What is a Vape Pen?

Vape pens are portable battery-operated devices used to vaporize substances like marijuana (cannabis), nicotine, and even non-stimulant flavored oils. Also known as vaporizers, vape pens are discreet and often allow for refillable cartridges and tanks. The popularity of vaping and vape pens is rapidly on the rise. With the versatility and customizable options offered in vape pens, the options for vaping have made the notion attractive to those who’ve never even smoked before.

It may be hard to believe, but the invention of electronic cigarettes and vaping has been around since the late 1920’s. The roots of this modern-day trend were introduced in 1927 with Joseph Robinson’s idea of the e-cigarette. But it’s Herbert Gilbert we must thank for crowning the term ‘vaping’. His ‘smokeless non-tobacco cigarette’ was invented in 1963 and patented in 1965. The idea became popular but unfortunately never came to life. It wasn’t until 2003 that the wonderful world of vaping became a reality. Thanks to the invention by 52 year old pharmacist Hon Lik, the first commercially successful electronic cigarette was released in Beijing, China. Since then, vape devices were introduced to Europe in 2006, and shortly thereafter in the U.S in early 2007.

hon lik pic

As if the invention of e-cigarettes wasn’t exciting enough, then came the development of the cannabis oil vape pen. Prior to the legalization of cannabis, specific documentation on the invention of cannabis oil vape cartridges isn’t clear. What is certain, is that these cartridges hit the medicinal cannabis market in approximately 2010.

What started as finding new innovative ways to consume and satisfy the savviest of nicotine users, vaping has become a world of its own. Today, vape pens are a trend that boast variations of usages, substances, potencies, and tastes, changing the game of how you obtain your high or nicotine dosages. It’s likely if you’ve ever used a vape pen before, you’ve experienced how much of a game changer these devices can be. If you’re new to the discovery of vaping, or ready to explore where you should start, we’ve got you covered with all you need to know!

Vaporizers: What Types are Available?

Simply put, vaporizers have changed everything we know about the way we smoke. There are three main methods: tabletop vaporizer, portable vaporizer and vape pen.

The vaporization process involves cannabis flower or concentrates that are heated to a temperature that turns the active compounds (cannabinoids and terpenes) into vapor.

Tabletop Vaporizer:

These vaporizers require being placed on solid surfaces and are stationary in design. They are temperature controlled and include a heating element to heat the flower or concentrate, a heating chamber where you input the flower or concentrate, and a mouthpiece attachment.

There are two types of tabletop vaporizers. Some with a bag to collect the vapor and then detached prior to inhaling, and those that have a long tube attached to the heating chamber allowing direct movement from the chamber to the person inhaling.

desk vaporizer

Portable Vaporizer:

Small and discreet, portable vaporizers work much like tabletop vaporizers. They include a chamber which holds the flower or concentrate, a heating element, and a battery. Portable vaporizers often come with a variable temperature control mechanism that operates with either clicking a button or turning a tiny dial. Upon activation of the battery, the elements heat and vaporize within the chamber which then send the vapor directly into a mouthpiece to inhale.

Be sure to consider the types of cannabis you intend to consume when shopping for a portable vaporizer. You want to be sure what you choose is designed to accommodate your preference.

discreet pax portable vaporizer

Photo Credit: paxvapor.com

Vape Pen:

Vape pens are battery operated, pocket-sized rechargeable devices. With no fire and no smoke, the vape pen is designed as a power source that heats up a cartridge or vape tank producing vapor.

Vape pens are specifically designed to vaporize oils, and juices. Aside from nicotine juice vapes, cannabis derived cartridges range from CBD and THC oil concentrate to wax concentrate. Vape pens specific for cannabis substances work similarly to nicotine devices, except the devices are optimized to vaporize the active molecules in concentrated marijuana oils.

vape pens

Why Choose Vaping?

It’s no surprise vape pens have been continuing to climb in popularity. With a handful of benefits and customizable options to suit your individual preferences, everyone has their own reasoning for choosing to vape. Some people love vaping as an alternative to assist with quitting or reducing their current smoking habits. Being able to still get nicotine while creating healthier habits by avoiding dangerous chemicals present in cigarettes are attractive qualities of vaping. The additional benefit of vaping being safer than second hand smoke is just one more reason to love it.

For cannabis users, it’s discrete nature and how it hides marijuana usage makes vaping the ultimate go to. Vaping for cannabis has ultimately revamped the culture of marijuana. Cannabis users everywhere can’t get enough of their cannabis oil vape pens. One out of every three reviews on Leafly (The Google of the cannabis world), includes vaping marijuana – further proving that using these devices for cannabis usage are on the rise.

For those new to the scene, users appreciate their pens not carrying the ancient stigma that comes with using a bong or joint. The device has made people who otherwise may not have gone into a dispensary or open to the idea of marijuana usage eager to try the alternative.

Smoke Free:

When using a vape pen, there’s no flames or igniting. This makes for both a cleaner, healthier overall experience.


