Back in 2012, when the adult-use cannabis market was in its infancy, a San Francisco-based startup called Pax Labs (Actually, Ploom at the time) released a portable loose-leaf vaporizer that would end up shaping the future of weed consumption.
At the time most vaporizers were bulky, stationary devices like the iconic Volcano. PAX 1 was unique in its portability and ability to operate discreetly. JJ O'Brien, PAX's Vice President of Strategy told Weedmaps News that it was the first vaporizer “that didn't look like a huge piece of cannabis paraphernalia.”
In 2015, the PAX 2 debuted with a sleek redesign, along with an improved battery lifespan and heating charge. Then, in November 2016, Pax Labs released PAX 3, the most technologically advanced device in the company's arsenal of loose-leaf vaporizers.
At a glance, the PAX 3 may look similar to its predecessor, but a more in-depth look reveals an advanced vaporizer that provides more user control than ever before. With newly implemented features, knowing the ins and outs about everything the PAX 3 has to offer will help optimize the overall experience.
What is the PAX 3?
Equipped with a dual-use chamber that allows for both flower and concentrate vaporization and Bluetooth connectivity to a highly versatile mobile app, the PAX 3 gives users full control over the temperature.
The device alone costs $199.99. The Complete Kit comes with the PAX 3, concentrate inset, half pack oven lid, multi-tool, and three replacement oven screens and retails for $249.99. There are four matte finishes available: black, rose gold, silver, and teal.
Inside of the box, you'll find a concentrate adapter that can be inserted into the oven chamber and used to vaporize cannabis extracts. PAX has also included a half-pack oven lid with the device, allowing users to pack smaller bowls for individual use. Compared with the standard oven size, which has the capacity for about 20 hits, this additional oven lid reduces the chamber size by half. According to the manufacturer, a fully charged PAX 3 will last somewhere between eight to ten sessions.
An integral part of the experience is the PAX Mobile App, which connects to the PAX 3 via Bluetooth and provides control over the device temperature, manage vapor and flavor output, lock the device, and also automatically update the firmware. While the previous iteration came with four predetermined temperature settings that could be selected by pressing down on the top of the device, the latest also allows users to fine-tune the temperature to precise levels using the mobile app.
One intriguing feature on the app is called Dynamic Modes, which consists of five heating profiles that can quickly changes the priority of the vape sesh. These heat settings include:
- Standard: Temperature controlled by user
- Stealth: Emphasizes discretion, reducing the amount of vapor
- Boost: Higher temperatures to produce heavier draws
- Flavor: Vapor quality optimized for best taste
- Efficiency: Prevents packed cannabis from being wasted
The app also includes a security feature that enables the user to lock the PAX 3, effectively keeping children and other unwanted users from using the device.
As convenient and accessible as the PAX 3 is, O'Brien explained that users may not always get everything correct. This includes finely grinding the flower and packing it tightly into the oven chamber or finding their optimal vaping temperature.
“The least amount of air in there possible, the best experience you're going to have and you're going to conserve flower too,” he said.
The optimal temperature setting depends on the user. By using the fine-tune temperature control, users can find their desired temperature and save it as a custom preset in the app.
“I always tell people, especially with the PAX 3 and the app, you need to play around with the temperature and find which one you like the best,” O'Brien said. “Depending on what kind of flower you're smoking, depending on the terpenes, you may want [temperatures] slightly higher or slightly lower.”
How Do You Use the PAX 3?
Here's a quick primer on how to setup and use the PAX 3.
- Make sure the device is fully charged.
- To charge the PAX 3, connect the USB cord into the charging dock and plug it into the USB port on your computer or charging device.
- Carefully mount the PAX 3 onto the cradle.
- The four petals on the front of the device show the battery level of the device. Once all four petal stop pulsating and turn solid white, the device is fully charged and ready for use.
After the device is unboxed and fully charged, the following step will depend on whether you plan to vaporize flower or concentrate.
Here's how to prepare the PAX 3 for bud:
- Grind the flower to a medium or coarse consistency.
- Remove the magnetic oven lid and pack the flower into the chamber. Use the keychain tool to pack the chamber as tightly as possible.
- Depending on the amount of flower packed inside of the chamber, place the standard or half-pack lid over the oven.
- Quickly press down on the center of the mouthpiece to activate the device. It will vibrate when to show that it's powered on.
- The light-emitting diode (LED) petals on the front of the device will pulse purple light to indicate that it's heating up.
- Wait 15 seconds for the PAX 3 to finish heating up before taking a draw.
- When the device vibrates again and the petals turn green, take a gentle draw from the mouthpiece.
Here's how to use and remove the concentrate adapter:
- Load the chamber of the insert with a small amount of concentrate material. The manufacturer suggests using 10 to 20 milligrams per bowl (about the size of a lentil).
- Place the insert into the oven. The insert will not sit flush with the bottom of the device, but keep in mind that this is by design.
