Today, vaping concentrates are very much a far cry from the formerly labor-intensive process which involved the use of the old torch and nail. The rise of dab pens and e-nails have given way to a new way to enjoy and get the most out of your choice concentrates – in the most convenient and simplest of ways.
Types of extracts
Concentrates or extracts are results of a process that removes cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, and terpenes—basically, the psychoactive compounds and the flavor compounds from raw plants. There are several ways to do this; either by mixing the extracted compounds with oil/solvent (which results in a more liquid/viscous form) or, via solventless methods that result in highly concentrated, uncut, 100% plant material. Either way, when we say extracts, we mean a fiberless, pure material extracted from the plant and that fully melts within a vaporizer.
Concentrates are generally divided into two main categories – Oil, which is more viscous and is usually available in pre-filled carts. Then there’s Wax which has more intense effects, is usually solid or semi-solid, and has several other variants and names.
Wax is the collective name for what is either a soft, semi-solid or even solid form of concentrated terpenes and plant material. Shatter, crumble, or honeycomb are brittle solids. While wax, resin, budder, or honey are its softer and more malleable counterparts. Essentially, the concentrate is subcategorized by its texture – which is indicative of the process used to make them.
Regardless, all of these concentrates will nonetheless vaporize when exposed to the right and high enough temperatures. Wax is well known for its potency and for being absolutely flavorful (or “terpy”). The best wax will carry the full flavors of the source strain, all of its known effects, and will sometimes have added flavors included during the post-extraction process.
Oil from pre-filled carts is the most common amongst the concentrates, and more often than not- is the first type of extract you’re likely to get introduced to. The production method used to make oil requires a solvent, which does somewhat lower the concentration of the plant extracts. It’s a liquid that’s available in various viscosity levels – some more dense/thick than others.
Types of Extract Vaporizers
Two main types of concentrates = different types of concentrate vaporizers. All made for your relative comfort level and to help you get the most of whichever material you choose. Some concentrate vaporizers are better fits for beginners, and others are suited for more expert/experienced vapers.
Here’s a quick rundown: Oil cartridges can be used with any battery with the same 510 threading and are the most discreet and simplest to use. Dab Pens are a sort of step above that, and are still great for beginners – they also come with relatively portable device bodies. E-Nails and E-Rigs on the other hand are a bit more complicated and deliver intense results.
510 Batteries- beginner friendly, easiest to use
As mentioned earlier, Oil comes filled in cartridges (they’re either pre-filled or are refillable). These carts are then easily connected to a battery with the same standard 510 threading and then used right away. These batteries come in a myriad of designs, from a sleek, pen-style device such as the Yocan Lux, or conceal style (where the cart is hidden from view) like the Kind Breezy, or more unique styles like the round shape of the Lookah Snail.
510 batteries are designed to be foolproof, usually with a single button which is then repeatedly pressed to access all of the device’s functions – including the pre-set temperatures. Some devices, however, are pushing the envelope and include additional features such as the inhale timer and puff counter on the Caligo Opus, or precise temperature control as seen on the Yocan Uni Pro 2.0.
Wax/Dab pens- the benefits of a rig, in a small pen
Wax pens are relatively straightforward and consist of a battery, a coil, and a mouthpiece. In lieu of precise temperature control, they have pre-set temperatures that are easily accessible via a single button. Portable, inexpensive, and easy to use – wax pens are best for beginners.
Using a Wax Pen is as easy as loading a rice-grain-sized amount of material, and then turning on the device to begin heating. Most Wax Pens can reach temperatures of up to 400F and have different coils or atomizers. These different atomizers then yield different results and also have varying heat up times. Some more premium Dab Pens have added features such as a more ergonomic/functional mouthpiece as seen on the Puffco Plus, or are also even 510 threaded and can be used with cartridges like the G-Pen Micro+ (Plus).
