Searching for the best new vape pen? Over the past several years, the market for vape pens has skyrocketed. Now, there are more types and designs than ever before. But, with all this hype, how do you tell whether or not you’re getting a high-quality product?
To help you navigate the great, wide world of pen vaporizers, here’s how to find the best pen vaporizer:
How do vape pens work?
Just like any other vaporizer, vapor pens work by heating cannabis materials at low temperatures to avoid combustion. Combustion simply refers to the process of burning.
Unlike taking a flame to a joint, vaporizers heat cannabis to temperatures that are just high enough to melt waxy cannabis resin without burning the oil or plant matter. Instead, low temperatures release resin as a steam.
However, this is only true if vaporizers heat product at temperatures below 445℉ (229℃). Cannabis products and oils heated above this temperature will combust, transforming a spendy pen vape into a high-tech smoking device.
What types of vape pens are available?
Vape pens are more popular than ever. Often used for both cannabis and tobacco, vapor pens come in all different shapes and sizes. Beloved for their easy to use nature and discretion, consumers can now choose from a wide variety of vapor products to fit their individual needs.
Some of the most popular types of vapor pens include:
One of the most common types of vapor pens is intended to hold e-liquids. E-liquids are most often made from tobacco, though some innovative brands offer e-liquids (e-juice) that contains cannabis compounds.
Many e-liquids use cannabis isolates, which are extractions of purified phytochemicals from the herb. Cannabis e-liquids can contain both psychoactive THC and CBD. THC is the compound that causes the classic cannabis “high” while CBD is calming but does not provide a psychotropic experience.
2. Dry herb
Love dried flower? Than a dry herb vapor pen might be for you. A dry herb vapor pen is intended for ground cannabis or other ground herbal material. Dry herb vaporizers heat plant material to low temperatures, leaving behind toasty brown remains.
Wax vaporizers are intended for harder waxes and concentrates. These types of pen vaporizers are used by those hoping for an easy way to consume butane hash oil (BHO) on the go. Wax vapor pens provide an experience most akin to dabbing.
Wax vapor pens can handle several different types of cannabis oil extractions. However, prefilled concentrate cartridges are the most popular vape pen selections. These types oil/concentrate vape pens are most often used with honey-like CO2 oil.
5. Dual and multi purpose
Some vaporizer pens can handle both waxes and dry herb. Other types come in kits which include interchangeable attachments that allow consumers to swap between different types of cannabis material. Dual purpose vaporizers and vapor pen kits offer the greatest versatility among all of the common pen types.
Disposable vapor pens are another popular option. Disposable vapor pens are often pre-filled with CO2 oil or other types of cannabis isolates. These vapor pens are short-lived and cannot be refilled once the concentrate or e-liquid runs out.
Vape pen vocabulary
Vape pens may be one of the simplest and most discreet vaporizers on the market, but they can come with a slight learning curve. Here are seven terms you may come across when looking for a new pen vape:
An atomizer is an essential piece to any pen vaporizer and e-cigarette. The atomizer houses the heating element and is what vaporizes your cannabis materials. Atomizers can be sold separately, or they can be included as a part of a sealed cartridge.
A cartridge is the tank which holds syrupy cannabis concentrate. Many cartridges are pre-filled, disposable, and can be purchased at legal cannabis dispensaries. Some cartridges are refillable, and can be filled with CO2 Oil.
A coil is the primary heating element in vapor pens. Coils can feature a variety of different designs and are often made with medical or aircraft grade metals. The coil is housed in the atomizer and is important to look at when picking out a high-quality concentrate vaporizer.
Coils will often have to be replaced over time.
A dome is a piece that acts as a mouthpiece and covers the atomizer and chamber in concentrate vapor pens. The dome is often included in dabbing attachments for hard concentrates and dabbing attachments for vapor pens.
5. Fire button
Not all vape pens feature a fire button. A fire button is simply the button that heats the coil, igniting the vaporizer. Disposable vaporizers do not have fire buttons.
Oven refers to a chamber where herbal material (like cannabis!) is heated. Ovens are often made out of metals such as titanium or medical/airline grade steel, quartz, or ceramic materials.
Vapor pens are fancier than ever these days. Many now feature interchangeable parts that allow you to fully customize your vaping experience. Some attachments transform the standard pen vape into a portable dab rig or flameless bubbler.
Sometimes, a brand will offer various attachments that work for their individual products. Some brands make attachments that can be used with a variety of different battery bases. Smoke shops and online retailers will have various attachments available.
How do you find the right batteries for vape pens?
Most vaporizer pens come with a 510 threaded battery, which is the standard battery for all vape pens. You can also build your own custom vaporizer pen by picking out a high-quality 510 threaded battery and purchasing individual atomizers and attachments. Other batteries are available, however 510 is standard.
