The Dab-Pen Alternative

Dab pens have revolutionized the portability and ease of getting high. Despite the fact that many of these products have recently been found to include harmful chemicals, users continue to purchase. It’s just too concealable and handy to give up. However, an easy, portable alternative does exist. Through Waxnax’s partnerships with vaporizer manufacturers, you finally have a way to dab that is portable AND safe.

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Dab Pen Overview

Before proceeding, we should make a distinction between wax pens and dab pens. Wax pens allow the user to place small amounts of concentrate in a chamber prior to heating, operating in a way that is similar to regular rigs. Dab pens are pre-packaged cartridges that a user screws onto a battery. This blog is focused on dab pens due to their predominance, as well as their intrinsic safety issues.

Also referred to using the umbrella term ‘vapes,’ by an abbreviation of their weed-filled component, ‘carts,’ or simply ‘pens,’ dab pens allow users to discreetly toke on-the-go. Pens look similar to many nicotine vapes and emit virtually none of that wow-someone-just-got-high scent, adding to their appeal.

What Makes Dab Pens Harmful?

Furthermore, the amount of heat used in vaporizing BHO matters in terms of safety. A Portland State University study found that as the temperature of the oil rises, so does the amount of carcinogens released. With excessive heat, the additives used in BHO can break down into formaldehyde– a carcinogen known to cause cancer. These additives begin combustion at just 210F, while the oil must be heated to 446F to produce vapor. Vapes can achieve max temperatures of 600F-700F. That being said, the same issue exists for some dab products whose companies use shady practices.

Jahan Marcu PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Americans for Safe Access, notes the disturbing reality of concentrate in carts. “The market is flooded with substandard products that have questionable safety… These companies are doing their safety testing on the public and their loved ones.”

It’s not that every cartridge is dangerous, it’s that there are so few that are known to be safe.

But, by using an electric rig or other electronic dabbing device, the user is able to specify temperature and avoid such risks. That’s one of the reasons why we partner with vaporizer manufacturers. Our Waxnax inserts also provide a buffer between the heat source and the concentrate, resulting in lower temperature dabs– especially when you apply the cold-start-dabbing method.

Until a few years ago, dab pens were perceived as safer alternatives to smoking weed, with users reporting less noticeable lung irritation. Some even considered pens to be safer than dabbing for the same reason. But, recent studies and speculating scientists have shown that pens aren’t as safe as we once thought.

Jahan Marcu PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Americans for Safe Access, notes the disturbing reality of concentrate in carts. “The market is flooded with substandard products that have questionable safety… These companies are doing their safety testing on the public and their loved ones.”

It’s not that every cartridge is dangerous, it’s that there are so few that are known to be safe.

BHO vs. CO2
The concentrate used in cartridges is produced either using the butane extraction method or the CO2 extraction method, while dabs have more options that use less additives (e.g. Rosin). Until recently, Butane Hash Oil (BHO) was the only concentrate used for dab pens, which was dangerous as the consumer risks inhaling chemicals left over from the extraction process. A portion of butane is composed of other chemicals that are harmful to the immune system.

One would think that the introduction of the CO2 method, which eliminates the use of these chemicals, has changed industry standards. Instead, it has only led to a broader marketplace for carts in terms of price and quality. CO2 carts are priced much higher than BHO carts, and the average consumer wouldn’t know the difference.

Concentrated Weed or Concentrated Pesticides?

The chemicals used by farmers to ward off bugs, mold, and mildew, as well as those used to enhance bud density, are not harmful in low quantities of flower. But, it takes seven grams to produce one gram of concentrate. That’s seven grams worth of pesticide in one gram of dabs. Yet, further studies are needed to quantify the health risks of pesticides in vaping concentrate.

The only way to make sure you’re buying safe concentrate– whether as dabs or in a cartridge– is to research the brands you purchase. That being said, it is far more likely that a cartridge will contain harmful ingredients, and the unregulated nature of the industry means that companies might not be honest about their products.

  • In a Rolling Stone article on dab pen safety, Amanda Chicago Lewis writes about how she was once very vigilant when buying carts. She would only buy from farmers and manufacturers whose employees she knew and trusted, who assured her that they didn’t use harmful chemicals. That was until an employee she knew left the company he worked for and admitted that “after their former employer nearly lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of cannabis to mites or some other pest or problem, the supposedly “organic” company had coated rooms or greenhouses full of pot with nasty chemicals.” She reports that this happened multiple times.

    If you use carts for their portability and worry about their safety, we encourage you to try pairing our waxnax inserts with The Dip Device. On the off chance that you end up preferring cartridges, The Dip Device is multifunctional and compatible with carts, so it wouldn’t just sit unused in the back of your drawer. Go to our store locator page to find Waxnax products near you. Waxnax is committed to partnering with concentrate producers who are committed to ethical production practices.

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