Nectar collectors are portable dabbing devices. Also known as honey straws or dab pipes, they’re essentially handheld dab rigs for vaping cannabis concentrates, sometimes referred to as honey or nectar. Honey straws consist of a tube with a mouthpiece on top and a “straw” on the bottom that gets heated up. The tube section comes in a variety of materials, including silicone, metal, wood, or glass. The straw section is made of materials capable of handling high temps like titanium or quartz and often has fins to help dissipate heat.
Originally honey straws required a torch to heat them up. Today, there are electric versions that don’t depend on an external heat source. Some of them also incorporate bubbler sections to provide water filtration and help create more of an authentic rig-style experience. The first honey straw invented in 2014 was known as the Nectar Collector, but no matter the shape, size, or name, they’re all defined by their straw-like functionality and unique vertical orientation.
Nectar collectors function like regular straws, which use suction power. The straw-like tip is heated up to around 700 F or higher and then placed inside a heat-resistant jar or dish containing dabs. The wax instantly melts and is converted to vapor as the straw makes contact with it. At the same time, the user inhales through a mouthpiece on top, which channels the freshly produced vapor upwards through the device. You can think of it as a reverse dab rig since the wax is heated from above instead of from below.
With analog nectar collectors, the tip needs to be manually heated. The body can be disassembled for cleaning, and the straw-like tips are replaceable. Some honey straws heat up internally via a heating element that runs on battery power. Electric nectar collectors, like the Terp Pen XL, utilize replaceable coils similar to the ones used for wax pens.
Traditionally, nectar collectors are heated using a torch. This is done by applying the flame of the torch directly to the tip of the honey straw. When doing this, you’ll want to make sure the heat is being distributed evenly from all directions. Continue applying heat until the tip starts to glow, and then give it about 20-30 seconds to cool off before taking a dab.
To check the temperature without burning your hand, hold your fist near the tip and feel the heat emanating from it. Eventually, you’ll get a better sense as to how hot it needs to be without overheating. If you happen to overheat the tip of your nectar collector, it will quickly incinerate your concentrates and will make the device harder to clean. In addition to that, it will taste more like barbecued chicken than sweet nectar, so overheating should be avoided!
Electric nectar collectors make this process a little bit easier. They have a fire button to engage the heating element or are draw-activated, so they only heat up while you’re inhaling. There’s a lower chance of them overheating since they only put out just enough heat to vaporize your dabs, but not enough to combust them.
These are three tools designed for the same job—vaporizing concentrates. Each one comes with its own unique pros and cons. Dab rigs provide the most abundant and densest vapor production but are the least portable option. Wax pens are the most portable option but offer less intense vapor production. Nectar collectors sit somewhere in the middle of the two. They provide just as much, if not more vapor than a dab pen and are much easier to transport than a full dab rig.
All of these tools get the job done, but some are better for certain situations. If you don’t care about portability, a dab rig is all you really need. But when you want to take the show on the road, most wax pens and e-nails just can’t deliver the same level of intensity. A nectar collector, on the other hand, is the right tool in this situation. They offer just as much versatility as a traditional rig setup because you can fire them up to your exact preferred temperature.
The main advantage of a nectar collector is convenience. They’re easy to transport and still provide a stronger hit than most wax pens and weed pens. Honey straws are versatile in that you can get them as hot as you want by applying more heat or adjusting the power settings. They are also a good entry-level device for beginners since they’re cheaper than a full-sized rig. In addition, they are easy to maintain and provide efficient vaporization and very precise dosing. They’re suitable for small and large dabs because you only inhale as much as you can handle.
The downsides of nectar collectors mostly apply to the analog ones. They require a strong torch and a supply of butane. They’re also prone to being overheated and need to cool down before storing because the tip will be too hot to touch after using it. Some may feature glass parts, which can break if not handled properly. And while you can still get some huge rips off a nectar collector, the vapor is slightly less dense and delivers less oomph than a full-sized rig.
Here is a list of some of the top honey straws and nectar collectors to look out for right now. They are sorted into two main categories: electric and manual. Electric honey straws offer more advantages over manual ones but can go for upwards of $150-$200. Most of the analog ones are less expensive and start at around $40-$50, with some costing over $100.