What is the optimal temperature for your vaporizer?
Most pen vaporizer batteries have several preset temperatures. Most of these preset temperatures fall between 360 and 380℉ (182 to 193℃). However, many pen vapes also offer high heat settings for oils, which often heat to around 425℉ (218℃).
Higher heat settings will provide a more powerful cannabis experience, though you also face a greater risk of accidental combustion. Although vape pens include automatic settings, pens can still overheat if the button is held too long. This makes you more likely to combust your material.
Are vape pens safe?
There is some evidence that vaporization is a healthier alternative to cannabis smoking. However, it is still important to be mindful of some cons of pen vapes. The most common types of cannabis vape pens feature simple batteries with a cartridge prefilled with cannabis oil.
Research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine has found that certain vapor cartridge additives may release carcinogenic compounds when heated. The additives of concern are propylene glycol (PG) and polyethylene glycol (PEG).
When heated beyond the the point of combustion (446℉/230℃), these additive outgas formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. The two compounds are known carcinogens, reducing the safety of certain vapor cartridges.
Fortunately, there is a way to avoid this problem. Reading the ingredients list on cannabis packaging will tell you whether or not these products have been added into your cartridge. Opting for products that contain no additives or are thinned using vegetable glycerine are thought to be the safer products.
What to look for when buying a vape pen
When buying a vapor pen, quality matters. Not all vape pens are created equal. Some rely heavily on plastics, which can distort the taste of your cannabis and may not withstand high temperatures as well as other materials.
To help you find a safe and effective product, here are a few things to look for when buying a vapor pen.
How do you plan on using your vaporizer? Are you the type of person that likes to switch back and forth between wax and flower? It may be best to look into buying a dual or multi-purpose pen vape to better fit your needs. If you prefer to vaporize oils, a wax vapor pen or pre-filled cartridges might be more up your alley.
The materials that your vaporizer is made of are the most important factors when picking out a vape pen. Products made with high-quality materials are going to deliver a healthier, tastier, and overall better vaporization experience than those made with sub-par goods.
The materials closest to the heating element are especially important, as they will face the greatest amount of stress and can potentially outgas unwanted chemical compounds into your vapor. To avoid this, some high-quality materials include:
- Medical-grade stainless steel
- Aircraft-grade metals
- Borosilicate glass
3. Cost of replacement parts
Some pen vaporizers will require replacement parts after so many uses. Prior to investing in a wax vapor pen, it’s wise to research how often replacement coils are needed for a given product. If the replacement coils are a little too expensive for comfort, the vape pen may not be the best buy after all.
4. Large coil/oven surface area
While a little tricky to gauge from online shopping, opting for vaporizers that contain a fairly large surface area for plant materials is an easy way to get a slightly better experience.
A larger surface area means that the heat is dispersed more evenly, giving you a smoother smoke and less of a need to stir materials after you’ve loaded the appropriate compartments.
5. Ease of cleaning
If you hate cleaning, opting for disposable vape pens or prefilled cartridges might be the best decision. Otherwise, reading up on whether or not the device can be taken apart for ease of cleaning is wise prior to investing a high-quality vapor pen.
Best cannabis vape pens
With so many styles and brands to choose from, finding a top-notch vape pen can be tricky. Here are three best cannabis vape pens of 2017:
1. Linx Vapor Hypnos Zero
What makes Linx Vapor’s Hypnos Zero such a great wax vape pen? This product is made with all medical-grade materials, including steel casing, a glass mouthpiece, and a ceramic atomizer and heating element, no paint and no plastic. High-quality materials mean excellent taste and improved safety.
This vape pen also has no exposed coils, which makes it quite easy to clean up and reduces the amount of resin buildup on your heating element. Linx also makes vaporizers for oils and dry herb.
2. Mig Vapor Sub-Herb Atomizer
Mig Vapor is well-known for using high-quality materials in their products. The Sub-Herb Atomizer is an attachment that can fit on a variety of different batteries. Mig Vapor also sells batteries and other attachments, allow consumers to further customize their vape pen.
The Sub-Herb is a dual-use vaporizer, featuring a ceramic base that works well with both concentrates and dried flower. Like the Linx, this vaporizer has no exposed coils and contains no plastic. This means that you’ll get a versatile, cost-effective, and safe.
Not everyone out there is searching for the ultimate luxury vape pen. For those hoping to find something quality without all of the fuss, Wildflower disposable vapor pens are an excellent option.
Prefilled with CO2 cannabis extracts, Wildflower’s products are third-party laboratory tested for purity. The vapor pen itself is made with food-grade paint and stainless steel.
Wildflower’s THC products are only available at select legal cannabis retail locations. However, their CBD vapor pens can be purchased online without a medical cannabis authorization. For those hoping to find some THC, Hmbldt is an alternative vapor product available in California.