packaging and return the cartridge from the dispensary it was acquired from for an exchange.
  5. Screw the cartridge onto the battery at the 510-thread connection point. Do not over tighten as this may damage the cartridge or the battery’s connector.
  6. Turn on the battery by clicking the button 5 times. On the O.pen 2.0 vaporizer battery, the stylus-style button is located at the bottom of the battery. 
  7. The O.pen 2.0 vape pen battery is draw activated. Simply, place your mouth on the mouthpiece and inhale. On other battery models, you may have to press the button down while inhaling to activate the atomizer.
  8. Adjust the voltage the battery is sending by clicking the button twice rapidly. As you increase the voltage, more heat is applied to the cannabis oil as it is vaporized. More heat can create large clouds, but may be harsh on the throat and lungs. The O.pen 2.0 vape pen has 4 different voltage settings: 2.4V for low heat, 3.2V for medium heat, 4.0V for high heat, and another special 4.0V “dab” setting.
  9. After enjoying the cartridge and consuming the perfect dose, you can press the button 5 times again to turn off the battery and stow it away. 

Keeping Your Dab Pen Clean 

Keeping Your Dab Pen Clean

Contrary to popular belief, dab pen owners should be cleaning them regularly. Ever dropped it in the bottom of your bag or under the bed, only to find hair and lint clinging to it? The cleaning process isn’t long or complicated and can be done with tools you likely already have at home.

Acquire a cotton swab or cloth and dip it in a bit of rubbing alcohol. Then, scrub the inside and outside of the mouthpiece, paying extra attention to the residue. The most important part to keep clean for the durability of your piece is the connector, where the cart meets the battery. So, make sure to detach them before cleaning!

Do Dab Pens Smell? 

One of the qualities that keep smokers coming back to dab pens is the reduced smoke and odor they produce. They won’t leave your space a foggy mess or send the scent of weed all through the vents. However, since you’re still exhaling THC smoke, there’s bound to be a bit of odor. You’ll likely pick up on the scent as the wax is heating up. Unlike traditional weed, however, the scent will fade in a few seconds rather than lingering. 

There are a few ways to eliminate the odors dab pens can cause. First, as fun as it is to rip the pen ‘till you’re coughing up a lung, take time before each hit to let the smoke settle. Ensure that the room you’re vaping in has good ventilation or a fan. If you’re able to, the best option is to crack open a window and exhale the smoke upwards so it floats out. 

Do Oil Pens Smell?

You might want to hit the breaks before sneaking an oil pen rip in the work bathroom. As you exhale, the aroma of cannabis might hang around for a couple of minutes. It will dissolve quickly, especially outdoors, but not right away. Most smokers say that if you can still see the vape, it’s a good indication that the weed scent is still lingering.

Luckily, we’ve got a few hacks if the pen hits, just can’t wait. If there’s no window to blow the smoke out of, you might want to keep a toilet paper roll and dryer sheet handy. Wrap the dryer sheet around one end of the roll, and simply blow your smoke through it, and voila! The smell of kush is swiftly replaced with fresh flowers or clean linens. 

Do Vaporizers Smell?

Just like dab and oil pens, vaporizers aren’t entirely odor-proof. When the pen heats up and emits smoke, a THC smell can linger in the air for a minute or two. Even people who vape nicotine can expect a slight scent and lingering smoke cloud. Keep this in mind when considering the right time and place for vaporizer use. 

We’ve picked up on a silly, but effective hack for those of you in a strict household: vaping in the shower. Think about it, there’s already a ton of fog lingering through the air, and it may be one of your few moments of alone time. Just be careful not to drop the thing or get it soaked. 

How to Reduce Smells Associated with Dabbing 

How to Reduce Smells Associated with Dabbing


Perhaps our first few hacks still left smoke lingering. Don't worry, we’ve got more tricks up our sleeve. While proper ventilation and flowing air is the key to getting the smoke smell out, some other techniques can mask the scent or eliminate it faster. 

