Dabs have continued to increase in popularity among cannabis consumers and are clearly here to stay. Despite its popularity, many of us are still confused and even intimidated about the mysterious sticky substance known as dabs, and rightfully so.
So, what exactly are dabs?
Dabs are a highly concentrated form of cannabis that are made using an extraction process that separates THC (the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis) from the plant. This can be accomplished by using either a solvent or a solventless extraction process which will have a direct result on the type of dabs that are created.
Dabs are tagged with a higher price point and rightfully so thanks to their intense flavors and increased potency. Dabbing, or the act of smoking said dabs, is growing in popularity primarily because desirable effects can be achieved with only one or two hits. The smell of dabs are also more discreet than the smell of marijuana smoke and can be consumed indoors without completely stinking up a room.
Dabs can be put into canna-oil or canna-butter but they are most commonly consumed through some type of vaporization. The most popular methods of smoking dabs are with a dab rig and torch, e-rig/e-nail, or wax vaporizer pen.
Dabs taken at higher temperatures provide large clouds of vapor and intense results, whereas dabs consumed at lower temperatures extract better flavors. Simply scoop up a rice grain sized amount of your wax concentrates, place the dab in your vaporizer’s atomizer or dab rig’s banger, and inhale quickly before it dissipates. Don’t worry, we’ll elaborate further below.
If you think you’re ready to take your cannabis consumption game to the next level and embrace the dab life, this introductory guide will cover everything you need to know about dabs, dabbing equipment, and other tips & tricks to get started.
What are the Different Types of Dabs?
There are many types of dabs, or concentrates, and they can be split into two overall categories. As mentioned above, dabs are made using an extraction process that separates the THC from the cannabis plant. This can be accomplished by using either a solvent or a solventless extraction process.
Dabs in the form of shatter closely resemble hard toffee as it tends to break apart into large chunks. Shatter is slightly more difficult to handle as you’ll sometimes need to break off a new piece rather than easily scoop your dabs with a tool. This makes it difficult to find the perfect size dab when working with shatter. Shatter can be found in different colors such as gold, yellow, and amber.
Dabs that are considered to be wax, budder, or batter are a type of concentrate with a similar potency to shatter. However, these dabs are a bit softer and can be easily scooped and molded. Concentrates categorized as wax, budder, or batter have a buttery consistency and can come in various colors, textures, and consistencies.
Similar to wax, sugar or crumble is softer but still flaky in texture. It has a slightly grainy consistency and is usually light yellow in color. Sugar or crumble dabs provide a smoother smoking experience, making it ideal for those who don’t want to deal with the harshness of shatter.
Diamonds or sauce is a type of concentrate that is the newest on the scene and involves THC-rich oil drops that are frozen into diamond shapes or sauce-like consistency. It has a sticky texture and is typically a light gold color. Diamonds/sauce dabs offer an incredibly smooth dabbing experience and has become a favorite among concentrate connoisseurs.
Resin is a highly potent type of dabs made from marijuana plant trimmings that have been washed in ethanol, filtered, and dried. The resulting product looks like dark brown sugar granules and has a high THC content.
Oil or distillate is a highly concentrated form of THC that has been extracted from the plant using solvents. Distillates can come in a variety of forms like vaping oils, capsules, tinctures, waxes, and shatter. They are most commonly seen in vaporizer cartridges.
Rosin is an increasingly popular solventless concentrate that involves pressing cannabis flower, trim, or hash between two hot plates. The heat and pressure of the hot plates produces a thick, fragrant dabs that are free from solvents or additives. Rosin often has a golden, honey-like appearance and can have a THC content as high as 80%.
Hash is a classic concentrate that has been around for centuries. It is created by taking the trichomes, kief, or hairs from the cannabis plant and pressing them into a sticky, dark brown solid. Hash can provide an incredibly potent experience with a THC content of up to 60%. These dabs will have a slightly earthy flavor and provide an intense, long-lasting high.
Bubble hash is a solventless concentrate that involves “washing” cannabis trimmings in ice-cold water and then filtering out the trichomes. This process produces small, bubble-like shards that are high in THC. Bubble hash has a sweet, flavorful taste and provides an intense high.
What are “Live” Concentrates?
In addition to the standard types of dabs outlined above, there is a trendy substance on the rise referred to as live concentrates. These are high-grade concentrates made from cannabis plants that were freshly harvested and not yet cured and processed. This ensures that all of the beneficial compounds in the flower remain fully intact for an incredibly potent experience.
Live concentrates typically have higher THC content than regular dabs, which makes them perfect for those who want an effective and efficient dab session. Live concentrates are becoming more popular among dabbers who want to experience cannabis’ full potential. If you’re looking for something extra special and often find yourself wanting more from your dabbing sessions, then live concentrates may be the perfect solution!
How Do I Smoke Dabs?
Dabbing is becoming increasingly popular as people discover its potent effects and versatility in terms of consumption methods. Dabs can be used in canna-oil or canna-butter, but they are most commonly consumed through vaporization.
