What Is Dabbing?
In recent years, the method of inhaling cannabis concentrates (commonly known as dabbing), has grown in popularity. Maybe you’re a dabbing expert, and have been doing it since the 1970s when it first started (Starks, Michael. 1977. MARIJUANA CHEMISTRY Genetics, Processing & Potency). Or maybe you’ve never heard of it, and thought it was just that silly dance moves you’ve seen teenagers doing online. Regardless of whether you’re a novice or a pro, this article is designed to help you learn more about what dabbing is and educate people on the truth about dabs.
For those that have never seen nor experienced it, the process of dabbing can look a little intimidating. The process typically involves using a butane torch to heat a glass bowl or metal piece known as the ‘nail’ to become red hot. The smoker then places a metal scoop containing a waxy substance (called dabs) to the super heated piece, causing it to instantly vaporize. This vapor can then be inhaled by passing through the dabs rig, which is generally a glass chamber that contains water like a typical water pipe or bong. The process sounds somewhat complicated on paper, but is actually rather simple in practice. Still though, it can look intimidating to those unfamiliar with the process.
The reasons for this are twofold. For one, because vapor is less harsh on the lungs than regular smoke, experienced smokers often take huge hits which aren’t recommended for first time dabbers. Secondly, heating glass or metal with a torch is typically reserved for drugs far more illicit than cannabis. People who are unfamiliar with dabbing can often mistakenly assume it is something else, and may need reassurance that it’s just cannabis.
While it’s true that many smokers use dabs containing THC to get high, some people dab cannabis concentrates like CBD (cannabidiol) simply for medicinal purposes like pain or stress relief. CBD dabs are a concentrated version of one of 113 cannabinoids found in cannabis and does not get the user high, but is known to provide a myriad of health benefits.
The beauty of dabbing concentrates over smoking is that you get a surprisingly pure hit, typically with an herbal aroma. The taste and smell of dabs can be modified with terpenes, and is generally cleaner than smoking since there is no ash or butane from a lighter.
A big part of the reason why dabbing is increasing in popularity is because of the legalization movement. It mainly started to catch on shortly after legalization for recreational use in states like Colorado and Washington. As a result of its popularity, dabs are now being demonized as a dangerous and powerful drug in states where cannabis is still illegal, but many smokers in legal states have to laugh because they know dabbing is just a way to inhale cannabinoids faster, similar to shotgunning a beer.
In truth, most current evidence suggests that inhaling vapor via dabbing is far healthier than the traditional way of smoking raw plant material. Additionally, the effects of taking a dab are often felt more quickly than other methods. This is why dabbing is a popular choice for people who want to use CBD for pain relief.
Less Is More
Modern strains of cannabis are up to 30 times more powerful than they were in the 1960s. Modern concentrates can be up to 90 times more powerful. Thus, we no longer need to inhale a quarter of an ounce of burning plant material to strongly feel the effects. Dabbing allows for a small amount of cannabinoid concentrate to go a long way comparatively to the old days. This is also good news for folks who may require a higher does of CBD, or those who have simply built up a tolerance to cannabinoids.
So What Do You Need To Dab?
As stated before, a typical dabs rig includes a water pipe with a metal piece, called a nail, replacing the normal glass bowl, but in some cases specialized glass bowls are used. The nail can go over 500 degrees Fahrenheit without breaking. You’ll also need a metal utensil to scoop your concentrate and vaporize it on a heated nail. The traditional setup requires a butane blowtorch to heat up the nail. This is a bit of a hazard though, and could make some people uncomfortable, or perhaps your place simply isn’t the ideal set up for having an open flame around.
If that’s the case, fortunately, there are some alternative solutions to using a typical butane torch. Enter the electronic nail, or E-nail for short. This is a device that plugs into your wall and heats to a specified temperature without the use of an open flame. Buyer beware though, these devices can be expensive, typically starting around $100 and going up from there depending on the features you want. Some dabbers prefer an E-nail they can set to a specific temperature in order to do a low temp dab and avoid potentially burning their throat.
Another option is simply to buy a dab pen. These devices are similar to e-cigs or vape pens, but have been modified to take a single hit of solid concentrate instead of vaporizing oil. Dab pens typically cost between $55 to $75 and function in basically the same way as a traditional dab rig, with one exception. The benefit of these pens is that they are both more portable and far more discreet than a traditional dabs rig.
So, let’s assume you’ve decided to give dabbing a try, and you have your hardware set up and ready to go. What’s next? Well, it’s safe to say that choosing the right concentrate is possibly the most important aspect of enjoying the dabbing process. Whether your plan is to try CBD wax or use THC, it’s important to check a few things about the manufacturing process of the concentrate you’ll be using.
Some important questions to ask are, “What strain of cannabis was used? What solvent was used to break down the concentrate? What method was used for extraction, was it refined or distilled?” etc.
It sounds complicated, but as you experiment with different brands, you will quickly learn what kind of dabs you enjoy in particular based on your own personal taste. If a particular flavor sounds good to you, why not give it a try after asking these questions and learning a little bit more about it? Ultimately this kind of trial and error will help you determine which brand is your go-to when it comes to THC or CBD dabbing.