Wax pens and oil vape pens are two of the most popular methods of vaporizing concentrates like thick oils and wax (ie shatter or crumble). However, while they are similar, they could deliver two very different levels of satisfaction, depending on your needs and preferences.
Below, we have outlined key details about wax pens and oil vapes that can help you determine which might work better.
In the most basic sense, oil vapes, such as the SteamCloud Stylus, and wax pens, like the SteamCloud EVOD or Kandypens K-Stick Supreme, consist of a battery, a coil or cartridge, and a mouthpiece, which when combined, are designed to vaporize a substance and allow the inhalation of the resulting vapor.
Oil vapes and wax pens are also both designed to be compact and easy to take with you and use while you are on the go.
Oil vapes and wax pens usually come with similar-sized batteries. In contrast, other models like dry herb vapes often feature larger batteries, since the material needs to be heated to meaningfully higher temperatures.
Both oil vapes and wax pens have basic models available with just one heat setting, as well as options with variable heat settings for the ultimate in control. Often, you simply adjust the temperature with a couple clicks of a button and then enjoy.
Some models, like the Yocan Armor pen, feature preset temperature profiles for ease of use.
Although oil vapes and wax pens represent the most popular models in the marketplace, some versions—such as the SteamCloud EVOD and SteamCloud Mini 2.0 —can also be equipped with interchangeable vape cartridges that allow you to vaporize any material of your choosing, whether dry herbs, wax or oil.
The technology powering oil vapes and wax pens have come a long way over the years, not just concerning quality, but also about safety. For this reason, you will find that modern options include several standard safety features, such as locking the device after pressing the front button several times in succession.
Many oil vapes and wax pens also feature auto-shutoff protection (usually after 5-10 seconds) to help prevent overheating, damaging the vaporizer, and potentially causing you harm.
Although both wax and oil are classified as concentrates derived from dry herbs, their consistency is quite different. Wax is thick and can range anywhere between a runny goop and a solid, whereas oil is always a liquid. With this said, oil can have meaningfully different viscosities, ranging from thin to dense.
Because wax is very sticky, you will need to invest in a set of dab tools to handle it properly, as well as silicone dab containers where you can store the material when it is not being used. This also means that the setup related to vaping wax is more involved before you can sit back and enjoy a session.
Comparatively, vape cartridges are typically pre-filled with oil, which means you have to thread the cartridge onto a battery, press a button, and enjoy it. Once empty, some cartridges and tanks include bottles or syringes that you can use to refill by squeezing oil back into the tank quickly.
You will need to pack your wax pen before each session, whereas an oil cartridge can last for weeks—even months—before requiring you to refill or swap out for a fresh cartridge.
Typically, wax can withstand higher temperatures compared to oil, simply due to its thicker consistency. However, there is a temperature range for vaping different materials, depending on your preferences.
For example, e-juices and oils turn into vapor between 212°F and 482°F, whereas concentrates vaporize at between 315°F and 450 °F. With this said, you typically want to maintain a medium temperature of 365°F when vaping wax to avoid wasting any of the concentrates. If you like takng dabs of wax, then the temperature needs to go as high as 650°F-900°F. At the end of the day it all boils down to preference.
When it comes to wax pens, these models utilize a wide range of coil types to heat the material—from quartz to ceramic and wick, plus single rods, quad coils, and more.
While there are certainly many types of oil cartridges currently available, they all operate either off of a wick or ceramic coil, more or less. Oil cartridges all have a similar metal channel in the middle of the cartridge, whether there is wick or ceramic inside.
As with most other purchasing decisions, choosing between a wax pen or an oil vape is ultimately about balancing your needs and preferences.
On the one hand, oil is undoubtedly the easiest material to handle, since it often comes in pre-filled tanks that you simply attach to a compatible battery, press a button, and enjoy. On the other hand, wax typically involves a higher-quality manufacturing process and is more concentrated (read: more potent) than oil.
The good news is that vaporizer models exist that can be equipped with interchangeable wax and oil coils, thereby potentially delivering the best of both worlds. Many even feature attachments for dry herbs, giving you total control over your vaping experience, all using the same device.
Here, we will quickly outline a few tips below to help you make the most out of your new wax pen or oil vape pen.
Even before heating up, oil’s thinner viscosity allows it to move around inside the cartridge, and even accidentally flow outside the cartridge if your vaporizer is not stored in an upright position (e.g., upside down in your pocket, etc.).
On the other hand, wax has a much thicker consistency than oil and does not typically move around inside its storage container. Still, wax quickly becomes liquid-like after it is heated to proper temperatures. This means it can temporarily flow out of its chamber and create a sticky mess (not to mention waste your expensive concentrate) if you do not store your vape pen upright after each use.
Because the amount of power delivered from your vape’s battery to its coils directly determines the temperature inside your cartridge, it is essential to monitor your power levels closely. This is especially pertinent if you are using a powerful box mode vaporizer like the SteamCloud Box Mod, Yocan UNI Pro, or Kandypens C-Box Mini, compared to a smaller, less powerful battery typically found on a vape pen.
Otherwise, if you send too much power to your coils, you can burn your concentrate, which, if it does not waste the material, will not make the material not taste very good. Furthermore, repeatedly subjecting your vape to too-high temperatures can eventually burn it out and render your investment useless.
Whether you use an oil pen, wax pen, or a model designed to accommodate both, the reality is that the narrow vapor pathway between the cartridge and the mouthpiece will almost certainly become clogged at some point.
This clogging is due to the fact that a small amount of concentrate is deposited in the pathway each time you vape, which then becomes denser as it cools. Eventually, these deposits build-up to the point where they no longer allow sufficient airflow to pass through.
So, if you go to take a pull on your vaporizer and find that it is difficult or clogged altogether, it is likely caused by cooled wax or oil residue lining the vapor pathway between your cartridge and its mouthpiece.
The good news is that you can clean this pathway to remove the built-up debris and free up space inside the vapor pathway. If you do not have time to clean your device thoroughly, you can try heating the vape either by heating the coil itself or even holding it over another heat source for a few seconds.
Written By: Derek L.