A Guide To Dabbing

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A Guide To Dabbing

Dabbing is a safe and effective way of consuming concentrated cannabis extracts. By heating the concentrate to its boiling point, you create a strong and flavorful vapor that will rival the best top-shelf flower.

Dabs, dabs, dabs. Concentrates have become the fastest growing segment of the cannabis market. Between 2015 and 2016, legal sales of concentrates outpaced the increase in flower and edible sales by staggering margins. A concentrated dose of THC with flavors to die for makes dabbing a popular choice among cannabis consumers.

Bubble Hash

Back in the day, meaning anytime before this modern cannabis era, hashish was made through a simple process of extracting the kief from the surface of the plant, pressing it and voila. These days, that type of extraction process leads to what is now called bubble hash. While still popular in its own right, it has taken a backseat to the ever-growing variety of dabbable concentrates available. Shatter, wax, butter, crumble, rosin and live resin are just some of the delectable forms that concentrates come in. But where do all these different dabbable delights come from and what exactly do you do with them?


There is a ton that could be said about the extraction process itself. All the different forms of concentrates end up with their particular texture, density, color, smell and sometimes taste due to variations in the process. Fundamentally, the extraction process involves packing a tube with ground up cannabis or trimmings and blasting it with gas. Gas goes in one end of the tube and a concentrated mixture of THC, terpenes and other cannabinoids comes out the other. This is an oversimplification of the process, but you get the picture.

After the concentrate is extracted, it must undergo a process called purging. Typically the gasses used in the extraction process are propane and butane, however carbon dioxide or other cleaner methods are becoming more popular. Purging removes the gas bubbles from the batch of concentrate while it is still soft and pliable. It plays an important role in the final consistency and safety of the finished product. No one wants to ingest chemicals like butane or propane, even though they are chosen for their reputation as being clean gasses. The concentrate is typically put into a vacuum purge, a machine that sucks the bubbles of gas out of the concentrate, leaving a beautiful glistening cannabinoid-rich mixture behind.



The term concentrate is really quite vague. It can apply to a number of different cannabinoid-rich products including tinctures, oils and vapable extracts. For the most part, the term has become synonymous with dabbing. The most common types of concentrates are shatter, wax and butter. While you might find them called something else, what is that they say about a rose? Shatter is a hard, transparent concentrate that boasts the highest THC content. Coming in at around seventy to eighty percent or higher, it packs the strongest punch.

Cannabis wax

Wax is one of the other more popular types of concentrates. Sometimes called earwax, due to its close resemblance to the real thing, wax produces a slightly less potent dab. Coming in between the low sixties and mid seventies, don't let the lower THC amounts fool you. Wax is a strong alternative to flower that is known for maintaining the true flavors of its strain. There are all kinds of new concentrates available today. The latest trends are moving toward live resins, which is extracted from fresh, wet cannabis plants as well as a wide variety of solventless concentrates.


So you got your concentrate but now what do you do with it? Even long-time pot smokers might look at it and be puzzled. Unlike smoking flower, concentrates are vaporized meaning you need a whole new set of tools. There are a ton of amazing hand blown glass dabbing rigs you can pick up, or you can pick up a small portable pen-style globe. Either way, the result will be the same; thick clouds of glorious vapor. Your standard at home dab rig consists of a tube or base, a nail a dabbing wand and requires a heat source.

Glass oil blaze double turbineWhen you vaporize concentrates, you are performing the decarboxylation process required to turn the THCA into the psychoactive compound THC. Unlike flower which requires a flame to breakdown the plant matter and THCA, dabbing is different. Dabbing requires a hot surface to not only decarboxylate the concentrate, but to transform it into a vapor which can then be inhaled. The result is a potent head high that is beyond compare. The biggest decisions will come in the form of a bubbler and a nail. There is a virtual smorgasbord of dabbing rigs available on the internet and in your local shop. There is a bubbler out there to fit everyone's unique taste and more importantly budget. It's always good to support your local artisan, but sometimes that can break the bank. There are a number of great designs available for under a hundred quid.

Once you have your bubbler in hand, your going to need a nail. Here is where the real decision making process kicks in. There are hundreds of different nail designs out there. Some are quartz, some are titanium and some are ceramic. Each of them have their own thermal characteristics. Titanium and quartz heat up very quickly while ceramic can take thirty seconds or longer. Both titanium and ceramic nails will retain heat much longer than quartz. But if you're looking for something that will last a lifetime, titanium won't crack or break like its more delicate counterparts. If you're really on the cutting edge, you can pick up an electric nail. An electric nail will maintain temperatures and do away with the need for a torch.


You've got your concentrate and your rig, and now it's time to do some dabs. The next couple steps are important, so follow closely! The idea is to heat your nail to a temperature hot enough to vaporize your dab, yet not so hot it burns. There are a variety of different cannabinoids and terpenes present in your concentrate and all of them have slightly different boiling points.

VIDEO: Blaze Dabbing Bong

If you are using a torch, you have no way of knowing how hot your nail is. If your nail is glowing red hot, you are up over 550 degrees Celsius. If you see a pale red glow, you are still upward of 480 degrees. This is far too hot and will result in the destruction of the cannabinoids and terpenes, thereby reducing the effects, flavor and overall experience. The optimal temperature for dabbing is between 150 and 200 degrees Celsius. That's enough for the cannabinoids and terpenes to reach their boiling point and vaporize without damaging them on a chemical level.

Once you heat up your nail, you will want to wait anywhere from 5 to 45 seconds, depending on the kind of nail you have. The longer the wait, the cooler the nail. The cooler the nail, the fuller the flavor and experience. The result is an incredibly strong and flavorful experience that will rival any top-shelf flower. Dabbing is an amazing way to consume cannabis, but it is potent by its very nature. One dab can have as much THC as a whole joint. The experience can be intense, pushing the boundaries of the cannabis high. Some even describe it as hallucinogenic. If you are new to cannabis or dabbing, it is always recommended to start slow and enjoy the journey.



Written by: Cory
Based in the US, Cory is an ex-cop now working within the cannabis industry - giving him valuable insights from both sides of the fence.

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