Best Vaporizers: Dry Herb, Wax, Dab, Oil Vape Pens
By Lindsay Fox Posted February 22, 2018
Vaping has revolutionized the way people consume nicotine, but it isn’t just for nicotine. If you use marijuana medically or recreationally, there are tons of benefits to vaping your weed instead. But the market is so flooded with options that finding the best vaporizer isn’t easy. With so many different types of marijuana vaporizer – from the desktop dry herb vaporizer to the weed vape pen – and different types of material that can be vaped, there is a lot to consider. So how do you find the best vaporizer or vape pen for weed?
We’ve put together specific guides for finding the best portable dry herb vaporizer, vape pen and the best desktop vaporizer, but this post introduces vaporizers, gives you some key information about finding the right vaporizer for your needs, offers information about the main types of vaporizer and more.
What is a Vaporizer?
A vaporizer is an electronic device that heats something up to turn it into a vapor without causing combustion (i.e. without smoke). The most well-known vaporizers are e-liquid vaporizers, otherwise known as e-cigarettes, but weed vaporizers, wax vaporizers and THC oil vaporizers are also common, as well as devices that vaporize tobacco instead of burning it (often called heat-not-burn devices).
A marijuana vaporizer generally has a heating chamber, which is raised to a specified temperature to vaporize the marijuana for users to inhale. The temperature setting you choose affects which compounds from the marijuana make their way into the vapor. If you’re looking for the best vaporizer for weed, one which allows you to choose from various temperature settings is essential.
Other types of marijuana vaporizer work a little differently. Some types of weed vape pen are specifically intended for oils, and these work more like traditional e-cigarettes, with a small chamber for the oil and a coil-and-wick arrangement to vaporize it. Other options are called wax vaporizer pens, and these tend to have coils like traditional e-cigarettes, but there is no tank because the wax is directly applied close to the heating coil.
Are Weed Vaporizers Legal?
For most countries, the answer is yes. In countries such as the U.S., drug paraphernalia is illegal, but vaporizers can be sold as long as they’re advertised as being for tobacco or aromatherapy herbs. In fact, many portable marijuana vaporizers are described as portable aromatherapy devices. They can’t be sold to people aged under 18, though.
Types of Marijuana Vaporizers
Before we look at the contenders for best vaporizers, it’s important to note that there are a few different types of vaporizer. The easiest way to differentiate between the types of marijuana vaporizers is by size.
The biggest devices are called “desktop vaporizers,” and as the name suggests, these are intended to be placed on a tabletop prior to being used. They tend to be quite large, and are powered using a plug and wall outlet. The Volcano is a particularly well-known example of a desktop cannabis vaporizer.
Like most marijuana vaporizers, they allow you to choose a temperature setting, and switching the vaporizer on starts the chamber heating. Desktop vaporizers usually have a balloon or bag that is filled with vapor for you to inhale, or a “whip” system where you inhale from the device directly using a tube. They are ideal for vapers who stay at home while vaping, but they’re far from practical for using out of the house. These units can also be quite expensive to buy.
Portable Dry Herb Vaporizers
Portable dry herb vaporizers are much smaller than their desktop counterparts. They tend to be about the size of a vape mod, have a chamber either at the top of the bottom of the body for your dry herb and are powered by an internal battery. The various Pax devices are some of the most well-known portable dry herb vaporizers.
As the name suggests, these devices are portable, and are a great option for any vapers who will be using their device out of the house regularly. The devices usually offer several temperature settings for users to choose from, although there are often less options than you get with desktop units. Many portable vaporizers cost hundreds of dollars, but they’re generally more affordable than desktop vaporizers.
Dry Herb Vape Pens
If you want something even more portable than an ordinary portable vaporizer, dry herb vape pens offer the same basic functionality as portable vaporizers in much smaller packages. As you’d expect, these are usually around the same size as an e-liquid vape pen, and are much more easy to use discreetly for this reason. They’re also generally more affordable than both desktop vaporizers and portable vaporizers.
