In our intro to dabbing, we looked at some tools to get enthusiasts started on their dabbing journeys. While I personally prefer to dab with a proper water rig and banger setup, there’s also a whole class of portable dabbing accessories — and we’ve barely scratched the surface on the topic! These nectar collectors, honey straws, wax pens or whatever else you want to call them are the easiest way to dab on the go without losing the flavor and punch that makes dabbing so appealing.
While many dabbers would point to all-in-one rigs like Stache RiO, Puffco Peak Pro, Divine Crossing Core and Dr Dabber Switch as the obvious choices for getting into dabbing, there are two main obstacles with devices like these: 1) they’re not stealthy and 2) they’re expensive. These examples of nectar collectors, electric honey straws and wax pens will help new dabbers enter the dabbing sphere without breaking the bank.
What is a Nectar Collector?
Nectar Collector is a brand of honey straws, but the term has become genericized, and now applies to any glass or silicone piece with a quartz or titanium tip that connects to form what is essentially a glass straw. Heating up the end evenly (until it’s slightly cooler than burning over your wrist skin) will get your tip ready for vaporizing dabs at around 550 F. Nectar collectors are called so because of the way you dip the nectar collector tip onto your extracts, which mimics how a hummingbird collects nectar, rather than dropping a dab into a rig with a dabbing tool. A typical dose of extracts is roughly the size of a grain of rice, and we'd consider any glob more than a couple doses to be a large dab.
All Kinds of Nectar Collectors
Our favorite beginner glass nectar collector kit is this store brand standard kit from Grasscity. It comes with a glass stem, a small percolator chamber, both quartz and titanium tips and a small dish to hold your concentrates for collection. While Grasscity has some silicone nectar collector kits, the glass ones are sturdier and provide better percolation.
Silicone is also less conducive for good flavors. Between glass and silicone, we’d only recommend silicone for folks especially worried about broken glass pieces. Between the quartz tip and titanium tip, like a nail for a dab rig, quartz heats up more quickly and provides more flavor while titanium retains heat for longer and is less likely to break. Titanium is also opaque. which makes it easier to gauge temperature with an infrared thermometer.
If you’re looking to invest a bit more cash into your honey straw setup, the Nectar Collector Honeybird Simple Kit is arguably the best-constructed option that won’t break the bank. Official Nectar Collectors typically come with a hybrid tip that has a stainless steel connector and a quartz dipping point. This model also offers functional percolation in a compact footprint and exceptional durability over less expensive options. Nectar Collector pieces are also hand-blown in the US, which is nice for users who want an artisanal experience without having to pay a lot for an ornate design.
Typically, a nectar collector is heated with a torch, but you can get a 10mm barrel coil that heats the tip to a controlled temperature. Once you heat your nectar collector, you can vaporize dabbing extracts on contact from the dish in the kit, or straight from the extract container for especially large dabs. While nectar collectors are generally considered a budget or beginner option, there are some artisanal designers that still produce them, and you can find them through the Instagram glass scene or a local glass shop. That said though, if you want to use a nectar collector solution without a torch or a long cable, there are some self-contained options.
Enter the Electric Honey Straws
Electric honey straws and electric nectar collectors are similar apparatuses in the sense that you dip the heated end into the extract to slurp it up from the dish. Unlike torch-heated straws, these are more akin to electronic vape batteries than artisanal glass. The ceramic tip contains internal heating components, rather than an external heat source, which provides consistent heat ratings.
Attached to the electronics, users can either add a glass tip mouthpiece or attach a perc bubbler for smoother hits. Some of these devices also have a water pipe adapter, or WPA, which lets you use the electronics and the heating coil to hit dabs out of a bong or rig. Some folks appreciate the cooling and water filtration from the rig, but that’s more of a modular feature of these systems rather than a discreet way to use an electric honey collector.
The Many Types of Honey Straws
The most popular version of electric honey straw setup is the Huni Badger Portable, which comes with all the components you need to dab at both high and low temperatures, an 18650 removable battery and attachments to use the battery with 510 thread (5 threads, 10mm diameter) vape carts. Overall, this option is by far the most powerful and robust option of the electronic nectar collectors. The heating element is ceramic rather than quartz or titanium, which is common for electric dab straws — it’s great for flavor, but not as durable as the other materials.
Another popular option for electric honey straws is the Seahorse Pro from Lookah glass. Named so for its industrial design, this honey straw is a lower budget option with fewer features than the Huni Badger, but it still produces clean hits with three different voltage modes for vapor settings and a ceramic heater. Boundless, the manufacturer of the CF line of herb vaporizers, also has what looks to be the most compact electric honey straw on the market with its Terp Pen. With its clandestine design, Terp Pen also has a ceramic heating component and USB charging, rather than having to screw the battery into a 510-thread charger. User reviews also point to Terp Pen as a device that produces excellent flavored vapor.
