Marijuana 101: Dabbing Wax Vs. Vaping Wax

Wax is very potent. Here's how to use it.

Marijuana 101: Dabbing Wax Vs. Vaping Wax
Photo by Jason W Lacey/Getty Images

Before we can really get down to wax tacks, we have to make sure we are familiar with what, exactly, wax is. For starters, wax is also known as butane hash oil or BHO. Butane on its own is used in the process of extracting pure THC from the cannabis plant and concentrating it in this waxy substance. No need to worry; if done properly, there are no remaining traces of the butane. However, be warned — wax is rather potent. In fact, if you’re trying it for the first time, make sure to account for the higher concentration of THC per use.

This increased level of potency is exactly why the popularity of wax has skyrocketed in recent memory. Not to mention, for the regular smoker, a smaller quantity of wax delivering a greater concentration of THC means less hassle when in transit or even simply being at home. For the casual smoker, wax may appear to be too potent or more than they might be looking for, however, this is not necessarily true. As with anything, the potency is determined by the level of consumption and this is entirely in the control of the individual. The two most common methods of consuming wax are to either vape or dab it. In order to help you better understand which method is more preferable for you we will describe each method and the differences between them.

How Do You Vape Wax?

First and foremost, this may be the most popular way to go about consuming wax. Not to mention that there is a tremendous variety in the types of vapes, the accessories such as coils, and different temperature settings with which to cook your wax. This isn’t to say that this is necessarily the best – most people just tend to prefer vaping their wax over dabbing. One of the reasons for this is related to the portability of most vapes. There is certainly a convenience factor in being able to have your wax pen vaporizer in your pockets, comfortably.

Vaping wax involves placing the wax inside the heating chamber of the vape. Once this is done, the vape will heat the wax according to the temperature setting the vape is defaulted to (unless you are using a vape with different temperature options and you have changed them). Often, the pull of a vape tends to be smoother than dabbing giving the slower, even heating of the wax (this, of course, varies on the type of vape and pull of the user). The key difference to vaping is that you add the wax and then begin heating it inside the coil of the vape prior to consuming.

With vaping, branding is rather important. This is mostly due to the fact that your ability to cleanly vaporize the wax quickly and efficiently is going to be determined by your equipment. In this sense, treat your wax vape pen similarly as you would a nicotine vape – you are going to want to do some extensive research between different brands and styles of vapes to ensure that you are getting the best wax pen vape for the right type of vaping you plan to do. For example, smaller, compact vapes are available for purchase and are a great purchase if you plan on taking your vaping on-the-go (considering vaping is more mobile than dabbing already, this is probably the case). These smaller vapes will hold less wax and may be constricted by placing too much inside and lend themselves more towards personal use. Otherwise, too much compaction could lead to poor airflow or worse.

In addition, some vapes can have quite a few ‘moving’ parts that might not be conducive to the more casual vaper. Again, treat your vapes like you would any other piece of electrical equipment – it is better off to research individual brands before purchasing to ensure that you don’t end up with something that could end up costing you more in the long run. Also, you don’t want to purchase something that might be too complicated to use. If you are not interested in learning the ins-and-outs of your specific model or brand of vape, go with something less complicated or look into dabbing wax.

Dabbing Wax

Often, consumers will mention that they are “dabbing” or using a “Dab Pen” when in fact they are vaping. As noted above, vaping involved placing wax into a chamber to be heated. Dabbing, on the other hand, involves heating the area you place the wax first. Often, the heating is accomplished with a blowtorch although there are electric ‘nails’ available commercially that help to avoid the hazard of handling a blowtorch. The ‘nail’ is the delivery system for the wax – once you have heated the area up to the optimal temperature for consumption you simply place the waxy nail to the hot area and begin to heat the wax that way. In fact, outside of using the nail, the dab rig will operate and look much like a traditional bong. Keep in mind, however, that whichever type of heat you prefer to rely on you must make sure that the nail is extremely hot – otherwise the wax will not disintegrate properly and could potentially harm the rig. Just as with a bong, once the wax has been vaporized the user takes a large pull to clear the dab rig of the vaporized wax.

When researching your rig some of the same considerations apply like any other product – think about what you need it for, how you will use the dab rig, and where you will store and use the rig. In a lot of ways, purchasing a rig comes with the exact same considerations as any other glass piece – mobility, thickness and quality of glass, and the overall purpose of the rig (individual use or not). However, and this cannot be overstated, you must take into account the fact that with this particular glass delivery system you are also handling a blowtorch in order to ensure that the wax gets to the appropriate temperature. This should be first and foremost in your mind because the last thing you want is to purchase a rig and find that the design and your desired use specifications do not match up or are uncomfortable when handling the blowtorch. Safety is one of the greatest considerations when looking into dabbing – something not quite at the forefront of one’s mind when considering a vape pen.

Main Differences

  • Vapes are not quite as hazardous and are easier to use. A dab rig requires some level of finesse to avoid injuring yourself or your equipment.
  • Vapes are rather portable.
  • Vapes allow you to consume wax, however, a dab rig is on an entirely different playing field. Comparable to the difference between other glass.
  • Vapes may require more research into specific models for particular requirements, preferences, or other performance-related needs

Should I Vape Or Dab Wax?

There is not one true answer for everyone except to decide for yourself. However, note the main differences listed above and what you think your overall need or preference in use will be. Dab rigs are better suited for a domestic environment without too much movement and plenty of time to become familiar with. Vape pens are tremendously versatile and are not as conspicuous or unwieldy to operate as a dab rig. However, vape pens may in the end be more complicated – as technology continues to surge ahead and different companies employ novel methods of vaping there are ever more complicated vapes. This is not to say that you cannot find a simple vape pen or brand to rely on – just make sure you do your research and look into the reviews to see just how complicated a particular vape pen may be.

No one wants to purchase a pen to find out they need an engineering degree to operate their pen. As for glass rigs, these are a bit easier to research especially if you have previous experience shopping for and using glass. The same general principles of quality apply.

Whichever you choose is likely going to be based on personal preference as well as how you intend to consume the wax. It is hard to imagine wanting to lug around a blowtorch on a backpacking trip or a hike just as it is difficult to see the utility in a small, compact vape pen at a social gathering or party with multiple people. Each has their own distinct advantages and disadvantages and both have their die-hard fans. Best of all, there is no rule (implicit or otherwise) that says you can’t simply have both! As many have found, wax is often preferable over dry herb products and more convenient (generally). Why not have the opportunity to use a rig at home and a pen on-the-go?

Regardless, the greatest takeaway beyond understanding the different methods for consuming wax is remembering that wax is much more concentrated and potent than other products on the market. Keep this in mind before you jump head first into the wonderful world of wax.

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