Learn the very basics of dabbing in this useful video from the ladies at Yo Dabba Dabba’s Dab University below.
What is dabbing?
Dabbing is the act of vaporizing cannabis concentrates for consumption. The tools used to dab versus those used to smoke cannabis are similar in function but designed differently to cater to the consistency of the extract and the process of vaporization.
What are concentrates and how are they made?
Concentrates are essentially cannabis extracts that offer a very potent dose of isolated compounds like THC, CBD, and terpenes.
Concentrates come in many different forms — some sticky and stretchy, some crumbly, and some glass-like — and are categorized based on the extraction method.
How are concentrates made?
The caliber of production has definitely evolved over the years, but each extraction method can be categorized as solvent-based extraction or solventless extraction.
This method uses chemical solvents like butane, propane, carbon dioxide, ethanol and other solvents to separate essential oils from cannabis plant materials including flower and trim. Then, the chemical solvents are purged from the concentrates through a process of evaporation.
Popular solvent-based concentrates include shatter, crumble and wax.
Natural forces including pressure and heat act as leading forces in solventless extraction methods. This labor-intensive technique results in the purest and most potent concentrates on the market.
Rosin, hash, bubble hash and dry sift are among the most popular solventless concentrates out now.
What do you need to dab?
Any water pipe can be a rig. But, dab rigs are typically smaller than your average bong because vapor doesn’t need a massive chamber for filtration and can cause some loss in flavor. Waterpipes and rigs have specific joint sizes and angles, so you need a nail with a compatible joint that fits together snugly.
This is where the magic happens. Concentrates are applied to a heated nail
Nails work with a rig like a bowl does with a bong, so the nail and rig must have compatible joints. Joints are either male or female, with a 45 or 90-degree angle, and come in threet different sizes. If your water pipe has a female joint the nail must have a male joint, and vice versa.
The angle refers to the degree of the nail’s neck. There are 90 degree and 45-degree necks. The nail always needs to sit flat when it’s on the rig. If it doesn’t, your nail probably isn’t the correct angle.
There are three joint sizes, 10mm, 14mm, and 19mm. Nail and rig joints need to be the same size.
Nails are made from various materials and come in different styles and sizes. The gold standard is quartz because it delivers the tastiest dabs. There are tons of different styles of nails out now with round or flat bottoms, built-in inserts, and other features that increase functionality.
Carb caps control heat, pressure, and airflow by covering the top of a dab nail like a lid on a cooking pan. This affordable accessory is a must for a proper dab sesh. Don’t skimp in this department or you’ll end up paying much more in wasted concentrates. Carb caps come in tons of different styles, sizes, colors, and shapes. Certain designs are created for specific nail types, like a solid marble carb cap and terp slurp nail. Others feature directional airflow holes that pull and swirl air for optimum performance.
Concentrates can be hard to handle and getting handsy is never a good idea. Grab a dabber for under $20 to streamline any transportation struggle. Dabbers are made from stainless steel, titanium, glass, or silicone and come in different sizes and shapes to cater to the different consistencies of concentrates. This tool makes it easy to move a dab from a jar to the nail. Don’t go in without it!
Check out the dabbing starter set from Yo Dabba Dabba that includes everything you need to get started successfully PLUS one of the most popular accessories out—terp pearls!
The trickiest part about dabbing is getting the temperature right. The right temperature varies based on the type of nail, the type of concentrate, and your preference. Regardless, the lowest temp is always the best temp. High heat is hard on quartz nails, your lungs, and terpenes.
If you’re using a torch, consider getting a thermometer designed for dabbing, or a heat gun.
- Dab Rite: Visit website
- Terpometer: Visit website
- Octave High Tech – Terp Timer: Visit website
- Etekcity Infrared Thermometer: Visit Amazon
Or, purchase an eNail. They’re around $200 but completely eliminate the need for a torch or temp tech because it heats your nail and displays the temperature of the coil so you always know where you’re at.
If you’re just getting into dabs, you can always use a timer on your phone to keep track. Most quartz nails need to be heated for 30-50 seconds and allowed to cool for 20-45 seconds.
How to take a dab
1. Assemble your setup
Place your nail into the joint of your rig or water pipe. Have your dabber, concentrates, and carb cap close and ready to go.
2. Heat the nail
Use a torch to heat the nail. Focus the blue tip of the flame at the bottom of the nail’s bucket and rotate it evenly for 30 – 40 seconds (depending on the type of nail). Allow the nail to cool for 30-45 seconds.
3. Load the nail
Grab your dabber and scoop up a very small amount of concentrate. Use the dabber to apply the concentrate to the inside of the bucket.
High vs. low temperature dabs
Dabbing is a way to vaporize cannabis concentrates. Vaporization happens at any temperature above 250°F, but there’s a huge difference between taking a high temp dab versus a low temp dab. You can technically take dabs at up to 1000°F, but after about 700°F all of your terpenes have been burned and boiled away and you’ll experience an incredibly flavorless, harsh and unpleasant hit. You’re also at risk for chazzing your banger and being stuck with burned oils that are nearly impossible to remove.