The only downside to dry herb vape pens is that they often don’t work as efficiently as larger units. The V2 Pro Series 3 and 3X are two of the only vape pens we’ve tried that vaporize herb evenly and effectively – most will leave some parts unvaporized, and they often only have one option for temperature setting.
However, if you’re looking for something that’s both ultra-portable and discreet, a quality dry herb vape pen is the best type of device for your needs.
What Will You Be Vaping? Wax/Oil vs. Dry Herb Vaporizers
One of the other useful ways to distinguish between different types of marijuana vaporizers is by what they’re intended to vaporize. There are two basic types: dry herb vaporizers and wax/concentrate/oil vaporizers.
Dry Herb Vaporizers
A dry herb vaporizer, as the name suggests, is intended to vaporize dry plant matter. These are the most popular type of vaporizer because they’re simple to use and don’t require the herb to be turned into a concentrate or an oil before you use it. You simply grind up your herb, insert it into the chamber, lightly pack it down and then activate the device to start heating the chamber.
Most desktop or portable vaporizers will work with dry herb, and some vape pens do too.
Wax, Oil and Concentrate Vaporizers
If you have waxes, oils or concentrates to vape, you need to make sure that the marijuana vaporizer you choose is capable of vaping it. Waxes and concentrates are vaped in different types of vaporizers than dry herb, usually featuring a cup section to hold the concentrate, oil or wax and a coil to heat the material.
For oils and less viscous concentrates, there is usually a wick inserted through the coil – much like those found on e-cigarettes – but for waxes and more viscous concentrates, solid rods (made of materials such as quartz) are used instead of a fibrous material. To use these concentrate vape pens, you apply oil, wax or “shatter” directly to the coil. Pressing the “fire” button to activate the coil heats the material, thinning it out a little and helping it soak into the wick. You can then vape it in the way your ordinarily would, after installing a mouthpiece.
You can find effective wax devices in all of the major types of marijuana vaporizers, but a wax vaporizer pen is usually preferred by vapers who use concentrates, oils and waxes. Unlike for dry herb, a weed vape pen designed for wax works just as effectively as larger and more complicated devices.
However, there are some devices – like the DaVinci Ascent – which work like portable dry herb vaporizers but have an optional attachment you can fill with oil to vape.
How to Vape Weed
Marijuana vaporizers are generally easy to use. For dry herb vaporizers, you need to grind up the herb as finely as possible, and then add it into the chamber. The chamber might be in different places depending on the specific device, but it’s generally easy to find. On most modern portable devices, it’s located at the bottom of the vaporizer, but for some like the V2 Pro Series 7, it’s found at the top of the vaporizer.
For a portable weed vaporizer, once you’ve filled the chamber, you activate the device, choose a temperature setting and then wait for it to reach the specified temperature before inhaling from the mouthpiece.
Desktop vaporizers are used in a similar way. The main differences are that the chamber is usually at the top of the device, and many either use a bag to collect the vapor before you inhale or a long mouthpiece so you can inhale from it directly. Just like portable weed vaporizers, the chamber has to reach the specified temperature before you start vaping.
For concentrate, wax and oil devices, the process for how to vape weed is quite similar to vaping e-juice. For concentrates, oils and waxes, you add your material directly to the coil (or to a cup or donut-shaped section just above it), then fire the coil to heat it up and help it soak into the wick. If you’re vaping either oils or concentrates, a THC vape pen is often the best choice.
Marijuana Vaporizer Buying Guide
Now you’ve learned the basics, you’re ready for a basic guide to buying marijuana vaporizers. There is a lot to consider, and although we can cover the basics here, it’s well worth looking at our specific posts covering the different types of vaporizer if you want more information.
Think About Your Budget
The simplest thing to think about when you’re in the market for a weed vaporizer is price. How much are you willing to spend? Only you can really answer this question, but it’s important to realize that you do get what you pay for. It is possible to find a cheap weed vaporizer that gets the job done well, but these are the exception rather than the general rule.
