The great diversity of hash oil on the market today leaves many novice consumers confused about which one they should use for their vaporizer pen. You can pretty much put any extract in an atomizer and hit it, but you run the risk of damaging the coil, gunking everything up and—worst of all—not getting high.
Before you start truly vaping like a boss, you’ll need to know what kind of extracts you might encounter in your dispensary or from your dealer. The two main categories are solvent extracts and non-solvent. Never use non-solvent hash for a vape pen, so check out the non-solvent hash entries from the latest Cannabis Cup in San Francisco to see what they look like.
As far as solvent-extracted oils go, think of them in terms of wax (oils that are opaque) and shatter (oils that are translucent). While this is an oversimplification, it allows us to easily categorize oils at a first glance.
Shatter, which might be hard, sappy or sticky depending on the strain it’s made from and the ambient temperature, is translucent. The color of shatter can be anywhere from golden yellow to dark amber and even a little green sometimes, but always translucent and sticky. Wax, also called crumble or budder depending on the consistency, is non-transparent with a dryer consistency similar to a honeycomb. Wax can be dark brown or white, but generally takes a shade of yellow. For a further explanation about the difference between these two general types of butane extract, check out Shatter Vs. Wax: What's the Difference?.
Which one of these two general types is best for vape pens? If you have to pick one, shatter is the best, but it really depends on how runny the oil is. The coil in the atomizer of a vape pen is wrapped around a fiberglass wick. The system relies on your oil being liquid in nature, enough so that it can run through the wick; if it doesn’t do this, your extract is just burning off from direct contact with a red-hot coil. When used properly, the coil should only get hot enough to vaporize the oil.
The consistency of shatter allows it to melt and become fluid more easily than wax, but even shatter that’s too hard isn’t ideal.
Hash oil that comes in a syringe (and is always translucent) looks sketchy, but it’s really the best oil you can use for a vape pen. They put it in a syringe simply because that’s the best way to store such a sticky liquid. Oil like this might have been extracted with a variety of solvents, or even cut with glycerin to purposefully make it less viscous. Oil cut with glycerin tastes slightly sweet, but glycerin is completely non-toxic so have no fear. If some of your shatter gets “buddered up” for whatever reason (heat, time, humidity) it will still work for a vape pen, just not quite as well.
So put that extract in your atomizer and vape it!
(Photo Courtesy of The Nug)