How Do Wax Pens Work?

As cannabis continues to become legally and readily accessible, so too do the different ways in which cannabis products are enjoyed. While even novice users may be accustomed to enjoying THC-infused edibles or smoking dry herbs, many are surprised to see wax concentrate available.

That wax concentrate, often called wax dabs, is not entirely new. The method has been around for decades but only recently has been begun to explode in popularity. In the past, you would need a dab rig set up, similar to a bong, in order to enjoy wax concentrates.

Today that is no longer the case. Wax vape pens have entered the market to make enjoying wax concentrates a quick, easy process. However, even if you are familiar with traditional oil or dry herb vaping, wax pens present a unique experience and method.

We are going to dive into the nitty-gritty on how wax pens function and the best way to use them to enjoy your dabs!

Wax Pens Use Heating Coils

The most defining characteristic of a wax pen is the heating coil. There is a ceramic or metal heating element in a traditional dab rig called a dab nail that you heat with a blowtorch. Once red hot, your desired wax concentrate is applied to create vapor.

Wax pens simplify this process. When you power the pen on, an internal heating coil is brought to temperature. Since coils are small, a standard vape battery can reach the super-hot temperature needed to produce vapor.

Also, unlike dab rigs, where you apply your wax concentrate after you heat your dab nail, you can preload your wax into the heating chamber. Once you load your dab, the vaping experience is similar to a traditional oil vape or dry herb vape pen.

How do You Use Wax Pens?

Wax pens function similarly to other vape pens. To power one on, you usually will hit the power button five times. When you have loaded your dab, you will press the power button to give a surge of energy to the heating coils, which will provide you with a hit of vapor.

When you are done vaping, you’ll hit the power button five times to turn the device off. After the device has cooled, you’ll want to remove any remaining wax that may still be in the heating chamber.

What Features do Wax Pens Use?

What specific features are available on a wax pen will be mostly dependent on the wax pen model you choose. While there is variation, here are some standard features you can expect from most mainstream wax pens:

Heating Options

Most wax pens will have preset heating options to allow you to customize your vaping experience. Low temperatures will produce less vapor but will be more flavorful, whereas higher temperatures produce more potent hits with more vapor but will have less noticeable flavor notes.

Some wax pens will offer precision heating options, which will allow you to adjust the temperature from degree to degree. Precision heating is a useful option if you describe yourself as a “flavor chaser” and are determined to find the exact ideal temperature for your wax concentrate.

LED Display

Higher-end wax pens may offer an LED display to show options you have selected. For example, if your wax pen provides precision heating, that will usually be managed through an LED screen. You can also expect to see battery level, error codes, and even a hit count, which can be useful if you are using wax dabs for therapeutic reasons.

Replacement Parts

Wax pens have a reputation for having lots of spare parts available, especially heating coils. However, it’s not uncommon to find replacement batteries, mouthpieces, and other small pieces.

Wax Pens vs. Nectar Collectors

Terminology can confuse those new to dabbing, and the term “nectar collector” throws a lot of new users off. However, both wax pens and nectar collectors are battery-powered devices that use wax concentrate to produce vapor. The difference is in their respective designs.

Wax pens have a self-contained heating chamber where wax concentrate is placed on the heating coil. Nectar collectors do not have a heating chamber. Instead, their heating coils are exposed and at the end of the pen. When the coils are heated, you place the heating coils directly onto your wax of choice and inhale the vapor produced.

Necator collectors are great at reducing some of the mess of using sticky waxes. However, you need to be stationary with a small plate of wax to use, while wax pens allow for discreet vaping on the go. Both provide great experiences for what they offer; all you need to do is decide which experience you prefer!

How Are Wax Pens Different Than Oil Vape Pens?

The most significant difference between wax pens and oil vape pens is how the substance is heated, as well as what substance is used. In an oil vape pen, you’ll have a preloaded cartridge of your choice of THC-infused oil. The heating element is built into the cartridge, so all you have to do is connect the cartridge to your vape battery to get started.

Wax pens, on the other hand, generally do not have preloaded cartridges available. Instead, your wax pen will have its own heating chamber, heating element, and battery. You’ll load wax concentrate into the heating chamber. It requires a few more steps than using an oil vape pen will, but the overall process is still simple.

Wax Pens Are Easier to Maintain

If you have a heating element problem in a THC vape oil cartridge, you’re only recourse is to get a warranty exchange or buy a new one. With a wax pen, you have more options for maintaining your device.

The heating element in a wax pen, the heating coils, will need to be replaced semi-regularly. This is due to the coils having regular contact with wax concentrates, as well as the super-high temperatures the coils withstand during the vaping process.

However, since the coils are expected to be changed regularly, most are easy and inexpensive to exchange. It also gives you the option to try heating coils made from different materials. Depending on the wax pen model you are using, you may have access to ceramic, quartz, or titanium coils. Each of these materials offers its own pros and cons in the vaping process.

How Are Wax Pens Different Than Dry Herb Vape Pens?

Wax and dry herb vape pens are much more similar to each other than wax and oil vape pens. Like wax pens, dry herb vape pens will have a heating chamber connected to the vape battery. You will not be able to find preloaded dry herb cartridges.

However, once you look inside the heating chamber, you’ll notice a significant difference. While wax pens use heating coils, dry herb vape pens will have ceramic heating chambers or screens separating the dry herb’s heating coils.

The reason for this difference is that most dry herb vape pens use convection heating. Convection heating involves blowing super-hot air over the dry herb, creating vapor. However, the temperature is never hot enough to cause the dry herbs to combust, which would create smoke. There are exceptions, as some dry herb pens are meant to be used as combustion devices, though convection pens are far more common.

Temperature Differences

The temperatures used in wax and dry herb pens are very, very different. Dry herbs use a low temperature to produce vapor and will combust at around 450F. However, 450F is the low-end of where wax pens begin to produce vapor from your choice of wax.

How Do I Choose a Wax Pen?

Even before looking at wax pen choices, you need to decide what you need out of one. For example, do you plan on using the pen on the go and in public? If so, you may want to consider a smaller wax pen with an enclosed heating chamber for easy travel. Do you want an option that is the least messy possible? Then a nectar collector may be a great option for you.

There are other factors to consider, too. They include what heating options you want, how powerful a battery you would like to have, and if the availability of replacement parts is a priority. Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for in general, then you’ll be ready to start perusing different models of wax pens to see which one best fit your ideal product.

William Stash Jones

William "Stash" Jones is a medical marijuana patient and medical cannabis advocate. He focuses on medical cannabis and its benefits, and believes that medical cannabis is the solution to many problems in medicine today.

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