In the before-time of concentrates, the only way to enjoy a top shelf gram was to lug around a glass rig and light it with a mini-flamethrower. Thankfully enjoying concentrates has caught up with technology and there is a multitude of ways users can enjoy any consistency of concentrates, pretty much anywhere. The old school torch and rig combo leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to temperature precision, users have to rely on their internal clock to remember just how long they held the flame to the nail in order to get their preferred taste and cloud size. Having the ability to zero in on the exact degree you want your concentrate vaped at opens users up to a plethora of taste profiles and cloud sizes. As low-temp dabbing becomes more popular, concentrate users are learning just how much taste their favorite strains have.
This is how I feel using a torch...
Electric nails (also known as e nails), vape pens, and desktop vaporizers have emerged as a challenger to the classic glass rig concentrate setup by being able to provide rig-like hits with the convenience of modern technology. It doesn’t matter if you’re an on-the-go concentrate enthusiast or a homebody, there is a concentrate vaporizer built for every lifestyle. Enails and vape pens are travel ready and small in stature, desktop vapes tend to be more powerful with a wider range of possible taste profiles. No matter if you’re looking for a portable partner or a stay-at-home-vape there are plenty of options to replace your glass rig and torch combo.
BEST E NAIL FOR CONCENTRATES
E Nails represent a fantastic melding of desktop vaporizers and concentrate rigs. Taking the temperature control of a traditional desktop model and combining it with the vapor production of a rig have made e nails the preferred method for consuming concentrates. The smaller stature of an e nail makes them ideal for a lot of users as they can be taken pretty much anywhere and fit easily in a small bag, or in some cases your pocket. E nails are a step up from vape pens in terms of consistency and potency but still have on-the-go capabilities.
Heating up a rig with a torch is purely a guessing game, and as soon as the flame is no longer in contact with the nail it begins to cool off rapidly, this reaction means users have a hard time having confidence in your nail temp. E nails combat this problem by being able to sustain the chosen temp for extended periods of time. Usually powered by a controller box e nails get heat delivered by a coil that is directly connected to the nail itself, so the temperature guessing game is a thing of the past. Thanks to the controller box there is no heat variability of any kind, allowing for consistent vaporization at your perfect temperature without the need for reheating.
In this writer’s personal opinion the Source Nail Sig2 Kit is the best available e nail anywhere on the market. The Sig2 offers total temperature control, 7-second heat up time, and is compatible with over 30 Source atomizers. Included with the Sig2 is a bubble attachment, which while not the most portable-friendly attachment makes taking dabs without a rig extremely smooth. If you don’t want to lug the bubbler around there is also a more traditional attachment featuring adjustable airflow.
SOURCE NAIL SIG2 ($249.99)
The Source Sig2 has a temperature range from 200°F-700°F, so any and all flavor profiles can be unlocked and experienced. With such a wide range of temperatures, you’ll be able to switch from flavor-centric smaller draws to gigantic cloud production all in the span of a few seconds. Coming with 6 atomizers is a plus, but since this is a Source product that means that ANY of the 30 or so atomizers made after the Source 3 series will fit onto the Sig2 further expanding the capabilities of this e nail.
BEST VAPE PEN FOR CONCENTRATES
A step up on the “portability” scale vape pens offer a little more in the way of convenience compared to e nails but can still produce sizeable clouds. Drenched in simplicity, vape pens are a great “transition” method for people looking to smoke dabs without a rig: vape pens are usually constructed of a mouthpiece, atomizer, and vape battery in one sleek package. Much like the rig-torch setup most vape pens utilize conduction heating, meaning your concentrate will be in direct contact with the heating element. This form of heating reaches temperature faster than convection or induction, but produces vapor that might not be considered as “pure” as an e nail or desktop vape. By utilizing conduction heating vape pens are the fastest way to enjoy concentrates out of the e nail vs. vape pen vs. desktop battle royale.
Rig aficionados that decide to add a vape pen to their arsenal will be pleasantly surprised at the combination of usability and discreteness when compared to their rig. Vape pens allow you to enjoy your concentrates without drawing attention to your session, as they are shaped like office pens these devices have a clandestine quality about them. Don’t let the size fool you though, pen style vapes with double or triple heating rods can generate humongous clouds in conjunction with their batteries.
Not all vape pens are designed alike, some have more of a “vape marker” type shape to them, but still offer extreme portability and quick session capabilities. The Honey Stick Bee Keeper Vaporizer, while not the most traditionally shaped vape pen, is a multi-use pocket-friendly vape that has power and versatility. Honey Stick broke down mod vaporization to only the essentials, making the Bee Keeper zen-like in its form.