One of the best things to do is get some incense handy for dab sessions. It’s pungent and will burn for around an hour, keeping the cannabis odors at bay. If you don’t have incense or can’t stand the smell of it, smoking near candles or a fireplace is your next best bet. Air fresheners and essential oils are other reliable scent maskers.

Vinegar is another ideal vape odor eraser. It works great because it’s able to cut through a variety of scents, from cigarettes to dab oil. Set up a few saucers of vinegar around your vaping area to soak up the weed smell. The only downside to this method is that some people don’t love the scent of white vinegar. So, try doing this method a day or so before having guests. 

How Much Does a Dab Pen Cost?

where to buy a dab pen

The cost of the dab pen is the total cost of a pre-filled THC 510-thread cartridge from a legal dispensary and the one-time purchase of the rechargeable battery. Batteries can be purchased online or in-person via a variety of speciality vape shop retailers. Typically cannabis users purchase pre-filled cartridges for $25-70 depending on quality and amount of the extract used. The cheapest vape pen batteries are around $15. However, the batteries on the lower end sacrifice features, like the ability to customize your heat settings. Most experienced cannabis users opt for the ability to control the voltage of their battery, allowing for increased enjoyment of their THC cartridge. The best battery for dab pens is the O.pen 2.0 vape pen battery priced reasonably at $39.99. O.pen batteries deliver consistent, outstanding performance despite being compact and easy-to-use. These batteries are so reliable that each unit comes with a “Friend for Life” warranty which allows users to exchange their O.pen 2.0 for whatever reason with no time limitations. This is especially valuable since batteries can be damaged accidentally or the lithium-ion wears down. Additionally, the O.pen 2.0 battery has a special voltage setting for O.pen’s Fill-it-Yourself Dual Quartz Atomizer Attachment known as “dab mode”. There are other 510-thread cartridges that can take advantage of the “dab mode” too, just double check the packaging. The O.pen 2.0 automatically detects such cartridges and atomizers and prevents non-compatible 510-thread attachments from using the “dab mode”. Users can access the “dab mode” by clicking the stylus button 2 times to cycle through the heat settings.

The Dab Pen High

Dab pens are growing in popularity because it allows cannabis users to discreetly, safely, and consistently enjoy cannabis extracts. Cannabis extracts are the purified cannabinoids from the marijuana flower. Since the cannabinoids are in significantly higher concentration and purity than regular cannabis buds, some consumers report the effects from a dab pen to be 2 or 3 times stronger than smoking flowers. Furthermore, dab pens vaporize the cannabis extracts cleanly without any combustion. The taste of the vapor from a dab pen is not bogged down by ash, or particulates and does not leave a lingering smell. Dab pen users can enjoy a cleaner taste while feeling the effects deeply.

If you're interested in learning more about dab pens and 510-thread vape pens and carts in general you can check out our guide to learn more.

Dab Pen FAQ’s

Now, before we go let’s answer some of the most common questions on dab pens. 

How much do dab pens cost?

Most vape pens are affordable and easy to obtain. You can get a dab pen battery anywhere, from online dispensaries to gas stations these days. Oil cartridges are a bit more expensive, but it’s worth the price to pay for good weed. Most people pay between $30 and $150 for dab pens. The more you spend, the more features and better heating you’ll receive.

How long does it take to charge a dab pen?

It all depends on the brand, how often you use it, and how long you need the charge to last. Dab pens are great because most of them only take about 30 minutes to fully charge. If you’re the type to let a pen die right before it’s time to go out, don’t worry. Plugging it in for just a few minutes will boost it back to life, even if only for a little while.

Do dab pens get you high?

The short answer is yes. Since dab pens are made to consume cannabis concentrates, the psychoactive plant enters your body every time you inhale. For most, dabbing gets you higher than smoking cannabis flower because it has a higher percentage of THC.

Those just learning how to use a dab pen might be on the moon after only one hit. Even seasoned stoners can experience a euphoric haze after some oil pen puffs. However, there are concentrates that are CBD dominant, which will produce less of a high than THC dominant extracts.