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What is a Vape Pen & How to Use it for THC, CBD and More

Dave Kriegel
February 14, 2020

Using a vape pen is a simple and easy way to vape, even if it’s your first time. Vape pens were the natural progression of the original e-cigarette. Originally, they were used mostly for nicotine vaping, but today vape pens are primarily used with cannabis oil cartridges and CBD vape juice. Due to their versatility, vape pens can be utilized with a variety of atomizers that allow you to vape various substances. This guide focuses on each type of vape pen and tips on how to use them properly.

What is a vape pen?

A vape pen is a power source that heats up a vape tank or cartridge to produce vapor. They’re rechargeable battery-powered devices that are pocket-sized and cylindrical – hence, the name “pen.” Vape pens first hit the e-cigarette scene around 2010 from a company called Janty, then shortly after were popularized by Joyetech.

This device revolutionized the vaporizer market by offering larger battery capacity and longer running times, as well as providing the user with the ability to swap atomizers or cartridges. Prior to vape pens, e-cigarettes were small self-contained units in the shape and size of a cigarette.

Parts of a vape pen

Parts of a vape pen anatomy info graphic

Rechargeable and disposable vape pens

Vape pens come in two main categories: rechargeable and disposable. A rechargeable vape pen generally refers to a battery-powered device used for vaping with a variety of atomizers and cartridges.

A disposable vape pen is an all-in-one unit comprised of an internal battery, a pre-filled tank and a coil. They are neither rechargeable or refillable, and can be disposed when depleted. Disposable and rechargeable vape pens come in into two main varieties: push-button and draw-activated.

Push-button vs. draw-activated vape pens

  • Draw-activated vape pens: As the name suggests, these pens are activated when you puff on them. They don’t require you to turn them on or off, and have no buttons to push. They are the easiest type of vape pens to use, but offer less options in terms of functionality when compared to button-activated vape pens.
  • Push-button vape pens: These vape pens need to be turned on before use. This is typically done by pressing the button five times in a row. Some push-button vape pens allow you to adjust the voltage output. This is usually done by pressing the button three times in a row. Other vape pens have pre-heat mode which can be activated by pressing the button twice.

Why is my vape pen not working?

Here are some of the most common answers to why our vape pen might not be working.

  • Push-button vape pen not on: Click the button five times and try again. Make sure you are holding the button while hitting it or it will not work.
  • Cartridge not connected properly: The cartridge might be too loose and is not making a proper connection to the device.
  • Incompatible cartridge: Unfortunately, some cartridges are not compatible with all vape pens despite being 510-threaded.
  • Defective coil or battery: Sometimes cartridges can come with a defective coil that will not fire. Try it on another battery and if it works, then your vape pen battery might be defective.
  • Cartridge is depleted: Once your cartridge is empty it isn’t going to produce vapor, re-fill or replace it.
  • Vape pen not charged: Plug it into the charger. Some vape pens have micro-USB or even USB-C charging ports, or the standard 510-threaded USB charger.

How to use a vape pen for THC

Weed oil and distillate carts

Disclaimer: THC oil cartridges are suitable for vaping and are not the same thing as tinctures, which are for oral use only.

Today, the most common use for vape pens is for pre-filled cannabis oil cartridges. Most pens are typically compatible with 510-threaded oil carts. To start, remove the rubber seal from the bottom of your oil cartridge and connect it to the battery. Make sure the device is charged and turned on, if it is a push-button vape pen. Also don’t press the button until you start inhaling or it might burn your lips.

  • Start with a small puff, and wait a few minutes to gauge the effects, especially if you are new to vaping THC oil. The effects might seem subtle at first, but can creep up on you.
  • If your device has multiple voltage settings, start at the lowest setting to avoid dry/burnt hits. (The ideal range for most oil carts is 3.3-3.8 volts.)
  • Many of the newer cartridges utilize ceramic-based coils that can handle more voltage without burning out. Some will require more voltage to achieve a satisfying puff.
  • Check the best 510 thread batteries to see other devices available for vaping THC oil cartridges.

Dabs and wax

The best way to vape wax is to use a vape pen specifically designed for dabs. There are cartridges that work with your standard vape pens, but most dab pens provide a bit more airflow and generally have atomizers with ceramic or quartz quicks that can handle the higher temperatures required for dabs. Unlike oil cartridges, you can press the button before inhaling to preheat your dabs.

  • Load a small amount of wax into the heating chamber. A dab tool is highly recommended.
  • Don’t overload the chamber or you will run the risk of clogging and/or leaking—it will not perform well and it will reduce the longevity of your coils.
  • Prime the coil by gently pulsing the fire button, which will slightly melt the wax.
  • Take a puff while holding the button, always start with small puffs.
  • You can pulse the button while inhaling to prevent it from getting too hot.
  • Wait a few minutes between puffs, never underestimate the strength of your dabs.