That said, that’s a worst case scenario. There are still a lot of benefits to taking high temperature dabs. For one thing, you’ll spend so much time coughing that you’ll feel higher. You’re also less likely to waste concentrates or have to pull on the rig a lot since you’ll vaporize the glob almost instantly. However, high temp dabs don’t taste as good. The average high temp dab should be between 600°F – 750°F. Since those high temperatures boil away the majority of the terpenes in your concentrates, your dab will be very harsh and won’t taste as good. While the act of coughing will make you feel higher, terpenes are an important part of potency. Terpenes and THC work together to make each other stronger, so without those terpenes you’re in for a shorter-lived experience that doesn’t taste good.
On the other hand we have low temp dabs. Low temperature dabs are taken between 350-450°F, and are the preferred way to dab for several reasons. For starters, they give you the best impression of the strain you’re dabbing, and you can enjoy the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the concentrate. Cannabinoids and terpenes are stronger together than they are alone. Keep in mind though— low temp does not mean cold. Anything below the 350-450°F marker is too cold for the THC in your dabs to activate and transform into the THC derivative that makes you high. You also won’t warm up those terpenes enough to taste them or experience their effects.
With all that said, there’s a perfect ideal range for dabbing. You want to activate your THC, but you don’t want to boil all of your terpenes away. Low temp dabs can be taken from 350-450°F and give you the best mix of flavors and effects in an easy, non-harsh dabbing experience. You can also take dabs in the medium temperature range of 450°F-600°F, and while the dab will feel more potent, you’ll be losing some of those more sensitive terpenes as well as flavor. High temp tabs between 600°F-750°F will be harsh and flavorless, but the THC is active and the act of coughing will make you feel pretty high.
At the end of the day, low temperature dabs are the way to go for all intents and purposes, though medium and high temp dabs still serve a purpose. It all depends on your personal preferences with dabbing.
Is dabbing safe?
Generally speaking, dabbing is mostly safe. The only real thing you have to worry about with dabbing is the occasional burn. However, we say generally speaking because putting anything in your lungs other than good ol’ oxygen can be dangerous for your health. While dabs are lab tested, there is still a little bit of wiggle room on how many parts per million of contaminants the product can contain. So while the dabs pass the third-party lab tests, they still might contain trace amounts of solvents or contaminants that could make you sick. However, the same goes for flower. Smoking cannabis flowers is generally considered to be less safe than dabbing since you’re inhaling resin and plant materials into your lungs.
Dabs are highly concentrated form of cannabis, and you’ll usually need to inhale much less of it to keep your high going than you would if you were smoking flower. So it’s a bit safer in terms of frequency and possible contaminants. Dabbing is considered safe if you’re only purchasing legal concentrates that are all third-party lab tested to make sure they’re safe to consume. Dabs on the shelf at your favorite dispensary have been tested and are mostly free from residual solvents and other contaminants that could cause long-term health issues.
Lastly, dabbing isn’t addictive. A search for dabbing safety returns with dozens of recovery articles claiming that dabbing is habit forming and that THC is addictive. While the act of dabbing might be habit forming, science has ruled out cannabis as an addictive drug. It doesn’t flood the brain with dopamine like other drugs, but instead, THC mimics Anandamide— a naturally occurring endocannabinoid responsible for euphoric, uplifted, happy feelings as well as other body processes.
Tips for taking the perfect dab
Ready to take the perfect dab? Use these 4 pro tips for the best dabbing experience.
- Use lower temperatures — Low temp dabs are the way to go. Use a digital temperature reader or a terpometer to measure the temperature on your banger before you apply your concentrate. It should be within the 350-450°F range for the best flavors and effects. Best of all, you won’t cough as much and you’ll get a good, accurate impression of whatever strain you’re dabbing.
- Use an eNail — If you’re not in the market to purchase a temperature reader for your dab setup and you want to take the guesswork out of achieving the perfect low-temp dab, use an eNail. eNails are heating coils that wrap around your banger and are heated to the exact temperature you set it to. Simply turn the e-nail on, pick a temperature between 350-450°F, and wait for it to come to temp. Once it reaches the temperature setting, you apply your dab. E-nails still work with carb caps and your standard setup, so just dab like normal without the temperature guesswork.
- Cold start your dabs — Since bangers heat up really fast, cold starting your dabs can make sure you never overheat or burn your dabs again. This method is ideal if you’re not using a temperature reader or an e-nail. To cold start dab, apply your concentrate to your banger before it’s heated up. Add a carb cap to the top to prevent vapor from escaping before your dab is fully vaporized, and apply heat to the banger until your concentrate begins to boil. Kill the heat and inhale as normal.
- Use terp pearls — Terp pearls are quartz or ruby beads that can be heated up with your banger. They’re used to help swirl the concentrate around at the bottom of the banger to ensure even heat distribution and better dabs. To use them, place them in the bottom of your banger and heat it to your ideal temperature. Apply your concentrate and cap it with a compatible carb cap as you inhale your dab. This will make the terp pearls spin inside the banger, heating your concentrate evenly so you get more out of your dabs. To clean them, just drop them in some isopropyl alcohol.