HONEY STICK BEE KEEPER ($27.99)
Ease of use is a key factor in putting the Honey Stick Bee Keeper’s into elite vape pen status. A fillable disposable tank slides into a port, the 510-threaded magnetic adapter screws on the end of the tank and connects to the heating element at the bottom of the port. Thanks to this design, having the tank next to the battery rather than on top of it, the Bee Keeper is smaller than the average mod and moves it into the “vape pen” category.
The battery of the Honey Stick Bee Keeper is a beastly 20 watts that is pre-set for quick vaping. With a refillable tank, the Bee Keeper was designed for easy cleaning and refill-ability. Rig users will be surprised by the vapor production from the Bee Keeper, the battery is powerful enough that just a small amount of concentrate can fuel an entire session. The mouthpiece is ¾” that is engineered to deliver balanced airflow and extends the vapor path to draw out more smoothness.
BEST DESKTOP VAPORIZER FOR CONCENTRATES
The granddaddy of vaporizers is the desktop vape. The iconic Storz & Bickel Volcano has been a long-time fixture in the vape game and has cemented itself as the “OG” of desktop vapes. Up until recently, desktop vaporizers have been confined to dry herb usage as dab rigs filled the role of default “desktop rigs” due to their inability to be used on the go. While the Volcano can now vape concentrates, there are new products and methods of heating that have just recently come on the scene with the potential to dominate the market. Conduction and convection have long been the staples of the industry, but induction has finally arrived and it’s ready to revolutionize vaporizers.
Dr. Dabber created the world’s first vaporizer to employ induction heating. While designed for both concentrate and dry herb use, this desktop vape excels in both without the need for extra parts or pieces to use. In this unit, induction heating creates a magnetic field that is absorbed by the included induction cups, which creates the heat. This heating system eliminates the need for atomizers, saving users money in the long run. By pairing the induction method with the cups, the Switch heats up faster than any other desktop unit, and the cups are engineered to create an even heating surface saving you from the dreaded “hot spot” that heats some parts of your concentrate hotter than others.
DR DABBER SWITCH ($399.99)
In utilizing induction heating Dr. Dabber created a desktop vape that has little to no oxygen within the vaporization environment. This means that at higher temps your concentrate can actually be heated past the point of combustion, without actually combusting, so 100% of your flavor profile is extracted while discarding any irritants. The heating technology on display in the Dr. Dabber Swtich is a beacon of hope for users who want to smoke dabs without a rig, the 25 different temperature settings are designed for avid users who want to discover every single flavor and effect aspect of their concentrate.
The majority of desktop vaporizers on the market were initially designed for dry herb and require an insert of some kind to enjoy concentrates which can sometimes be a hassle. While there aren’t a lot of purely concentrate focused desktop vapes the tide seems to be turning thanks to units like the Switch. As technology moves forward (heck we already have induction heating) there will surely be a desktop vape specifically designed for concentrates that will rival the old-school rig setup. It used to be almost impossible to dab without a rig but as the vaporizer world expands technologically users will soon be able to ditch their torch and rig setup for a simple desktop unit.
Well there you have it, three fantastic vapes to help you dab without a rig. With concentrate use on the rise, companies want to offer new ways for users to “ditch the torch” and get rig-like satisfaction from their vaporizer. It doesn’t matter if you’re an on-the-go concentrate user or strictly a “5 feet from my bed” user, there is a concentrate vape out there for you that can produce a satisfying concentrate experience without the need to wield a torch.
Charles Mockler is a vaporizer critic and writer at The VaporNation Blog, a leading source for expert opinions and information about vaporizers. His blogs are read by tens of thousands of people each month. He specializes in the latest technology trends including induction heating and decarboxylation.
Charles' goal is to provide readers with reliable, helpful, and balanced opinions on vaping. He does not recommend vaping to those who don't already smoke, but his articles do offer advice for existing vape enthusiasts including reviews and how-tos about the latest vaporizers. Charles has reviewed and tested a myriad of vaporizers and recommends people do as much research as possible before buying any vaporizer.
Charles was introduced to vaping after moving to Los Angeles during the vaporizer boom. A fan of "true vaporization," he prefers convection vapes with ceramic ovens. His articles include What is an Induction Vaporizer?, How to Decarb Dry Herb, and 8 Best Electric Dab Rigs of 2018.
A graduate of the University of Montana, Charles now resides in the Greater Los Angeles area where he reviews vaporizers and hosts a podcast about the Los Angeles Clippers.