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Dab Pen vs. Vape Pen: What’s the Difference?

There is a common misconception that vaping, dabbing, and smoking are the same. Well, not so fast. The truth is that dab pens, vape pens, dab rigs, bongs, cigarettes, cigars,...

There is a common misconception that vaping, dabbing, and smoking are the same. Well, not so fast. The truth is that dab pens, vape pens, dab rigs, bongs, cigarettes, cigars, blunts, and all other methods are slightly different.

While dab pens and vape pens may look, sound, and feel similar, they are quite different pieces of technology that require very different approaches and maintenance. So what is at the heart of the difference? And what do you need to know about vapes and dabs? 

Here is the California Honey Vapes guide to the differences between dab pens and vape pens. 

What Is a Vape Pen?

Before we can dive into the more specific differences between dab pens and vape pens, we need to understand what each device is and how they work. Let’s start by taking a look at vape pens. 

Vape pens, or vaporizers, are handheld devices designed to heat a liquid or oil that can contain any number of ingredients, from nicotine to CBD, THC, and others. These devices work using a battery-operated heating element — or vaporizer — creating vapor from the e-liquid in the cartridge.

Vape pens can be rechargeable and can use refillable or replaceable cartridges. They can also be disposable, with a built-in single-use battery and cartridge with liquid. 

What Is a Dab Pen?

Now that you know the basics of a vape pen, you’re ready to hear the lowdown on dab pens. A dab pen is a handheld device that heats wax and other concentrates. It sounds a lot like a vape pen, doesn’t it?

Dab pens are almost the same as vapes — almost. They use the same basic concept as a vape pen — heating ingredients with a battery-operated heating element to create a smokeable vapor. The major difference comes in what kind of combustible you can use in a dab pen.

A dab pen is used to smoke waxes and other concentrates. Vapes can only vaporize a vape oil — a liquid. This requires different levels of heating and power, different levels of resistance in their coils, and different levels of cleaning and maintenance to keep them in good condition. 

What Are THC Concentrates? 

By this point, you’re almost certainly screaming at your screen, “But what are concentrates!?” Well, concentrates are any sort of concentrated substance that can be used as a smokeable. In the world of smoking, these are usually THC and CBD compounds made from concentrated oils. 

Many different kinds of concentrates are available, including wax, budder, shatter, crumble, and oils. These smokeables are concentrated, meaning they are much more powerful and contain more THC or CBD than other forms of the substance. This means you need significantly less to get the same effects. 

If you are new to the concentrates and dabbing world, these different types of concentrates may be unfamiliar to you. Here is a brief breakdown of each kind and what you can expect. 


Wax is probably the most common type of concentrate that you can use in a dab pen. You may alternatively hear devices made specifically for dabbing wax as wax pens. Wax is typically a candle wax consistency and is most commonly smoked using pens.


Budder is a thinner, viscous substance than wax and is typically much messier. Budder is about the consistency of peanut butter used in a dab rig rather than a pen. A dab rig is a modification on a bong that allows for the consumption of concentrates like budder.


Shatter is the opposite of budder, a type of wax that is harder and more brittle. Shatter breaks like glass and looks like solid amber. Shatter can be used in a dab pen but not a wax pen, as it needs to be placed in a combustion chamber rather than in a prefilled pod. 


Crumble is a slightly less messy and sticky alternative to budder. Crumble is budder that has been dried to a crumbly consistency. It is still quite sticky, more like honeycomb than cardboard, but is a good alternative for budder fans on the go. 


Oils are what are typically smoked from vape pens. They have a liquid consistency and must be in a self-contained pod. Oils cannot usually be smoked from dab pens unless you use a wax pen with 510-sized cartridges.

What Is the Difference Between Concentrates and Vape Oils?

The difference between concentrates and vape oils is the smokeable's consistency and potency. Oils are the most liquid and least concentrated concentrates, meaning the amount of THC in every hit of your vape will be less than that of your dab pen. 

As a general rule, the thicker your concentrate, the higher the potency. However, this is not always the case and can vary greatly between growers and producers of the concentrates. 

Oils are great for reusable pens and disposables because the oils rarely cause clogs and require less heat and power to reach smoking temperatures.

On the other hand, dab pens and wax pens rarely come in disposables and are usually more expensive. This is because they are made to be reused and require greater power to heat the thicker waxes and concentrates to a high enough temperature to produce vapor. 

What Are the Differences Between Dab Pens and Vape Pens?

The major difference between dab pens and vape pens is that you can’t smoke waxes and concentrates in a vape pen, and you can’t smoke vape oils in dab pens. This is because they work with different types of combustibles. 

Dab pens require more intense cleaning because of the sticky and thick wax concentrates. These can easily cause clogs if not cleaned regularly.

The other difference is the potency of the two. You need significantly less from a dab pen than a vape pen. The potency can be very high THC in a dab pen, so one or two hits can take you a long way. Go slow and give yourself time to adjust as you get used to a dab pen.

Should I Get a Vape Pen or a Dab Pen?

After all of this material, you’re probably left with a bit of confusion and are wondering how to decide whether a dab or a vape pen is right for you. It’s okay — it can be confusing at first, but it will make sense when you get used to dabs and vapes. 

The differences between the two are small, so when deciding which is best for you, you need to think about a few things. First, how much effort are you willing to put into cleaning? If you are willing to clean your device every few days to keep it in great condition, then a dab could be right for you.

You should also consider how often you want to hit your pen and how intense you want each puff to be. The more intense you want your hit, the more likely you will enjoy a dab. 

This can also improve the discreteness of the device and cut back on the smell. This is perfect for a quick hit for those using marijuana for medical issues seeking immediate relief. 

The two devices are quite similar choices, and you can’t go wrong with either. Dab users tend to be a bit more experienced due to the extra work involved, but plenty of individuals choose to vape for all sorts of reasons.

Dab Pen vs. Vape Pen: In Summary

Dab pens and vape pens are opposite sides of the same coin. Both devices achieve similar results using almost the same technology, just with slightly different specialties.

Vape pens are used to vape oils, a liquid combustible that requires less power to heat and vaporize. Dab pens are more powerful pens that vaporize wax and other concentrates. 

Choosing between the two can feel difficult, but you can’t go wrong. If you want to give vaping a try, you should check out our pens at California Honey Vapes

We have some awesome designs for our rechargeable batteries that are compatible with most 510-sized cartridges. Now you have all the necessary info to make an informed decision about what is best for you. 



Electricity > Resistance |

What is Shatter? Shatter Definition | Weedmaps

Exploring cannabis concentrates on the legal market: User profiles, product strength, and health-related outcomes | Wiley Library


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