A Complete Beginner's Guide To Cannabis Vape Pens

 Beginner's Guide To Cannabis Vape Pens

Steven Voser
Steven Voser
Last updated:

While it was once joints or one-hitters, an even more discreet form of enjoying weed has taken the world by storm. We are, of course, talking about vape pens. Whether you're vaping wax or flower, it's as easy as taking it out of your pocket, hitting a button, and taking a hit. Here, we'll be breaking down every aspect of vape pens.

Ever since weed became popular in the public eye, people have been searching for two things: The first, of course, is an easier way to enjoy the electric lettuce. The second is a way to smoke it discreetly. Things like one-hitters, pipes, and joints once claimed the throne of the easiest/sneakiest smoking methods. However, the future is now, and it's come with a lot of new perks. One of them is the invention of the vape pen.

But what is a vape pen? Put simply, it’s an ultra-portable vaporizer that provides all the benefits of a standard vaporizer in a compact, pen-shaped device. Aside from vape pens potentially being better for the body than smoking, these devices are easy to use, produce a discreet-smelling vapor, and can be taken with you on the go. In short: no matter why you use cannabis, there’s a vape pen out there to satisfy your needs.

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If you’re new to vaping and want to learn more, explore our complete beginner’s guide to vape pens below.

How Do Vape Pens Work?

How Do Vape Pens Work?

Getting down to the essentials, vape pens are simple contraptions. The only two parts you have to worry about are the heating element and whatever's holding your cannabis. The latter will either be a dry herb container, a disposable concentrate cartridge, or something similar.

At any rate, the heating element will bring your cannabis to a toasty temperature between 150–230°C. At these low temperatures, active substances such as THC, CBD, and terpenes turn into a vapor you can inhale in pretty much the same way as any other vaporizer.

Different Types Of Vape Pens

Different Types Of Vape Pens

Now, there are a lot of different pens out there. You'll want to familiarise yourself with dry herb vaporizers, concentrate vaporizers, and hybrid vaporizers. As fancy as the technology is, we think you'll understand the difference from the name alone. Dry herb vaporizers, of course, are used to vape good ol' cannabis flower. Concentrate vaporizers, in turn, are designed to work with cannabis concentrates, which will vary in physical consistency. Lastly, hybrid vaporizers are designed to work with either flower or concentrate.

Anatomy Of A Vape Pen

Some of the most important distinctions between these pens can be seen in their anatomy. It's not all that different, though.

With most pens, the battery is the biggest component, serving as the body. These batteries are usually lithium-ion, and are either rechargeable or replaceable. They'll also all have a mouthpiece, which you'll use to inhale your cannabis product of choice. This product, in turn, gets vaporized by the heating element. Many devices have a button to activate said heating element, although some are buttonless and can sense when you're inhaling.

Other pens, however, don't rely on battery power. Rather, they rely on the power of the flame provided by your lighter. As a result, they're a fraction of the price and have the advantage of not needing to be charged. However, you can't control the temperature your weed burns at, and it might burn a bit hotter as a result of the flame. The difference isn't too dramatic, though, and flame-powered vapes are still a great option.

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The next most-important component is the chamber. With dry herb vapes, you're given a chamber with the pen, and you just fill and refill that as you go. With concentrate vapes, you'll usually buy separate disposable cartridges, throwing them away and replacing them after you're done. Some come with permanent chambers you can load wax into, but those aren't as common. If you do have one of those, it might also be a hybrid vape, which, as we mentioned, can handle both dry flower and concentrate.

How To Use A Vape Pen

How To Use A Vape Pen

Now we can move on to the fun part. Before you do anything, make sure you read the instructions for your pen. We're pretty smart, sure, but the people who made your pen know it better than anyone. Our instructions apply to these types of pens in general, not any specific design.

Charge It

The first thing to do when you get your vape pen is to charge it. Make yourself some tea or go for a walk as the very first charge for a new vape can take some time.

Load It

Once your vape pen has charged (there may be an LED to let you know when it has), load it with a cartridge. This will either be the permanent cartridge that you load with flower or wax, or a disposable one you screw on and smoke. After you’ve loaded the cartridge, put your vape pen together. Make sure to read the instructions so you know how to do this correctly.

