An e-cigarette is demonstrated at a vape store in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press file)

How to use a vape pen: Tips on getting the most out of a marijuana vaporizer

If you're curious about how to use a vape pen, tips on getting the most out of your vape (regardless of the model), read on

Editor’s note: Especially in this still-new legal cannabis space, there’s no shame in even the most basic questions. A lot of readers have reached out asking us how to use a vape pen, and so we tapped our Seattle-based vape critic Ben Livingston to pen an introductory how-to on vape pens, vaporizers and beyond.

How To Use a Vape Pen: step-by-step instructions

Here is the essential information on the best way to operate a fresh-out-of-the-box vaporizer — and how to use a vape pen properly so you don’t wreck your new purchase:

Step 1. Plug it in

Vape pen batteries typically require several hours of charging before use. The moment you get it home, use the manufacturer-supplied charging apparatus to start refueling those lithium ion cells. Waiting for vape pen batteries to complete their initial charge is as disappointing as realizing the Christmas-morning Power Wheels toy takes 10 hours to charge, so plug them in early and often.

2. Read the manual

I don’t actually do this, but it frequently seems like a good idea. Well-designed products should provide intuitive functionality, but sometimes a pinch of preparation can save a cup of catastrophe down the road. At the very least, know whether the vape pen is designed for pre-filled disposable oil cartridges, flowers, oil and propylene-glycol mix, or unmixed oil typically called wax or shatter.

3. Dry run it

Most vape users run their paraphernalia without any herbs or oil for the first time, in hopes of burning off any factory flotsam that might otherwise enter the lungs when vaping. This doesn’t ensure you won’t inhale deleterious metals or other compounds, but it likely reduces that risk. Go outside and turn it on the highest setting for 30 to 90 seconds.

4. Load the tank

Pre-filled cartridges are simply attached to the battery. Unmixed oil — wax, shatter, etc — is often dabbed in small amounts directly onto the atomizer or surrounding wick. Oil mix is typically loaded into a tank that wicks or drips onto the atomizer. Ground flowers sit directly on the atomizer or inside a metal chamber heated by it.

5. Toke up

Most vape pens heat up automatically when the user inhales, while others turn on with a push button. A light will indicate that the unit is on. Put the mouthpiece to your lips and draw in a breath of atomized cannabis oil. Pull in some clear air at the end of the puff to push all those pot particles into the lungs. Hold it for a few seconds, but don’t be that stoner trying to hold your hit indefinitely — it makes everybody dizzy, not just you.

6. Check your head

Most vape pens use cannabis oil, which is a highly-concentrated form of the flower. Go easy on that thing; it’s pot paraphernalia not an oral fixation pacifier. Take a minute to get your bearings and check your gauges before tapping your toker again. The entire universe awaits your exploration in the space between vape pen puffs. Breathe deep and embrace this amazing world.