Oct 10, 2020

What’s Dabbing and How To Do It

Achieving your ideal high

Do you find yourself asking your budtender for higher and higher THC? Are you smoking 25%+ strains but still finding no or not enough effect? Did you Google, “why can’t I get high enough” and end up here? It might be time to switch over to concentrates. Concentrates, or extracted cannabis products, can offer potencies ranging from 40% all the way up to 95% THC and are far more efficient than smoking flower to achieve that same amount of cannabinoids. 


How to use concentrates

Dabbing is one the most efficient ways you can consume concentrates. Dabbing allows you to experience the true essence of the plant and eliminates all that plant matter and inert carbon that you don’t need to be breathing in. Ditch the filler and see what it’s like to truly taste the terpenes in your favorite strain.


If you’re one of those people who enjoys the ritual of rolling a joint almost as much as actually smoking the joint then a dab rig might be right up your alley; the zen process of heating your dab, laying out all your tools, sectioning off your dab, polishing your banger clean after with iso and q-tips. Dabbing is the epitome of cannabis ritual.


The most important thing to note, however, is that concentrates are something to work up to – noobies need not apply! If you have never consumed cannabis, start with CBD or 1:1 flower first and build up some experience and tolerance. Even if you do smoke a lot of flower, start off with something lighter like kief or hash before moving on to rosins and resins, BHO like crumble, wax or shatter and eventually the 95% pure THC distillates when you feel comfortable.


Dabbing: not your little brother’s dance move

While dabbing can leave you scrunched up coughing into your elbow, it’s questionable whether or not the two terms are related. Cannabis dabbing is more of a reference to the old saying, “a little dab’ll do ya,” because you really only need the smallest amount, a tiny “dab” of oil into the right concentrate smoking device will release a torrent of highly potent vaporized cannabinoids and terpenes.


Find the “right” concentrate smoking device

Sure you can put pieces of extracts in with a flower bowl or you can roll them into a joint or go with the classic hot knifing technique, but that’s wasteful since the concentrate can continue to burn when you’re not pulling (inhaling) on it and precious THC vapor flitters off into the atmosphere instead of your lungs; not to mention a main draw of dabbing is getting away from inhaling all that plant matter. A full dab rig set up can sound intimidating at first and it is a bit of a commitment, but try your first dab and you’ll understand why it’s worth it to so many.


Standard dab rig set-up


Recycler Bubbler Rig – Dabs don’t require a lot of inner volume in the glass piece you are using, a bong is just too big all the oil vapor is going to settle on all the surface area inside instead of in your lungs, don’t waste that oil! Get as small a rig as possible and aim for something with a recycler. The recycler is a secondary tube that runs up to a toilet bowl style chamber, as you pull hard, in a normal bong you’re gonna get some water splashing up. The recycler brings the water splashes into the top of the upside down cone shaped chamber at an angle and gravity causes the water to “flush” back down into the bottom while the smoke travels up to your mouth, no more splashback!

Quartz Banger – The most crucial element of a dab rig. You cannot just put a piece of shatter into a normal bowl and put a bic to it, the heat won’t be enough and once it eventually warms up enough it will soften and leak down the hole into the water, wasted. Bangers come in slightly various shapes and sizes but essentially it’s a quartz cup with a straw up near the top that leads down into the rig. It should be quartz, titanium or ceramic, glass will break under the heat required. After properly heating it you drop your concentrate into the cup and the heat will vaporize it, pull on the dab rig and the suction will pull the smoke into the straw tube at the top of the banger and into your bubbler.

Dab timer/thermometer – You want to heat up your banger for about a minute depending on the banger so that it is evenly heated right through, the heat required to do that is way too much to dab with though so you then have to let it sit for about a minute to cool down, depending on whether you want to do low or high temp dabbing, it also depends on the consistency/style of your concentrate – how hard/soft it is, everyone has their personal preference and you get to know your rig eventually and what timing works for you. There are dab timers you can get that will let you know how long to heat for then how long to cool for, or you can get a dab thermometer to know exactly when your banger is the right temp. Lower temp is more flavorful, higher temp punches harder, it’s really a matter of personal preference, for some it’s between 300-400 degrees F, 150-200 degrees C roughly. You can get right up to 350 degrees C if you really want to incinerate your concentrate but you won’t get to fully enjoy the available terpenes.

