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Dab Pen VS Cart: What’s the Difference? 

If you’re new to the world of dabs, welcome. 

Cannabis concentrates offer the most potent effects of any other method of cannabis consumption. 

You’ve likely noticed quite a few different options when it comes to ways to consume concentrates. 

Wondering what the difference is between a dab pen and dab cart? 

Both will get you stoned in what feels like seconds, but there are slight differences you should be aware of to determine which one is better for your personal needs. 

Here we’ll break down the differences of the dab pen vs cart so you can have the most pleasurable experience possible. 

dab pens vs cartridges

Key Takeaways: Dab Pens VS Carts

  • A dab pen is a reusable portable vape device for cannabis concentrate that has a battery, a heating element and a chamber. 
  • A dab cart is a disposable pre-filled cartridge that contains cannabis concentrate and is used with a battery. 
  • Both dab pens and carts contain highly potent cannabis concentrates, but dab pens are typically a bit  more potent. 
  • Dab pens are great for customizing your experience, while dab carts tend to be more convenient.  

What Is A Dab Pen?

Dr Dabber Stella | Ceramic Core | USB C Charging
  • Excellent flavor retention
  • Portable
  • Long battery life

A dab pen is a portable device used to vape cannabis concentrates such as wax, shatter, live resin, rosin, diamonds, oil and more.

You might hear dab pens called wax pens, dab wax pens or concentrate pens, but despite the name, they’re designed for the same purpose. 

To get you high af with the products they were designed to be used with. 

The dab pen has three parts: 

  • Battery
  • Heating element
  • Chamber or atomizer (where the concentrate is placed)

After adding your concentrate of choice to the chamber, simply set your heat setting, allow it to heat up and puff away. 

Dab pens are great for using at home or on the go. 

THC-A Diamond Dabs Elyxr

What Is A Cart?

Exotic Kush 97% THCa Cart | Live Rosin Vape
  • Pure THCa + Live Rosin Terps
  • Potent
  • Strain Specific Flavor
Our Rating:

A cart, sometimes called a dab cart or concentrate cart, is a pre-filled cartridge that holds a cannabis concentrate that is designed to be used with a vape pen or battery. 

You’ll find live resin carts, rosin carts, distillate carts and more. Basically any concentrate can be put in a vape cart. 

To use a cart it needs to be attached to a compatible battery device. The most commonly used size is a 510-thread battery. 

Simply screw the cart onto the battery, press the power button if the battery contains one and inhale the potent vapor it produces. Some have power buttons and some don’t. 

That’s it. Yes, it’s that easy. 

Carts are one of the easiest and most convenient ways to consume concentrates. No sticky mess, just pre-loaded potent goodness.

Dab Pen VS Cart

While similar in the sense that they’re both used for concentrates, there are some key differences between dab pens and carts. 

The main difference is  that dab pens need to be loaded with concentrate while carts come preloaded with the concentrate.

But there are a few other important things to know before you go out and buy your first dab pen or concentrate cart.  

Keep reading to learn more. 

CBD Cartridge Secret Nature


A dab pen is an all-in-one device, but you need to buy the concentrate. 

But how do you actually use a dab pen? It’s easy. 

Simply load your desired amount of the concentrate into the chamber or onto the atomizer.  Just be careful not to over-fill it, as you can waste precious product and clog the chamber. 

The concentrate gets heated by the battery, which then vaporizes the concentrate that you inhale through the mouthpiece. Easy breezy. 

It may take a few seconds for your dab pen to warm up. There also might be temperature settings that you can adjust to customize your experience.

Medium to high heat can work great, but some pens might work better on lower power settings. You’ll likely do a bit of experimenting to find what works best for you. 

Carts need a battery to function. But the cart is pre-filled with a concentrate so you don’t have to worry about loading up any sticky concentrate into a chamber. 

All you have to do is screw the cart onto the battery and hit the power button if there is one. Many carts will activate as soon as you inhale from them while attached to the battery. 

Once the cart is empty, simply toss it and save your battery for your next vape cart purchase. 

Concentrate Potency

Both dab pens and carts use similar potency concentrates but dab pens can be slightly more potent. 

This is because carts require ingredients that increase the viscosity of the concentrate, which measures a liquid’s resistance to flow. 

Because concentrates are notoriously thick, carts require other ingredients like propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin to increase the viscosity of the product. Ultimately, this can dilute the overall concentration of the cart.  

Since dab pens use concentrate that is placed directly on the heat source, they don’t need to be diluted down. 

Even with these slight differences both dab pens and dab carts offer one of the most potent experiences you can have.  They are made to be used with the strongest cannabis products, after all. 

Some of these include: 


Distillate is an extremely concentrated form of cannabis that can often have above 90% THC or CBD content. It is one of the most pure and most concentrated forms of cannabis available. 


Wax, sometimes called dab or shatter, can have varying potency. But it usually contains anywhere from 60 to 90% THC or CBD. So it is still very potent. 


Rosin is a form of concentrated cannabis made by pressing heated cannabis flower between two surfaces. This extracts the resin from the buds. Less than distillate or wax, rosin is still a very potent cannabis concentrate with THC or CBD contents typically ranging between 50 to 80%. 

Diamond Sauce

80% THCA Live Diamond Sauce
Our Rating:
  • Live resin terpenes
  • 80%+ THC-A
  • Excellent flavor
  • $60 Free shipping minimum
  • Not as potent as Isolated diamonds

Diamond sauce (or diamonds and sauce) is larger crystals (THC diamonds) smothered in terpene-rich liquid, sometimes called terp sauce (the sauce). It is common to find diamond sauce with THC or CBD content ranging anywhere between 60 to 90%. 

All of these concentrates and more can be used with your dab pen. And you’ll find plenty of options for concentrate carts that contain the same. 

When consuming any cannabis product, always check product labels and read Certificates of Analysis (COAs) to get the most accurate information about what you’re using. 


While dab pens and carts both use highly potent products, dab pens usually result in a more potent effect. 

The concentrates in dab pens may be slightly more potent, but the difference in effects is mainly because you can dab a larger dose per inhalation. 

Both devices will produce effects that hit almost immediately. 

Best to start with one or two small puffs and see how you react to avoid having an unpleasant experience. 


Dab pens are more expensive because they are an investment in a reusable, all-in-one device. Once you and your dab pen get to know each other, you’re in it for the long haul and will likely use it for years to come. 

You can load whatever type of concentrate you are feeling for the day, and change things up as often as you like. You can also use your pen for sativas during the day, and switch to your favorite indica at night. 

Carts, on the other hand, are disposable, making them the less expensive option of the two.  They come prefilled with a concentrate that you simply vape until it is gone. 

The only investment you have to make is in the battery that attaches to it. When it runs out, you simply toss it and buy another one to screw onto your battery.

Dab Pen Pros & Cons


  • Can be used with your favorite concentrates in your own device 
  • Single inhalation delivers a large dose
  • More potent than most carts


  • More expensive than carts
  • More complicated to use compared to carts

Carts Pros & Cons


  • No need to load concentrates into your device
  • Come pre-filled and pre-dosed 
  • Extremely convenient


  • Not reusable
  • May be slightly less potent