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Learn | 06.23.2022

Dabbing 101: What Is It, How To Do It, And Everything You Should Know About It

Gone are the days of conventional marijuana use. Dabbing is the new rage amongst weed enthusiasts everywhere. Here is the complete guide with everything you have to know about it.

If you want a short explanation: A dab is a highly concentrated dose of a cannabis extract, which is heated to a very high temperature and inhaled.

Elaborating a little more on the explanation, Dabbing in the cannabis community refers to consuming a dose of marijuana oil, usually being heated on a nail and then inhaled through a water rig.

When you dab, you are heating a highly concentrated form of cannabis and inhaling the vaporized oil which gives you an intense high.

What Is Dabbing?

As we mentioned, Dabbing is heating up a surface, usually a quartz or metal nail, to a very high temperature, usually between 600℉ and 710℉, and “dabbing” a small amount of cannabis concentrate onto the nail so that it evaporates into a gas.

The concentrate is heated quickly, automatically transforming from a solid to a gas to be inhaled through a dab rig, which usually has a chamber for water to make the inhalation less harsh.

What Are Marijuana Dabs?

Dabs, or BHO (butane hash oil), are cannabis extracts that contain a much higher THC concentration (70-90%) than the plant alone. They are created in a process that isolates the active ingredient found in marijuana, THC, through the use of butane gas as a solvent. While dabs can also be produced via methods involving ice water and carbon dioxide, the butane gas method is what is most widely used.

Dabbing has become popular as of late because it can induce a high using a smaller amount of the substance than smoking weed conventionally. Given its THC concentration, a bit is all you need to achieve the desired effect, so resist the urge to go in with a huge dab if you’re a first-timer!

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If you’re an experienced marijuana user, then dabbing may be worth experimenting with, especially if you have developed some level of THC tolerance. However, the practice is not recommended for novice cannabis consumers, as the induced “high” is amplified compared to the effects of smoking a joint.

For anyone who’s ever introduced a newbie to marijuana, you should know that the first-time effects could be too overwhelming for some people to handle.

What You Need To Dab

Of all the ways to smoke weed, dabbing does require the most tools for a smoke session. And since you’re working with a lot more flame than you get from a Bic lighter, preparing to do your first dab can be all-around intimidating.

But when you have all the right tools in front of you, dabbing isn’t as complicated or time-consuming as it could be. From a high-quality dab rig to a container to store and protect your precious concentrates, here’s everything you need to dab.

A Dab Rig/Nail

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Of course, the number one essential tool for dabbing is a dab rig. Dab rigs come in an array of sizes and styles and are up for grabs at a variety of costs. But for those new to the art of consuming highly potent extracts, it’s always best to start off small. Not just with the size of your dab, but also the rig you use to consume it.

Something else you’ll need along with your dab rig is a nail, which is where your concentrates will be placed and burned. Most dab rigs already come with one in the package. But even if they don’t, virtually all types of nails can be bought at an affordable price.

Thanks to technology, you can now find electronic dab rigs that make the process much simpler. They heat up instantly and allow you to dab your favorite concentrates without any hassle and on the go.

For the best electronic dab rig out there, go with the XVAPE Vista Mini 2; a powerful and affordable device perfect for your dabbing sessions.

 

A Dabber

To drop your concentrates safely onto the nail, you’ll want a dabber. A dabber is pretty self-explanatory. It enables you to pick up your dabs and avoid sticky fingers. Using your fingers to handle your extracts is not only dangerous as the nail is extremely hot, but it’s also bad for them as it transfers oil and bacteria from your hands to your beloved stash. In conclusion, don’t do it.

Being that dabbers cost next to nothing, can be found all over the web, and come in so many different designs, there’s no excuse not to spend a couple of bucks on a dabber, especially when you pay top dollar for your dabs.

A Torch

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Another tool you need to consume sticky oils and waxes is a torch. Unless you have an E-Rig, a device that delivers flameless dabs, or an E-Nail, a more expensive tool used for heating traditional rigs without a flame, a torch is a dabbing necessity.

That’s because it’s what you use to heat your dab rig’s nail and get it to the perfect temp for dabbing, which is ideally anywhere between 350°F and 900°F. But for the best taste and the best high, you’ll want to stick to low-temp dabs.

Torches are everywhere, from Walmart to Home Depot, but some are better than others when it comes to how long they last and how fast they can heat up your rig. The Blazer Big Shot GT8000 is one of the best dab torches on the market.

Although it’s more costly than most and requires a 35-gram butane canister, which is more than what most need, this torch will last a lifetime and lets you select your temperature, is super easy to use, and even comes with a detachable base to prevent mishaps. The Big Shot GT8000 is just the kind of torch a beginner needs to dab confidently and safely.