Torchs and Enails – A small handheld torch from a convenience store isn’t going to be enough, you need a proper creme brulee style torch to reach the heat you need. Most come with a stand so you can turn it on, set it beside your banger and leave it till it’s done, not unattended though! Safety first. Use the best quality butane you can find, at least 3x filtered so that it doesn’t tarnish your banger. Alternatively, if you are a very frequent dabber and just don’t have time to run your torch every time, you can get an Enail! This is basically a metal induction coil that wraps around your banger and keeps it at the perfect desired temperature, plug it into your smart home system and add it to your “I’m home” routine to have a dab ready to go after a long hard days work. Welcome to the future!

Carb Cap/Dab pearls – Carb caps come in so many different styles, if you’re just doing small dabs you may not even need one, for large dabs it can help to keep the vapor from escaping the top of the banger while you’re taking a breath between pulls. It also changes the air pressure in the banger and can greatly increase the amount of smoke produced. There is also a fairly new product called dab pearls that you can put into the banger that help large dabs to cook more evenly especially while low temp dabbing, low temp dabs don’t always cook a whole big dab before the banger is too cooled down, the pearls will help you get every last drop, they also increase the heated surface area in your banger and can lead to thicker smoke and a heavier hit. Add a spinner carb cap and the pearls will REALLY stir your banger as you pull.

Dab Tool – You don’t want to be handling concentrates with your hands, they’re just too sticky. Trying to separate it into dabable portions can be a nightmare, get yourself a titanium tool that can split it up and drop it into your banger, hands free! There are an infinite number of styles for a tool, some people even just use a pin, tweezers, utensils (not recommended as some aren’t great with heat and can off-gas chemicals) or things like titanium dental picks. Some styles even have a carb cap attached on the end so you can drop your dab in and flip the tool around to cap it. Ryot even makes a cool multi tool with different options for different concentrates.

Dab mats, kits and containers – Your dab tool is gonna get sticky, if you put it down on your couch or your lap you’re gonna have a bad time, get yourself a silicone mat, silicone won’t stick and you can leave all your tools on it no problem. For actually storing your concentrates you want to use glass, quartz or terp squares. Wax/parchment paper and things like plastic can degrade and tarnish your concentrate after time.

Quartz inserts – These little cups can be dropped into your banger to help keep your banger free of stains after long enough use and they’re great for low temp dabbing as well! You can leave the inset in while you heat the banger and it will retain heat far longer than the banger on it’s own. Or you can heat your banger up and drop the insert in there with the dab already inside, this takes a bit of practice but it’s one of the best ways to low temp dab and really enjoy the flavor of your terps!


Here’s a great tutorial of how to do a dab


Other convenient, efficient concentrate smoking methods

Vapor Straw/Nectar Collector – This is sort of like the pipe version of a dab rig. If you don’t want to fuss with tools and caps and rigs, a nectar collector is the perfect way to quickly consume your concentrates. Some have water chambers in them to add a little bubbling but most are just a straight shot tube with the mouthpiece on one end and a titanium or quartz tip on the other end. Heat the tip with your torch and when it’s the right temperature just dip it into your concentrate. The heat will vaporize the dab and you can suck it up like a straw. Dabs made easy.

Concentrate trays in a dry flower vaporizer – Most standard dry flower vapes right out of the box aren’t able to handle concentrates, once the dab starts heating up and liquefies it will start leaking down into the heater through the air flow vents and ruin the electronics. Some dry flower vapes like the Pax 3, the Utilian 720 line, some of the Davincis, for example, can come with little metal trays/buckets/containers that are relatively sealed to prevent gravity from draining oil into the important parts. Essentially it’s a cup that you put your dab into then put it into the oven, the oven heats the cup which heats the dab and you pull it in. Vapes that don’t come with these can still be used for concentrates, but you have to use a “green screen” which is just a bowl of Cannabis that will soak up any of the runny oil and give it a medium to sit in while it cooks. Alternatively if you have some clean pure cotton you can put that in to soak up and cook the oil in.


How do I know what’s best for me?

Only you can answer that for yourself; it will depend on your budget, the availability at your local store, and the type of concentrates you plan on consuming to name a few factors. Keep doing your research, document in your cannabis journal, and find what’s best for you. 

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