How to Use a Vape Pen
So you've heard about dabbing, but the blow torch thing is pretty intense and the price tag on a complete dab rig station is lofty. Did you know you can still smoke dabs with a load-your-own style vaporizer pen? While I still find dabs to be highly enjoyable and I recommend anyone try one, You don't NEED a dab rig, because technically, a 'dab' is just a small dose of concentrate, which means no matter where you heat it up, you're dabbing. If you already own a portable vaporizer, read on. If you're looking for your first pen, there is no need to spend more than $60 - $100 for a reliable vaporizer. There are many different vape pens on the market, and they all work in generally the same way despite the enormous range in price points.
Understand How Your Vaporizer Pen Works
Regardless of make or model, almost all dab pens will have a battery, an atomizer/chamber, and a mouthpiece. Take the mouthpiece off the pen to expose the chamber; you should see a coil or heating element inside. As a quick refresher; vaporization occurs when cannabis concentrate is heated to a specific temperature range where the cannabinoids and terpenes begin to boil off into a gas without catching on fire (combusting).
Get the Important Vape Pen Accessories
I recommend storing your dabs in an air-tight, smell-proof container to ensure that flavor and potency are preserved. Furthermore, silicone dab mats are great for saving any spilled dabs as even the stickiest concentrates can be recovered with your dabber instead of lost to the table or floor.
Select the Right Concentrates
Now that you have your pen and dabbing tools, you need concentrates. While it is possible to load a dab pen with nearly any type of concentrate, there are certainly some that work better than others. Solvent-based extractions that produce oil (free of plant matter) vaporize best in pens. This means concentrates like BHO, PHO, and CO2 oil are ideal for load-your-own vaporizer pens. In our experience, there are certain types of concentrate consistencies, like budder, wax, and sugar, that vaporize better than others, like shatter. These softer consistencies also tend to be easier to work with and load on the go. If you don't have access to concentrates, you can follow my guide on how to make dabs at home.
Load Your Vape Pen Chamber
Given the high price tag of quality concentrates and/or the effort you put into making your own, it's important to handle them properly. Touching concentrates with your fingers will degrade the quality if your oil, so use a dabber to collect the concentrate from your parchment paper or container.
Place the concentrate near the coil without inadvertently knocking the coil with your tool (they can break!). You can use the inside rim of the chamber to scrape any residual concentrate off the dabber. Storing your dabber against the Dab Mat in the lid of the Safety Case will help ensure your other supplies don’t get sticky also.
Taking Dabs from Your Pen
Now you are ready to vape! Press and hold the ‘on’ button through the duration of your inhalation. The best rips will come from slow and steady draws as opposed to inhaling as hard as you possibly can. This is because only way to draw air through the pen is via very tiny air holes at the bottom of the chamber that naturally restrict airflow. Many dab pens have adjustable temperature settings; it is important to select the correct one for you. Lower temperatures will produce more flavorful hits with less throat irritation, while higher temperature settings will provide more powerful hits with thick vapor. Although it sounds obvious, it is important to make sure that your battery is fully charged for consistently potent and flavorful hits. Most people stock an extra battery or charger in their vaporizer pen case to ensure they never run out of power.
Priming the Wick
If you prefer thick vaporous hits, you may find that pressing the button down for a few seconds before you begin inhaling is more effective: a technique known as 'priming the wick'. Normally you would do this with the mouthpiece already on, but I photographed it off so you can see what happens. Essentially, it entails pre-melting the concentrate so that it sinks to the bottom of the chamber and fully surrounds the heating coil. Simply hold the ‘on’ button down for a few seconds until the concentrate has melted down into the chamber and it begins to vaporize.
Store in a Smell Proof Vaporizer Case
As you can see, smoking dabs on the go requires a few critical tools and vape pen accessories. By using a smell proof vaporizer kit, you can keep everything organized and ready for the next time you want to load your pen on the go.
How big of a dab should I put in?
As a rule of thumb, fill your chamber ¾ full or you can have problems with clogging or overflowing. Some pens perform well after adding a dab the size of a grain of rice, while others can hold nearly a half a gram of concentrate. Deeper chambers with larger capacities typically perform better with more concentrate, whereas smaller, shallower chambers do well with small dabs. Furthermore, if you set the pen down prior to consuming the oil, it can leak. To maximize the flavor and effectiveness of each rip, I recommend loading only what you intend to consume immediately. This ensures that the chamber won’t leak prior to being stored in a protective place like the Safety Case.
How long of a hit do I take?
This will depend on the specific make and model of your pen. Most pens only allow the ‘on’ button to be pressed down for a short time (i.e. seven to nine seconds). This is to ensure that the heating element and associated vapor does not get too hot. It is more efficient to take several shorter hits as opposed to a single long one.
When do I need to reload?
You will need to reload your dab pen when the hits become less vaporous and begin to taste like the heated wick (as opposed to terpene-rich concentrate). As soon as you feel like you aren’t getting a great hit, it’s time to check the chamber to see how much concentrate remains. If the chamber is nearly empty, it’s time to reload; however, if it is still full, it likely means that your battery is losing charge.
I keep accidentally pressing the button of my dab pen in my pocket, is this avoidable?
Yes, most dab pens come with a locking feature that inactivates the ‘on’ button. Simply press the button five times consecutively and the light should blink indicating that the ‘on’ button has been deactivated. To unlock the dab pen, quickly press the button down five times consecutively.
Can I travel with my vaporizer pen?
Yes. I recommend using a quality vaporizer case for carrying all your dab pen essentials in an organized fashion and ensuring no more sticky pockets or broken pens. As long as you follow the TSA guidelines, you can even take your vape pen on the plane.