Dab Pen vs Vape Pen- What’s the difference?

We all like to learn about new ways to consume our bud but there are so many different types. But what is the actual difference between a dab pen and a vape pen? Aren’t they the same? Fortunately for you, we know a thing or two about both. They are easily mistaken but are actually pretty different and can have very different effects. You’re going to want to get it right, so we’ve made it extra clear for you. In this article, we will be laying out the similarities, differences, pros, and cons of the dab pen and the vape pen.

What is dabbing?


In order to distinguish between a dab pen and a vape pen, first, we need to know what dabbing is. Dabbing is the action of inhaling small quantities of vaporized concentrates. This was originally performed by heating the concentrate and inhaling it through a dab/oil rig. As this gained popularity, new novel ways to dab were invented.

These days there are multiple devices that can be used to dab concentrates. These vary in complexity from simple glass devices known as honey straw/nectar collectors to smart, app-controlled desktop e-rigs such as the Dr. Dabber Switch. The dab pen was born out of the desire to make dabbing more portable and more accessible.

What is a dab pen?

dab pen - dr. dabber

A dab pen (or wax pen) is effectively a small, portable, battery-operated version of a dab rig. It generally consists of a battery, heating element, and mouthpiece and it is often long and thin like a pen. 

Dab pens are designed specifically to be used with concentrates. This means they have better performance than vaporizers that have the option for either dry herb or concentrate. Dabbing concentrates effectively relies upon high temperatures and using conduction or direct heat rather than hot air (which is generally what dry herb vaporizers use).

Are you looking for best dab pen of 2021? Checkout our best dap pen guide here

Types of concentrate

  • Shatter – Shatter is a highly concentrated cannabis extract. It is typically amber in color and semi-transparent. It is brittle and has a glass-like texture hence the name “shatter”. Shatter generally has a cannabinoid content of up to 80%.
  • Rosin – Rosin is a translucent, sappy extract. It is solventless in its extraction which has made it favorable compared to other techniques of extraction.
  • Budder – Budder is a concentrate with a soft consistency similar to… you guessed it, butter. It is produced from high-quality buds and usually provides a terpene-rich flavor.
  • Crumble – Crumble is a bit like shatter, but drier. It is unique in its crumbliness compared to other extracts and is generally solvent-based.
  • Sauce - Sauce is a sticky extract that is more liquidy. It has a high terpene content and can be found in different forms. Examples include diamonds and terp sauce. Some users say that THC sauce is the best thing to have happened to dabbing!

Who are dab pens for?

Generally, dab pens are for cannabis enthusiasts that want to enjoy high potency, amazing flavor, and discretion. Dab pens are easily transported everywhere you go. They bring you the benefits of dabbing but in a much more convenient package. Dab pens are great for beginners to the dabbing scene as they are fairly low cost compared to large dab rigs.

What is a vape pen?

vape pen

A vape pen is a portable device that allows you to vaporize cannabis. It is usually in the shape of a pen, hence the name. They consist of a battery, a heating element, and a mouthpiece, just like dab pens. There are two main types of vape pens; distillate vape pens/oil pens and dry herb vape pens. 

What is a Distillate Vape Pen?

Distillate vape pens are used to distillate THC/CBD distillate oil. This is a viscous liquid that resembles thick vape-juice. Some distillate is pure cannabis extract and others are combined with vaping additives such as PG and VG. 

Distillate vape pens generally consist of a battery and a cartridge. The cartridges are often purchased pre-filled with the extract as the extract is sticky and hard to handle. The user attaches the cartridge to the battery by either screwing it in or popping it in. Most cartridges employ the 510 thread. This means most cartridges are compatible with most batteries.

What is a Dry Herb Vape Pen?

Dry Herb Vape Pens are compact dry herb vaporizers that are long and thin, resembling a pen. They differ from dab pens in that their primary function is to vaporize dry herbs. These generally use convection heating to heat up the herb and vaporize it before being inhaled. Whilst some dry herb vape pens can vape concentrates, (such as the PAX 3), most dab pens can’t be used with dry herb.

