There is now an explosion in the research of cannabis. With it, new forms of marijuana, such as extracts are hitting the shelves. You may have heard of these products in the form of shatter and wax, along with the term ‘dabbing’. 

But what is dabbing?

While dabbing isn’t fresh off the press, it is one of the newer ways to consume cannabis. And with it being one of the newer processes, some people may still be a little in the dark about what it actually is. 

You might find yourself asking questions such as how to dab and its function or role in the cannabis community. 

We’re here to answer any questions you may have and clear the smoke on what is dabbing.

What is Dabbing?

Dabbing, or taking a dab, is when a cannabis concentrate is applied to a hot surface. This will almost always be done on a ‘dab rig’, which is vaporizing cannabis at very high temperatures. The concentrate being dabbed is then almost vaporized and inhaled.

Related article: How to Use a Dab Rig Without Wasting Your Concentrate: Step-by-Step

While dabbing vaporizes cannabis extracts, the method is rarely seen as vaporizing. 

It’s because vaporizers use electric heating elements at lower temperatures, producing a smoother and cooler vapour. Dab rigs need higher temperatures and as well as direct contact to vaporize extracts.

What are Dab Rigs?

Dab rigs are water pipes, almost like bongs, that have a special bowl known as a ‘dab nail’. Dab nails come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and materials such as quartz, ceramic, glass and titanium. 

Have no worries. Dab rigs are more or less all the same. The only variance may be shape and size, but they all perform the same function. 

Regular bongs can also be outfitted with a dab nail attachment. Hence the dab nail being the more important piece of the dab rig.

Dabbing – Different Types of Dabs

Dabs are another name for cannabis extracts and there many available, which we’ll go more into in a second. To start, extracts can be broken down into 2 sub-categories: solvent and solventless. 

Solvent Dabs

Solvent extracts require chemicals to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from plant material. These solvents can be highly flammable, with some being more toxic than others. These include, but are not limited to acetone, butane, isopropyl alcohol and propane.

The safe consumption of these solvent extracts has been debated, but for the most part, shatter is seen as safe – potent but not pure. However, the long-term effects are still being researched because residuals of the solvent can linger.

Here are a number of different types of solvent dabs.

  • Shatter
  • Hash Oil
  • Sugar Wax / Wax
  • Budder
  • Crumble
  • Live Resin
  • Co2 Oil

Solvent-Free Dabs

Solvent-free extracts are often regarded as higher quality due to the lack of solvents which should give a “purer” and cleaner taste. 

Coldwater, using high temperatures or pressing are all solvent-free extraction methods.

Here is a quick breakdown of some solvent-free extracts.

  • Kief
  • Hashish
  • Moon Rocks
  • Rosin

There’s plenty of concentrates to choose from, some offering up benefits or advantages over others. This article talks about how to consume and make cannabis concentrates as well as the different concentrates available at your disposal. 

Now let’s take a look at dab nails, and more specifically which suits your needs best.

Dabbing – Different Types of Dab Nails

As we had mentioned earlier, a dab nail is the more important part of a dab rig. Selecting the right one will provide a far better dabbing experience. Here is a breakdown of the different dab nails available and a little bit about each one.

Glass Dab Nails

Glass dab nails are the “first generation” of nails and the forefathers. Even then they are still widely used for their low price and clean taste. The only downfall is they’re not always very durable, and they can break from the heat or shatter if they’re dropped on the ground.

Ceramic Dab Nails

Ceramic dab nails are more commonly used than glass ones, yet, they’re not necessarily better. 

Ceramic nails do retain heat better, but, they are susceptible to breaking from rapid temperature fluctuations. Essentially they’re potentially more fragile than glass.

Titanium Dab Nails

While the previous dab nails have a rather fragile build, titanium dab nails are seen are tanks. The drawback being titanium dab nails slightly taint the flavour of the concentrate. This can be a big problem for connoisseurs.

Quartz Dab Nails

While everyone has their own preference, quartz dab nails are regarded as “the best”. They do not change the taste of the extract, heat within 15 seconds and are even cheaper than titanium dab nails. 

All this has led them to become the most popular dab nails of the bunch. But it’s really up to the user’s preference and price range.

Want to know more about dab nails and their functions? Check out our “How to Pick the Right Dab Nail” article for more detail. 

The Benefits of Dabbing

Since dabbing is a process of vaporization, it’s easier on your lungs. As well, if used in tiny amounts dabbing can be cheaper than always smoking flowers. Not only this, but the effects of a dab can be felt almost instantly.  

Effects also last longer, which is great for medical patients that need instant and long-lasting relief. 

Those that enjoy the flavour profile of cannabis will also love using concentrates. Especially extracts such as live resin, as they keep the terpene profile intact.

While it may seem like dabbing is perfect, there are some major drawbacks that need to be addressed.

Risks of Dabbing

The risks of dabbing for some may outweigh the benefits. 

Dabbing comes with the potential of absolutely destroying your tolerance. Those who dab daily and often will begin to feel very little from smoking a joint. The low THC content from a joint will become ineffective. 

In fact, cannabis extracts are a much higher concentration of THC than flower, often over 60%, which means that the potential for abuse skyrockets. 

On top of that, dabs need a much higher temperature than using a vaporizer. While not as harmful as smoke, this higher temperature can leave some ill effects on your lungs. Especially when dabbing heavy and often.

Due to a lack of quality control in solvent extracts, there’s potential for long term negative effects. Inhaling butane and other solvents can be hazardous to your health.  

These negative effects can be mitigated by purchasing shatter from a trusted company. These will have a proven track record and lab testing. 

As well, it’s smart to keep the dabbing to a minimum.

Alright, Let’s Learn How to Dab

While taking your first dab may seem like a daunting experience, it’s really not that difficult. 

Step 1: First, begin by collecting all the materials. This includes a dab rig, dab nail, torch (unless using an electric dab nail), concentrate and dab pick. 

Step 2: Heat the nail. Once the nail is hot and is glowing nice and red, allow it to cool for 10 seconds. 

Step 3: Take a tiny amount of concentrate on the dab pick and place it on the heated nail. 

Step 4: Proceed to inhale the vapour until the dab rig is empty. And there you have it, how to take a dab. 

While you may have many questions in life, like what to eat for lunch, hopefully, what is dabbing and how to dab is no longer one of them. If you want more tips on how to dab be sure to check out our guide and become a concentrate blackbelt.

The world of concentrates is ever-evolving. Staying informed goes a long way to choosing the right cannabis consumption method, whether it be for recreational or medicinal purposes.

Be safe and happy dabbing!