How To Shop For A Vape Pen

by Dante Jordan

Vape pens are awesome and have many benefits. They are compact, discreet, and make it easy to manage cannabis intake. You can dose out your body by puffs to know one puff gets you comfy, but five puffs may send you to sleep — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many consumers prefer vape pens to other consumption methods, and with many vape oil and battery options on the market, you might need a little help shopping for them. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

What Are Vape Pens?

Vape pens are the cannabis concentrate cartridges that you see people smoking. Most vape pens have a button and you just suck the pen while pushing it to operate. Some don’t require the button at all, but it’s still the same process. Ya know, like smoking. 

The batteries heat up the oil cartridge which then shoots smoke into your mouth. The oil inside the cartridges contain the cannabinoids and terpenes that provide various effects you feel from consuming cannabis. 

Vape pens consist of two pieces: a vape battery and a vape oil cartridge.

What Are The Different Types Of Vape Pens?

There are multiple types of vape pens. The most common are the 510-thread, which are the little skinny pens with the tube-shaped cartridges. But there are also popular proprietary pens on dispensary shelves such as the Pax Era, the AiroPro, and many many more. 

5-10 thread vape pen

The 510-Thread Cartridge

You’ll find that 510-thread cartridges are the most common. They’re the easiest and cheapest to make. They also have the most universal batteries. You can get a simple little rinky dink 510-thread battery at your local dispensary for around $20. It may not last that long, or hit that hard, but it’ll do the job. For a higher quality experience, you’ll want an upgraded 510-thread battery. There are many of them out there like the Vessel batteries that allow you to select low, medium, and high temperatures for your vape sessions. Three- temperature batteries are pretty much as customizable as the 510-thread options get though.

pax era vape pen

Pax Era

Pax Era pretty much runs the game when it comes to vape batteries that provide exact experiences. They allow you to use their website/app to choose which temperatures to vape your oil at. This allows you to get the max out of your oil because certain cannabinoids and terpenes vape best at certain temperatures. All of the Pax Era vape cartridge boxes have temperature suggestions on the bottom to answer the question you just asked in your head about knowing which temperatures to choose.

Airo Pro

The AiroPro, formerly known as the IndigoPro, is another proprietary vape pen that touts a top-shelf experience. The AiroPro is very similar to the look and feel of a regular 510-thread vape pen, but instead of being screwed in, AiroPro’s proprietary carts attach magnetically.  The magnet heating system is said to help the pen produce three times more vapor than the typical 510-thread battery, according to their website.

dosit disposable vape pen

Disposable Pens

Disposable vape pens are good for one use and then you toss them. Dosist in California is a great example of a top-level disposable vape pen. If you just want something quick to try, these would be great options.

What Are The Different Types Of Vape Cartridges?

Within those cannabis oil cartridges, you could find cannabis oil made from multiple extraction methods. Three of the most common methods are CO2, distillate, and live resin carts.

CO2 oil

CO2 oil uses carbon dioxide to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant. Yes, CO2 is a gas, but under certain pressures, it becomes a liquid that can separate the plant chemicals from the plant matter. CO2 oil is the most common extraction method, extracting cannabinoids like THC and CBD with a fair amount of terpenes for taste.

Distillate

Basically, distillate oil is pure cannabinoids and nothing else. These products don’t have terpenes, so there is no taste, which is why they’re typically in the  85% THC or CBD range, depending on strain. Even 99% THC products like The Clear are distillate. The upside of distillate is that you can make it from any extraction method (CO2, BHO, PHO, etc.), the downside is that the lack of terpenes means the oil won’t taste great and the effect may be muted. This is why some distillates have terpene additives.

Live Resin

Live Resin is a type of oil made from freezing the fresh cannabis plants before and throughout the extraction process. The plant releases terpenes during the curing and drying process. By freezing the plant, live resin keeps all those delicate terpenes inside, ultimately resulting in a vape oil that is packed with tasty cannabis flavors. Live Resin carts are the top choice for those chasing a super dominant taste in their cartridges.

Hemp CBD oil

The last type of oil that we definitely should talk about is hemp CBD oil. And we’ll do it quickly. Basically, at the top of 2020, the government legalized hemp federally. Hemp is the type of cannabis plant that has less than 0.3% THC. Hemp CBD oil is made from hemp. The legality of that led to a flood of unregulated products across both the legal and illegal markets. This has also led to CBD oil getting a bad rap, sometimes called snake oil. While there are plenty of ineffective products on gas station counters that you shouldn’t buy, some companies do produce high-quality hemp oil. It’s just all about vetting them properly through research on where their hemp comes from, how they make the oil, and always requesting a certificate of analysis to verify the chemicals in the product. Though hemp CBD may have some benefits, it is still a completely different experience than consuming cannabis CBD.

Which Vape Pens Are The Best?

The best products are always going to be based on individual choice. For me, the best vape pen is a live resin 510-cart that I toss into a Vessel vape pen battery. For you, the best product may be an Airo Pro sativa cart. Truthfully, it all comes down to what you’re shopping for. The key thing to focus on when buying both a vape cart and a vape battery are: taste, battery life, range of products, and overall experience. If you’re looking for just a quick hitter and don’t care about taste, then a distillate with a basic $20 vape pen is probably good to go for you. If you’re looking to key in on specific temperatures to experience the cannabinoids and terpenes on various levels, you might want something more high end like a Pax Era. One thing is for sure: hemp CBD oil is rarely the answer.

How To Shop For Oil Vape Pens

Shopping for oil vape pens is all about educating yourself on what you’re looking for out of cannabis. The various types of products (flowers, dabs, vape pens, edibles, etc.) all provide different experiences, so if you go in just thinking “I just want to get high” then you will probably get something that won’t hit. But if you go in saying “I want something tasty and pure” then you might get led to the live resin carts, and you can dwindle your options by grower and quality. 

For psychoactivity, go distillate. It’ll shoot you through the roof without ever needing to care about taste. For taste, go live resin, it’ll get you sufficiently high, but also blow you away with the terpenes and bold flavors.

vape pens in the dispensary

How Budtenders Suggest Vape Pens

Budtenders are the gatekeepers for many shoppers. You might not know anything about cannabis and instead of hopping on Green Flower, you just walk into a store and ask the 24-year-old behind the counter “Hey, which of those vapes should I smoke?” Some budtenders will just steer you toward a product and get you out the door; world-class budtenders will really key in on your needs first before making a suggestion.

My go-to budtender, Baylee at Fweedom in Mountlake Terrace, WA, is one of the great budtenders who takes the time to assess a customer’s needs and give a real recommendation. On vape pens, she tells me her process is to ask which type of vape pen they have, and go from there. 

“Usually I ask them what type of pen they have to know if it’s proprietary or not. Then I generally just ask what type of high they want to get and explain the differences between CO2 and distillate, so they have more of a grasp on which of those extraction [methods] will get them the high they want.”

In the end, the most important thing to remember when shopping for cannabis oil vape pens, or really any cannabis in general, is that no one will be able to predict how those products will affect your body. It’s all about using trial-and-error to discover which strains, consumption methods, and products work best for your body. When it comes to choosing the right vape pen, self-education is paramount. Learn the type of high you want; learn what flavors you enjoy tasting; and learn the type of oils that provide those experiences. From all of these answers, you’ll be able to find which cartridges are your favorite, which then makes it much easier to know which batteries heat that oil up just the way you like. Now get out there and buy the best vape pen for your needs!

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