What are dabs and What is dabbing?

Dabs. From coast to coast, this term has become ubiquitous among lovers of cannabis. But what does it mean? What is a dab? How are they made? Are dabs right for me? How do I take a dab? What is dabbing? Read on to find out!

Dabs refer to doses of cannabis concentrate that are vaporized on a heated surface. There are several different types of dabs, with the differences mainly coming from varying methods of extraction.  Concentrates fall into two main categories: solvent-based and solvent-less. Solvent-less concentrates do not use any type of hydrocarbon or other chemicals to extract cannabinoids from the plant and are generally seen as healthier.

How to take dabs

  • Step 1: Grab dabs! Remember, you can always take another dab, but you can’t undo a BIG dab!

  • Step 2: Heat the nail! Using a butane or propane torch, carefully heat the nail or banger until it starts to glow red.

  • Step 3: WAIT! Give your nail at least 30-45 seconds to cool down, depending on how thick it is. To determine the right temperature, carefully place your hand about 1 inch above the nail. It should feel warm but not too hot!
  • Step 4: Drop the dabs onto the surface of the nail, put a carb cap on it, and inhale! Exhale your first breath immediately and go back for another if you can, as it will still be vaporizing!

  • Step 5: Use a cotton swab or paper towel to soak up any dabs left over in the nail so that it is clean for the next use! Congratulations, you’ve taken a dab!

How are dabs made?

Solvent-Based Extraction

Concentrates are made using a variety of methods. For solvent-based extractions, cannabis flowers or trim is put into a stainless steel column called a “closed-loop” system, meaning it is self-contained and safer. Super chilled butane, propane or another type of hydro-carbon is then piped into the system. As the solvent works its way through the cannabis, it binds to the cannabinoids and drips down into a collection pan. This material is then poured out onto a sheet of parchment paper and goes into a vacuum oven to purge any residual solvent out of the concentrate. This is currently the most widespread method of making dabs.

Solvent-less Extraction

Solvent-less extractions use only heat and pressure to produce concentrates. Rosin, ice-wax and dry-sift are all solventless extractions. Rosin is made by taking cannabis flowers, trim, or dry-sift hash and putting it in a micron mesh bag. It is then placed in a heated press (actual temperature and pressure varies by strain/extractor). The resulting material is a chemical-free dabbable cannabis concentrate! While the best results are achieved with larger scale presses and fine quality material, this can be done at home with any hair straightener, a piece of parchment paper and the bud of your choice!

Are dabs right for me?

Taking dabs vs. smoking a joint is kind of like taking a shot vs. drinking a beer. It is generally 1-3 hits out of a dab rig instead of passing a joint around for minutes. The effect comes on a lot faster, is more intense than smoking flower, but does not last as long.

As such, dabs are not for everyone. While connoisseurs sometimes use dabbing as their exclusive form of consuming THC, the average cannabis consumer will benefit just as well from taking a couple of hits of a joint or bong.

To get the best experience out of your dabs, it is important to keep these tips in mind!

Take it easy!

If you’ve never taken a dab before, start slow and work your way up! While It’s impossible to overdose on cannabis, taking too big of a dab can leave you high to the point of discomfort. Start with a dab about the size of a half-grain of rice and adjust accordingly!

Don’t hold it in!

The notion that holding in your hit makes you higher is probably the biggest misconception in the cannabis world. It has been proven that absorption of THC in the lungs occurs within milliseconds of inhalation. Therefore, holding in your bong hit or dab is silly for a few reasons. For one, you’re wasting time that you could be using to finish off whatever is left in the bong/rig and WILL get you higher. Also, the fuzzy feeling that you get when you hold in a hit is actually your brain being deprived of oxygen and should be avoided at all costs.

Temperature matters!

The most common mistake new dabbers make is not waiting for the nail to cool to the appropriate temperature. In the same way that cooking food in a pan that’s too hot will char it and make it bitter, dabs will burn and char if taken too hot. Therefore, after heating your nail with your torch, it is crucial to wait at least 30-45 seconds before taking your dab. Actual time varies with each individual nail and figuring out the timing is generally a trial-and-error process.