E-Nails- taking it up a notch, for the savvy user
E-Nails are the more complex amongst these devices and are larger wax vaporizers capable of reaching very precise high temperatures and producing intense vapor. This precision lets you really fine-tune your sessions and maximize your chosen dab and certain cannabinoids. Something that wouldn’t happen if you’d have used a torch instead.
- An E-Nail is a battery-powered nail that can then be attached to any water pipe/traditional rig. Best for users who already have a favorite rig, but want the precision and control from an electronic heating element. One of the first E-Nails actually still remains to be one of the most popular ones – the G-Pen Connect.
- A Dab Rig/E-rig is an “all-in-one” device. There’s no need for a separate rig, since there’s one already built right in. All there is to fill the bubbler with water, load the atomizer, and turn it on. Since all dab rigs have glass water bubblers, they’re not the most portable devices, and they can also be quite large – like the Dr Dabber Switch. Although there are also micro-Dab Rigs, like the Kind Pen The Don, though they still have glass parts, they’re smaller and usually come with carrying cases for added safety
Types of coils produce different results
E-Nails, E-Rigs, and Dab Rigs typically come with any of the following coil types: titanium, quartz, and ceramic. Some devices come with interchangeable coils, with either two or three coils in the kit. Being able to choose between coils is a definite plus since different coils produce different results.
- Ceramic – Ceramic coils are more accurately described as bowls rather than coils. Ceramic is a neutral material that doesn’t affect the flavor of the wax and produces a pure result. It does take a bit more time to heat compared to other coils, but in turn, it retains heat pretty well, meaning that you won’t have to constantly be firing the button between hits.
- Quartz – Quartz coils are also better called “bowls” and share a lot of similar qualities with ceramic coils – but heat to temperature a bit quicker. Quartz is also neutral material that results in flavorful vapor.
- Titanium – Just like all metals, titanium heats quickly and stays hot for much longer. However, since titanium gets so hot, so fast – the vapor quality isn’t of the best quality, but rather intense and has a slight metallic aftertaste. These coils are usually titanium wire wrapped around quartz rods. Some devices have a heating element with a single-coil, but some heavy hitters can have as many as four coils.
Ideal Vaping Temperatures
As mentioned earlier, certain cannabinoids and terpenes are released at different temperatures, and the type of coil being used, matters. Temperature also plays a key role in all of this too, and definitely affects the vapor you’re enjoying – making it sort of fun to switch coils (if possible) and experiment with the results.
- Low-Temperature Dabs are more suited for users looking for a more flavorful hit, and a lighter, smoother vapor. Keep in mind that a “low-temp” tab is somewhere in the 315°F to 450°F range.
- High-Temperature Dabs on the other hand trades some flavor for volume. The vapor produced is dense, thick, and though already cooled by water – might still be a bit much if you’re not used to it.
For 510 batteries, most devices have 3 pre-set temperatures you can choose from. While more premium devices have granular control. The quality of vapor you’ll get is pretty dependent on your cartridge and the temperature that best suits it. But if you’re looking for a starting point, follow this general rule: start low and work your way up.
Cleaning & Maintenance
It goes without saying, that 510 batteries are virtually maintenance-free. Simply replace the empty cart with a new one and that’s it. Dab Pens and E-Nails are a slight step up from that. The heating element/coils can simply be wiped down with a q-tip dipped into ISO alcohol, and some device mouthpieces can be removed and soaked in ISO. (Just be sure to check the manual for further cleaning instructions)
We highly recommend doing a quick clean of the atomizer of your dab pen, e-nail, and e-rig after every bowlful has been consumed. Concentrates are sticky and have a tendency to harden be tougher to clean in the future. To clean the bubbler on an E-Rig, simply detach it from the main device and leave it in a jar of ISO alcohol for an hour.
One of the most interesting aspects of Extract Vaping is that it somewhat exists on a spectrum – meaning there’s a device and a corresponding extract for your needs. You can opt for easy and straightforward with a 510 battery or a Wax Pen, or be more involved with the process and add water filtration to your sessions with an E-nail or E-Rig.