If you’re a THC enthusiast, then you’ve surely heard of dabbing, but you may not have ever tried it. Using flower is a lot more straightforward than using concentrates of any kind, and the entry into dabbing may seem like it’s got a high barrier. We’re here to tell you that it’s not nearly as complicated as it looks.
Today we’re going over everything you need to know about smoking dabs, from the beginning of the process to end. Of course, dabbing doesn’t have to be an exclusive activity, and just about any THC user can get into it.
What is Dabbing?
Dabbing is another method of THC consumption derived from the name of the product being consumed, commonly known as a dab. Dabs are THC concentrates, and there are a fair number of individual types of concentrates available. If you want to learn more about the difference between some of the most popular types, check out our blog post here.
All options have a few things in common, though.
What is a Dab?
Dabs are THC concentrates that are extracted from cannabis using a variety of methods. Their concentrations can be anywhere from 60% to 90% in strength, making them very potent. So, if you’re looking to reap the benefits of THC quickly, you’ll want to look into dabs.
Depending on the method of extraction, concentrates will come out in a variety of different forms. There are a few different methods of extraction, many of which use different solvents. The most popular today are butane honey oil (BHO), carbon dioxide (CO2), ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol. The extraction method leads to different textures and levels of concentration.
Before dabbing became a popular way of consuming THC, the most common concentrates available were wax and oil, but there are a whole lot more nowadays. Here’s what you’re likely to come across in your search for concentrates:
Oils are typically found in pre-filled cartridges but can be found for dab rigs, as well. Oils are some of the first concentrates used for dabbing, and they’re very effective. If you’re looking to dab with a concentrate that’s highly flavorful and pure, you’ll like oils. They burn at lower temperatures, meaning that their terpenes are preserved when being vaporized. This helps preserve the flavors, too. Many oils are extracted using the CO2 extraction process.
Sticky and sometimes hard to handle, waxes are another very popular THC concentrate available. Waxes are made using the BHO extraction process, and they contain a higher THC percentage than other concentrates available. Wax can also be called crumble, depending on the consistency of the product itself. When smoking wax, you’re likely to experience a powerful, long-lasting high.
At this point in time, it’s thought that shatter may be the most popular form of THC concentrate available on the market today. Like waxes and oils, shatter has been around since dabbing started and has only gained popularity. It gets its name from its texture and inclination to shatter when dropped. Shatter is also extracted via the BHO extraction process and is very similar to wax. Because shatter can oftentimes be difficult to deal with, we recommend our Budder Cutter–the perfect tool to slice through shatter and load into your favorite vape pen or electric dab rig.
Distillate, while in appearance may seem like a wax, is actually a highly concentrated form of THC oil. It’s nearly devoid of any naturally occurring portions of the cannabis plant that isn’t THC, like waxes, terpenes, or flavonoids. The oil is as close to pure THC as you can get, and as such, is extremely potent. Like they say, “Just a little dab will do ya”.
Where other concentrates use solvents for the extraction process, rosin is entirely unique. Rather than using a solvent, rosin is actually squeezed out of pieces of the cannabis plant using heat and pressure. Because of this, rosin is incredibly pure and flavorful. Solvents typically strip away some, if not all, of the flavonoids and terpenes during the extraction process. If you’re a fan of a flavorful experience, rosin is the concentrate for you.
Are Dabs Dangerous?
While the consumption of THC concentrates through dabbing is not normally dangerous, the extraction method of these concentrates can be. In the past, before regulations were set into place and processes were refined, the method of using solvents to extract THC could result in fires, and even worse, explosions in bad cases. Now that THC use is becoming legalized and there is an established industry, there are also established regulations and processes, making the extraction process less dangerous.
This leads us to our second point–traditionally, dabbing requires a torch and a superheated element to vaporize concentrates. For those worried about this element of the traditional method, there are electronic dabbing rigs (e-rigs) that remove it altogether. We developed the first e-rig, then improved our designs and expanded our collection. Why make dabbing harder than it needs to be?
But Can’t I Overdose On Concentrated THC?
To put it simply, no. You can’t overdose on concentrated THC. It’s also important to remember that it is impossible to die from a cannabis overdose. What you may be thinking of, or what another person you’ve spoken to may have experienced, is an uncomfortable high, thanks to the concentrated levels of THC in dabs.
How do you avoid that? Well, you start small. Again, we’ve used this saying before, but “just a little dab'll do you”. That’s an important mindset when starting out with dabs, as an intense high can be uncomfortable. If you start slow and figure out exactly how much you need, you’ll have much better results.
Why Dabbing Instead of Just Smoking, Though?
There are a few reasons to dab rather than to smoke, but we think the most prevalent one is the strength of the product being used. It’s a quick high and a powerful one in most cases. It can last for quite some time, too, meaning that overall you’re using less product, which is always a plus.
Additionally, the extraction process involved in making these concentrates takes out everything you don’t want and leaves only the desirable compounds; terpenes and cannabinoids. This is important to remember. The use of cannabis results in a hot smoke derived from plant matter and anything else on the plant itself. This delivers unwanted compounds to the lungs and can harm them. While dabbing is still inhaling smoke and vapors, it’s less of the extra material that smoking flower delivers to your body. You get the same effect but in a more streamlined way.
So, How Do I Smoke Dabs?
Well, if you’re interested in smoking dabs now that you’ve learned a little bit more about them, there’s still some more to learn. When you want to smoke dabs, you’re going to have to get a new rig. Generally speaking, there are two types of rigs; traditional rigs and electronic rigs. We actually developed the very first electronic dabbing rig back in 2015, but in order to make sure you know why it’s new and improved successor is the best option, we’re going to explain to you the functions of both.