For a weed vape pen, prices tend to be around $100, but this can vary depending on the individual unit. As a general rule, larger and more efficient devices cost more money. If you’re looking for the best portable vaporizer for dry herb, prices increase substantially, up to $300 or sometimes more. For a high quality device, you’ll ordinarily need to spend at least $200, but some of the best portable vaporizers for dry herb are slightly more affordable than this.
If you’re looking for a desktop weed vaporizer, then the price increases further. The Volcano and the Herbalizer both cost $600, but you don’t really need to spend this much to get something good. The Arizer Extreme Q, for instance, can be picked up for less than $200, but in most cases you’ll need to spend more than this to get something high quality.
As always, the best advice is to set a maximum budget while keeping your needs in mind. If you’re serious about switching from combustion to vaporization, it really is worth spending a little bit more to get something that works well. That said, if you have a firm limit or a tight budget, you can find something good as long as you put a bit more time into researching your options.
How Many Temperature Settings?
One of the main things to consider when you’re looking for the best quality vaporizer is the temperature settings available to you. If you’re vaping weed, the temperature you use affects the compounds that are released (for instance, THC is released at 315 °F / 157 °C and CBD is released at 356 °F / 180 °C), so the more control you’re offered over your vaping temperature, the more control you have over your experience.
Generally speaking, you’re advised to vape at between 347 and 392 °F (175 to 200 °C), although some research suggests that 410 °F / 210 °C is a better temperature to choose, and others report more cannabinoids being released at even higher temperatures than this. Beyond 455 °F (235 °C), your weed will likely combust and you’ll be exposed to a lot of the same toxic compounds you are when you smoke.
So for choosing the best vaporizer for weed, it’s best to have as wide a range as possible, though there is little use to settings over 455 °F / 235 °C. The ideal situation is to have a free choice of temperature settings, but in practice most weed vaporizers limit you to a fixed number of settings within a certain range, usually from somewhere around 340 to 430 °F (about 170 to 220 °C). In general, the more settings you have the better, but provided you have at least a few options in this range you’ll be able to get a good vape.
Conduction vs. Convection Heating for Marijuana Vaporizers
A vaporizer for weed will use one of two heating methods: conduction or convection heating. Knowing the difference between these two is essential for finding the best dry herb vaporizer, but thankfully it’s pretty easy to understand.
Conduction heating happens through direct contact with a hot surface. In weed vaporizers that use conduction heating, the walls of the heating chamber themselves get hot, and your herb is in direct contact with these walls. This is a little like how a pan on a hob heats up from the flames and your food is cooked through direct contact with the hot pan.
Convection heating is a little bit more complicated. Instead of directly heating your material, these devices heat up air and then pass the hot air over your herb. The biggest benefit of this is that it heats your material much more evenly than conduction-based vaporizers do. With conduction-based devices, only the marijuana next to the outer walls is getting direct heat, and you often need to mix your material around mid-session to get an even coverage. On convection devices, the hot air reaches all of your material easily, and generally vaporizes it much more evenly.
Overall, if you’re looking for the best vaporizer you can find, convection heating is the better choice. However, it’s much more expensive to produce a convection heating system and the vaporizers tend to cost more as a result. In practice, many vapers choose a conduction heating system to stay within their budget. The good news is that many conduction systems perform excellently too, so while it isn’t quite as good, the result will still satisfy you.
Choosing a Type of Vaporizer: Performance vs. Portability
Although we’ve already covered the basics of the types of marijuana vaporizers on the market, no guide to buying marijuana vaporizers would be complete without taking about making the choice between them. It’s quite straightforward, though: if you want something to use out of the house, you’ll need either a weed vape pen or a portable weed vaporizer.
If you’re looking for the top vaporizers for flower or dry herb, then you’re much better off with a portable vaporizer than a dry flower vape pen. Although some devices (the V2 Pro Series 3 and 3X, for instance) do really well with dry herb, the majority of smaller options don’t quite cut it. So if you want portability and dry herb vaping, portable vaporizers are the best choice.
