Dabbing – How to Dab and Consume Cannabis Extracts

Dabbing has quickly become one of the most popular and favoured methods for consuming cannabis concentrates, such as shatter, wax and more. Knowing how to dab is an essential step in enjoying cannabis concentrates.

However, the process can be quite involved for inexperienced cannabis users and become relatively expensive due to the necessity of specified equipment. 

While there are varying levels of dabs, those newer to the world of cannabis and the more extensive cannabis community may be unfamiliar with this reasonably new consumption method.

For those unaware, we have developed a comprehensive guide. This article will outline what, precisely, dabbing is, the perceived benefits and potential drawbacks, the various products users may utilize to dab, and how they do so.

What is Dabbing?

what is dabbing

In the context of cannabis, dabbing describes a smoke-free marijuana consumption method where users heat a cannabis extract to produce a vapour that they subsequently inhale.

More specifically, the process of dabbing involves placing a cannabis extract on an extremely hot surface, causing it to undergo a process called flash vaporization, with users then inhaling the resulting vapour that’s produced.

This act is performed using a vaporizing device called a dab rig, which comprises four primary components:

  • Water Pipe or Rig – A specific type of bong, specially designed to be conducive for dab hits. Rather than having a bowl, the glass tube where users place their dry cannabis flower, a water pipe/rig uses a nail and a dome.
  • Nail – A nail, also referred to by some users as a ‘banger,’ is a vessel placed inside the gauge of the rig where consumers place their preferred cannabis extract to heat it. Nails can be made of a variety of materials, including glass, titanium, quartz and clay.
  • Dome –  A dome is a glass hood placed over the nail of a dab rig to trap the vapour once the cannabis concentrate is heated to the optimal high temperature.
  • Dabber/ Dab Tool – An instrument used to collect and administer cannabis concentrates onto the nail.

To complete the dabbing act, users also need a small torch to heat the nail or banger to the specific temperature to vaporize the extract.

There are variations of a standard dab rig set up, including domeless nails made of titanium that don’t require a dome to trap the vapour, or self-heating e-nails, which don’t need the use of an external heat source or torch.

Perceived Benefits & Potential Drawbacks of Dabbing

As with various consumption methods for ingesting any substance, there will be benefits and negatives associated with particular practices. In the context of dabbing marijuana, this sentiment is no different.

Dabbing serves as a smoke-free method for users to ingest cannabis by producing vapour rather than smoke. 

The initial cannabis smoke is filtered by the water in the rig, converting it to vapour before inhalation. This filtration prompts some users to posit that dabbing supplies a smoother experience than conventional smoking practices.

Many consumers also appreciate dabbing because it only requires a small amount of concentrated cannabis extract to produce the desired potency and results, proving to be more cost-effective.

That said, the equipment necessary to comprise a dab rig poses expenses in another way. Since these devices contain several essential parts to ensure effective dabs, users must spend more money upfront to obtain the proper tools to dab successfully. In this way, some view it as an initial investment with a more long-term return.

Regarding cannabis concentrates, specifically, it is also crucial to consider dosage. As the name implies, these products, which include

contain high concentrations of THC. Depending on an individual’s tolerance level, the THC levels may be too high and could lead to over ingestion or other dangerous situations.

Users are thus recommended to begin with lower amounts of concentrated cannabis extracts and proceed slowly until they understand how specific doses affect their bodies. 

Physical elements such as body fat percentage, metabolic rate, gender, age and an individual’s endocannabinoid system will also serve as significant influencing factors for individual gauging users’ reactions.

With this in mind, while dabs may seem more dangerous than other, more traditional cannabis ingestion methods, if users purchase their products from a reliable source, research indicates that dabs create no more problems or accidents than using standard cannabis flower.

What Extracts Can be Dabbed?

How to Dab

Cannabis extracts, also commonly referred to as concentrates, are created by processing cannabis flower into a more concentrated form, typically using solvents, such as butane, which creates butane hash oil, as mentioned above.

Several different cannabis extracts, including shatter, budder and wax, can be consumed through dabbing. 

Other examples of marijuana concentrate products regularly used for dabbing include live resin, distillate, and wax.

Alcohol-based concentrates, such as tinctures, are not appropriate for dabbing. Attempting to dab these products can be hazardous. Alcohol is flammable, and exposing it to high temperatures and open flames, such as those created when using a torch, could cause fires or explosions.

How to Dab

As we mentioned previously, dab rigs come in various forms with different accessories. However, the base components remain consistent.

With this in mind, here’s how to dab with a dab rig. 

  1. Add water to the dab rig.
  2. Using the dab tool, collect the desired amount/dose of the concentrate of choice.
  3. Aim the torch directly at the nail until it heats up to the desired temperature before turning off the torch. If using a self-heating e-nail, this step is not necessary.
  4. Most of the time, the nail will be too hot initially, so users should wait roughly 25-45 seconds for it to cool down. However, this wait time is dependent on what the nail itself is made of. For instance, a titanium nail will take longer to cool down than a glass nail.
  5. Once the temperature is appropriate, bring the dabber with the pre-measured concentrate in contact with the nail and swirl it around the hot surface.
  6. Inhale from the pipe’s mouthpiece.
  7. Slide the dome over the ail to trap the vapour in the rig before inhaling on the mouthpiece again.
  8. Finally, it’s best practice for users to clean their dab rig once finished using a cleaning solution to swab out the nail.

The Dab Debate – Factors to Consider

The popularity of dabbing has increased exponentially in recent years. Many cannabis users appreciate this ingestion method as a smoke-free alternative that delivers consistent potency through marijuana concentrates and an all-around smoother vaping experience.

However, there are several factors to consider before going in blindly. First and foremost, users should ensure that the cannabis concentrates they purchase are legal, safe to consume, and come from a reputable and regulated dispensary.

Secondly, dab rigs and their various accessories can be expensive. However, many users argue that they are a startup investment that pays off in the long run.

Finally, it is crucial to have an understanding of tolerance level and approach concentrated marijuana products carefully. These items are far more potent than standard cannabis flower, and over ingestion could lead to adverse reactions.

In this way, it’s best to conduct individual research for users to determine which methods are most plausible and safe for them.

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