A Carb Cap

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A carb cap, or carburetor, is what you use to cover the nail as you inhale. Carb caps reduce airflow to your nail, allowing your concentrates to boil to the fullest extent. The more your concentrates cook, the tastier and thicker the smoke, and in more massive quantities.

While a carb cap is a newer tool used for dabbing and isn’t something you necessarily have to have, it improves the experience of dabbing significantly by ensuring that the quality, flavors, aromas of your waxes and oils are preserved. On top of that, it makes it so that you get a full hit and never waste a drop.

A Silicone Container

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You can store your cannabis concentrates a variety of ways, but silicone containers are ideal for the short-term. Dabbing newbs aren’t likely going to need to save their extracts longer than a week, but if so, wrapping them separately in parchment paper and placing them inside a mason jar or another airtight jar will do the trick.

The goal is to keep them in a small, dark place. That way, all the flavors and potency of your extracts can be maintained. To learn more about storing dabs, glance over

Silly Jars Silicone Concentrate Jars are just the right size for storing all your sticky substances. They are 4 cm in diameter, making it a spacious place for keeping your dabs safe. Not to mention, these concentrate jars are quite cheap. And since they are made of food-grade silicone, your extracts will stay in the same, perfect condition as when you first bought them.

A Dab Mat

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While a dab mat isn’t a necessity per se, it is something you need to dab the hassle-free way. Dab mats not only keep your oils and waxes neatly in place, but they are also designed to slide under your dab rig and help keep that in place too.

No matter the size of your apparatus or how many tools or extracts you have, dab mats are available in all sorts of sizes and can keep even the vastest collection of dabs and dab essentials organized.

Beginners don’t need a large dab mat right away, just something small and simple, like a Debowler Dab Mat. It can be used for your at-home dab station or for travel. Both heat-resistant and microwave-safe, these silicone mats handle all concentrates regardless of their stickiness. And they are far more environmentally friendly than parchment paper.

Other Options

If there is something in the world of cannabis is a variety and options to choose from. For example, if you prefer a simpler device that does not require so much logistics to get a good high, we recommend you try The M by Dynavap, a vaporizer that works both for dry herbs and for some types of concentrates and waxes.

As we said, you have a world of possibilities in your hands. Using it for dabbing is very simple and you don’t need so many things that we know can be overwhelming.

To dab with The M, you have two options: Use the DynaVap DynaCoil, a useful accessory that slides onto the tip of your vaporizer, allowing you to use the DynaVap with your favorite waxes and dry concentrates.

You can also use the vaporizer directly, just put a little concentrate in your tool to charge the device in the heating chamber of The M, replace the cap and you’re ready to go.

How To Dab

Now that you have gathered the necessary tools for dabbing marijuana concentrates, take a seat at a table and get ready to dab. The following steps will guide you through the dabbing process.

  • Prepare your marijuana concentrate on the dabber. If this is your first time dabbing, start small—something the size of the tip of a pencil will probably work.
  • Turn your torch on and aim it at your nail. Most people will heat their nail until it begins to glow red. To avoid creating vapor that is too hot for your lungs, let the nail cool for about 10-15 seconds after it turns red.
  • Take your dabber and touch it to the nail. You will notice that a proper dabber has a sort of rounded scoop at one end. This end will easily match the rounded nail allowing you to vaporize all of the concentrate you scooped. Make sure that you are also pulling on the mouthpiece of the rig, just as you would when taking a bong hit. Otherwise, the vapor will just float away.
  • Last step; exhale the super-potent marijuana concentrate and let the good times roll. For your first few times dabbing you might want to stay seated, dabs can give you a head rush that could knock you on your ass.

Pro tip: Use a separate rig for dabs only—never the cannabis plant, as the resin will negatively alter the quality of your dab.

High Temperature Dabs vs Low Temperature Dabs

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There’s a lot of debate about which is better: high-temperature dabs vs low-temperature dabs. For the most part, it’s a matter of personal preference. But, each style does have its fair share of pros and cons. Here’s the difference between the two methods.

Low Temperature Dabs

For low-temperature dab, the nail is heated between 500 and 600°F (260 – 315.5°C). If you’re not using an e-nail, a good rule of thumb is to take away the heat once the nail begins to get red, then wait about 10 seconds for it to cool before taking your dab.

The boiling points for most terpenes (flavor molecules) found in marijuana loosely range from 310 to 400°F (154 – 204.4°C). So, sticking to a lower temperature gives you a full-bodied vapor without burning off as many delicate terpenes.

PROS:

  • Less harsh on your lungs
  • Full-flavored
  • Full terpene, CBD, and THC expression
  • Less risk of burning your wax.

CONS:

  • Carb caps. To prevent any of your oil from being wasted, you’ll have to invest in a carb cap to retain the heat of the nail throughout the dabbing process. Otherwise, it will just pool inside the nail.
  • Some people think the high is a little milder than a high-temp dab.

High Temperature Dabs

With a high-temp dab, the thermometer is typically set to around 1000°F  (538°C). A lot of people really prefer the experience of a super hot dab. Overall, they’re more convenient and less messy, as much of the oil burns up pretty immediately after it touches the extremely hot nail. Some dabbers find that the high from ultra-hot dabs is more intense, making it more enjoyable.

PROS:

  • Can feel a bit of a rush.
  • You’re able to get all of the wax to melt very quickly, regardless of its consistency.
  • No carb cap– less risk of wasting oil because it evaporates extremely quickly.

CONS:

  • Burn off a lot of THC, CBD, and terpenes.
  • More likely to burn or scorch your dab, making the experience unpleasant.
  • Harsh. Super hot dabs can hurt on their way down.

What Are Cannabis Concentrates?

The cannabis concentrate used for dabbing has many names, although the popular names are wax, budder, shatter, or depending on the extraction method, BHO.

Concentrates come in various forms. Some of the most common types are shatter and wax. Shatter, also known as glass, is stunningly beautiful. While transparency does not always mean a higher quality, shatter is one of the purest forms of cannabis oil.

 

Photo by Connor Fyfe for Herb

Wax looks like wax because the molecules crystallize after extraction. This concentrate is extremely versatile – it can be used in a rig or crumbled as a topping to give your joint an extra kick.

The levels of THC in concentrates can range anywhere from 70%-90%, which is far higher than any bud you could roll up and smoke.

If you’re new to concentrates, it’s beyond important to recognize that concentrates are incredibly potent. Start with one hit of a concentrate and see how you feel. Don’t ruin the concentrate experience by rushing into it, getting too high, and freaking out.

What Is Live Resin?

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Live resin is a “dabbable” extract, but the main thing that differentiates it from other types of cannabis concentrates is the plant material that’s used. Live resin uses entire plants that are frozen at critical temperatures soon after harvesting, meaning they aren’t cured.

Then, the frozen plants are used to make a solvent extract, similar to Butane Hash Oil (BHO), but at much lower temperatures with chilled liquid butane. The resulting product has a much richer terpene profile than regular BHO and even cured cannabis flowers.

If you want to know more, we have a full guide on live resin.

Benetifs Of Dabbing

Live resin’s rich terpene profile not only gives it a superior flavor for dabbing but provides the maximum amount of medical benefits. That’s because many cannabis experts, including scientist Ethan Russo, believe terpenes actually account for much of cannabis’ medical properties and psychoactive effects. By providing more access to terpenes, live resin provides users more control over their experience and cannabis medicine.

Terpenes have an incredible array of potential medical value, from fighting cancer to providing anti-anxiety relief. For instance, studies have found the common terpene limonene to prevent cancer cell proliferation, and pinene is a bronchodilator that can help those with asthma. Check out our full coverage of cannabis terpenes here.

Photo by Connor Fyfe for Herb

Live resin is especially beneficial to those who need fast relief from symptoms like nausea, migraines, and tremors. Dabs provide a strong and potent effect without the need for actual combustion, and so can also be a good option for those who want to avoid smoking.

Live resin is only as good as the fresh flower it’s made from, so look out for cultivators you know and trust releasing limited batches. The only downside of live resin is the steeper price tag than “regular” concentrates. However, its incredible flavor and robust terpene profile are worth the extra change, on special occasions at least.

 

Risks Of Dabbing

Though expert dabbers tend to know what they’re doing and what to avoid, it’s important for everyone to know the potential risks of dabbing, many of which come from the extraction process or the equipment used to dab.

The Extraction Process Can Be Dangerous

The extraction process is what makes experts so nervous because it sometimes involves the use of butane, a highly volatile and dangerous gas. John Stogner, the assistant professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina, put together a study that focused on the health hazards of dabbing that was published in Pediatrics.

Not only could get hurt, but you might also run the risk of starting a fire and impacting those around you. In November 2013, 33-year-old David Shultz caused an entire explosion in his apartment building while using butane for extraction. Consequently, seven other residents ended up at the hospital and an 87-year-old woman died from injuries. In return, he got nine years in prison.

 

Your THC Tolerance Might Increase

Dr. Sulak is more concerned about the potency of dabs than the fact that you could burn your house down. Dabs have such a strong dose of THC that you administer so quickly that your body could become accustomed to the high levels of THC.

If your tolerance increases, you will need larger amounts of herb to achieve a high. Worst-case scenario, you may have trouble getting high off herbal cannabis after your body gets used to dabs. However, there are many ways to combat a high tolerance, such as taking a tolerance break or simply doing smaller dabs.

You Could Be Ingesting Other Substances

The equipment you use during the extraction process may contain disgusting ingredients that could eventually enter your system. For example, your metal bong could be rusty and have solder on it, which would end up in your butane hash oil and straight into your body.

Smoking these anonymous chemical contaminants is avoidable, though. Buying high-quality equipment and cleaning your rig now and then will help prevent ingesting harmful ingredients. So make sure you keep your equipment clean.

Too Much May Induce Nausea

As with anything, sometimes you can have a little too much, and it’ll leave you feeling not so hot. You may experience some nausea and maybe paranoia.

Controlling your dose is important but can be tricky. Always consult with your budtender or an experienced dabber as it will help avoid the rough experience of consuming too many dabs.

How To Dab Safely

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There are plenty of tricks to make sure that you’re dabbing safely and responsibly. It’s always good to make sure you take certain precautions and start slowly, as with any cannabis journey. There’s nothing worse than trying a new cannabis consumption method, only to quickly realize you’re in over your head.

Once you’re in that situation, there’s little to do but wait it out. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Choose Quality Concentrates

This is crucial for having a good experience with dabbing. If you’re unsure where to start, it’s always a good plan to talk to someone with more knowledge than you—maybe a budtender, or a friend who loves to dab. Ask around, but always make sure to follow up with your own research.

Before purchasing a cannabis concentrate, the most important question you should ask is: does this company have a full report on what’s in the cannabis concentrate? The most reputable companies test all of their products for pesticides, fungicides, microbials, mold, contaminants, and potency.

These tests are especially crucial when it comes to cannabis concentrates. Why? As the name suggests, these products contain high concentrations of cannabis, meaning any additional pesticides or mold that were present in the original cannabis flower will be concentrated as well. Do your research, and make sure you’re not inhaling any nasty chemicals!

Closely inspect your cannabis concentrates. Here are a few cues to look for in a quality cannabis concentrate:

  • A warm amber coloration.
  • Easily findable lab testing results.
  • A pleasant, herbal odor.

Start Low, Go Slow

This is a common saying when it comes to edibles, and it is definitely applicable to dabbing as well. Cannabis concentrates are potent. There’s no need to take a large dose. Many beginners will accidentally give themselves an enormous dab without realizing it, and pretty soon you could find yourself out of breath, coughing, dizzy, sweaty, and overwhelmed.

A tiny dab will do to start. Begin with a dab that is half the size of a grain of rice, or smaller. Remember, you can always consume more, but if you accidentally take too large of a dose, there’s no going back.

If you found that initial dab to be agreeable or underwhelming, and you feel up for it, slowly increase the size of your dab over the course of several hours. No need to be constantly dabbing, either. Take your time and enjoy the experience.

Best Dabbing Technology

Most dab rigs require the use of a blow torch to heat a glass, quartz, or metal nail. But newer technologies make dabbing easier and safer than ever before. Electronic nails and dab pens like the G Pen eliminate the need to use a torch, and the risk of ultra-high temperatures.

The G Pen Connect is a revolutionary alternative to standard dab rigs. With G Pen’s patented technology, your dabbing experience is always precise, consistent, and there’s no chance of burning yourself or your concentrates.

The G Pen Connect heats your cannabis concentrate to your desired temperature within seconds, without the hassle of a blow torch or nail. All of G Pen’s dab rigs also come with a hemp travel pouch for easy portability, making it easier than ever to dab on the go.

G Pen’s dab rig attachment works with most standard dab rigs, and the spring-loaded carb release button creates instant airflow so you can effortlessly clear the chamber.

Dabbing With DabTech

The DabTech Elite Plus is a portable, all-inclusive Electric Dab Rig that gets you started with out-of-the-box temperature control. You can select from 280°F to 800 degrees Fahrenheit within just one click!

This 10-inch tall, 1.5-pound electric rig is the best way to get your wax on! It comes with everything you need including an atomizer chamber full of Ti quartz or ceramic heating elements – giving users purer extracts than ever before without concerns about purity levels, for those perfect dab hits.

The new, improved Elite Plus from Vape rigs is a game-changer. With its heaping doses of features and intuitive audio feedback to help you along this journey – it’ll be hard not knowing what happens next! The 3000MAH battery means hours worth (40) of dabbing your concentrates, perfect for when your friends come over –or just everyday use around the office…

Portable Dabbing With Ispire

The Wand™ by ISPIRE is the perfect way to add a little magic to your life!

This unique device lets you perform all sorts of tricks, from making things appear and disappear (dense vape clouds) to shooting fireballs from your fingertips (or at your fingertips with The Wand™). Whether you’re a seasoned sorcerer or a first-time magician, The Wand is sure to delight. So cast a spell and get ready for some wizarding fun.

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy your favorite extract, then The Wand™ is the perfect device.

The Wand™ is a game-changer when it comes to dabbing. If you’re the type who’s always wanted an easy, safe way of dabbing, without having all those pesky tools like torches and wires that come with other e-nails then this is the product for you.

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