How to Dab: Sorry, this definitely IS NOT the dance!
Dabs, also known as concentrates, are a concentrated form of cannabis. Dabs contain higher amounts of THC than cannabis and have become very popular over the past few years. As legalization spreads across the country, the popularity of dabbing is only going to increase, so read this article and jump on the bandwagon!
Dabbing vs vaping: what’s the difference?
So, I mentioned that we both dabbed and vaped cannabis extracts.
These are two completely different ways of consuming cannabis, but they have rather similar effects.
Now, while both types of consumption rely on inhaling vaporized cannabis, the way users get there is a bit different.
Dabbing is done by heating up a nail with a blowtorch and placing a bit of cannabis extracts on the heated nail which evaporates the extracts.
The hot vapor is then inhaled through the rig and is usually extremely hot, which causes irritation in the lungs and throat.
The result of all this is an instant high, a terrible cough, chest pain and then numbness for the next 30 minutes or so.
Vaping, on the other hand, relies on technology a bit more, as it utilizes electricity in order to heat up the extracts or dried bud, which is then turned into low-temp vapor.
Vaporizers are usually much smaller in size as they usually come in pocket-size while dabbing rigs are basically modified bongs.
Vaporizers also utilize a lower temperature in order to vaporize the contents, while higher temperatures are needed for dabbing.
Vaporizers heat up cannabis material on a hot plate to release the vapor or smoke so that it can be inhaled.
Dab rigs utilize a hot nail that you manually heat up and it lets of heat over time, while vaporizers keep a constant temperature when activated.
Knowing these differences, let us get into how temperatures affect your high and see which temperature is best for which effect.
Best dabbing temperature (chart)
So, seeing how cannabis has over 100 active cannabinoids that affect your body and your high, maybe even in the slightest ways that you may not even feel, it makes sense that there are different temperatures at which these compounds ‘dissolve’ best.
By dabbing at a higher temperature we may achieve a bit different effects than dabbing at a lower temperature.
Even the high after smoking a hash joint will have a different feel to it than when you consume hash through a vaporizer.
Click to enlarge
Now that we know what are the best temperatures for dabbing, lets us also take a look at what are the best materials for your nail.
Titanium nails (Ti Nail)
Most people who dab are used to using Tit-Nails, or titanium nails because they last very long.
Their durability is what the titanium nails are most known for, as these will almost never break or bend, or anything like that.
They can withstand incredible amounts of heat without losing it too fast, as titanium is rather good at retaining heat.
This means that you won’t have to torch the nail too long, and you won’t have to rush with dabbing.
Quartz nails are made from Quartz crystal, and these are never recommended for first time users as they break very easily.
Similarly to Titanium nails, these can also be quickly heated up to high degrees and be ready to dab in no time.
However, given that these are easily breakable and don’t retain head for a long time, Quartz nails are never recommended for starters.
Once you’ve gotten a hang of dabbing, maybe try using a Quartz nail once or twice in your lifetime.
Quartz nails are also often called “Quartz Banger”.
Lastly, ceramic nails are in my opinion the perfect balance of both, the beauty and the beast.
Ceramic nails are best in my opinion because I’ve had most pleasant experiences with them, and also least accidents.
When I say accidents, I mean stupid things happening when high people don’t think too much such as breaking rigs and grabbing nails while they’re hot as hell.
Ceramic nails will give you a better taste than the Ti-Nails, but worse taste than Quartz nails.
They are also more durable than Quartz nails, but less than the Ti-Nails.
Heat retention is a big factor when dabbing as you want as much time possible to take your dab without the nail cooling.
Ceramic nails will do just that, and if you are one of those that do things faster than they think, if you grab a ceramic nail by accident just after taking a rip — you won’t be as badly burned as if you grabbed a Ti-Nail.
Unfortunately, ceramic nails do take the longest to heat up of all three types, however if you aren’t dabbing in secret that shouldn’t really be a problem.
3-step weed dabbing guide
Lastly, we’ve come to the guide itself.
If you’ve never dabbed before in your life you will need the following:
- A bong, also known as a water pipe. Feel free to remove the slider for smoking weed from your bong as you won’t need it for dabs.
- A nail, preferably made from titanium or ceramic.
- Cannabis extracts such as rosin, hash or shatter.
