The Basics of Dabbing Concentrates

Posted by Bradley Wilkerson on

basics of dabbing concentrates

With the cannabis market expanding, different ways of consuming the drug are becoming more and more popularized. From edibles to cannabis infused drinks, it seems everyone has a preference for one form over another. Although dabbing has been around for decades, the newly open market has perfected the technique and equipment for safer and more efficient dabs.

What is dabbing?

Dabbing involves inhaling the fumes from cannabis plant extracts in their concentrated form. The extracts can come from any part of the plant, including the stem, leaves, and other leftover material usually discarded before smoking. The careful science behind extracting the oil from the plant normally involves a butane or propane solvent and is best left to the professionals for a safer and more quality product. It is not recommended for amateurs to extract their own oils as serious injury can result.

What are the main concentrate forms?

Different extraction processes will create different forms of concentrate. Mechanical separation will produce product in the form of dry sift or rosin, while chemical solvents such as butane will produce “shatter”, “budder”, “sap”, or “crumble” depending on the temperature and pressure also used in the process. The latter are most commonly referred to as butane hash oils, or BHOs. These concentrates will contain much higher levels of THC, and therefore produce stronger hits than a typical smoking session. This is analogous to drinking beer versus drinking whisky. Beer contains lower alcohol content than whisky, so you don’t need to drink as much whisky to feel the same effects as a can of beer. In the same way, you won’t need to use very much of a concentrate to feel the same effects of a smoked hit. Overconsumption can lead to adverse reactions, so it is recommended that a user starts with a small amount to learn how the concentrate will affect them.

How do you dab?

Dabbing requires several tools before getting started. You will need a dab rig, usually containing a “nail”, a dome, and a mouthpiece. If you already have a water pipe, you may be able to switch out the attachments to make a dabbing rig. (For more information on pipe styles, click here.)The nail has a cupped end that holds the concentrate while it is vaporizing, and the dome will catch the vapors and redirect them through the rig toward the mouthpiece. You will also need a small cooking torch to heat the nail with.

After you set up your tools in a safe area and choose which form of concentrate to use, you will heat the nail with your torch until hot. If your nail material is glass or titanium, excessive heat can lead to cracking or scorching of the concentrate, so you don’t want to overheat the apparatus. Quartz has less of a tendency to overheat, but it also cools off quickly which may prevent the whole concentrate from vaporizing. Once your nail is hot, you will place the concentrate onto the nail using a dabber or other small tool. If your rig includes a dome, you’ll want to place the dome over the nail quickly so the vapors aren’t lost to the atmosphere. Some electronic nails will have a heat setting, so you don’t have to torch it, and will pull the vapors into the rig, negating the need for a dome. Once the vapors reach the mouthpiece, breathe in and enjoy. Remember to let the rig cool completely, including the nail and dome, before dismantling to clean.


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