Vape pens are sleek portable devices. Extremely user friendly, they are effective in concealing cigarette and cannabis smoke. Because smoke is eliminated from the process of vaping, the vapors produced are significantly less potent in odor and disappear quicker than smoke. If someone is smoking pot, its scent becomes an obvious dead giveaway. But If they are using a vape pen, it’s highly unlikely the scent of your vapor will single you out. The sleek style of numerous vape pens allow for them to be user friendly and discreet.


Vape pens altogether require little to no effort. They conveniently allow you to cut out the middleman of using other methods such as dab rigs or other setups required to enjoy your cannabis or wax substances. The pre-filled cartridges, temperature regulated devices, and small but might batteries allow you to do little work but gain all the benefits.

Is Vaping Bad For You?

Whether you’re new to vaping or already enjoying all vaping has to offer, the question has remained, “Is vaping bad for you?”

Aside from air, if you are choosing to recreationally inhale substances, you’re already posing a risk to your respiratory systems. While currently there are still unknowns about vaping and its overall long-term effect on physical health recent research suggests that when compared to cigarettes, vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. While not completely safe on its own, it’s still safer causing only a fraction of the dangers that come from smoking.

When you’re vaping, you’re not getting any smoke in your lungs, making many believe that the experience is more enjoyable and all around less harmful than traditional smoking. While it’s not entirely known the exact chemicals that are in e-cigarettes, there’s little doubt that vaping exposes you to far less than the 7,000 chemicals in traditional cigarettes.

It’s important to also pay caution to understanding that when using vape pens in place of cigarettes, vape juice often includes nicotine, therefore possessing the possibility of habit forming.

When using vape pens to vape cannabis derived products, aside from the obvious effects that come from consuming mind-altering substances, vaping allows for less health hazards that come from when you inhale burning organics.

Anatomy of a Vape Pen

Comprised of only a few parts, vape pens are simple and relatively easy to use.

Let’s get to know what to expect with your new vape pen:

  • Atomizer: This is a small heating element that’s inside of the vape pen. The atomizer converts your oil, concentrate or juice into the tiny airborne vapor droplets that you then inhale.
  • Battery: Vape pens are powered up by tiny lithium ion batteries. They are rechargeable and responsible for powering the atomizer for your device. Typically, the larger the battery, the longer it will last. This is also of course dependent on how often you vape.
  • Sensors: Some vape pens automatically turn on upon pulling on the mouthpiece, but some require you to bush and hold a button to activate the atomizer. Whether button or on inhale, a sensor is required for you to reap the benefits of the vape pen.
  • Charger: It’s likely if you’ve gotten a vape pen starter kit, it came with a charger. If not, compatible chargers can be purchased for cheap alongside a vape device. Typically, the charger screws onto one end of the vape pen (usually the end where you disconnect the cartridge or tank). There will be an indicator on your device that will show you when your device is fully charged and ready to use.
  • Cartridge / Tank: This is where all the good stuff goes! The vape pen will have a tank (if refillable), or space to attach a cartridge that will hold your oil, concentrate, or e-juice.

vape pen diagram of parts

How To Use Your Vape:

  • Charge your battery: Most importantly, be sure to charge the pen fully before attaching a cartridge or tank on it. Vape pens are charged via a USB cord. *Note: It’s recommended to not charge your device using a cell phone wall plug as it’s likely the voltage exceeds the safety limits for your device.
  • Fill your cartridge: (If using a refillable tank) Be sure to fill your tank with desired liquid. Be mindful to ensure you are not over filling the tank. It’s likely there will be a marker to measure how much juice it’s filled with. Once you’ve attached your filled tank or cartridge, you’re almost ready to go!
  • Adjust your power setting: For vape pens with adjustable power settings (often found on the bottom of your device), be sure to turn the power all the way down before usage. After initial inhalation you can continue to slowly increase your power to your desired preference.
  • Power up and puff away: If the device is powered by a button, be sure to first unlock and power on your pen. With 5 quick clicks, devices will unlock and be ready for use. The same method to unlock your pen is the same for locking and shutting it off.

If your device is draw activated, simply inhale to unlock it’s full vape potentials. Being there’s no real on or off button when not using draw activated devices, the device will go into sleep mode on its own. When taking a (drag, hit, pull) on your cartridge, it’s likely your device will not last longer than 8 seconds per one hit.

*Note: Slow and steady draw and inhales from your vape is always best. There’s no need to hold your hit in either, you will absorb all that you need in a normal breath.

How to Choose the Best Vape Pen

Whether you’re looking to get your dose of nicotine, weed, or wax, no matter what you’re looking to vape, there’s a pen for that. If you’ve only just begun exploring all that CBD and THC have to offer, vape pens are always a sure fire go-to. For those who are already vape pen connoisseurs, there’s always something new to try to spice up your collection.