Dab rigs are the most common way of smoking dabs because they are the most cost-efficient method and allow for greater control over the entire process. An e-rig or e-nail is a device that uses electricity to power the heating element, eliminating the need for a torch. Wax vaporizer pens are small and portable, making them perfect for on-the-go dabbing.
With dab rigs, the user heats up a nail or banger with a torch and then places their concentrate of choice on the hot surface. The resulting vapor is then inhaled through the rig’s mouthpiece. Unlike bongs, you don’t remove the nail/banger to inhale like you would with the bowl piece on a bong.
E-rigs and e-nails are electric alternatives to using a torch and nail. They heat up faster and more evenly than traditional rigs but require an added cost upfront for purchasing an electronic device capable of vaping waxes or dabs. Wax pens are battery-powered devices that look like regular vape pens but have been designed specifically for use with concentrates instead of e-juice or dry herb.
A dab rig is the most common way of consuming dabs. A dab or oil rig is a water pipe with a banger that is heated with a torch. Once the banger reaches the desired temperature, the dabs are dropped inside and then inhaled. There is a slight learning curve, but this method provides an incredibly smooth, flavorful experience that is great for dabbers looking to maximize the effects of their concentrate.
The temperature you dab at from a dab rig is controlled by the amount of time you keep your torch flame on your banger, and how much time you give it to cool down before placing your concentrates inside the banger. There are now a number of dab timers on the market that work as thermometers for gauging the temperature of your dab rig banger and can tell you the best time to take your dabs.
In order to use a dab rig you will need a quartz or titanium banger/nail. Since your Banger or Nail will be reaching extremely high temperatures, it is vital to buy ones made of quartz and not regular glass. Bangers, nails and even e-Nails/e-Rigs all get really hot, reaching temperatures as hot as 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to handle your torch and bangers with extreme caution as touching these heated surfaces can result in serious burns.
Although we focus on the concentrates that can be dabbed, there are some consistencies that cannot be consumed through the process of dabbing. For example, just straight kief or tinctures. Tinctures are usually made from an alcohol extraction process that allows you to consume them directly orally without having to heat them.
For those looking for a more convenient way to consume dabs, an e-rig or e-nail may be the perfect choice. E-rigs are an abbreviation for electric dab rigs and e-nails are short for, you guessed it, electric dab nails.
An e-rig is typically larger and comes with an atomizer and glass chamber for water filtration. An e-nail is used in unison with your existing dab rig and replaces your nail or banger. E-nails are much smaller but they require a dab rig for use so it’s up for debate which one is more travel-friendly.
The benefit of electric dab rigs and e-nails are that they allow you for advanced temperature control and eliminate the need to use a torch. This makes them great for those who want to enjoy a quick dab without having to go through the hassle of setting up your rig and heating the banger.
E-nails and e-rigs have more temperature control so you can hit your sweet spot of flavor and intensity with every dab. The downside of these devices are you will need to replace your atomizer every 1-6 months depending on usage and they need to be charged before using.
Wax Vaporizer Pen
A wax vape pen, or dab pen, is a small, portable device that makes it easy to consume dabs on the go. It consists of a battery-powered heating element that vaporizes the concentrates in your dab pen chamber.
Wax vaporizer pens often have single button controls and come with 3 to 4 different heat settings, making them easy to use and offering some control over temperatures. Dab pens provide an incredibly convenient and discreet way to enjoy your favorite concentrates.
Dab pens won’t offer the same advanced controls of an e-rig or e-nail, and can’t provide the large hits you would get from a dab rig and torch, but they are incredibly travel-friendly and way more affordable than other methods of smoking dabs.
Is Dabbing Safe?
While dabbing is becoming increasingly popular, many people are wondering if this relatively new way of consuming cannabis is safe. While nobody has actually overdosed on cannabis concentrates, they do come with their own set of safety considerations. Since typical cannabis flower has a potency between 15-25% THC, dabbing can be a little overwhelming since concentrates usually measure in the 60-90% THC range.
Tips for Successful Dabbing
- Start with a very small dab (rice grain sized) and gradually work your way up to larger dabs.
- Use a carb cap with your banger to promote better airflow and prevent precious vapors from escaping into the air.
- Place your dab tool (aka dabber) and carb cap on a dab mat or non-stick surface between use.
- Always aim your torch away from yourself and wait at least 5 minutes after dabbing before touching your banger.
- If your dab leaves a burnt black residue behind then your banger is too hot. Hot dabs can damage and cause discomfort to your lungs.
- Use a dab timer if you are having trouble heating your dab rig banger to ideal temperatures.
- Clean your banger after each session with an isopropyl soaked q-tip to get rid of any excess wax residue. You can also burn away residue using your torch, but this method can degrade the quality of your banger.
Final Thoughts on Dabs
Dabs can provide an incredibly potent and enjoyable experience with a wide variety of concentrate options and methods of consumption to choose from.
Whether you prefer shatter, wax, sugar/crumble, diamonds/sauce or live concentrates, there’s something out there for everyone! And don’t be afraid to experiment with the many different methods of smoking dabs as everybody will have their own preferences.
We hope this was a helpful introduction to the world of dabbing and you have a nice dab!