vape pens

Dab pens and vape pens are portable, convenient, and effective ways of using CBD. Both produce vapor that studies show provides some of the highest yielding absorptions of all delivery methods, superior to edible and topical forms. Vape and dab pens both have the same form factor, but there are differences between the two you should consider.

  1. Vape Pens Often Contain Thinning Agents

Vape pens must maintain a consistency that allows the oil to spread evenly over the heating element no matter the environmental conditions (e.g., hot, cold, humid, dry). Thinning agents are a common additive to achieve liquid-like oil. CBD oil can be refined to obtain the needed consistency, but the process is more costly than using thinning agents. Two of the most common additives are propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol, which can both break down into carcinogens. 

Rolling Stone noted, “A study from 2010 showed inhaling propylene glycol can exacerbate asthma and allergies, and multiple studies have shown that propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol break down into the carcinogens formaldehyde and acetaldehyde — especially when vaped at high temperatures.” The study the magazine referenced, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that inhaling propylene glycol can induce asthma, allergic reactions, and other respiratory complications.

  1. Vape Pens Often Contain Flavor Additives

Terpene additives are a common addition to cartridges. The oily, aromatic compounds enhance the flavor of the oil. They are sometimes seen as an alternative to propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol to thin out cartridge oils. Terpenes are naturally found in plants and give them their unique scents. 

Terpenes are associated with a variety of health benefits and form the basis for aromatherapy. Research has found that even when matching the original terpenes in hemp oil, adding them from an external source does not provide the same benefits. Moreover, certain types advertised as boosting the vape pen’s effects can convert into harmful chemicals when vaporized and be far from beneficial.

  1. Vaping Temperature

Vape pens are calibrated by the manufacturer to operate at a specific temperature. Disposable pens cannot be adjusted, so the hope is they are hot enough to vaporize the oil thoroughly, but not hot enough to cause combustion (burning). Third-party tests show that these pens often have a calibrated temperature much higher than necessary. The high heat not only denatures the CBD liquid but can cause part of the pen itself to degrade and leach into the vapor. 

Rechargeable vape pen batteries can be bought separately for use with stand-alone oil cartridges. These often have a temperature adjustment button to get the perfect draw for each CBD oil cartridge.

Dab pens usually offer the greatest degree of temperature customizability. User preference for dabbing CBD concentrates varies greatly. Some prefer a hotter inhalation, while others like to use an extra low-temperature dab to preserve as much flavor as possible even if it results in less vapor.

  1. Dab Pens Can Vaporize Different Types of Concentrates

A dab pen is something that is used purely for the consumption of dabs. Dabbing is the vaporizing of pure CBD concentrate extracted from the hemp plant. CBD isolates, as well as high CBD hemp oil extracts, are available from many different producers. A dab pen is made up of the same components as a vape pen and works more or less in the same way.

The dabs placed into a dab pen should be of a thin enough consistency that it can be heated to the vaporization point without combusting (burning). When the coils of the dab pen come into contact with the concentrate, the oil is vaporized for inhalation.

  1. Vape Pens Are Very Discreet–Cannabis, Hemp (CBD), & Nicotine Pens Look The Same

While no one is dabbing nicotine (yet), vape pens are used for all sorts of substances. A vape pen allows you to use your product on the go and in public with a level of privacy. No one can assume you are “getting high.” A common mistake by people when they see someone dabbing CBD or smoking hemp. Draws from CBD, cannabis, and nicotine vapes are indistinguishable from each other.

  1. Vape Pens Are The Most Portable

Disposable vape pens are the most portable option for CBD oil. There are no sperate parts or chargers to carry around and little chance of oil leaking. Smaller than an ink pen, they fit easily into the smallest pockets and purses.

Dab pens usually have several parts and need frequent charging.

  1. Dab Pens Have a Learning Curve

Dab pens can take some practice. A multi-step process, you must first transfer the CBD concentrate from its container either into the pen or onto a heating element. From there you must time the vaporization with your inhalation. 

Vape pens have only one step, breath in. However, simple isn’t always better. Hemp and CBD concentrate connaisseurs prefer the customizability of the vaping experience. They often enjoy using several varieties of concentrate throughout the day, which isn’t as easy or affordable using vape pens. I typically recommend starting with a disposable vape pen if you are new to vaping.  

  1. Dab Pens Are The Best Value But At What Price?

Dab pens provide the best value if you are going to be doing a lot of vaping. The device can be used for any concentrate and recharged indefinitely. In most cases, a part going bad can be replaced for less cost than buying a completely new unit. Buying CBD concentrates individually or in bulk saves you the money you would have to spend on fill-ed cartridges or disposable pens.

With that said, dab pens often have multiple parts, can be complicated to take on the go, and may cost much more upfront. A vape pen is a fraction of the cost of a full dab pen set-up, is more portable, and lasts for weeks if you are an occasional user. 

That’s a Lot of Information, Where Do I Start?

In summary, if you are new to CBD vaping, start with a simple single-use vape pen. Be extremely careful it is high quality, especially in light of the recent bad press around contaminants. As you become familiar with the process and results, you may decide sticking with vape pens is best for you or you may want to invest in a dab pen with specific features that suit you perfectly. 



“BLOG.” Kandypens, 29 Jan. 2018, www.kandypens.com/blog/The-Difference-Between-Vape-Pens-and-Dab-Pens/.

Choi, Hyunok, et al. “Sources of Propylene Glycol and Glycol Ethers in Air at Home.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 7, no. 12, 2010, pp. 4213–4237., doi:10.3390/ijerph7124213.

Dickson, EJ. “Counterfeit Weed Vape Cartridges Are Everywhere – and They’re Making People Sick.” Rolling Stone, 12 Sept. 2019, www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/counterfeit-thc-vapes-cdc-vaping-health-alert-875931/.

Gruber, Staci A, et al. “The Grass Might Be Greener: Medical Marijuana Patients Exhibit Altered Brain Activity and Improved Executive Function after 3 Months of Treatment.” Frontiers in Pharmacology, Frontiers Media S.A., 17 Jan. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5776082/.

Judge, Monique, and Monique Judge. “Study Shows Adults Who Can Legally Obtain Cannabis Use It as Substitute for Opioids and Other Prescription Drugs.” The Root, The Root, 3 July 2019, www.theroot.com/study-shows-adults-who-can-legally-obtain-cannabis-use-1836072744.

Lartey, Jamiles. “Popular Book on Marijuana’s Apparent Dangers Is Pure Alarmism, Experts Say.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 17 Feb. 2019, 

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