How Does Dabbing Differ from Vaping?

In the exciting world of cannabis consumption, we’re spoilt for choice. As fellow cannabis enthusiasts, we’re here to help you navigate through the options. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between dabbing and vaping to help you decide which method is best for you.

Dabbing and Vaping: The Lowdown

Dabbing and vaping have been around for some time, but they’ve gained popularity as cannabis has become more widely accepted. With this growing interest, many are curious about these unique methods of consumption.

Both dabbing and vaping involve inhaling vapor rather than smoke, so what sets them apart?


Dabbing requires a dab rig, which functions similarly to a bong. Instead of burning raw flower, users vaporize cannabis concentrate using a glass, quartz, or metal “nail” or “banger.” A butane torch is used to heat the nail to the ideal temperature for vaporization.

Key features of dabbing include:

  • Uses exclusively cannabis concentrates
  • Involves a banger, nail, or e-nail
  • Vapor passes through water and filtration systems (percolators)
  • Traditional rigs don’t allow precise temperature control (e-nails do)


Vaping uses raw material (dried herb) or concentrates (oils/e-liquids). Vapes come in various shapes and sizes, but they all perform the same function. Simply pack your device and take a pull.

Key features of vaping include:

  • Available as a desktop or portable device (vape pen)
  • Utilizes dried herb or concentrates, depending on the device
  • Vapor doesn’t pass through water but may pass through flavor-retaining chambers and channels
  • Allows for a high degree of temperature accuracy

Dabbing vs Vaping: A Comparison

Although both dabbing and vaping involve vaporization, the experiences are quite different. The main distinction lies in the consumed material, affecting flavor, the high’s quality, and more.

Below, we outline the significant similarities and differences between dabbing and vaping.

  • Cannabis Material

The critical difference between vaping and dabbing is the material used. Dabbing exclusively uses concentrates or “dabs” – cannabis extracts created by concentrating resin from the plant’s trichomes. As a result, concentrates are pure, powerful, and flavorful.

Concentrates come in various forms, including:

  • Shatter
  • Wax
  • Live resin
  • Sauce
  • Rosin

Vaping, on the other hand, uses dried herb and/or concentrates. Some devices handle ground bud exclusively, while others (like disposable vape pens) come loaded with oil concentrate. Some can handle herb or oil with specific add-ons. For dried plant material vapers, the experience resembles traditional smoking without combustion. Hitting a vape pen filled with oil feels closer to dabbing.

  • Temperature

When smoking cannabis, combustion is required to inhale its constituents. With vaping or dabbing, the material is heated until cannabinoids and terpenes reach their boiling points, far below the combustion point.

Temperature ranges for dabbing and vaping are similar but vary. Low-temperature dabbing occurs between 157°C and 232°C. However, some individuals dab at temperatures up to 371°C, closer to combustion. Dabbing is less accurate in achieving a specific temperature since a blowtorch is used. E-nails, which heat the nail to a specific temperature using electricity, are an exception.

With vaping, the temperature range is typically between 157–221°C, especially for dried herb, although some concentrate-oriented devices exceed this maximum. Many modern vaporizers offer customizable temperature settings, allowing users to focus on specific cannabinoids and terpenes.


Both dabbing and vaping allow us to vaporize cannabis concentrates and smoke the cannabis flower, but how do these methods differ, and which is the best for us?

Let’s start by defining what dabbing and vaping are.


Vaping involves heating oil or concentrates to generate a light vapor that we inhale. This can be done in various ways, often using vape pens and vaporizer machines. Many of us choose vaping because the vapor tastes better, and there’s a wide array of e-juices to choose from. Vaping is also highly convenient, as most vape pens easily fit in our pockets, are odorless, easy to clean, have interchangeable parts, and are relatively inexpensive compared to other smoking devices.


Dabbing, on the other hand, is the process of superheating an oily or waxy concentrate, then inhaling the vapors and smoke. Traditionally, dabbing is done with a nectar collector, dab rig, dab pen, or portable e-nail. We dab because it’s more potent than vaping, with higher concentrations of THC found in dabs and other cannabis concentrates, which means we need less to experience the benefits of cannabis. Dabbing is also quick, unique, easy to accessorize, affordable, versatile, and portable. It allows us to enjoy various concentrates such as shatter, wax, oil, crumble, and more. There are also multiple ways to smoke dabs, including using a rig with a quartz banger, recyclers, mini rigs, nails, dab pens, and more.

Now, let’s dive into the differences between dabbing and vaping.

At first glance, vaping might seem similar to dabbing, as both methods involve portable, pen-sized smoking devices that can be easily recharged and refilled. However, there is a key difference between a vape pen and a dab pen: vape pens can only accept cartridges of oil concentrates (unless they use a wax tank), while dab pens can accept all types of dab concentrates, except for oils.

To truly understand how these two devices differ, let’s explore further.

Vape Pens

Vape pens are designed to vaporize e-liquids or oil-based concentrates, delivering a smooth and consistent vapor. The devices typically have adjustable temperature settings, allowing users to fine-tune their vaping experience. Vape pens often use pre-filled cartridges, making them convenient and mess-free. Additionally, vape pens can produce less odor than dabbing, making them a more discreet option for cannabis consumption.

Dab Pens

Dab pens, on the other hand, are specifically engineered to handle a variety of cannabis concentrates such as wax, shatter, and crumble. These devices heat up the concentrate directly, creating a potent vapor for users to inhale. Dab pens usually require users to load their concentrates manually, which can be a bit messier than using pre-filled cartridges. However, dab pens offer a more intense and immediate high due to the higher THC concentrations found in the concentrates.

In summary, the main differences between dabbing and vaping come down to the types of concentrates they can handle and the intensity of the experience. Vape pens are better suited for those who prefer a milder, more controlled cannabis experience, while dab pens cater to users seeking a more potent and immediate high.

Both methods have their pros and cons, and the choice ultimately depends on personal preference and individual needs. Some users may even find that they enjoy using both methods for different situations. So, as a community of cannabis lovers, we can appreciate the variety and options available to us in our quest for the perfect cannabis experience.

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Harriett S. Miller

Meet Harriett S. Miller, the guy who never met a CBD strain he didn't like! He's been researching and experimenting with CBD for years, and it's safe to say he's a bit of an enthusiast. When he's not busy trying out new strains, you can find him scoping out the latest cannabis accessories and gadgets. Harriett is dedicated to spreading the word about the benefits of CBD and helping people discover the perfect products to enhance their cannabis experience. He may be serious about his research, but he's always up for a good laugh (or a good puff).

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