There are also two offerings from Dip Devices, which make devices with an exposed wire coil element rather than the ceramic heating component or a quartz dab tip. Their two main options in this category are the Dipper, which is roughly the size of a pen, and EVRI which is a “multifunction electric dab straw” that has attachments for carts and Juul-style polycarbonate pods as well as a removable battery. Lastly, there are some small portable dab straws, which thread an exposed coil heater right into a 510-thread battery. These come from many brands and are probably the lowest-budget item that meets our functionality standards for this roundup. In our evaluation, the ceramic tip seems to be a more consistent experience than the coil tip.
Wait, Don’t Forget about Wax Pens!
Wax pens have evolved in parallel to honey straws, and there are truly some great options on the market. The experience is more comparable to dropping a dab in a banger, as most wax pens are portable “pack and load” style devices. The Dipper device mentioned above can be configured with a quartz atomizer and a replacement of the shroud on around the atomizer, which is a far cry from the globe glass-over-wire coil eGo thread atomizers of 5-10 years ago.
Wax Pens for any Budget
In the budget category, the dab community’s favorite wax pens seem to be the G Pen Micro+ and the Pulsar APX Volt. Both have ceramic plate heating components that vaporize the dabs, a few different heat settings, and great flavor. The biggest differences between them are their industrial designs, with USB charging on the G Pen for $10 more (the G Pen costs $80, vs. $70 for the Pulsar). If you spend another $10 more than the G Pen, you can get a Puffco Plus, which has a more innovative function and better track record for consistent heating, but no USB charging.
Dr. Dabber also offers the Stella Vapor Kit, which is another $10 more expensive than the Puffco Plus, but allegedly heats extracts more accurately. It also gives haptic feedback when your extracts are heated to the ideal temp for inhalation.
Some herb vapes also work as wax pens. The most notable of these is the Pax 3, which has a dual herb and wax function with the included wax chamber. Storz & Bickel's portable Mighty+ and Crafty+ can both hold concentrates, either mixed with bud or placed on the included mesh pads. Generally speaking, dual-use devices aren’t worth it for both flower and extracts, as one experience is typically compromised by adding functionality for the other.
There are also a whole class of larger mods and atomizers created in the vein of Divine Crossing’s V5 rebuildable atomizer. These setups have extra functionality from their larger size and compatibility with box mods that run custom firmware like Arctic Fox. Devices like this are usually less portable, and less beginner-friendly. The form makes the function more comparable to a small banger, or even a rebuildable coil mod for nicotine vape juice. The mods can also be used with accessories to make them more functional through traditional cab rigs, which some may find to be a reasonable compromise for the lack of portability.
Cleaning and Maintenance of Your Wax Pens and Nectar Collectors
First, it’s important to note that most titanium tips for straws come with a bit of polish on them, so tempering the titanium tip and torching all the polish off is helpful for ensuring even heating. Quartz also needs to be tempered before color changes from heat can be observed. Using an infrared thermometer can help assess whether your piece is heating evenly, as well as track its degradation over time.
Extensive heat from a torch or barrel coil is one way to get extract residue off these straws, but over time this is what will lead your tips to chaz up and degrade. As with just about all cannabis inhalation tools, 95% isopropyl alcohol will get you a long way when cleaning residue. For nectar collector parts, drop them in a glass cup or jar or plastic bag with alcohol, soak, gently shake and wait for a while before wiping them clean. Avoid using metal as a cleaning vessel because of the increased risk of scratching or breaking your glass pieces.
If you’re having further issues cleaning your honey straws, Dark Crystal cleaner is a popular cleaning solution for dabbing accessories like bangers, nails, crucibles and quartz tips. Additionally, keeping a spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol and some Q Tips on hand is helpful for quick post-session cleaning, especially for pack-and-load wax pens. A lot of the accessories that come with wax pens and electric honey straws are meant to be replaced regularly, and keeping up with maintenance will help you get the best consistent flavor and effect from your device.
The Last Nug
If you’re a frequent dabber-on-the-go, there are many options for nectar collectors, wax pens and electric honey straws depending on your needs and budget. While coil heaters are stuck in the past, there are tons of portable, discreet options that let smokers dab quality extracts at perfect temperatures and with satisfying rips. Remember, the nectar collector or honey straw dabbing experience is quite different from dabbing with a rig, because functionally, a user dips the heater into the extract rather than dabbing extract onto the heater, so they do hit differently.
While honey straws and nectar collectors don’t offer the same control over vaporization as a larger rig with a banger and cap setup or a terp slurper setup might, there are lots of great options in the nectar collector class. We've outlined both cheap and artisanal options, plus some great electric options for folks that want to move away from open flames from a torch. Users generally won’t waste extracts, especially with proper dosing and reheating if you want more, and you’ll get excellent flavors at low temps. These products are durable enough to last as long as you take good care of them, or until an upgrade is in order.
As with any budget product, an investment into a more expensive piece now could result in larger savings later from long-term use of durable and well-constructed devices, rather than constantly replacing cheap things that break. Ultimately, nectar collectors and honey straws should be considered by dabbling dabbers, and it’s a fabulous sector in which to explore extracts!