If vaping out of the house isn’t important for you, it’s definitely worth considering investing a little more in a desktop vaporizer. These are bulkier and need to be plugged into a wall outlet, but the performance is hard to beat. The main time a THC vape pen might be the best choice is if you’re vaping concentrates, waxes or oils, in which case these can perform as well as much bigger devices. However, some of the best portable vaporizers (such as the Pax 3) have attachments that allow concentrate vaping too, and some desktop units support them too.
If you’re looking for a reliable vape pen for weed or the best portable vaporizer for dry herb, then battery life is an important concern. You can get an idea of how good the battery life is on a device by looking at the “capacity” advertised for the battery. This is a number followed by “mAh,” which stands for milliamp hours. This is easy to understand because a bigger number means more battery life and a smaller number means less. So you’ll know at a glance that a 600 mAh battery will be drained about twice as quickly as a 1,200 mAh battery, provided it’s running at the same setting.
Marijuana Vaporizer Buying Guide: Making Your Choice
This guide to buying marijuana vaporizers has covered the basics, but it can still be a little bit difficult to get the best vaporizer for your needs. To make your choice, it’s a good idea to check out marijuana vaporizer reviews of the devices you’re considering so you can get the full story before you make a purchase. Good reviews test out the device first-hand and offer pros and cons to each device to help you make your choice.
However, there are loads of devices to consider, so we’ve gathered some of the best options from each class here, and we’ve also put together some more in-depth posts to help you find the best vaporizer for your needs.
Best Portable Vaporizer for Dry Herb
Most people who are interested in finding the best vaporizer are really looking for a solid portable vaporizer that can be used for dry herb. Our best portable vaporizer page has more information on choosing a portable vaporizer and some of the best options on the market, but here are a few important devices to consider if you’re looking for the best portable vaporizer for dry herb and a brief run-down of what they can do.
The DaVinci IQ is widely considered one of the best portable vaporizers for dry herb. It allows you to vape at any temperature between 250 and 430 °F (120 and 220 °C) in precision mode, and also offers options for sessions where the temperature varies throughout. It uses conduction heating, but the performance is exceptional and your herbs are always vaporized evenly. In addition to this, the path the vapor follows from the heating chamber up to your mouth is ceramic zirconia, an inert material that doesn’t impart any components or detract from the flavor of your herb.
The IQ runs on a single 18650 battery, which is great because you can easily carry a spare around with you if you’re going to be out of the house for a long time. You can vape for about an hour in total on a single charge, so you’ll be able to get six or so sessions in before you need to recharge or change the battery.
You can pick up the DaVinci IQ for just $274.99, and it comes with the device, a battery, a carry case, cleaning equipment and a USB charging cable.
V2 Pro Series 7
V2’s Pro Series 7 (along with the Pro Series 3 and 3X) is a three-in-one vaporizer. Many vapers consider it the best dry herb vaporizer because it performs excellently when you vape dry herb but it can do so much more than that, having a specific cartridge for concentrates, oils and waxes and another for e-liquid vaping.
The Pro Series 7 runs on an in-built 1,800 mAh battery, which is recharged via USB, and uses a magnetic cartridge system to handle vaping different materials. For dry herb vaping, you simply drop the dry herb cartridge into the slot at the top and it will automatically detect what you’re vaping. Then you choose a temperature setting – from the options 390, 415 and 440 °F (or 200, 210 and 225 °C) – and you’re ready to start vaping. One of the biggest benefits of the Pro Series 7 – and why it’s often ranked among the best portable vaporizers for dry herb – is how incredibly simple it is to use.
The Pax 3 is widely considered the best dry herb vaporizer on the market, and has been dubbed the “iPhone of vaporizers” by reviewers and vaping connoisseurs. On the face of it, the Pax 3 is a very straightforward weed vaporizer, offering dry herb vaping at four temperatures – 360, 380, 400 and 420 °F (or 182, 193, 204 and 215 °C) – and using conduction heating like most portable dry herb vaporizers on the market.
But the Pax 3 takes these core elements and puts them in a very user-friendly format (with just one button to handle setting changes and switching the device on or off) with an effortlessly cool appearance and a sizable 3,500 mAh battery that outstrips most of the options on the market. The chamber is at the bottom of the device so the vapor is nice and cool when it reaches you and to keep the mouthpiece from getting overly warm. The device has four color-changing LEDs that convey the key information to you as opposed to a traditional display screen, and even gently vibrates to let you know when it’s time to vape.