- Pax Labs recommends setting the device to a medium or high temperature and wait 10 to 15 seconds before drawing.
- Before removing the insert to repack the chamber, check to make sure the oven is powered off. The metal chamber will likely remain hot after use, so don't touch it.
- Once the PAX 3 is completely shut down, turn it back on and warm it up for three seconds, then wiggle the insert out of the device.
- Clean the concentrate insert before using it again.
Here's how to control the temperature using the vaporizer and its app:
- Push down on the mouthpiece and hold it down for about two seconds.
- The LED lights will reflect the current temperature of the device, signaling that it's in “temp set mode.”
- Quickly pressing on the mouthpiece will allow you to cycle through the different preset temperatures.
- Once you've settled on a temperature, you can exit “temp set mode” by holding down the mouthpiece for two seconds or by shaking the device.
- To fine-tune the degrees or set a custom temperature, use the settings available in the PAX Vapor App.
Here are the different preset temperatures:
- Low: One Petal (Green)
- Medium: Two Petals (Yellow)
- Medium/High: Three Petals (Orange)
- High: Four Petals (Red)
Keeping Your PAX 3 Clean
PAX recommends giving the PAX 3 device a good wipe down after every few uses. For the concentrate insert, the manufacturer suggests a quick clean after every single use.
How to Clean the PAX 3 Device
- Make sure the device is off.
- Start by removing the mouthpiece and oven lid from the device.
- Insert a pipe cleaner or wire brush into the pathway and pop out the oven screen.
- Move the cleaning tool back and forth to clean out the narrow area.
- Clean the oven screen and mouthpiece by dipping them into isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.
- Do not submerge the oven lid in isopropyl alcohol or water, use a cotton swab instead.
- Check to make sure the screen and mouthpiece are completely dry before reinserting them into the device. First, situate the screen so that it rests slightly bowed at the bottom of the oven chamber and carefully push it down to secure it. Fit the mouthpiece into place and enjoy.
How to Clean the Concentrate Attachment
- When cleaning the concentrate attachment, you can submerge the insert chamber into isopropyl alcohol, but not the entire lid.
- While it's in the isopropyl alcohol, use a cotton swab to scrape the sticky resin material from the insert chamber.
Modding the PAX 3
Part of the fun of having a portable vaporizer is personalizing it to fit your style. According to O'Brien, PAX sometimes holds events offering laser engraving for its devices which are shared on PAX's on social media.
Boulder, Colorado-based visionary artist Phil Lewis also does laser engravings, offering a selection of incredibly heady designs and patterns. Simply send in the PAX 3 along with $40, or purchase a new, custom-engraved device directly from the artist's website.
You can also purchase “skins” to personalize your PAX 3. Also known as warps, these are sticker decals that are specifically shaped to fit around the exterior of the PAX 3. Whether you want to show love for '90s culture or conjure up some psychedelic spirit, chances are there's a skin out there that can help reflect your personality. You can find a vast array of awe-inducing designs to wrap around your vaporizer from online retailers such as Etsy and Amazon.
What's the Appeal?
The PAX 3's unique features make it one of the most popular vaporizer brands on the market, but how exactly does the manufacturer continue to appeal to consumers despite throngs of competitors — not to mention to the rising popularity of vape pens?
Aside from brand recognition, which Pax Labs has certainly built with the PAX product line, customers also seem to be drawn to the PAX 3 for its versatility. Now that cannabis consumers can vaporize flower and concentrates with the PAX 3, the manufacturer has been able to reach a broader audience that includes entry-level consumers and cannabis connoisseurs.
Another aspect that appeals to both ends of the cannabis experience spectrum is the mobile app. Not only does the app allows weed novices to easily monitor and control the PAX 3, it also gives more seasoned stoners the much-desired ability to dial in specified vaporization temperatures.
Interestingly enough, while many PAX 3 owners will emphasize the mobile app and compatibility with concentrates as the key feature, the device remains primarily targeted toward those looking for a more flavorful and fulfilling experience while vaporizing flower.
“It's really targeted toward someone who appreciates the flower experience,” O'Brien explained.
“Someone who wants something discreet that fits with their daily habits, that has those types of pro features, like temperature control, that can really give you the most out of the device.”
One facet that has always been coveted throughout the lineage of PAX vaporizers is the simple, buttonless design approach. By adding the app into the mix, Pax Labs was able to keep the minimalistic aesthetic of the hardware while advancing the capability of the technology.
Lastly, the PAX 3 comes with a 10-year limited warranty, a safeguard that many other vaporizers don't provide. At $249.99 for the kit, the PAX 3 is certainly a considerable investment compared to other portable vaporizers, but could be worthwhile for those looking for a convenient way to enjoy the full flavor and effects of cannabis.
You can purchase the PAX 3 from the manufacturer's website.
Feature image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps