Ah, how to dab! If you’ve never dabbed before, prepare yourself. Not only is dabbing way more potent than smoking flower, the first time you dab, your initial drag may be way too big and way too hot. Don’t be surprised if you start coughing!
Once you recover from your coughing fit, you may actually be able to appreciate the flavor and terpene profile of your concentrate. Dabbing produces the cleanest intake of any form of cannabis, allowing you to really taste and appreciate the subtleties and nuance of the strain.
What is Dabbing?
Dabbing is a method of smoking cannabis concentrates like wax and shatter. In a nutshell, dabbing is the flash vaporization of cannabis concentrates. These concentrates are made using solvents like butane or carbon dioxide. The end product is a sticky oil that depending on its appearance may be called wax, shatter, budder, etc. They’re all made from Butane Hash Oil (BHO) or CO2 and are commonly referred to as BHOs.
Dabbing has been around for at least a decade, but the flood of new technologies to hit the market in recent years has made dabbing a lot easier, and its popularity continues to rise.
Dabbers smoke dabs by heating their BHO on a hot surface like a nail using a torch. Yes, a torch! Don’t worry, it’s the same kind of torch you’d use to heat Crème Brûlée. (Warning: We do not suggest dabbing Crème Brûlée. But, if you don’t heed our warning, let us know how it went!)
Types of Dabs
Dabs are BHOs that come in a variety of forms. While their appearance and texture may vary, the effects are essentially the same and vary more according to strain than consistency.
Here are the most popular:
- Shatter: With its creamy, translucent amber color, shatter is brittle, making it less malleable (and harder to work with) than other BHOs. Anecdotally, a high from shatter can last longer than other consistencies.
- Wax: Wax has a more buttery-like appearance. Unlike shatter, it’s highly malleable making it easy to work with.
- Oil: Oils are sticky, thicker than a liquid, and are the loosest consistency of BHO.
- Budder: Containing more moisture, budder has a gooier, wax-like consistency that comes from the manufacturing process. The process involves whipping it while purging it which adds air to it. Many people love budder because it is so smooth and creamy.
- Honeycomb: Another form of wax that is soft, yet brittle, and looks like — you guessed it! — honeycomb.
- Crumble: Sugar crumble has a crumbly, crystallized surface, while its twin, wax crumble has a smoother surface. Sugar crumble can be sticky, while wax crumble is creamier.
- Live Resin: Distinct from other extracts in the material they’re made from. Live resin is made from newly-harvested nugs or trim that are then cryogenically frozen during extraction.
Woof! Why do I feel like I need to take a hot shower after these descriptions?
How to Dab: How Potent Are Dabs?
Very! Compared to flower (which typically runs between 10 and 25%), dabs are concentrates that can be more than three times stronger than the stickiest Chemdawg flower. The range of THC content in concentrates runs between 50% at the low end, and up to 90%+ for the most potent varieties.
There’s no doubt: the high that you’ll experience from dabbing will eclipse anything you’ve tried before, so start low and go slow (more on this later). A good analogy would be to compare flower to beer, and dabs to hard liquor (maybe even Everclear!).
How to Dab Safely: Learn to Walk Before You Run
As you’ve probably heard, the first time you dab, you may be in for a surprise. If you’re not used to it, you may be in for more than you bargained for end up stoned out of your gorge (which may or may not be a good thing).
To get your feet wet, instead of dabbing, you may want to try smoking crumble or wax by combining it with flower. You can do this by sprinkling it on a joint or by adding it a pipe or bong. You won’t get as high, and you may waste a lot, but think of it like training wheels.
Tips: Here are a couple of tips to follow:
- Bongs and Pipes: Add flower to your bong or pipe first. Then sprinkle on bits of the wax. Finally, add another layer of flower. This will ensure your wax doesn’t come in direct contact with the flame, ensuring the THC doesn’t burn off before you inhale.
- Joints: If you’re adding a little crumble to a joint, sprinkle your crumble in the middle two-thirds of the joint. Again, this will ensure the flame doesn’t come in direct contact with your wax, making for a more efficient and pleasant high.
Another way to get your feet wet is by vaping a concentrate. Keep in mind that you most vaporizers are made for flower only, so you’ll first want to confirm your vape is compatible with concentrates. Using a good vaporize can be a pleasurable way to experience concentrates, as it allows you to truly appreciate the strain’s full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes. Just make sure not to use a cheap vape. When it comes to vapes, you really do get what you pay for.
How to Dab: Buy Your Dabbing Gear
Now that you’re ready for the big leagues, you’ll need to buy the right gear — your dabbing tools. Unfortunately, dabbing (at least the gear) can be pretty pricey. For example, most dab rigs run $50 to $200+. You can even find dab rigs that run as much as five grand (or more)!
- Dabs: Your local dispensary should have a wide variety of dabs, including shatter, wax, budder, honeycomb, crumble, etc.
- Dab Rig: Get yourself dab rig which is a type of water pipe made specifically for dabbing. If you don’t want to invest in one yet, you can convert a conventional water pipe into a dab rig by taking the glass bowl components out and replacing them with dabbing attachments. Presto! Now you’ve got a dab rig.
- Nail: Dab rigs usually come with a nail made of glass, titanium, or quartz. Titanium is the most common material used for nails. You can also buy one separately; just find one that fits your water pipe’s gauge.
- Dome: A glass hood that you place around the nail, most dab rigs include the dome.
- Dabber: This is the tool you use to apply the dab. They’re usually made of glass, metal, or ceramic.
- Torch. If you’re a chef, you probably already have a torch. (They’re used to crisp Crème Brûlée.) If not, you can pick one up at Have a Heart. While flame-less methods still exist, they’re spendy, so most people opt for the cheaper alternative.
- E-Nail (Optional): No, not e-mail. It’s an e-nail or “dome-less” nail. Basically, an e-nail is a type of concentrate vaporizer that is similar to a conventional dab rig but can attach to an ordinary waterpipe. You can also find e-nails that work as standalone units. Many people prefer e-nails claiming they’re not only more efficient and easier to use than traditional rigs, but they taste better.
Sure, the initial cost for all this gear may set you back a couple of hundred, but it will be worth it. Dabbing is so concentrated and efficient, in the long run, it’s less expensive than most other methods of using cannabis.
Congrats! You’re all set for the big leagues!
How to Dab – Time for the Big Leagues
Remember, the reason dabbers call it “doing a dab” is that you only need a very small amount to feel the full effects. Many rookies make of trying to inhale all the smoke. You don’t need to. And, if you do, you won’t appreciate the full taste. There’s a saying, “you need to waste it, to taste it.”
If you’re not using an e-nail which doesn’t require a torch, here’s how to dab safely:
How to Dab – Step 1: Use your torch to heat up the nail until it gets super hot (like 550° to 750° Fahrenheit hot). It may seem intimidating, but if you can cook on a gas stove, you can use a torch.
How to Dab – Step 2: Once your nail is hot enough, be sure to turn your torch off! (This should be obvious, but if you’re already pretty baked, maybe not so much.) Wait 45 seconds if you’re using a quartz nail, or 10 to 15 seconds if using a titanium nail
How to Dab – Step 3: Gently apply the dabber directly to the nail (inside the dome). Inhale slowly. Enjoy!
How to Dab Concentrates – Video
Video Credit: Mattygrams
There you go! Now you know how to dab. You should now be off to the races!