How Dabbing Cannabis Works: Taking Weed to the Next Level

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Dabbing has taken the cannabis industry by storm. The days of firing up a joint, blunt or bowl are gradually fading away in favor of dabbing. Though most of those in tune with developments in the cannabis industry have at least heard of dabbing in passing. However, few truly understand what dabbing is really all about. If you have even a slight interest in using cannabis, you have come to the right place. Let’s take a look at dabs and how to dab cannabis.


What, Exactly, are Cannabis Dabs?

Use your mind’s eye to envision the most beautiful marijuana plant you can imagine. Think about all of those sweet and sparkly crystals on the raw flower. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get high off of those gorgeous crystals instead of the actual plant matter? This is the essence of dabbing. All sorts of dab types are available. The most common varieties of dabs are butane hash oil (BHO) crumble, wax, shatter and budder. The primary difference between dab products is the method used to create them. Even the solvent used to make the extract distinguishes it from other types. In fact, it is now possible to transform shatter into wax through emulsification. Some dabbing aficionados have dubbed this process “whipping.”

Dabs are made with the use of hydrocarbon solvents such as propane, butane and/or hexane. Dabs can also be created with the use of CO2 or by way of a solventless extraction technique. The use of CO2 in a process known as supercritical CO2 is not used as frequently as other methods as it is comparably expensive. Dabs can also be made with a cold water extraction process that involves the use of bubble bags. This method is similar to that used to make hash. The use of heat along with pressure void of solvents to create cannabis dabs is referred to as the rosin method.

Butane extraction is by far the most popular means of making cannabis dabs. If butane extraction is used, butane is either passed or soaked through the material to extract all of that lovely THC and terpenes. In some instances, the butane will also extract lipids and fats, referred to as waxes. Those who make cannabis dabs for a living create their extracts in a lab setting with a closed-loop system. This method of extraction is fully sealed and contained to prevent the escape of volatile gases. The closed-loop method is 100% safe. Just as important is the fact that this approach generates some amazingly tasty cannabis concentrates.

Though it is possible to make your own cannabis at home through open-loop extraction, this method of dab creation poses significant risk. The extraction rig is not fully sealed in the open-loop extraction process so volatile bases will move on out and accumulate in the air, possibly creating an accidental explosion.


The Basics of Dabbing Cannabis

Dabbing, just like smoking or vaporizing, is a bit awkward at first. However, those who give dabbing a try rarely go back to their old way of consuming marijuana. Try a dab and you will undoubtedly experience a new height of mental and physical relief. Dabbing is best defined as the flash vaporization of concentrated cannabis. The cannabis concentrate is warmed through contact with a hot surface and subsequently inhaled.

The best part about dabbing cannabis is a dab will do (pun intended). You need very little cannabis concentrate to get lifted. Cannabis concentrates such as BHO, wax, oil and shatter are that much more potent than regular marijuana flowers. The typical marijuana flower has between 10% and 25% THC. Cannabis concentrates have between 50% and 80% THC. The concentrate’s quality and type ultimately determine its THC percentage. Cannabis concentrates have significantly less plant flower, ensuring the user inhales an abundance of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.

Dabs are also favorable as they have less harmful combusted resin compared to traditional marijuana. Dabbing cannabis is not solely reserved for those looking to get blazed. It is now possible to dab non-intoxicating versions of CBD extracts if you are looking for pain relief as opposed to a majestic high.


Dabbing Tools

Dabbing cannabis requires more equipment than necessary for smoking marijuana. The average dabbing setup features a cannabis extract available in a number of forms such as CO2 and BHO. A water pipe is modified with dabbing attachments to form a dab rig. A nail is added to the water pipe gauge. Nails are made of quartz and ceramic yet titanium is most commonly used. A dome comprised of a glass hood is positioned around the forementioned nail. Though there are some nails that do not require domes, conventional nails require something to collect the vapor prior to inhalation.

A torch is necessary to light the dab. Miniature torches such as those used by chefs will suffice. Many dab enthusiasts opt for propane torches that heat nails that much faster. Flame-less dabbing methods are hitting the market yet most dab-lovers use the torch method as it is comparably inexpensive. A dabber is also necessary. This is the ceramic, metal or glass tool used to apply the dab.


The Dabbing Process

Once you have all the equipment detailed above, it is time to dab. Prep the dab on the dabber, take a seat and prepare for mental liftoff. If this is your first time dabbing, it is important to remain seated as the impact of THC will prove quite powerful. Flip on the torch, direct the flaim to the nail and heat it until it is blazing hot. When the nail is hot, turn off the torch. Put the glass dome atop the nail. If your nail is made of titanium, let it cool for 10 seconds. If the nail is comprised of quartz, let it cool for 45 seconds so the surface temperature does not get excessively hot.

Apply the dabber to the dab onto the nail within the dome. Inhale in a gradual manner. You can reduce the amount of oil that sticks to the dabber by rotating the dabber tip along the nail. Once you take in a deep breath, hold it for a moment and exhale slowly for the maximum impact. It is important to note nails and glass domes become quite hot during dabbing. Be careful as you handle your dabbing equipment. Wait for each piece to fully cool before touching them.


Dabbing On-the-Go

Though dabbing cannabis certainly requires a fair amount of equipment, it is possible to dab while on-the-go. If you are taking a road trip, going on vacation or heading away from home for any reason and still want to dab, pack your dabbing materials in a protective container for safe transport. If you own a dab pen, you can dab just about anywhere as long as no police officers are in your vicinity. It is particularly interesting to note TSA’s revised guidelines now state travelers can take their dab pens on airplanes.


Cannabis Dabs are Reaching a Mainstream Tipping Point

The fact that cannabis dabs are chock full of THC is only part of the reason why this method of getting high has become so popular so quickly. Ask anyone who has dabbed cannabis and you will be inundated with a list of reasons why dabbing is superior to other options. It is faster to dab cannabis than roll a joint or a blunt. Cannabis dabs taste better than marijuana smoke. Dabbing enthusiasts far and wide agree this method provides a clean and smooth taste compared to that of regular marijuana smoke.

Those interested in dabbing cannabis for medical reasons will find dabbing provides the exact cannabinoid dosage necessary for quick and effective pain relief. The icing on the cake is there are no ash byproducts left behind after you dab. It can be said without a hint of doubt that dabbing cannabis is the cleanest and most effective means of enjoying cannabis.

Ryan Shempton

About Ryan Shempton

Ryan is a full-time freelance writer. He has worked as a paralegal, civil litigation assistant and tutor while living in cities stretching from Columbia, SC to Henderson, NV. Ryan's interests include movies, video games, music, everything cannabis-related and vegan cooking.