- A domed dabber to place the extract and trap the smoke/vapor.
- One small torch for crème brulee.
Step 1: Put the extract firmly on the nail.
By doing so you will make sure that the extract doesn’t fall off while moving the dabber around, thus leading to losing the extract in the carpet or somewhere else on the ground.
It will also help you get all of the extract on the right places on the nail. Make sure you don’t put too much as you don’t want to waste good extracts into the air.
Step 2: Heat up the nail with the torch.
If you have your torch at hand, place the bong (or now it’s actually a dabbing rig) and heat up the nail.
Depending on the type of the nail you’ll need about half a minute to heat up the nail. If it turns red, wait for about 20-40 seconds for the nail to cool down, as the best flavors are release at lower temperatures.
Step 3: Place the extract in the nail and move around while inhaling
Once you’ve reached your desired temperature, put the dabber with the extract in the nail and move it around.
You will see smoke and vapor appear, and once the whole extract is gone cover the nail with your dome on the dabber.
This will trap the smoke and vapor and give you the best possible hit.
If you have friends that dabbed before I strongly suggest you do it with them as they will know how to help you with everything you need.
Expect a very strong high and a powerful hit to the lungs like you’ve never felt before.
Most importantly, enjoy dabbing, but not too much as it will raise your tolerance faster than anything else!
Step 1: Find the best concentrate for you
Concentrates come in many forms including shatter, wax, crumble, budder, live resin, live rosin, sugar, sugar wax, and many more being invented every day. The reason for this is that there are different ways to extract cannabinoids from the cannabis plant and each method yields a different type of concentrate. To find out which one you like the best, you’ll have to try ’em all as there isn’t much research on the subject as of now. However, it is widely believed that shatter is the cleanest/purest concentrate on the market, so you might want to start there! Just be sure that whatever concentrate you get is from a respectable dispensary or you’ll be smoking “poop soup”: a poorly extracted concentrate with a soupy butane mix in it. Yuck!
Step 2: Get Supplies
- Concentrate of your choosing
- Glass Rig (bong-like device made for cannabis concentrates)
- Quartz, Ceramic, Glass, or Titanium Nail (they type of nail you use is up to you, we will be using a quartz nail for this tutorial)
- Dabber (holds the concentrate while dabbing)
- Carb Cap (covers the nail to keep the smoke in the rig)
- OPTIONAL: e-nail. An e-nail is a device that heats your nail to a certain temperature. This eliminates the need for a torch or butane.
Step 3: Get your dab on the dabber
Depending on the type of concentrate you get, this might be a bit tricky. If your dabs are gooey, press your dabber onto the concentrate and yank it away quickly. This way, you only pull up a small amount of the concentrate. If your dabs are hard and won’t stick to the dabber, heat your dabber just a bit and the concentrates should stick right on there.
Make sure you only take a dab you can handle! If you are new to dabbing, start small and work your way up. The average bud you smoke has anywhere between 15%-25% THC. Concentrates can range in the 65%-85% THC range so know what you’re smoking!
Step 4: Heat your nail
This can be the toughest and most important part of dabbing. Start by filling your torch with butane. Light your torch and hold it up to the bottom of the nail at a diagonal angle. Some of the flame should be going up the side of the nail with most of the flame heating the bottom. Gently move your torch in small circles to evenly heat the nail. When your nail has a slight red glow to it, it is time to stop heating.
Now, grab your dabber with concentrate but don’t put it in the nail yet! Using your free hand, hold it about half an inch away from the nail. If the nail is too hot for you to hold your hand there comfortably, the nail is too hot. When the nail is red hot it is roughly 800°F, the ideal temperature for dabbing is between 500°F and 650°F. If you take a dab when the nail is too hot, you risk burning your lungs and wasting the concentrate. Wait until your nail cools a bit and you can comfortably hold your hand next to the nail. Don’t wait too long, though! If the nail is too cold, the concentrate won’t melt and you’ll be wasting your money.
Step 5: Melt the dab on the nail
Now that your nail is the perfect temperature, put your lips on your rig and get ready to inhale. Place the end of the dabber (holding the concentrate) on the inside of the nail. The concentrate should melt off, slide into the base of the nail, and smoke up nicely. Pull the smoke in, filling the rig.
Step 6: Cap it!
