The vape category has grown exponentially since the dawn of legal cannabis. The ease of use, lack of strong odor, portability, and smooth draw that vape pens and pods provide make them a top seller at dispensaries across the country, second only to flower.
The products are likely to continue their domination of the market as more people add cannabis to their regimens and brand categories evolve. Blends of different terpenes and cannabinoids are rising in demand as more is discovered about the potential benefits of cannabis.
With so many different types of weed pens, vape cartridges, and cannabis pods on dispensary shelves, you may be curious about the differences between them - and how they work. Read on to find out the science behind vaping and how to get the best experience.
What are weed pens?
Vape pens or weed pens as they’re often known typically refer to a type of device that vaporizes cannabis oil. They usually resemble an ink pen, hence the name.
The pens may be all-in-one or use a system with separate batteries and cartridges or pods.
The type of oil and the hardware used can vary, but the concept is fairly standard across the board: oil is heated through a battery-operated element. The heated oil turns to vapor which is then inhaled through a mouthpiece on one end of the pen.
When discussing weed pens in this blog, we are referring to pre-filled disposable pens. They typically contain anywhere from 0.2 grams to one full gram per pen.
How are weed pens different from vape cartridges and weed pods?
Here’s a quick breakdown of the different vaporizer types:
Vape pens as they are understood in this context are disposable. Once the oil inside has been depleted, it can simply be thrown in the trash. They typically do not need to be recharged, having enough battery power to last the entire life of the oil.
Vape cartridges (or vape carts as they’re often known) and vape pods (or weed pods) are two-part systems. A cartridge or pod (typically purchased pre-filled) contain a set amount of oil, usually 0.5 or 1 gram. Cartridges are usually cylinder shaped, while pods can take a variety of forms including squares and half-circles.
The pod or cart is then attached to a special battery, sometimes called an atomizer. The batteries can be charged as needed. When a pod or cartridge is empty, it is discarded and replaced.
510 thread vape cart vs weed pod
When discussing vape cartridges, it’s typically in reference to what’s known as a 510-thread tank (these are the cylinder-shaped carts mentioned above). They have a tiny screw at the bottom that goes into the female end of a compatible vape battery.
Cannabis pods use a proprietary battery and usually lock right into place. They sometimes use a magnet function to help keep the pods secure. These sleek devices are often touted for their durability and compact design.
How do weed pens, vape cartridges, and weed pods turn on?
Now that you know the difference between the various types of vapes, you may be curious as to get them going.
There are two main ways to activate a vape. They will either begin working simply by you inhaling through the mouthpiece or via a small button on the battery.
For button-powered vape pens, you will typically press the button five times in rapid succession in order to turn the vape on or off. When turned on, press and hold the button while inhaling to activate the system.
If you’re new to vaping, count to two while inhaling then exhale. If you feel like you could go bigger, count to three next time and work your way up.
Make sure to always turn the vape battery off once you’re done. Breath-activated vapes will turn off automatically.
If you see a flashing light, that typically means you need to charge the battery. If you have a disposable vape, a flashing light means the weed pen is empty and be tossed.
Customizing the vape experience
Many vape batteries will allow you to control the temperature and/or power of your vape hit through adjustment of the voltage used by the battery. These customizations are typically done through the button you use to turn the battery on and off — try hitting the button three times in a row to make a change.
Colors are often indicators of temperature. Blue is usually used for the lowest setting, green is medium, and red is hot. However, these can vary between devices so always check the user manual to be sure.
Most people choose the medium setting as it offers a decent hit and smooth flavor. For a stronger hit with larger clouds, the hot setting is optimal. A cooler setting is perfect for those who may desire a gentler, more flavorful hit.
Other batteries have a dial on the bottom that indicates the voltage used. The higher the number, the more powerful your hit will be.
The types of cannabis oil in weed pens
If you thought all cannabis oil was the same, guess again. It turns out there are several types of extraction methods and manufacturing processes resulting in a wide range of concentrate products perfect for your vape pen. Here are a few of the most popular types of weed oil:
Common in vape carts and pods, this highly distilled oil contains extremely high concentrations of cannabinoids like THC or CBD. However, they lack some of the other natural compounds such as terpenes that give cannabis its distinct flavor and effects.
Made from fresh frozen plant material, live resin is extremely popular. Affordable yet potent, this oil is usually made through butane or CO2 extraction methods. Any residual solvents are removed making it optimal for those who want an experience close to smoking cannabis flower but the convenience and strong effects of a dab.
Rosin is a cannabis concentrate created without the use of solvents. The most natural type of weed oil, active compounds are extracted using either ice water or extreme pressure and heat. This craft product is rising in popularity thanks to its high quality and delicious taste.
If you thought all cannabis oil was the same, guess again.
Can you make your own vape pen?
The short answer is yes. It is possible to order empty vape cartridge tanks or pods and fill them yourself, using either a syringe or a commercial filling machine. However, it is important to note that all cannabis concentrates are suitable for vape pen use.
The oil in vape pens must have a certain viscosity for it to work within the system. So-called “cutting agents” can be added to help maintain consistency but are not recommended. It’s far safer and more convenient to purchase legitimate vape cartridges or pods from a licensed dispensary.
Cannabis vape batteries vs chargers
It’s important to note that weed pen chargers and batteries are not the same. The chargers are used along with the battery. Some vape batteries use a standard USB charging cable; certain 510 thread batteries require a corresponding USB charger that screws into the space where the cartridge would normally go.
Which type of weed vape is best?
It can be difficult to discern which vape pens, pods, or cartridges are deserving of top-shelf status, but there are a few clues:
- Vapes should not leak oil. Once in a while, some residue may build up. In this case, use a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to clean any sticky areas. If this continues to happen, it’s a sign of a bad product.
- Quality vapes will have a powerful hit and long battery life.
- The best weed pens will come in a variety of strains and cannabinoid blends.
- Great vape cartridges and pods will never clog up, offering a consistent experience every time.