The Pax 3 has a lot going for it on paper, but the excellent performance – in terms of both flavor and getting a satisfying vape – is what makes it our top pick for the best vaporizer for weed. You can pick up the Pax 3 for $274.99, and it comes with a bunch of accessories alongside the device itself. Check out our review for more information.
Best Wax/Dab/Oil Pen
If you’re looking to vape waxes, oils or other concentrates with the best vaporizer you can get, some of the most widely-recommended options are wax vaporizer pens. These are the size of ordinary vape pens, but have an exposed coil and wick where you apply your material to be vaped. We’ve covered the best wax, dab and oil pens in more detail in a separate post, but here are a few choice picks for devices to consider:
Dr. Dabber Aurora
The Aurora from Dr. Dabber is a straightforward-looking device that has a generic, vape pen like design but really packs a punch when it comes to performance. There are three heat settings available, and the THC vaporizer comes with three different atomizers to suit different types of concentrate, with one for lower-viscosity oils, one for waxes and one for higher-viscosity concentrates.
All of these atomizers connect to the vape pen magnetically, making the Aurora a very user-friendly vape pen and well-suited to beginners. To fill it, all you have to do is remove the ceramic mouthpiece to expose the chamber, add your material to the visible coils and then vape away. You change your setting by pressing the fire button three times in quick succession, with a color-coded system (green = low, blue = medium and pink = high) to make it easy to tell which setting you’re on at a glance.
The Aurora costs $99.95, and comes with three atomizers, the battery, a charger and accessories.
The Pax Era is like the JUUL re-imagined as a THC oil vaporizer. It’s small in size and looks more like a USB stick than a traditional vaporizer, and uses pre-filled “pods” to make vaping concentrates about as easy as it could be. You don’t need to deal with any concentrates or oils yourself, or worry about loading your material up properly before vaping.
There is a downside in that you can only find pods in places where marijuana can legally be sold for either medical or recreational use, but provided you live somewhere with access, it’s a fantastic device well deserving of a spot on any list of the best vaporizer pen devices.
It has a 240 mAh battery, which is pretty small in comparison to other devices but it will last several sessions or around 60 puffs before you need to recharge it. It recharges in less than an hour, too. Even though it’s simple to operate, there are four temperature settings on the Era, giving you plenty of control over the type of experience you get, and you can download the optional app to tailor the temperatures to suit your preferences.
The Pax Era is available for just $19.99, though you have to buy the pods separately.
V2 Pro Series 3X
V2’s Pro Series has something for everybody, including vapers looking for the best weed oil vape pen. Although the larger Pro Series 7 can also vape concentrates, the new Pro Series 3X has tons of advantages if you’re mainly interested in vaping waxes, oils and possibly e-liquids.
The device uses easily changeable magnetic cartridges so you can use the same battery to vape e-liquid, concentrates and dry herb, depending on which cartridge you insert. The device automatically detects what you have attached and functions accordingly, with three voltages from 1.8 to 3.3 V to choose from when you’re vaping concentrates or oils. The Pro Series 3X also has a 750 mAh battery, which is enough to keep you vaping throughout the day even if you’re using e-liquids, so for concentrate vaping battery life won’t be an issue at all.
The 3X also performs excellently with concentrates with the optional wax/oil cartridge, vaping your material quickly and efficiently, with great flavor throughout your session. If you vape e-liquid too, the sub ohm coil included and the airflow options make it easy to have a satisfying experience with the device. Unlike most marijuana vape pen style devices, it also works really well with dry herb too.
Best Vaporizer for Dry Herb
When you’re looking for a vaporizer for weed, you have a diverse range of options to choose from. From the ultra-portable devices that are great for using out of the house to the bulky desktop devices that need a flat surface to be used. But if you’re more interested in getting the best vaporizer for weed regardless of its size, what should you choose? We have a whole post dedicated to answering this question, but here are some of our picks for the best dry herb vaporizer.
