Dabbing is a more involved process than simply smoking flower. Until recently, dab-culture has been pretty niched and relatively exclusive. Many smokers still haven’t dabbed or are on the fence about trying it. Other smokers have traded in their lighters for blow torches and haven’t looked back since! Regardless of where you stand on the spectrum, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when dabbing. We compiled a list to make things easy for ya =]
1. Small dabs
Until you’ve got a solid grasp on how dabs affect you, it’s important to only take small dabs. Concentrates are exponentially stronger than the flowers which they were extracted from, and it’s important to keep that in mind. You want to enjoy the experience of dabbing and going overboard is simply not cool and not fun. You can always have another dab, but you can’t go back from being too dabbed
The “small dabs” rule rings especially true for first time dabbers. If you’re administering a dab to someone for the first time, go easy. Regardless of whether or not they’re a seasoned smoker, people don’t know exactly how concentrates are going to hit them. As a host, it is your responsibility to make sure your guest has a great experience. Slabbing them out will surely prevent that from happening. That’s like funneling vodka down a first time drinker’s throat— they’re gonna have a bad time.
2. Low temps
In my experience, people are hesitant to dab due to a previous negative experience. People cite chest discomfort, an intense head rush, and harshness all as reasons to choose flowers over concentrates. But those effects don’t accurately represent dabbing, at all! If dabbing causes you any of those symptoms, it’s likely due to a high temperature dab. Taking a dab at too high of a temp actually combusts your concentrates, and that’s certainly not pleasant to inhale!
If you’re being dabbed for the first time, make sure whoever is administering the dab allows the nail to cool. Never dab immediately after blowtorching a nail. Some blow torches generate flames up to 2500+ degrees, and the ideal temperature for vaping concentrates sits between 350 degrees to 400 degrees (low-temp dab-heads will even tell 450 is pushing it!) If you dab immediately after torching the nail, the nail is likely to be 1000+ degrees. Vapor that hot is guaranteed to be unpleasant and super irritating to your throat and lungs— that’s the opposite of what dabbing should be!
Concentrates also possess terpenes. Terpenes are organic compounds found within various plants. They occur naturally and are responsible for the flavor and smell of your concentrates. High temp dabs combust your concentrates and destroy your terps, thus trading pleasant flavors for harshness. Make sure to wait until your nail cools before dabbing to get comfortable hits every time. Wait times vary depending on the style nail. It will take a bit to get proper temperatures dialed in, but with time you’ll figure out!
Note: want to learn how to do low temp dabs? Check our Low-Temp article!
3. Gloves, or hands off!
Never handle concentrates without gloves. Especially if they’re don’t belong to you! Handling concentrates with bare hands can transfer skin-oils and bacteria onto your precious pickup. Neither of which are ideal. The last thing I want to be dabbing is Joe Blow’s gross skin germs— that doesn’t sound medicinal to me! Due to the sticky nature of concentrates, it’s also super easy to end up with a decent portion of your pickup stuck to your skin. To prevent stickiness and the transfer of nasty germs and oils, always handle your concentrates with non-latex powder-free nitrile gloves. If you don’t want to keep nitrile gloves stocked, make sure to handle your concentrates with parchment paper rather than your bare hands.
4. Clean glass = good glass!
It’s important to keep dab rigs as clean as possible. Oil rigs are easier to clean than water pipes, and if you clean them frequently you barely have to use elbow grease! A lot of oil-residue can actually be removed by thoroughly rinsing your pieces with hot water. Whatever the method, maintaining a clean collection enables you to fully taste all of your concentrates without getting old leftover flavors from the water. It’s pretty gross when someone pulls out a filthy pipe and expects you to be hyped about hitting it. Don’t do the same to your dabbing buddies!
Note: For info on how to properly clean glass without purchasing expensive cleaners, check out article!
5. Mise en place
"Mise en place" is French for "everything in its place." I like to apply this phrase to dabbing and keep everything within reach on a Mood Mat or silicone mat. Whatever essentials you need for dabbing should be nearby, allowing for nothing but smooth and relaxing seshes. While Mood Mats and silicone mats are an essential part of maintaining a feng shui sesh, they also have a functional purpose.
Small amounts of shock travel through the glass when you place your piece down. Over long periods of time, this can potentially lead to hairline cracks throughout a tube. Mats help to reduce the delivered shock. Mats also function to help keep hair off of dabbers. If there’s an animal nearby, this is a constant battle. Do you part to help keep your dabs hair-free and always place the dabber on a mat or dish!
Most mats are also designed to be non-stick, meaning concentrates can be placed on them without binding to the surface. I don’t recommend leaving concentrates open for a long time as terpenes will degrade overtime. Plus, hair and dust can get stuck to the surface of your concentrates as long as they’re exposed. The non-stick quality of dab mats is phenomenal for placing down dabbers. Putting a dabber flat on a table can result in leftover concentrate smearing upon the table’s surface. Ever tried cleaning dabs off of a wooden or glass table? It’s tricky. Always use a mat to prevent this elbow grease— especially if it’s not your table!
If your friend is dabbing you out, a good rule of thumb is to return their setup to the state you found them in. It shows the glass owner that you respect their belongings, and makes them that much more likely to invite you for the next sesh. If your dabbing buddy uses Q-tip Tech, make sure you do the same! This is only necessary if the dabber uses quartz and has been Q-tipping. After you dab, use a cotton swab to mop up leftover residue on the nail. It shows you’ll go the extra mile to keep their collection pristine!
Note: For more information on quartz and Q-tipping, check out our Bangers, Buckets, and Caps article!