When you first step into the world of vaporization products, the sheer number of options can seem overwhelming. Even if you’ve already made key decisions, such as choosing portability over a stationary unit, the possibilities within that smaller category can seem numerous and endless. Vape pens are no different, and in fact may be one of the largest and most diverse product categories in the vaporization community.
What are the vape pen options available to you, how do they work, and what do you need to consider before making your decision? This blog dives into specifics and can help guide your choice.
How do vape pens work?
Before understanding how vape pens work, it’s important to know its main components. Vape pens are simple devices generally comprised of a few parts: a chamber or cartridge, a battery, and a heating element.
Many refer to the bulk of the device as the “battery,” as this long and slender pen style handle contains the power necessary to heat up the device’s heating element. A button built in to the battery will turn the pen on and off and adjust the temperature, while a handful of models activate instantly upon inhalation. Battery life depends on the model you choose, but many batteries can power through a few vaping sessions.
The heating element within the vape pen which turns the liquid or solid contents in the chamber into vapor. The heating element powers up when the battery is activated or you begin to inhale, depending on the model.
The cartridge houses the cannabis material you want to vaporize. Oftentimes, these cartridges come pre-filled with cannabis oil and outfitted with a 510 thread, so they can be attached nearly universally across dozens of battery brands. Some vape pens have a chamber in place of a cartridge. This part of the vape pen accepts finely-ground dry herb, concentrates, or both, depending on the vape pen you purchase.
What types of vape pens are available?
All vaporizers have the same essential function: they are designed to warm material until the compounds are released as vapor. A battery (for vape pens or portable vaporizers) or an AC power adapter (for desktop vaporizers) powers the heating element, which either heats the material directly via conduction heating or indirectly with hot air via convection heating.
Within that straightforward process, though, is an impressive array of devices to suit every need. Below is a brief overview of the types of vape pens you can find on the market:
- Cartridge vape pens: These simple devices consist of a battery and a screw-in cartridge. These cartridges can be purchased pre-filled from a licensed medical or adult-use cannabis dispensary, or from a manufacturer who produces CBD from industrial hemp in a legal market. The universal standard connector on cartridge vape pens is called a 510 thread; these batteries and cartridges are ubiquitous throughout the U.S. Most cartridge vape pens have a single control button which turns the device on and off and changes the temperature setting, if the vape pen supports it.
- Dry herb vape pens: These vape pens come in similar styles and shapes as their cartridge-compatible cousins, but the dry herb vape pen is compatible with finely-ground material such as cannabis and CBD flower from industrial hemp. They tend to be slightly larger than cartridge vape pens to accommodate for the chamber. Some units have control buttons, while others will generate vapor immediately upon drawing.
- Dab pens: Rising in popularity for their convenience and portability, dab pens are for consuming concentrates such as wax. These devices are long and slender like their aptly-named counterparts. They work by placing a small amount of concentrate on the exposed heated coil, and the material vaporizes as the coil heats up.
- Pod-style vapes: Pod-style vapes are compatible with special pods designed to work with that specific device, such as SimpleClick™ pods for the PAX Era. The pods come prefilled with cannabis oil from selected extraction partners in legal markets throughout the U.S. Just like other vape pens, pod-style vapes are small and discreet, offering mess-free and hassle-free cartridge changing.
- Disposable vape pen: These one-time-use devices come pre-charged, filled with cannabis concentrate or CBD derived from industrial hemp, and ready to consume. Once you’ve finished vaping the materials inside, recycle or otherwise dispose of the vape according to the manufacturers or seller’s instructions.
What to consider when purchasing a vape pen
- Material type: Are you a dried flower aficionado, or do you love the convenience of pre-filled cannabis oil pods? Do you love concentrates and wish you had a flexible way to consume them? Your material type will define the type of vape pen you pick up. If you switch between materials, you may want to look into a portable vaporizer such as PAX 3, which accepts both dry herb and concentrates.
- Temperature settings: Select compounds in dry herb or concentrate material are released at certain temperatures. You may wish to exhibit more precise control over your temperature if this kind of customization is important to you.
- Battery life: Just like any other electronic device, battery size and longevity depends on the device you purchase. Some have larger batteries which can handle more sessions without needing to charge.
- Size: Many consumers turn to vape pens for their size. Such a small stature can fit in the palm of your hand, and it can easily be slipped into a purse, bag, or pocket. How small you want to go is up to you.
- Design: Vape pens are named for their slender appearance, but they come in many shapes. Square batteries, flippable “key-style” batteries, and even vapes with built-in USB chargers are among your available options.
- Warranty: If something goes wrong with your vape pen, you want to be able to turn to the manufacturer’s warranty for repair or replacement. Warranties can vary widely depending on the manufacturer. Some are as short as one year, while others offer multi-year warranties. Be sure to read the specifics before purchasing.
- Ease of use: Some consumers want the simplicity of a one-button style with temperature presets. Others want to be able to tightly control and even monitor their sessions with additional tools, which present a significant learning curve.
- Price: How much you’re willing to invest in your vape pen is up to you. There are multiple options at every price point, with some costing as low as $10.
- Advanced features: Are you looking for a device that can support niche functionalities, such as fine-tuning temperature, programming unique settings, or multiple material types? Would you prefer a no-frills device with a single button and a handful of temperature settings? There are so many options available to you, and you are sure to find a device that fits your needs.
Vaping is all about your preference
For all the shapes, sizes, and capabilities out there, your choice of vaping device comes down to your preference. Some prefer the simplicity and significant availability of the standard vape pen, while others may reach for the convenience of a disposable. Others, like the PAX Era, provide all the benefits of the small and slender vape pen, with the insight of a much more advanced vaporization device. No matter which direction you go, you’re sure to gain significant enjoyment out of your first session and for many sessions to come.