Dab Pen vs Vape Pen: What's the Difference?


six different types of vape pens stood in a row

When it comes to consuming cannabis concentrates, you have many methods to choose from.

Both Dab pens and vape pens have risen to prominence as popular, discreet, portable, and efficient methods of cannabis intake.

While dab pens and vape pens may look similar and are designed to get you high, but there are some distinct differences between the two.

In this article, we explain the features of dab pens and vape pens, exploring their potency, benefits, differences, and suitability for various preferences.

Whether you're a seasoned cannabis enthusiast or a beginner taking your first steps, this article will provide the insights you need to make an informed choice.

What is a dab pen?

a picture showing the different parts of a dab vape pen

A dab pen, also known as a wax pen, concentrate pen, and even wax vaporizer, is a portable vaporizer designed specifically for consuming cannabis concentrates.

It consists of a battery, a chamber for cannabis concentrate, an atomizer or coil, and a mouthpiece.

How do Dab Pens Work?

Dab pens utilize a heating element, typically a ceramic or quartz coil, to vaporize the concentrate.

The battery powers the heating element, which rapidly heats up the coil, converting the concentrate into an inhalable vapor.

What is a vape pen?

a picture showing the different parts of a vape pen labled

Vape pens, also known as E-cigarettes, are battery-operated vaping devices that heat up the cartridge and turn its contents into vapor for you to inhale.

In general, the vape pen consists of four main parts: the mouthpiece, the battery, the tank or cartridge that holds e-juice, and the heating element -Atomizer.

How do Vape Pens Work?

Whether your vape pen is activated by simply inhaling from the mouthpiece or by pushing a button, atomizer is responsible for heating up the e-liquid so your material can be vaporized.

The battery is used to power source for the vape pen's atomizer. Typically, the cartridge screws into the pen's rechargeable battery.

Dab Pen vs Vape Pen: What Makes them Similar?

Some of the most similar elements between the two include:

1. Both dab pens and vape pens are designed to heat various cannabis products to produce an inhalable vapor.

2. Both are easily portable, discreet, and you can fit them in the purse, pocket, and plenty of other places.

3. Both type of devices feature adjustable temperature controls for setting your ideal heat level.

4. Each type of pen has a similar design that comes with a variety of styles and shapes, so you have plenty of options to choose from.

5. Both methods are thought to be physically healthier than smoking, because vaporizers doesn't produce many of the harmful components of burning dry herbs.

Dab Pens vs Vape Pens: What's the Difference between them?a picture of 6 dab pens next to 4 vape pens

In summary, the major differences between a dab pen and a cartridge are:

1. Concentrate Form

The biggest difference between the two types of pens is what form of cannabis you will use.

Vape pens tend to use cannabis oil or liquid of some sort, which will almost always be less concentrated than dab pens.

In contrast, Dab pens use thicker solid or semi-solid concentrates, including anything with a wax-like consistency like shatter, budder, live resin, rosin, and crumble.

2. Usage

With a vape pen, you also don’t load your own concentrates.

The cannabis oil comes preloaded into the vape pen unlike with dab pens where you have to manually put your concentrate into the chamber by dabber.

Dab pens require direct contact with the concentrate in the coils they use, while cartridges come pre-filled and are good for tons of hits before they run out.

3. Portability

Due to their compact design and light weight, Both dab pens and vape pens are highly portable and convenient.

However, vape pens are more convenient for on-the-go usage because you don’t have to clean and refill concentrate between every usage.

Dab pens can be hit on the road, they’re a little easier to use at home because you’ll be loading more frequently for each session and needing to clean every few sessions.

4. Customization

Dab pens offer more customization options with different concentrate varieties, whereas vape pens are not able to handle the thick concentrates.

In addition, Dab pens allows users to customize how much they vape and inhale, adjust the heat settings. It also allows them to choose what kind of concentration they want.

5. Potency

Due to their ability to handle concentrates, dab pens tend to offer a more robust experience than vape pens.

The concentrated nature of dab oils and waxes allows for a higher concentration of cannabinoids, resulting in a potentially more intense high.

This is especially appealing to experienced users seeking an elevated experience.

However, it's essential to approach this potency with caution, as it might be overwhelming for newcomers.

6. Ease of Maintenance

Dab pens require frequent cleaning because the dab can leave residue after a session.

You will need to clean the chamber by scraping away the wax buildup after every use and replace the atomizers once they collect too much debris.

Vape pens require less cleaning and maintenance compared to dab pens. When the disposable pre-filled cartridge is empty, just remove it from the battery and apply a new one.

If you have a refillable cartridge, you can fill the cartridge with oil at the beginning of the day and use it all day without clean.

7. Temperature Requirements

Dab pens operate at relatively higher temperatures than vape pens. That’s because there are two heating phases involved.

The first phase is the melting of the concentrates, then the vaporization of the dab liquid.

In the case of vape pens, the vape oil is heated directly, which requires significantly lower temperatures to vaporize.

Generally, standard dab pens operate at temperatures between 350 and 400 degrees F, while vape pens require a temperature of between 315 and 385 degrees F.

8. 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. especially the Disposable vape pen.

Choosing Between a Dab Pen and a Vape Pen: Which one is Better?

a swordfish dab pen next to a vape pen

When it comes to choosing between these two devices, several factors should be considered.

1. Personal Preference

Your preference for a strong and direct hit or a milder, flavorful experience will be a significant factor.

Dab pens are perfect for those who seek a robust high, while vape pens cater to those who enjoy diverse flavors and a less intense experience.

2. Consumption needs

If you plan on only dabbing cannabis concentrates, you may want to get a simple dab pen.

However, opt for a multi-use vape pen if you also use nicotine products or mix and match THC oil concentrates or dry flower.

3. Experience level

If a high vapor quality, and customizability are your chief concerns, dab pens are likely more your speed.

If you prefer simplicity and a very low level of maintenance, vape pens might be better suited for you.

4. Cost Considerations

Dab pens tend to be a bit more expensive due to the concentrates they use, whereas vape pens are more budget-friendly.

Consider your budget and consumption habits when making your choice.

5. Quality

Whether you purchase a vape pen, dab pen, or dab straw, buying quality products from a company or brand with stellar customer reviews.


Vape pens, and dab pens are all discreet and portable, giving you a convenient way to consume cannabis on the go.

They all heat up different forms of cannabis, so you can inhale them to feel the effects.

Vape pens use oils and liquids specifically designed for this purpose while dab pens use highly concentrated cannabis concentrates.

Dab pens are a great choice for connoisseurs of cannabis who want to be precise and have the highest levels of control over their experiences.

Vape pens, on the other hand, are a good introduction to vaporizing thanks to the convenience factor- easy to use and less cleaning, great for beginners. However, they come with limited flavor choices.

Ultimately, choosing between a dab pen and a vape pen will depend on your personal preferences, budget and needs.