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 pre-filled THC oil and CBD vape cartridges. 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 will explain how to use them properly for THC, CBD and nicotine.
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.
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.
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 re-fillable cannabis oil cartridges and delta 8 THC carts. Also known as weed pens, these devices 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 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.
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 portable weed vaporizer or a good dry herb vape pen designed for flower that isn’t going to combust your bud.
Are There Any Side Effects Of THC Vape Juice?
As with all THC products, there is always the potential for a really bad trip. Because THC vape juice is often made from high THC strains, they contain very little CBD, CBN, or CBG.
These cannabinoids temper the effects of THC and make them more enjoyable. Without CBD and the like, too much THC can cause:
- Debilitating anxiety
- Unconsciousness (not the good kind)
So tread lightly when you first start using THC vape juice. There’s nothing worse than a bad trip … especially when you can prevent it.
Is THC Vape Juice Legal?
Yes and no. We know that’s confusing, but so are the laws about marijuana in the United States. Essentially, it all comes down to where you live.
Some states have legalized both recreational and medicinal marijuana, while other states have only legalized medicinal marijuana. Hopefully, you live in (or near) one of those states. If you’re really unlucky, you live in a state where both types of cannabis are still illegal.
If that’s the case, all we can say is, “Be patient.” The times they are a-changin’.
If you live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal (and you’re of a certain age), you can purchase THC vape juice at your local dispensary. If you live in a state where only medicinal marijuana is legal, you’ll have to see a doctor to get a prescription.
If you live in a state where neither is legal, you’re just S.O.L., my friend. Sorry.
Can You Make Your Own THC Vape Juice?
Yep. There are actually several different ways to make your own THC vape juice, each with its own pros and cons. The simplest method (not necessarily the quickest) is to make a tincture. You can then use that tincture as your THC vape juice.
Here’s how to do it.
DIY THC Vape Juice
- Chop your plant matter and decarboxylate it in a 230℉ oven for 35 minutes.
- Place the decarboxylated cannabis in a quart (32-ounce) mason jar.
- Pour in 32 ounces of the highest-proof alcohol you can get. Everclear works well, but by all means, avoid isopropyl alcohol.
- Cover the jar tightly. A screw-on lid works nicely here.
- Shake well.
- Place the mason jar in a brown paper bag and store in a cabinet or closet. Storing the jar in a bag in a dark place keeps sunlight from spoiling the tincture.
- Monitor the location where you store your brew. It should be warm/room temperature, NOT hot.
- Let the mason jar sit for 30-60 days (the longer the better).
- After the steeping period, remove the plant matter from the remaining liquid by straining through a cheesecloth.
- Store the liquid in an opaque bottle out of the sun to preserve its potency.
This type of THC vape juice is very watery (because it’s just alcohol and marijuana), but some of the other products you can make yourself (like cannabis oil and liquid THC) may turn out more viscous (a fancy term for “thick like grease”).
If you end up with one of these thicker forms, it’s not the end of the world. You just need to add another ingredient to thin out the mixture. That’s where vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) come in.
A Bit About VG & PG
Vegetable glycerin is a clear, odorless liquid extracted from plant oils such as palm, soy, and coconut.
VG is produced through hydrolysis, which breaks the bonds of the ester molecules in the oil so that they can combine with water. The result is a syrupy goo much like the maple syrup you would drizzle on your pancakes or waffles.
Propylene glycol is similar to vegetable glycerin but is produced by combining molecules instead of breaking them apart.
For those of you chemistry buffs out there, the chemical formula of propylene glycol is C3H8O2. Propylene glycol is added to many foods and beverages to help distribute flavors evenly throughout.
Here’s a table that illustrates the differences between vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol.