Choosing Between Dry Herb Vaporizers and Dab Pens: A Comprehensive Guide

December 14, 2023

When it comes to consuming marijuana, there exists a wide array of choices. Vaporization is rapidly gaining popularity as the preferred means of consumption. Compared to other methods, it offers a healthier and environmentally conscious alternative. Additionally, vaping provides a convenient, portable, and discreet way to savor your marijuana and concentrates.

Related article: Vaporizer high or Smoking high?

There are many different models and varieties of vaporizers and vape pens on the market. For this article, we will discuss dry herb vape pens and dab pens and how they differ.

The Major Differences

Here are several key differences outlined below to help you fully understand these devices and make an informed decision when choosing a vape pen:

  • Product Consumed: The first difference is pretty obvious but worth considering. The type of substance being consumed is either cannabis bud or concentrate. While some vaporizers claim to handle both dry herbs and concentrates, it doesn't necessarily mean they are the best tools for both. These vaporizers are designed with dual-purpose functionality but may not optimize vaporization for each material. In other words; t's recommended to find your preferred substance and purchase a vaporizer designed specifically for it. Keep in mind that while dry herb vaporizers can handle concentrates, the reverse is not true; a dab pen is not suitable for effectively vaping dry herb.

  • Concentrate Coils vs Herb Chambers: The method of heating is entirely different for dab pens and dry herb vaporizers. Dab pens have coils that heat to vaporize the material. These coils can burn out either quickly with improper use or naturally over time. No matter what, the coils in a dab pen will need to be replaced eventually as they collect residue. This buildup can greatly change the flavor of your concentrate for the worse! Dry herb vaporizers, on the other hand, have a heating chamber in which the ground cannabis rests while being heated. The spent material will dry and brown but will not leave a sticky residue behind like concentrates. The dry herb heating chamber should last the lifetime of the dry herb vaporizer and never needs to be replaced.

  • Battery mAh: A mAh is a unit of measurement for energy. In very simple terms, a mAh measures how much energy a battery can store. Vape pens are powered by batteries, which come in varying sizes and power capabilities. The more mAhs, the more powerful the battery is. This translates to longer time between charges and higher temperatures. A dry herb vape pen requires far more power to heat than a concentrate coil. This means that dry herb vape batteries will almost always have a higher mAh than dab pens.

  • Chamber Loading Process: To load a dry herb vaporizer, you must first grind the cannabis to a fine consistency. If the material is too chunky, it will not properly vape. The ground bud is then placed or funneled into the heating chamber. Overall, the process is not too messy. The same isn't so true for dab pen loading. Concentrates can be very messy, but it doesn't have to be if you are careful. Use a dab tool to load a reasonable amount into the pen. Make sure you don't pack the coils too tightly. This can damage the coils, and you'll run the risk of spillage.

  • Vaping Temperature: Heating your vape to the optimal temperature is key to getting the best vaping experience. The ideal temperature varies between cannabis flower and concentrates. The optimal temperature range for vaping dry herbs is 350-400°F, while for concentrates, it's 360-450°F.

  • Temperature Control: "Being able to control the temperature of your vape is a very popular feature. Almost all dry herb vapes have a variable temperature setting, as it is considered a necessary feature. Not all dab pens have this variable setting feature, as it is only now gaining popularity among concentrate users.

  • Maintenance: When it comes to keeping your vape in top shape, there's a noticeable difference between concentrate and dry herb models. Concentrate can be far stickier and messier than dry bud, leaving buildup and residue behind after consumption. Dab pen chambers, coils, and mouthpieces may need to be replaced, but they should also be maintained by scraping away excess wax. Maintaining dry herb vapes is easy—simply fully empty the chamber after each use. If you forget, it's not a huge deal. Occasionally, you might want to replace the filter screen or mouthpiece for your dry herb vape.

The Major Similarities

Below we’ve outline the 3 key similarities of wax and dry herb vapes:

  1. Portability: Most vape pens, whether for herb or concentrate, are extremely portable, making them excellent companions for travel and convenient methods of cannabis consumption.

  2. Discreetness: Due to their small and slender design, vape pens are incredibly discreet. They are often compact enough to be safely stashed in a pocket or purse. Vaping at low temperatures adds to the discreet nature of the session.

  3. Ease of Use: The average vape pen does not require an engineering degree to operate, whether for concentrate or bud. It just takes a little practice, and you'll become proficient with your vape pen in no time! While there are models with more complex features for advanced users, there are plenty of sources, like us, to provide answers to any questions you may have!

Dry Herb Vape Pen Tips

  1. Ensure you use a grinder to achieve a fine consistency with the cannabis. Whole nuggets won't work inside a vape pen.

  2. Vapes can reach temperatures well over 400°F, which is quite hot! If you use your dry herb vaporizer for an extended period at high temperatures, the mouthpiece may become too hot to handle. To address this issue, most vape kits include rubber extension mouthpiece sleeves. If your kit didn't include one, they are readily available online.

  3. If you find it increasingly difficult to draw on your vape pen, it might be time for some maintenance. Clean the mouthpiece, and consider cleaning or replacing the filter screen. This will ensure your device has optimal airflow.

  4. When using a new vape or trying a new variety of bud, it's wise to start at the lowest heat setting and gradually increase the temperature to find the best setting for your herb. Otherwise, you risk scorching the weed, which can result in an unpleasant taste!

Related article: How to Use a Dry Herb Vaporizer - Vaporizer Tips and tricks for Beginners

Wax Vape Pen Tips

  1. Avoid overpacking or applying pressure to the heating coils, as this can cause damage. Overpacking also increases the risk of dealing with messy spills.
  2. Similar to dry herb vapes, wax vapes require a bit of maintenance to ensure smooth operation. Clean the mouthpiece and screen if you experience difficulty drawing vapor from the device. Regularly scrape the interior to prevent clogging.
  3. When you acquire a new coil or are loading fresh wax, always perform a test first. Coils can easily burn out or become damaged if used improperly. A quick test will save you from wasting valuable wax concentrate. Begin with a small amount at a low setting and heat for short intervals. Gradually increase the settings until you find the optimal one.


When considering the purchase of vape pens, several factors come into play. If your primary preference is consuming cannabis flower, then a dry herb vape pen is likely the optimal choice for you.

On the other hand, if your consumption primarily revolves around concentrates, a wax vape pen would be more suitable. While it's worth noting that combination pens exist, capable of vaporizing both concentrates and dry herb, it is often observed that type-specific vape pens tend to outperform them. Ultimately, the decision is in your hands, allowing you to choose the option that best aligns with your preferences.

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