Are you looking for best dry herb vaporizers? Checkout our best dry herb vaporizers guide here

Who are vape pens for?

Vape pens are for users who want to get the most out of their herb. By vaping your herb, you are maximizing efficiency, This makes it a superior method to smoking. If you are someone who uses it regularly and just wants to make slightly healthier life decisions, vaping is a good alternative to smoking. It is also more convenient and discrete.

What is the main difference between a vape pen and a dab pen?

The main difference between a vape pen and a dab pen is that dab pens are for use with concentrates and extracts. Vape pens are not specifically designed for consuming extracts or concentrates. 

If you are someone who prefers using extracts, dab pens are for you. They are portable, convenient and create delicious, flavorful vapor clouds. If you are looking for a discrete, convenient vape pen that you don’t have to load yourself, you should buy a distillate vape pen battery and cartridge. You can purchase the cartridges from licensed dispensaries and batteries from Namaste Vaporizers.

The other type of vape pen is a dry herb vape pen. Like dab pens, dry herb vape pens work by adding your herb of choice and heating it up so it is vaporized. The difference? These use dry herbs instead of concentrate.

Vape Pen vs Dab Pen vs Wax Pen vs Dry Herb Vape Pen Comparison Table

  Vape Pen Dry Herb Vape Pen Dab/Wax Pen
Used with Concentrates such as wax, budder, rosin, shatter, isolate, dab, etc... THC/CBD Distillates/Oils, dry herb, concentrates Dry Herb, sometimes concentrates
Temperature Range 315°F to 900°F - Most vary between 350°F and 600°F  Generally between 380°F to 450°F  Generally between 300°F to 430°F
Heating Type Conduction - quartz or ceramic coils Conduction  Convection or hybrid
Maintenance Medium - keep it clean to get the best vaping experience. Easy to clean and fast. Virtually none required. Must be kept clean to get the best experience. Doesn’t take long.
Durability Very durable depending on the model.  Often cartridges are made of glass so can crack when dropped. Depends on the model. Some are more durable than others.
Battery life The battery lasts between 5-10 sessions depending on which model and brand you have selected. The battery can last for weeks on end with casual use. Charging is rarely required. The battery generally lasts 5-10 sessions. Some can last longer.
  • Extremely portable
  • Safer than doing dabs, no flames
  • Cheaper than dab rigs
  • Provides excellent flavor
  • Ultra-portable
  • Very convenient
  • Zero maintenance
  • Portable
  • Dry herb is the most abundant
  • More efficient than smoking
  • Concentrates can be cumbersome to handle as they are so sticky
  • Battery life, depending on the model
  • Maintenance
  • Less eco-friendly as cartridges are disposable
  • Not the same results as vaping an extract or dry herb.
  • Can be expensive
  • Battery life
  • Cleaning


Q1: What is a vape pen battery?

A vape pen battery is the battery element of a vape pen. If someone was referring to the battery, generally they are talking about a distillate vape pen. The reason for this is that since they are cartridge-based, there are only two elements; the cartridge and the battery. It is unlikely that someone would be referring to the battery of a dab pen in this way since it is generally built into the dab pen.

Q2: How much does a dab pen cost?

Dab pens can range in price from $30 all the way to $200+. The more expensive dab pens will have more power, higher temperature ranges, more powerful coils, and better build quality.

Q3: Can you explain the main difference between a dab pen and a vape pen?

A dab pen is used only with concentrates such as wax or shatter. A vape pen is less specific. There are some vape pens that can only be used with oils and distillates. These usually come in the form of a battery and a cartridge. The cartridges can either be purchased pre-filled with your distillate of choice or you can use refillable cartridges/carts. An example of a vape pen designed for oils/distillate is the KandyPens Slim. You can also find vape pens that are specifically designed to vaporize dry herb and/or concentrates, such as the Yocan Evolve-D Plus

Q4: Wax pen vs. dab pen, what’s the difference?

Wax pens and Dab Pens are the same things. They are both battery-powered pens that are designed to dab concentrates. Some people refer to them as wax pens, others refer to them as dab pens.

Learn More About Dab Pens

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