What Is Dabbing and How to Do It Properly?


Quite simply, dabbing is the future of cannabis use.

But what is dabbing exactly? Technically speaking, it is a form of cannabis concentrate consumption where users inhale vaporized weed concentrates.

Even though it’s been around for many years, we’re now starting to see the impact it’s made on the stoner culture.

One of the main reasons why this trend rose from the shadows and made its way into the spotlight is the profound high stoners get from vaping dabs.

Also, cannabis concentrates are oftentimes much more flavor-packed due to high levels of terpenes found in weed extracts, which give weed its aroma and flavor.

The old-fashioned way of dabbing isn’t what you’d call particularly elegant, given that it includes the use of a blowtorch, but nowadays there are safer and more sophisticated ways in which stoners can get their much-needed fix.

Making dabs (don’t do it at home!)

For starters, let’s make something clear.

It’s possible to create a dab on your own. However, we advise you not to give it a try!

Dabs are doses of highly-concentrated cannabis created by extracting tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinoids, and terpenes through the use of solvents such as butane, propane, and carbon dioxide.

These extraction methods are extremely dangerous and have resulted in explosions in the past. In fact, there were so many explosions and fires related to hash oil production in the past few years that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) issued a document warning users of the dangers of separating hash oil from marijuana at home.

That’s why it’s better to leave the extraction process to professionals.

Cannabis concentrates are made to be extremely potent with THC levels ranging from 50% to 95%! Conversely, THC levels in a blunt span from under 10% to a little over 15% (this is the really strong stuff).

The nicknames on the street for these weed extracts are: oil, sap, honeycomb, shatter, wax, budder, etc. They come as either oils, waxes, or solids.

Basic equipment for dabbing

Though there are various sophisticated and advanced devices for dabbing on the market nowadays, many people still rely on the essentials for indulging in this practice. Here’s what the essentials entail:

  • You need a rig. This is what we call the chamber of a water pipe.
  • Then you need a nail or a banger. Arguably, this is the most important piece as you place your weed directly onto it. 
  • In order to create an oven-like effect, you need to have a carb cap. These caps serve as lids for the nails and can be ceramic, glass, titanium, or quartz. 
  • Then, you need a special tool for removing the dab from its container. It’s called the dabber. 
  • Lastly, you need a source of heat. Most commonly, blowtorches are used to serve this purpose. But, make sure to use a butane torch! Propane ones produce a much hotter flame that can completely ruin your nail.  

However, relying on traditional equipment does come with some drawbacks. Namely, it’s fairly hard to reach and maintain adequate temperature for dabbing. First, when you heat up the nail, you have to let it cool down a bit before you can place your dab on it in order to secure the best possible flavor and overall dabbing experience.

That’s why modern stoners began using electronic nails. These types of bangers allow the user to have more control over the temperature, meaning that low-temperature (and healthier) dabbing is much easier to pull off.

Nevertheless, e-nails are a bit pricey (basic models run for at least $100), thus they’re more commonly found in the hands of regular cannabis users.

Helpful tips for easy dabbing

In order to achieve the best possible high, there are a few things worth keeping in mind prior to taking your first dab. We’ll let you in on a couple of secrets that’ll help turn you from a novice a professional dabber.

  • First and foremost, heat up the nail using a blowtorch. Make sure that it’s scorching hot (you’ll know you’ve reached the right temperature when it starts turning red). After that, leave it to cool down anywhere between 30-60 seconds. If you fling your dab on a very hot nail, it’ll scorch your concentrate. 
  • The perfect temperature you’re looking for is around 340 degrees Fahrenheit. You might want to get yourself an infrared thermometer for this practice. Temperatures not higher than 340 degrees are suitable for weed extracts because they produce the right amount of vapor, splendid aroma, and don’t leave any hard-to-clean residue as high-temperature dabs do.
  • Then, take your dabber and place the concentrate on the heated nail. Given that dabs don’t vaporize momentarily, you’ll have to take long and slow draws. That’s why it’s recommended to use a carb cap. The cap traps the heat, thus allowing better vaporization. 
  • Clean your gear after each dabbing session. Preventing any residue from building up inside your nail is of utmost importance if you want to experience the best possible flavor. Using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol is the safest and most efficient way of keeping your nail clean!

Pros and cons of dabbing

Nothing in this world is perfect and safe, and dabbing is no exception. It’s up to you to decide whether you’re willing to overlook certain flaws because of what you’ll gain from dabbing.

The positive

  • Above everything else, dabbing is the most efficient method of getting high super fast! That’s awesome news, not only for recreational stoners but for patients who suffer from nausea, chronic pain, anxiety, and many other conditions. Being able to relieve symptoms promptly is a major strength of dabbing.
  • Given that dabs are vaporized and not smoked, that means that you’re inhaling a much cleaner product that isn’t as detrimental on the lungs. Remember, where there’s combustion, there are harmful toxins. 
  • Small doses of low-temperature dabbing lead to pleasant, less intense and longer-lasting highs.
  • If you’re inclined to using cannabis out in the open, dabbing is the perfect solution for you. Given that the dab vapor doesn’t smell nearly as bad as weed smoke, it’s much more suitable for consumption in public.

The negative

  • Since dabbing is a more potent way of consuming cannabis, the effects it leaves on the consumer can be overwhelming and profound. That’s why it’s important to be super careful and smart with the doses. If it’s your first time dabbing, 0.03 grams will suffice. 
  • Since various kinds of solvents are used for extracting THC and other cannabinoids from the plant, it’s important to note that some contaminants do end up in the concentrates. 
  • Also, since this industry isn’t extremely well regulated yet, the origins of some concentrates are questionable, meaning that the toxicity potential is higher than it should be. 
  • On the practical side, it takes a bit of skill and experience to be able to use the old-fashioned equipment in the right way, without spoiling your concentrate. 
  • Lastly, the addiction potential is higher with dabbing, due to its high potency. So, be careful! 

Final words

All in all, dabbing is a great way of getting your desperately needed high swiftly. However, if you’re an inexperienced consumer, it would be wise to have a “pro” by your side during your first dabbing session.

Nonetheless, always be cognizant of the doses you’re consuming in order to avoid unpleasant experiences. On top of that, make sure that you know where your concentrates are coming from and stick to a trusted supplier.

Dab safely!

About the author
Helena Miles

Experienced journalist with a decade-long experience of researching cannabis. She has been featured in many prominent outlets, such as The Growth Op, National Post and The Province.

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