Carb caps are similar to a shotgun on a bowl – their purpose is to limit the flow of air through the piece so you get as much smoke to stay in the rig as possible. Sometimes carb caps are a part of the dabber, sometimes they are separate. To use it, cover the nail with the carb cap once the concentrate has melted off the dabber. Continue to pull smoke in gently. After a few seconds, you should have almost all of the smoke from the dab in the rig. Remove the carb cap and give a strong, fast inhale, clearing the smoke out of the rig.
Step 7: Inhale and enjoy!
When inhaling smoke from dabs, or any smoke for that matter, it is important to inhale but not to hold it the smoke in for too long. A quick inhale and breathe out does the trick, holding in the smoke for an extended period of time (even just a few seconds) can damage your lungs and does almost nothing to make you higher.
I hope you enjoyed our tutorial and learned a few things too! We still have a lot to learn about the effects of dabbing as it is a relatively new phenomenon. However, it is clear that dabbing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so it’s important that everyone knows the safest and most effective way of smoking concentrates. Share this info with your friends to keep their lungs healthy, happy, and high!
This post was originally published on June 6, 2016, it was updated on October 3, 2017.
Benefits of Dabbing
It used to be that dabs were a secret to everyone but super elite stoners. These days, you can find an array of concentrates to choose from. You also have a huge variety of smoking mechanisms that range from composite water pipes to handheld electronic vaporizers.
Dabs are becoming increasingly popular with veteran stoners. Dabbing offers many benefits, for instance:
It’s a One Hit Wonder
Like all other forms of cannabis, dabs vary in potency, concentration, and effects. But, more often than not, a dab the size of a grain of rice is equivalent to smoking a whole joint instantaneously. Dabbing is regarded as one of the most potent forms of cannabis, with some concentrates achieving more than 80% THC content. In other words, even the most habitual smokers don’t need more than one dab every few hours.
Not as “Loud” as Traditional Smoking
The smell of weed has always been a dead giveaway. If you don’t want the smell of cannabis to spread throughout your house, dabbing offers a great alternative. The vaporized concentrates produce significantly less smoke than traditional smoking techniques, like bongs and joints.
This is a matter of taste, but a lot of us prefer the taste of oils and other concentrates over the actual flower. You’ll only find out which one you prefer by trying out dabs, but keep in mind that the strain the dab was made from will directly affect its flavor.
Cleaner, Longer-Lasting High
Despite the fact that concentrates are way more potent than dry flower buds, a lot of smokers believe dabs provide a cleaner, more insightful high. This may be due to the fact that concentrates don’t have any plant matter, so you minimize the number of chemicals you smoke. Moreover, some people that suffer from chronic pain find that they only experience immediate, long-lasting relief through dabbing.
There are many different ways you can dab, some of which are extremely easy. Just remember, the set up can take some time. But, once this is done, the rest is simple.
How to Dab Like Jake The Professor
Like most seasoned stoners, Jake The Professor has immersed himself in the world of dabbing. While there are technically two prominent ways to dab — vape pens and dab rigs — we’re only going to discuss dab rigs.
Dab rigs may be the most popular dabbing method among veteran marijuana enthusiasts. When we say dab rigs, we refer to the modified water pipes and all accompanying accessories designed to consume vaporized concentrates.
Also known as oil rigs, these dabbing vessels come in an array of sizes and shapes. They may be one dedicated piece or they can consist of a dry herb water pipe with attachments.
Whatever their design, all dab rigs have a few basic elements:
The main body of any dab rig is the water pipe, although some simply call this part “the rig”. Most rigs come with either a male or female glass joint. This glass joint houses a nail, which is a piece you heat up and place the concentrate on (more on this in a bit!).
As we mentioned before, some rigs can be used to smoke dry herb and come with attachments (also called adaptors) that allow you to dab as well. The ideal water pipe should be durable, have the functions you like (honeycomb, percolator, etc.), and be portable if you need it to be.
Dab Tool AKA The Dabber
The first thing you’ll notice about dabs is the texture. And, the first thing you’ll ask yourself is how on earth do you even handle it? The answer is a dab tool, also known as the dabber.
This metal or ceramic tool is used to apply the concentrate you’re smoking onto the nail (seriously, more on that in a minute!). The best type of dabber for your particular case will depend on the texture of the concentrate you’re smoking, the size of each hit, and the type of nail you’re using.
