Dabbing: What it is & How to Do it

January 28, 2019

 

Over the past several years, the practice of dabbing has been slowly rising in popularity within the cannabis community, but what exactly is a dab and how does dabbing work?

 

Forget the straight armed dance craze of a few years back, this is not your mama’s dance move. Simply put, dabbing is the practice of heating highly concentrated cannabis extracts then inhaling the vapors for a powerful high that is virtually unparalleled. Let’s back up and take a closer look at how this super concentrated cannabis is created. 

 

What are Dabs?

Dabs, which are sometimes referred to as hash oils, are created by separating the THC and other cannabinoids from the plant’s trichomes with the use of a solvent such as carbon dioxide, CO2 or butane. This process can also be achieved through the use of mechanical screen filtration. After this separation process is completed, all of the plant matter will have been removed, leaving the pure, essential cannabis oils which have been reduced to a concentrated, sticky substance. These concentrates can also be referred to as shatter, wax, butane hash oil, live resin, bubble hash, rosin, keef and budder. The final product is an extremely pristine form of cannabis, typically containing at least 50% but up to 95% pure THC depending on the method of extraction. This intensely concentrated form of THC is what makes it a highly potent and extremely effective delivery method for those looking for a powerful and efficient recreational or medicinal high. 

 

How to Smoke Dabs

The smoking process involves applying a source of heat to the concentrated oils before inhaling the vapors.  

 

Sounds easy, right? Well, yes and no. This method of delivery does require some level of caution as it calls for the use of fire, via a propane torch to heat up a piece of metal, traditionally a nail, and not surprisingly, heated metal can cause burns. Let’s take a look at how to consume this form of cannabis safely and effectively. 

 

What You Will Need

Before you can begin, you will need what is called a rig, sometimes referred to as an oil rig. These glass pipes look similar to a traditional water pipe but are specifically designed to burn concentrated oils and have a specialized holder for the heated nail. The supplies you will need in addition to the rig are: a metal nail, a propane torch, a dabber to hold your oil concentrates, an alcohol swab or rag, a bowl of water, essential oil and tongs. When selecting a nail, make sure that it will fit the gauge of your pipe. Nails made from titanium are a popular choice. The propane torch can be a small one commonly used in kitchens or a larger one found in a hardware supply store. The smaller torch may be more comfortable to use when first starting out, while the larger torch will provide a faster, hotter flame. This choice should be tailored to your personal preference. A dabber is a small tool, typically made from metal or glass that will be used to apply the concentrated oils to the head of the nail. In a pinch, or if you are just setting up your dab rig, a hair pin can be used for this step. Alternately, you can invest in an e-nail system made specifically for smoking concentrated oils. These plug-in or battery operated, temperature-controlled nails take the blow torch and the guess work out of this cannabis consumption method, however, for this article we will cover the traditional DIY method of smoking cannabis oil concentrates. 

Once your rig and supplies are assembled you are ready to enjoy your first oil smoking experience. To begin, add water to your pipe, making sure not to over fill the chamber, you should be able to inhale, making bubbles without water entering your mouth. Next, if using a brand new nail, you will want to season it. This step will burn off excess metal vapors and prevent them from mixing with the oils and imparting an unwanted metallic taste. Seasoning your nail starts by placing it in the rig’s holder, then using your torch to heat the nail until it glows bright red. Always point your torch away from the rig to avoid overheating and subsequently breaking the glass. Use your dabber to coat the heated nail with your essential oil before using tongs to carefully remove the nail before placing it in the bowl of water to cool. Repeat this process several times to fully seal and season the nail. 

Insert your seasoned nail into the rig and use your dabber to pick up a small portion of the concentrated cannabis oil, keeping in mind that this highly concentrated form of THC packs a big punch and that starting small may be a wise choice. Next, heat the nail that has been inserted into your rig until it glows red, then wait at least 10 seconds for the nail to cool before carefully placing your oil concentrate on the head of the nail. As the concentrated oils melt, inhale through the pipe, letting the water bubble and the vapors rise. Inhale the vaporized oils until the chamber clears. Exhale and repeat this process as many times as desired. When you are finished, use the torch to melt off any remaining residue before wiping the nail head clean with either an alcohol swab or rag. 

 

Wrapping Up

Smoking pure, concentrated THC oil delivers an extremely potent high in an incredibly fast and effective delivery method. This clean and unparalleled powerful high will appeal to pot purists as well as to those searching for a more potent experience. Caution should be exercised when handling the blow torch and heated metal and first time dabbers may want to start slowly, experimenting with timing and concentrates. For cannabis users who are searching for almost immediate effects and consistent quality with slightly less of the traditional odor that usually accompanies smoking, this method provides an increasingly popular way of delivery for both recreational and medicinal marijuana users.

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