Vape It

You’re now ready for some vaping action! With most button-operated vapes, you can turn them on and off by clicking five times. Some vapes allow you to adjust the temperature as well. When using your vape pen for the first time, do not make the common mistake of sucking too hard as if it were a joint. With vaporizers, you want a slow and gentle draw. There is also no need to “hold in” your hit as the good stuff in your cannabis cartridge is absorbed instantly.

Best Practices When Using Vape Pens

Best Practices When Using Vape Pens

As with any cannabis device, there are some best practices you should keep in mind. The main one, of course, is to maintain a regular cleaning schedule. It doesn't have to be after every session, but cleaning it out once a week (assuming regular use) will greatly extend your pen's life.

The cleaning process is simple; first, disassemble the pen and get rid of any residue or ash in the chamber. Then, use a small pipe cleaner (these sometimes come with the pen) and give it a good sweep. This, of course, only applies to those with permanent cartridges. If it's disposable, your only job is to throw it away when it's empty. From there, unscrew the mouthpiece, if possible, and rinse it with warm water. Don't use water on any other parts of the vape, as this can cause extensive damage.

Other than that, just take basic steps while vaping to ensure there isn't as much of a mess to clean. This really is as simple as packing the appropriate amount of herb or concentrate. If you're using disposable cartridges, then you have nothing to worry about. Those with permanents, though, will want to ensure they don't have bud or wax overflowing from their pen before taking hits. This will ensure minimal residue to clean out when the time comes.

Pros And Cons

As we've discussed, vape pens come with a lot of advantages. We should be careful with how we talk about them, though, as it's not an objective improvement over traditional smoking. It all comes down to personal preference!


Vape Pen Pros

  • Discreet and portable

Lighting up a joint full of bud sure isn’t the most discreet way to enjoy cannabis, especially in public. No such worries with a vape pen! Vapor doesn’t produce an unmistakable smell like smoking does, which means you can “light up” virtually anywhere without drawing too much attention. In addition, vape pens are small enough that you can fit them in your pocket, making them perfectly portable.

  • Easier to dose

Pretty much every cannabis enthusiast will have gotten “too high” once from too many hits from a joint or bong. This is much less likely to happen when vaping—that is, unless you take a lot of hits in a single session here too. Given that it’s easier to control how much you draw, these devices are often recommended for therapeutic users.

  • Easy to use

Loading a cartridge into your vape and pressing a button isn’t something you need a degree in rocket science for. In fact, it doesn’t really get much easier. Compared to the art of rolling a nice joint, or even using other, more complex vaporizers, vape pens are ultra-convenient and simple to operate.

  • Cleaner and purer

As your vape pen won’t produce smoke, you will be able to enjoy a much purer and cleaner cannabis experience. Likewise, when you load a cartridge or fill your tank, it won’t cause a mess like when rolling a doobie—we all know the inevitable mess of crumbles left on the table when the job is done. You will also not have to deal with stinky ash leftovers at the end of your session.


Vape Pen Cons

  • Requires regular care

If you get a disposable vape pen for cheap, this may not be an issue. But if you are getting a “real” vape pen, you definitely want to keep it in shape so you can enjoy it for a long time. As vaping will accumulate all kinds of sticky resin, regular cleaning and maintenance is a must. You also shouldn’t expose your vape pen to conditions where it could get wet or dirty, but you wouldn’t do that with a joint either.

  • You may need to adjust your dose

Concentrates are normally a lot more potent than flower. This may take even seasoned cannabis smokers by surprise. So, if you’ve just switched from smoking to vaping, you may want to keep it easy at first and work your way up.

  • Requires charging

Yes, you need to charge your vape pen, but think about it: Charging your vape is less of a hassle overall than grinding up some weed and rolling a proper joint. The only time this could be a problem is if you’re out and about with a dying vape and forget to bring your charger. The pros carry two or more batteries and an external charger; as one battery is being used, the other is charging. As a result, you will always have a charged battery.

Explore The World Of Vape Pens

It'd be impossible to discuss everything surrounding vapes in one article. However, we think you now know more than enough to get started. The best way to keep learning is through use. There are a lot of pens out there, and it can be difficult to choose. However, we just so happen to have an article discussing the best vape pens on the market for everyday use! With one of those in your hand, we're sure you'll get a lot of "hands-on" learning done.

Steven Voser
Steven Voser
Steven Voser is an independent cannabis journalist with over 6 years of experience writing about all things weed; how to grow it, how best to enjoy it, and the booming industry and murky legal landscape surrounding it.
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