The nail is the part of the rig you heat up and place the concentrate on. While all rigs come with a nail, you may want to look at its material and design before making a decision.
Titanium nails tend to be the most durable because they don’t shatter if you drop them. Ceramic nails are also available and they can retain heat longer than their titanium counterparts, but they are extremely fragile. Lastly, Quartz models are said to provide a better quality dab from a flavor point of view.
Remember that nails are not standard, so you have to be careful and check if they fit your rig before purchasing them separately.
Domes are small chambers designed to trap the vapor before it’s inhaled. They are mostly found in older dab rigs because modern designs have steered away from this element. That being said, you can still find an array of models that rock this feature, so you may have to apply it in order to toke out of them.
Similar to domes, not all dab rigs come equipped with a carb cap. Carb caps are relatively new, which means most modern rigs are compatible with them (although they are sometimes sold separately).
These accessories work as an airflow control mechanism, which means you can control and maintain optimal dabbing temperatures for longer periods.
The sweet spot for low-temperature dabbing is 315-450°F, which is still extremely hard (if not impossible) to achieve with a regular lighter. In order to achieve these temperatures, you’ll have to use a creme brulee-style torch to heat up the nail.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Dabbing
Now that we’ve covered all the dabbing tools and accessories you’ll need, we’ll go over the steps you have to take to dab like The Professor.
- Gather Your Concentrate and All Your ToolsMake sure you have all the dab rig parts and accessories at hand before you start dabbing. If you have a dry herb rig with an adaptor, this is when you should be setting it up.
- Heat the NailPlace the nail on the joint and use your torch to heat the nail.
- Titanium nails should be heated for about 20 to 25 seconds, but note that they don’t retain heat as well as other types of nails so you’ll have to proceed quickly to the next steps.
- Ceramic nails, on the other hand, should be heated for about 1 minute for perfect dabbing temperature. These nails have great heat retaining capacities, so you can take your time and go on to the next step.
- Quartz nails will show red glowing spots when they’re heated to the ideal temperature. Depending on the material of your nail, you’ll have to let your nail cool down for 10 to 60 seconds in order to get a low-temperature dab.
- Place Dome Over Nail (If Any)In case you’re using a dab rig that has a dome, you have to attach it now before you apply the concentrate to the nail.
- Apply ConcentrateUse the dabber to scoop up a bit of wax or the concentrate of choice and apply it onto the nail. The concentrate should start vaporizing immediately.
- Use Carb Cap (If Any)If you have a carb cap, you can start using it to regulate airflow and maintain vaporizing temperature.
- Slowly Inhale While Concentrate is Being VaporizedAs soon as your dab starts vaporizing, you should start slowly inhaling the hit. Remember that it’s a lot more potent than other types of cannabis, so go slow, be smart, and know that you may need to experiment to get the dose right.
Like everything else, the more you dab, the better you’ll become at it. You’ll start understanding your specific rig, learning about optimal dabbing temperatures, and looking to gauge your hits more effectively.
Here are a few tips to develop your skills and start dabbing like a pro in no time.
- Get the right accessories. Besides the parts listed above, you can also look to acquire alternative accessories such as electric nails (E-Nail) that help regulate the temperature effectively, which help provide a world-class dab every time. For infused concentrates, it’s very nice to have a nail that has regulated heat. The lower temperature helps preserve the flavor while you are smoking. It can be tricky for new dabbers to “feel” out what is a good temperature from a torched nail. With an E-Nail, you can dial in an exact temperature.
- Clean your dabbing tools frequently to prevent debris build-up. This can affect the quality of the dab.
- Safety First. Remember that you’re handling a powerful torch and very hot surfaces. Avoid touching any of the hot surfaces at all costs (you WILL get a burn) and be extremely careful that you do not set tools down on or near flammable surfaces.
- Dab At Low Temperatures. If you experience chest discomfort, uncontrollable choking spells, and loss of flavor when hitting dabs, your temperatures are too high. To avoid this, let your nail cool down anywhere between 10 and 60 seconds before applying the concentrate.
- Don’t Take Massive Dabs (If You Can’t Handle Them!) If you really want to enjoy your dab avoid taking a massive hit, especially if it’s your first time. You’re better off pacing yourself and learning your limits.