Vaping vs Dabbing vs Smoking - Key Differences

In the thousands of years since humans first started smoking weed, they have always chosen to smoke it in a smoking pipe or roll it up in a joint. Indeed, the innumerable methods we have invented that allow us to smoke the substance seem almost as old as the substance itself.

However, with cannabis usage increasingly entering the mainstream, smoking has been joined by two other delivery methods as the dominant ways in which to imbibe the substance: vaping and dabbing.

To traditionalists, these new ways to use various dry herbs can seem unnecessary. After all, if the smoking of the plant has worked for thousands of years, what is the point in changing things up now?

As it turns out, the reasons are many. Vaping and dabbing present unique advantages that are not present in the traditional methods of smoking cannabis.

Vaporizers on the Skyline

What is a Vaporizer?

The most important distinction between using a portable vaporizer and smoking dry herbs is the actual substance that is being inhaled by the consumer: vapor versus smoke.

Smoke is produced when a vape device -- whether it is battery-powered or otherwise -- brings the heating element (the atomizer or coil) into direct contact with the substance being consumed. This has the effect of burning the dry herbs and producing smoke, a process called combustion.

Dry Herb Vaporization

Vaporization occurs when hot air is blasted through dry herbs and, in the process, absorbs their chemical compounds in a way that produces the THC-laden vapor. Vapor is known for being far less imposing than smoke: After the user exhales from a vaporizer, the aroma lingers for a moment and disappears almost immediately. This is what is known as convection heating.

Vaporization carried out by portable convection oven vaporizers -- such as the high-powered E-CLIPSE or Flowermate V5 Nano -- has a number of advantages over more conventional smoking methods like joints and bongs. For starters, there is the health factor: Vapor is much lighter on the consumer’s lungs than is smoke and is unlikely to induce as many coughing fits.

There is also the issue of discretion. If you use a dry herb vaporizer -- particularly in locations that might not welcome the idea of you doing so -- being discreet is often of the utmost importance. Vaporizers’ lack of smell is a definite advantage for people who want to blaze on the go but do not want anyone to be any the wiser.

Advantages of Vaporizers

Vaporizers themselves also have several advantages over the more traditional methods of smoking. For starters, they come in an array of shapes and sizes. There are the smaller and most easily portable combustion-style options -- such as the SteamCloud Mini 2.0 or the Yocan Uni vape pen -- that are able to be stealthy because of their more minuscule frames.

There are also the larger and more sophisticated convection oven options. These dry herb vaporizers -- such as the Pulsar Apx 2 or the Titan 2 -- not only have the benefit of featuring convection oven technology; they also come equipped with customizable temperature settings. This feature essentially enables the consumer both to set the pace at which they are vaporizing their dry herbs and to set the pace in which they use their battery.

Vaporization is also different because there are vaporizers that accommodate almost every consumer preference. Dry herbs, shatter, wax: All have a particular vaporizer that specializes in their use. Joints or dab rigs, on the other hand, operate best when paired with a specific substance.

Dabbing Products at the Beach

What does "Dabbing Wax" Mean?

Unlike the technologically-advanced world of dry herb vaporizers, the phenomenon of dabbing is relatively straightforward: The user utilizes a series of low-tech materials to produce a clean and flavorful vapor.

Dab Rigs

The entire process typically begins with what is called a dab rig. Similar to a small bong in its shape, the dab rig is the water-filled device through which the user inhales the vapor.

Affixed to the dab rig -- where on a bong there would be a bong bowl -- is the dab rig’s dab nail. This piece is heated with a blowtorch until it is red-hot. After waiting 20-40 seconds, the consumer then uses a dab tool to touch a piece of wax or shatter to the nail, which instantly produces vapor that the consumer inhales through the rig.

Dab Nails

Dab nails may be made of various materials. Some nails -- such as a Titanium Nail -- are made of fast-conducting metals that are able to heat more quickly and thus save time for the consumer when they are using the blowtorch.

Other dab nails -- such as a Quartz Nail or the Interchangeable Ceramic Domeless Dab Nail -- are made of materials that emphasize the flavor of the vapor over the quickness of the heat-up time: Ceramics and glass are known to often produce better-tasting vapor than are materials like steel or titanium.

Electric Rigs and Nails

For the more practically-minded consumer, there are also portable dabbing tools available. The G Pen Connect, for example, is a portable nail that includes its own battery: Users who prefer to forego the blowtorch and nail inherent to the normal dabbing process may instead opt for a more technologically advanced approach to dabbing.

Specifically Wax Concentrates

One of the main differences between the use of joints or bongs or vaporizers and the use of a dab rig is that dab rigs deal all but exclusively with wax concentrates. Materials such as distillate and shatter are able to be vaporized quickly using the blowtorch and dab nail method, whereas dry herbs would not result in nearly the amount of vapor produced, nor would the vapor that is produced be nearly as potent.

Power of the Dab Hits

Another difference between dabbing and other ways of using dry herbs is that dabbing the gargantuan hit that consumers may receive with just one pull. A sizable amount of wax concentrate -- which itself is far more potent than regular dry herbs -- put through the dabbing process delivers a far more immediate, potent, and longer-lasting high than do other more ordinary methods of use.

To Sum Up:  Vaporization and dabbing have a number of benefits that are not prevalent in the more traditional ways of using dry herbs and waxes.

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4 Responses

James Loper
James Loper

July 01, 2021

Great article! I learned some new info!

Samuel Rivelli
Samuel Rivelli

January 11, 2020

Dab pens suck ass, smoke real cannabis

amelie rossegger
amelie rossegger

August 16, 2019

Very nice read. I personally still am a fan of the good old joint. Though I think it is a getting used to thing.
Also stumbled uppon a very relatable article just before about the same subject,.


February 08, 2018

I did try dabbing few times and yes it works fine with me, especially when you are in your comfy home. Still have some dab rigs at home but since i have tried vaping i stopped using them as much as before. It may because i got comfortable with my Vapour2 and can take it anywhere with me. For it small size can have it my pocket, and i am glad for the easy activation button for temperature. But still have great memories for dabbing with friends:-)

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