Traditional Dab Rigs
At first glance, a traditional dab rig resembles the appearance of a bong, but it’s built slightly differently. These are specifically designed for the vaporization of concentrates, and as such, have some extra parts and fundamental design differences. The anatomy of a traditional dab rig is as follows.
The Nail and the Downstem
This is the equivalent of the bowl on a regular bong. The nail is an element that is superheated with the assistance of a torch. Because it’s consistently heated to high temperatures, the nail has to be made from the proper material to withstand the wear and tear it goes through. The most common materials used for the nail are quartz, ceramic, titanium, and glass. Each material has its own pros and cons, but all will work. The downstem is the first part of the rig that vapor and smoke travel through.
In traditional dab rigs, the dome is a separate piece from the rig itself. This allows the dome to be removed and the nail to be accessed for heating purposes. The dome is made of glass, and once put on and surrounding the nail, it prevents smoke and vapor from escaping the rig as concentrates are vaporized.
The base is the bottom of the dab rig and looks similar to the base of a bong but is much smaller and is designed to hold much less water. Vapor passes through the base and up into the mouthpiece. Some dab rig bases have filters built into them, and others have more than one, depending on the design.
This part of the dabbing rig is nearly identical to that of a bong. After passing through the base, the vapor from burned concentrates passes into the mouthpiece. Pressing your lips against the mouthpiece as you would that of a bong is what creates the seal in the rig to trap the vapors as concentrates are being burned.
This is an essential part of any traditional dabbing rig. The torch is what heats the nail, allowing for the vaporization of THC concentrates. Without a torch, smoking concentrates on a dabbing rig simply wouldn’t be possible. The issue with a traditional dabbing rig also lies in this piece of the puzzle. Traditional torch heating doesn’t allow for temperature regulation, much less the fine-tuning of it. This is where e-rigs come to dominate between the two.
Electronic Dabbing Rigs
When you look at an electronic dabbing rig, also known as an e-rig, you’ll notice they’re quite different from a traditional glass rig.
The Base and the Nail, No Torch
The base of an e-rig like our Dr. Dabber SWITCH is designed differently than that of a traditional dabbing rig. When you look at the SWITCH, you’ll notice that the design only really incorporates a mouthpiece and the base itself, no nail. So, where did it go?
The base of the SWITCH is open in the center, which is where the concentrate actually goes. You’ll add your concentrate to the induction cup located at the top of the unit itself, and then press the “GO” button to begin heating. Inside the unit are coils that are being electronically heated via a rechargeable battery. The “nail,” so to speak, is in the base itself and heated electronically, eliminating the need for a traditional torch.
The mouthpiece on the SWITCH is slightly different than that of a traditional dabbing rig, as the water is added to a removable glass attachment and not in the base. This is a major difference, but the functionality is exactly the same as a traditional dabbing rig, passing vapor through water and then into the rest of the mouthpiece.
The Electronics Provide a Big Advantage
Remember how we said the temperature is hard to maintain and regulate on a traditional rig? Electronic dabbing rigs don’t have that problem. By using a battery and a temperature sensor, exact temperatures can be hit, allowing for the best use of specific concentrates and allowing you to tailor your dabbing experience to what you enjoy most!
How to Smoke Dabs
For the most part, smoking dabs in a traditional rig and an e-rig are pretty similar and follow the same steps.
Items You’ll Need
Gather the following items and materials before you start dabbing.
- Traditional rig or e-rig
- Torch, if using traditional rig
- Concentrate(s) of choice
- Cotton swabs
- Isopropyl alcohol
Step 1: Prepare Your Dab and Your Rig
One of the most important parts is to make sure that you’ve got your dab ready to go and on your dabber. Place the right amount of concentrate in your dabber, and set it to the side. Then, check the base or the percolator on your rig to make sure water is present. If not, add an appropriate amount of water.
Step 2: Heat Your Nail or Set Your Temperature
If you’re using a traditional rig, light your torch and heat your nail until it is glowing red. You’ll know that the nail is heated through once it’s glowing. Once glowing, place the dome over your nail carefully. Let the nail then cool for a few minutes. Too high a temperature makes for an unpleasant dabbing experience.
When using an e-rig, set the temperature to the ideal temperature for your concentrate and wait for it to heat up. With the Dr. Dabber SWITCH, we’re talking five seconds or less. See how easy that is?
Step 3: Vaporize Your Concentrate
When the temperature is ideal, add the concentrate to your nail using your dabber and let it vaporize. Make sure that the mouthpiece is sealed, using your mouth, of course. Once vaporized, inhale just like you would on a bong.
Step 4: Once Done, Clean Your Rig
To maintain good flavor and cleanliness, take the isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs and clean the rig once it’s cooled. A clean rig is a happy rig. Fun fact, our SWITCH e-rig has a self-cleaning mode, making maintenance simple.
Does Temperature Really Matter?
We certainly think so! That’s why the SWITCH has a temperature range of 300 to 780 degrees. Lower temperature dabs are typically more flavorful, but it can take time for the concentrate to vaporize entirely. Higher temperature dabs are known to be stronger in effect, however. That being said, the SWITCH covers all the bases, and that’s exactly why we designed it as such. We want any user to be able to have the experience that they prefer.
Dabbing is one of the most popular ways for THC enthusiasts to smoke, and it’s only becoming more popular. From an outside perspective, dabbing might seem more complicated than smoking flower is, but it’s quite similar in terms of process and function.
To take away that barrier of entry into dabbing, as well as to make the experience the best that we could, we designed the first-ever electronic dabbing rig, the Boost, then improved our designs and introduced a new model, the Boost EVO. Since 2013, we’ve only continued to improve upon our products’ designs. We hope we’ve made dabbing seem a little less intimidating with this article, and if you’ve got any further questions, be sure to reach out so we can offer you any further clarification you may need.