Handheld vaporizers are one of the best options out there for those of us who enjoy consuming their cannabis on the go. Before pen vapes became widely available, consumers needed a full dab kit complete with a blowtorch, nail, and dab tool to enjoy concentrates, making it a huge hassle to imbibe anywhere other than the comfort of home. In today’s world though, there are all kinds of options: pre-filled oil cartridges, reusable oil cartridges, wax pens, and E-nails just to name a few.
With so much great tech out there, finding the perfect device can feel overwhelming to first-time vape buyers and seasoned vape veterans alike. This guide is designed to help simplify things by comparing the pros and cons of two of the most widely used portable concentrate vaporizer options on the market: oil cartridges and wax pens.
Oil Cartridges, or oil carts as they’re sometimes called, are the newer of the two choices. Most oil carts that you can purchase from your local dispensary have already been pre-filled with cannabis distillate, and have an atomizer built right in. This means you can simply screw your oil cart into a battery, and bam, you’re ready to start enjoying a relaxing toke of delicious cannabis concentrate with just the press of a button. The fact that they’re so easy to use is one of the biggest advantages oil carts have over wax pens.
Nearly all oil cartridges are built to be compatible with a 510 battery, like this Ooze Slim Twist, but you still always make sure your cartridge will fit your battery. Check out our guide on how to find a safe and reliable battery here.
Not all oil cartridges come pre-filled, and some are available in refillable options, which can be loaded up using a concentrate syringe. Refilling your own cartridges can be a good way to keep your costs down.
Most pre-filled oil carts are filled using what’s known as distillate. Distillate is a type of cannabis extract that is made by stripping away all the compounds from the vegetative material until all that’s left is an isolated cannabinoid, usually THC or CBD. It’s extremely potent, and nearly odorless and tasteless as all of the terpenes have been refined away during the extraction process.
Another consequence of stripping away the terpenes during the extraction process is that there’s nothing to cut the viscosity of the finished product. This means that manufacturers will need to combine their distillate with an additive like PG, (Propylene Glycol) VG, (Vegetable Glycerin), or a medium-chain triglyceride such as coconut oil so that it can be vaporized by a standard atomizer. Because of the health concerns surrounding these additives, many manufacturers are pivoting to using terpene infusions as cutting agents, or simply using full-spectrum extracts as opposed to distillate.
Wax pens are sometimes called dab pens, because a wax pen works very much in the same way a traditional dab rig does—only it’s portable, and usually shaped like a standard writing pen. While all dab pens are different, most are made up of a battery, a mouthpiece, and chamber/atomizer, These pieces typically get sold together in a kit, like the Ooze Gusher Globe which also comes with a non-stick dabber tool, and a sick glow in the dark silicone stash jar.
Unlike an oil cartridge, you’ll need to drop a golden, mouthwatering, viscous tear of concentrate into the chamber each time you use it. This can get a little messy at times compared to the oil cart and can be a little less discreet. Once you’ve got the pen loaded up though, it works very similarly to the oil cartridge: pressing a button heats up the coil which vaporizes the concentrate you just placed in the chamber.
Certain wax pens, like the Ooze Comet, closely resemble traditional dab rigs and come with carb caps and basins that can be filled with water to really give you the full dab experience while on the move.
Because that tasty wax or shatter you just used is so sticky, maintenance with dab pens is critically important. Make sure to keep your device cleaned using 95% or higher isopropyl alcohol, and take care to avoid touching the coil itself during the cleaning process, as they are very fragile and prone to breaking. Also be sure to show some love to the mouthpiece when cleaning your device to prevent it from gumming up, which can make it difficult to get a satisfying hit.
Part of the beauty of the dab pen is you can fill it with any concentrate you want. Some folks prefer the gooey amber goodness of the titular wax. Others like to drop a chunk of translucent brittle shatter into their dab pen. Those who want a more flavorful hit might opt for the terpene-rich live resin. Any concentrate that you would use in your standard dab rig, will work in your wax pen. Try as many as you can to find out which one you like the best.
The answer is: neither option is really better than the other. It all comes down to personal preference.
If you are a cannabis user for whom convenience is key, then the oil cartridge route is probably best for you. Because the chamber is sealed, it’s unlikely that the oil inside the cartridge will make any mess, meaning less maintenance to worry about. It’s by far the easier of the two options to use, and the unparalleled discreteness offered by that ease of use makes oil cartridges a fantastic choice for consumers who want to imbibe all around town without making it obvious what they’re vaping.
If you’re a cannabis enthusiast who enjoys the nuances between different concentrates, and want to more accurately simulate an authentic dabbing experience while out and about, then wax pens are perfect for you.
Regardless if you’re team oil cart or team wax pen, Ooze can provide you with all the high-quality accessories and kits you need to get started vaping cannabis on the go at shockingly low prices.