The Firefly 2 is often recommended as the best portable vaporizer for dry herb, and if you’re looking for reliable and consistent performance on-the-go it’s easy to see why. The Firefly 2 is just over 5 inches long and less than 1 and a half inches wide, with a small oven section on the front of the device covered over by a magnetically attached front section.
The Firefly 2 reaches vaping temperature in an impressively short time – taking just 5 seconds to reach 400 °F (204 °C). This temperature is suitable for vaping weed for many people, but if you want to, you can use the Firefly app to change it to any of five settings from 340 to 420 °F (171 to 216 °C). It runs on a single 18650 battery, and two are included in the kit when you pick it up.
After you load your herb and the Firefly 2 quickly heats to your desired temperature, the vapor travels down a glass path to the mouthpiece, preserving the flavor without imparting any unpleasant notes of its own. The performance you get is out of this world, and it only takes one session to realize why it’s often called the best vaporizer for weed.
The Firefly 2 costs $329.95 new, coming with two batteries, a fast recharging dock, a cleaning kit, three pads for vaping concentrates and the vaporizer itself.
The VaporFi Atom is another portable dry herb vaporizer often considered among the best dry herb vaporizer devices on the market. The unit takes design cues from the Pax 3, but reduces the price considerably in comparison to the other unit while not sacrificing when it comes to performance.
The Atom comes with an internal 3,000 mAh battery, and features three different temperature settings to give you control over your vaping experience. The available temperatures are 360, 410 and 464 °F (182, 210 and 240 °C), and are displayed using the color-changing LEDs used instead of a display screen. You choose one by simply holding down the single button on the device and then cycling through the LED colors (blue = low, yellow = medium and red = high) until the one you want is selected. A single press switches the Atom on or off, so it’s really simple to use all round.
Like on the Pax 3, the heating chamber on the Atom is at the bottom of the device, covered over by a magnetic door. This means that the mouthpiece is well away from the source of heat, which makes it more comfortable to use, and by the time the vapor reaches you it’s had time to cool down a little. Throw in the excellent flavor and vapor production you get with the Atom and it’s a definite contender for the title of best vaporizer.
For a price of just $139.99, it’s easily the best portable vaporizer for dry herb for anybody on a tight budget.
As long as portability isn’t a concern, many vapers would agree that the Herbalizer is the best vaporizer on the market today. The desktop herbal vaporizer has a unique, pod-like look but packs a serious punch when it comes to performance. The Herbalizer has accurate temperature control from 290 to 445 °F (143 to 230 °C), and has a 32 MHz, 16-bit processor to maintain your temperature within 5 °F of your chosen setting at all times. It uses a halogen bulb as a heat source, and your herb is heating using convection rather than less efficient conduction heating.
The Herbalizer can be used with a whip, a balloon or just directly (which is great for deodorizing a room), and it uses inert components throughout so the vaporizer itself doesn’t impart any flavor onto your herb. All of this means the Herbalizer is impressively efficient when it comes to vaping and you get a clean flavor no matter how you’re vaping. It’s easy to use, too: you just open up the device like a clamshell to access the chamber and dial in your settings to vape.
The Herbalizer could well be the best vaporizer on the market, but it doesn’t come cheap. The desktop dry herb vaporizer costs $599 new, making it quite an investment, but a worthwhile one if you’re looking for the highest quality. For comparison, the Volcano (another very capable and well-known desktop vaporizer) costs $599 too.
Choose Carefully and Find Something Amazing
There is a lot to take in if you want to find the best vaporizer for weed. From the basic types of vaporizer right through the detailed specs of the contenders, you might feel a little overwhelmed with information and tempted to just make a snap decision. Although the recommendations in this post (and our others) will steer you in the right direction and ensure you get a high-quality device, the best advice is to take your time over your decision. Consider the options carefully and do your research before you make a purchase. You’ll be spending quite a bit of money, so make sure you think about the issue from all angles before you finally pull the trigger.
Then, when your new herbal vaporizer comes in the mail, you’ll have a fantastic experience right out of the box.