Weed

There are weed and dry herb attachments for regular push-button vape pens, but they are not very effective at vaporization. If you are looking to vape flower properly, you’ll need a dedicated weed vape pen or a portable weed vaporizer designed for flower that isn’t going to combust your bud.

Person screwing a vape pen together

How to use a vape pen for CBD

CBD oil cartridges

Disclaimer: CBD oil cartridges are suitable for vaping. CBD oil tinctures are oil-based and are not suitable for inhalation.

Pre-filled CBD cartridges are a convenient way to vape full spectrum CBD oil and CBD distillate. Similar to weed oil cartridges, all you have to do is remove the rubber seal and screw the cartridge on to your device. If you have a disposable vape pen, just open it up and start puffing away.

  • Take a small puff, and wait a few minutes to gauge the effects.
  • If your device has multiple voltage settings, start at the lowest setting to avoid dry/burnt hits. (The ideal range for most oil carts is 3.3-3.8 volts.)
  • Many of the newer cartridges utilize ceramic coils can handle more voltage without burning out. They may require more voltage than older-style cartridges to achieve a satisfying puff.

CBD vape juice

CBD vape juice is very similar to nicotine e-liquid. That means you can use a standard e-liquid vape pen for CBD vape juice. You can fill up any empty oil tank with your own CBD vape juice, but for better flavor and vapor production, you’ll want a modern e-liquid vape pen that can handle most of the e-liquids on the market today.

The two main styles of e-liquid vape pens are going to be either mouth to lung (MTL) or direct lung (DL). MTL vape pens are similar to cartridges, in that they provide a tighter cigarette style draw and don’t require a lot of power to heat up. Direct lung vape pens provide a looser draw, more airflow, cloud production and require more power than MTL tanks because they have lower-resistance coils. Some devices are capable of both styles of vaping depending on which type of coil you are using with it.

  • Make sure you are vaping a CBD cartridge or CBD vape juice and not a CBD oil tincture.
  • Sub ohm devices are ideal for high-strength CBD, MTL devices are ideal for low-strength CBD.
  • Fill your cartridge or tank with CBD vape juice and attach it to your vape pen.
  • Wait at least 5-10 minutes to allow the coil to absorb the e-liquid.
  • Take a small puff and wait a few minutes to gauge the effects.
  • You don’t need to hold it in, you can casually inhale and exhale normally.

How to use a vape pen for nicotine

Vape pens for nicotine e-liquid have evolved quite a bit over the years. Today’s devices offer better flavor and overall performance than the vape carts from the early days of vaping. Some of them also have extra features like a larger battery capacity and a variety of different coil options. The newer varieties of e-liquid vape pens tend to be a bit wider and heftier than your typical vape pen for oil, but there are many sizes and styles to pick from.

Nicotine vape pens all fall into at least one of these categories: direct lung (DL) or mouth to lung (MTL). Some of them are capable of both MTL and DL vaping, depending on the coil you install. Direct lung vape pens provide bigger clouds and are ideal for regular low strength nicotine e-liquid (3-6 mg). Mouth to lung vape pens are used more for higher strength e-liquids generally containing 6 mg and above. Learn more about the different styles of inhaling and how to vape properly.

Finding the right vape pen for you

Man vaping on a vape pen

Now that you know how to vape THC, CBD and nicotine with a vape pen, the question is, which vape pen do you choose? If you plan on vaping THC and CBD oil cartridges, a regular 510-threaded vape pen is all you need. If you’re looking to vape weed, dabs or nicotine e-liquid, you are much better off with a specialized vape pen designed for that specific purpose. Now check out the best vape pens in every category for vaping CBD, THC or nicotine.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dave has always had a passion for helping people quit smoking. As a former smoker himself, he knew how hard it could be. As soon as he learned about vaping, he instantly became obsessed with it and helped many people stop smoking. Vaping360 has given Dave a platform to do this on a much larger scale, by educating the public about the wonders of vaping. When Dave is not writing he is either listening to music, performing it, or cruising around on his Penny board.

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DANNY . L
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DANNY . L

How do I break down oil that I make so it will smoke in my vape pen thanks

Neil
Guest
Neil

Can I use the battery of my Snoop Dogg dry herb pen for 510 thread vape cartridges? Like. The ones I get from the dispensaries.

Jim McDonald
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Jim McDonald

Check the specifications in the manual. If it is 3.7-4.0 volt output, it will work fine. Don’t use it if it’s higher.

Pako
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Pako

Hello, soy principiante en todo esto pero me compré una pen vape for oil pero no estoy seguro cuáles son los aceites para este tipo de vape!

Qayin
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Qayin

Is there a device which could use all the different mediums? ie oils, e-liquids and concentrates?

Mike
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Mike

hi i was wondering if i am making e- juice with shatter and liquidizer can i still use a cotton atomizer

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