The Guide to Wax Pens
Wax pen vaporizers are the fastest and easiest way to enjoy botanical extracts and concentrates on the go. Small enough to fit in your pocket, wax pens allow you to discreetly medicate at a moment's notice while you're out and about.
Wax pen vaporizers have come a long way since their introduction back in 2009. While the way in which these units function has more or less stayed the same, the technology utilized and materials they're constructed from have drastically changed. New features like advanced atomizers, variable voltage batteries and improved build quality have made the latest generation of wax pen vapes more versatile, reliable, and powerful than ever before.
To better understand and appreciate recent wax pen improvements and innovations, let's first take a look at how these units function.
HOW DOES A WAX PEN WORK?
For the most part, all wax pens consist of three components: a battery, an atomizer (heating chamber), and a mouthpiece. These parts are threaded (universal 510 threading is typically utilized), which allows them to be connected and disconnected from each other by simply twisting them on or off.
Unscrewing a pen's mouthpiece reveals the atomizer, which includes the chamber (or dish) in which concentrate is placed, as well as the heating coil. A dab tool is used to place wax on and around the heating element, being careful not to scrape or damage the coil during the loading process.
Once loaded, replace the mouthpiece and turn the unit on by clicking the power button five times consecutively (all vape pens utilize this 5-click locking mechanism to prevent accidental pocket firing). At this point, the pen is ready to be used. Inhale while pressing the power button (as this activates the heating coil). The size of the draw is easy to govern, as it's controlled by the length of time the power button is held as the pen is hit.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF ATOMIZERS
Wax atomizers come in three varieties: wicked, wickless (which refers to the material that the heating coil is wrapped around), and flat (also referred to as "donut", "terra", or "halo" style). Even though each type of atomizer is designed differently, they all employ a coil as the heat source.
Ideal for lower viscosity (runny/liquidy) waxy oils, these types of atomizers utilize a heating coil wrapped around some sort of absorbent fiber wick material that soaks up oils and waxes, creating smooth, flavorful draws. Wicked atomizers come in the following varieties:
Best when used with higher viscosity (thicker/solid) wax concentrates, wickless rod atomizes are typically used by dabbers seeking more power at higher temperatures. Wickless rod atomizers come in the following varieties:
FLAT CERAMIC DISH
These newer style atomizers feature a flat ceramic dish, have no exposed wicks or coils, and are ideal for low temperature dabbing. Since wax doesn't come into direct contact with the heating coil - it burns much slower and tastes better - which makes donut style ceramic atomizers like this ideal for conserving your concentrates.
WAX PEN BATTERIES
Like atomizers, the batteries utilized by wax pens commonly feature 510 threading, meaning they can be interchanged and used with multiple different atomizers and attachments (even outside of their specific brand/model). Aside from slight variations in voltage level and amperage (900mAh, 1100mAh and 1300mAh), as well as different colors options, all batteries are designed to serve the same purpose: to power the pen's heating element.
VARIABLE VOLTAGE BATTERIES
(TEMPERATURE CONTROL BATTERIES)
Batteries that give users the ability to choose between multiple heat settings and voltage options are becoming more and more popular. Depending on the manufacturer, temperature/voltage settings can be toggled by pressing the power button consecutively three times, or controlled through a dial located at the base of the battery. Variable voltage batteries can typically be set between 2.7v - 4.8v, or between 350° - 430°F on temperature controlled unit.
One of the biggest complaints about early wax pens was the "burnt" or "charred" taste you would sometimes experience, which could often be attributed to the residual burn-off that occurs once wax has melted and the coil is directly heating the ceramic rod (which is not a pleasant taste). This led to the recent introduction of higher quality materials like titanium coils and quartz crystal rods, which help improve flavor and taste.
Titanium Coils - While once rare, most manufacturers including KandyPens now construct atomizer coils from Titanium, which has a higher resistance than lower-grade materials used in the past. This allows coils to maintain a lower temperature while heating, resulting in less of a "burnt" taste and improved flavor.
Quartz Crystal Rods - While ceramic rods were the industry standard for quite a while, manufacturers such as Vaporite are now replacing standard ceramic with quartz crystal rods. Glass is more of an inert material than ceramic, which means wax burns cleaner and tastes better.
Quartz crystal, however, is not porous, which means wax never has a chance to get absorbed. This not only helps improve taste (as you're only tasting the most recent dab load), but also helps conserve your concentrates (as every last drop of wax is being burned, not absorbed).
Triple Coils - For extreme dab enthusiasts looking for the ultimate in wax pen power, some manufacturers are now producing atomizers with three coils. The more coils, the faster wax will burn, and the more intense draws will be. Similar to an electric eNail in performance and efficiency, triple coil atomizers welt max almost instantaneously, which is ideal for dabbers seeking the ultimate hit - but not the best option for those looking to conserve their concentrates.
MAGNETIC CONNECTION TECHNOLOGY
Up until recently, all pen-style vaporizers utilized threaded connections, which allows each different component to be screwed on or off simply by twisting left or right. While there are a few different types of thread sizes, most manufacturers utilize 510 threading, which is considered to be the industry standard - and is often referred to as "universal".
However, some of the newest, most advanced wax pen designs have ditched traditional threading altogether for state-of-the-art magnetic connections. Even though this is a very new technology, it shows great promise. Magnets not only make the process of replacing atomizers and charging your battery faster and less of a hassle, but they also won't wear down over time as much as standard threading.
OTHER PORTABLE DEVICES FOR CONCENTRATES
Traditional wax pens are now being joined by a whole new class of devices that can best be described as wax pen/portable vaporizer hybrids. Breaking the mold of traditional vape pens, the latest generation of dab devices (while difficult to categorize) feature fantastic functionality, and offer new ways to enjoy your favorite concentrates.
Boasting the same type of high-powered performance one would expect from a electric eNail, the term "eRig" describes battery powered, portable units that feature a titanium nail in which wax is placed. Able to reach temperatures upwards of 700°F, concentrates melt on contact, which are then inhaled through an included water attachment, allowing you to moisturize and cool your hits. eRig's are an awesome alternative to traditional means of wax consumption, and are certain to become more common as time progresses.
As the name suggests, these devices offer a unique way to enjoy wax - upside-down! Rather than loading wax into the chamber or atomizer itself, these units utilize a heating coil that protrudes outwards, that is meant to be "dipped" into a container or slab of wax. Users then inhale from the mouthpiece, which is located on the opposite end of the device. These "no-load pens" offer a great solution to the age-old issue commonly associated with wax - the mess. Inverted dabbers are hassle free, as you can simply "dip & dab".
These units have more in common aesthetically with true portable vaporizers than pen-style vapes. Instead of utilizing an atomizer to heat wax, these battery-powered portable units like Magic Flight's Launch Box employ more of a "skillet" design, which is completely free of wicks and coils. Concentrate is placed on the skillet, which heats instantly once activated. Vapor is then inhaled through a whip-draw delivery system. These non-pen portables offer familiar functionality for those more accustomed to herb vaporizers, and offer to nice change of pace from standard wax pens.