With so many options to choose from, how do you know what’s right for you? The best vape pen should be determined by the substance you desire to use and ensuring its compatible with your device.

When choosing the best vape pen for you, be sure to note the following:

  • Vape pen starter kit: Getting a vape pen starter kit is the easiest way to start your vaping experience. The kits come with most everything you need to instantly dive into vaping. All you have to do is choose your liquid, vape oil, or herb of choice and vape away.
  • Know your devices power output: Some pens have their own adjustable power outputs which can alter and enhance your experience with your product. It allows for a more personalized and custom experience when using.
  • Battery power: As batteries come in several sizes and overall lasting capacity, be sure to know the strength of your battery. If you plan to use your pen throughout the day, you may want to keep a spare battery or charger on hand.
  • Cartridge vs. Disposable: When choosing a pen that’s perfect for you, you have an option between preloaded vape pens that are disposable, or cartridge/battery pens which require the usage of a rechargeable battery complete with a refillable tank for your juice, or space for interchangeable cartridges. Disposable pens are designed to support the device until their tank depletes. They are intended to be discarded after use, and do not get recharged or refilled with concentrate.
  • Dab specific pens: When it comes to enjoying your wax (otherwise known as dabbing), you’ll need a pen specific to be successful in your dab endeavors. Be sure your device is built to work with your thick oils and wax concentrates. Some pens are even hybrids and can work with either one!

Once you’ve gotten your device together, it’s time to get the juice and oils flowing!

Choosing the right cartridge and tank

Now that we’ve chosen the best device for our vaping experience, what’s the best way to fill it?

The most customizable feature of vape pens are the variety of cartridge strains and juices.

Here’s what to look for when purchasing juice and oils:

  • Nicotine / e-juice: These can be purchased from your favorite supplier and can be either non-medicated (no nicotine or other substances- simply consisting of just vegetable glycerin and select flavoring), or e-juice that contains customizable strengths of nicotine and sometimes THC.
  • CBD: These pre-filled vape cartridges are often labeled by flavor or effect. They focus on cannabinoid concentration and allow great medicinal benefits to those who are looking to consume CBD easily.
  • THC: Oil cartridges including THC are labeled as Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid with a description of the likely effects they may have on the user. From aiding in sleep, stress relief, and various other effects, THC cartridges come in a range of options and strains.
  • Wax: The concentrates in wax contain high amounts of plant material in their final form. The wax is extremely potent in comparison to flower, so proceed with caution if you’re new to dabs. Only a small amount of wax concentrate is needed when vaping wax.

Be sure to purchase your THC, CBD, and wax cartridges at licensed dispensaries to ensure that the product used is within regulations of the current industry standards.

Maintaining Your Vape Pen

There’s no doubt that once you’ve begun vaping, it’s only a matter of time before you fall in love with the ease and versatility that your vape pen offers. It’s important to take care of your device to ensure you are getting the best possible experience. A little bit of TLC goes a long way.

  • Battery maintenance: Because your battery is the essential piece to your vape, it’s important to take care of it properly. Cleaning it on a regular basis is best to clean any dust and dirt it may be exposed to from spending time in pockets and bags.

To clean the battery, a cotton swab swirled around the tip of the terminals to remove any dirt should work well. As you use your pen, the battery will drain over time and you will notice that the vapors produced will often weaken as the battery drains. That’s why it’s so important to maintain the charge in your battery. However, you also want to be careful to not overcharge your battery as this can cause the battery to not hold charge and burn out over time.

  • Cartridge maintenance: While it depends on the type of cartridge being used, most oils have a shelf life of 90 days. The ideal way to keep your vapor cartridges from leaking is storing cartridges upright. If your cartridge begins to leak, you should refrain from further using that cartridge or tank.

If you leave your vape in direct sunlight or expose it to extreme heat for elongated periods of time, you may notice a change in your oil or juice taste. It’s important to maintain a more room temperature environment for the storing of your cartridges.

Traveling with your vape pen

Because of their small stature, traveling with a vape pen in your pocket or bag is discreet and easy. With the added safety feature allowing pens to turn off or deactivate in sleep mode pens are also safe to carry however you choose.

When traveling in the air with your vape pen, according to TSA, vaporizers, vape pens and atomizers can be brought onto the aircraft in carry-on luggage but are prohibited in checked baggage. While there may be exceptions depending on where you’re traveling, the legal substances allowed often exclude CBD, THC, and wax concentrates, leaving your options for vaping to e-juice. When traveling with any substances that may pose legalities in visiting states, it’s important to know the federal guidelines of your destination. Any liquids for vaping must be under 3.4 ounces to bring along.

As you can see, vaping and vape pens have truly changed the game of how we get the benefits of nicotine, CBD, and cannabis. Are you ready to get a vape pen of your own? If you’re curious to learn more about cannabis oil and which ones may be right for you, check out West Coast Cannabis Tours- Cannabis Oil: The Ultimate Guide for all your cannabis oil questions.

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