TABLE OF CONTENTS
One of the reasons why some people aren’t doing dabs is due to their fear of torches. It could be a big turn off for those who don’t understand how to use torches. The fear of torches is understandable since they can start a fire, if mishandled and the operator can get seriously injured. I
f you are worried about purchasing butane and finding the right torch that will last, you have more than the traditional dabbing options. In fact, you can ditch the torch, if you want to use fewer arsenals. Let’s explore other options that you could consider.
Doing dabs is easy with the use health stones, which would be done by packing a bowl of concentrated dabs. These bowl add-ons and hand pipes can be used with static ceramic stones, which allow the dabs to be transportable. You would apply the dabs on the top of the health stones, after which, you would use a small lighter to apply the exact amount of heat, which then vaporizes the cannabis oil.
The hand vape allows you to change the way that dab is transported on the go. If you are going to use the vapor rig, you should also consider the attachment that hooks the health stone to the vapor rig. In the past, this was only possible with the use of a vaporizer.
However, now those who love glass can remain high while on the move and not have to use a large torch. Vapor stones last for about six months, but it depends on the frequency of use.
Electric nails are an excellent choice to doing dab without having to use a torch. E-nails come with a box that transmits power to a coil. The coil then is wrapped around the outer area of the quarts or titanium nail. With the E-nail, you don’t have to purchase butane on a weekly basis.
You would not have to purchase a torch either every few years. It allows you to do your dab anytime you want because the temperature stays consistent. You can expect to spend as little as a hundred dollars for one of these and up to $500, depending on the quality.
Another good option for doing dabs so that you can use to enjoy cannabis concentrates is a vaporizer. This is especially useful when you are on the go and not at home. Most vaporizers are compact in design and comes with strong batteries that, when charged, could last all day.
You would heat the dabs using a coil found in the chamber of the vaporizer. This is called the atomizer. Some coils are made from ceramic, quartz or titanium. The same is true for dab nails. You have to replace the atomizer within just a few months, but it also depends on frequent use. You can expect to pay as little as $30 and up to $200 for a vaporizer device.
Nectar collectors have evolved over the years to meet the ever-changing needs of the modern dabber. These straw-like devices can be made out of high-quality glass or come in e-nectar collector varieties. At one end, you’ll find a mouthpiece. At the other, is a titanium or quartz tip that gets heated up.
Glass pieces require a blowtorch, but electronic alternatives don’t. All you have to do is dip the tip into your favorite extract and inhale it. It’s that easy. You don’t have to use a dabber to load your concentrate into a heating chamber. Just dip the pen’s tip and savor your hit.
Topping a Bowl
Prior to vaporizers coming on the market, people were using hash oil to enjoy doing dabs. This was the method that many people used back then because it is able to easily liquefy, allowing the wax to melt into the cannabis and with the dry herb, be able to combust. You can melt the wax using a lighter so it can be evenly coated. You can stretch the wax to cover the bowl, if you are going to share the bowl with more than one person.
Twax a Joint
Similar to topping your bowl, “twaxing” your joint is an easy way to smoke dabs without using a blow torch. You can add wax, shatter, live resin, or any other concentrate to the inside of your marijuana cigarette. Simply create a long and thin line to add over your ground-up herb.
Ideally, as you wrap your joint closed, the dry flower will cover the sticky dabs keeping your rolling paper dab-free. If your dab begins to stick to your rolling paper, it could lead to a leaky joint.
Some users also wrap a lengthy and slim dab line around the outside of a joint like a snake curling around it. When smoking this amped-up joint, you’ll need to smoke it at an angle to prevent the dab from dripping down.
While this method may require some level of skill rolling and smoking a joint, it’s totally worth it. As a finishing touch, dip your twaxed joint in kief or apply the kief over it with a dabbing tool. Once it’s rolled, light up with your trusty lighter and enjoy.
Make Cannabis Butter or Oil
Extracts are the base for many cannabis products including your favorite edibles. Cannabis oil is infused into the butter or oil and ingredients used in a recipe. Check out our large selection of edibles recipes to learn how to make cannabis butter or cannabis oil.
Compared to using whole-flower, you’ll be using far less concentrate. You’ll have to decarboxylate your cannabis extract before cooking it into butter or oil. After infusion, you can create a wide range of baked goods, drinks, and more.
Make Cannabis Tincture
Cannabis tinctures are one of the most effective delivery methods. Using an alcohol base and cannabinoid extract, tinctures can be administered via a dropper bottle. These provide a predictable dose that you can consume orally or sublingually.
Oral consumption can provide long-lasting relief, but sublingual consumption can deliver fast-acting results. While you can make tinctures with flower, you can also make tinctures with dabs.
To begin, you’ll need to decarboxylate your cannabis extract. Then, you’ll have to mix your extract in a mason jar or smaller airtight container with high-proof alcohol. You’ll let this solution sit in a cool, dry, and dark place for a few hours or days. Make sure to regularly shake your mix. Afterward, it’s ready to enjoy in meals, drinks, or right under your tongue.
Dabbing Methods to Avoid
Searching on the internet for doing dabs is rife with smoking methods for use without a torch. These methods are impractical at best and dangerous at worst. For instance, many have used an electric car lighter in desperate times.
This method requires you to light up your car lighter and use the top of a plastic bottle as a smoke chamber where you can inhale. Smoking this way involves a lot of moving parts and multi-tasking.
You also risk dropping the electric car lighter onto yourself, especially if you’re in a seated position in the car.
Hot knifing is an uncommon method of consuming dabs. This method involves heating two knives with a torch or with a stove burner (if a torch is unavailable). Once the blades are hot enough, a dab is sandwiched in between and the vapor is caught with the top half of a plastic bottle or a similar tool.
Hot knifing is a dangerous method to try, especially for new users. Hot knifing can become even more dangerous as you get higher and can’t handle the scorching knives.
Another rudimentary material to use is aluminum foil. It’s a great tool for cooking food on the stove or the oven due to its heat retention, but not so great for dabs.
Some users have opted to make a smoking pipe using aluminum foil. Smoking from aluminum foil exposes you to fine and toxic materials when inhaling.
Short term effects may include lung irritation, but long-term effects can be even worse. It’s better not to take the risk and use any other smoking methods listed above.
What Happens When You Smoke Dabs?
Doing dabs without a torch is easy for anyone to do. Unfortunately, smoking extracts in a bowl or joint can make you waste your product. Applying the lighter directly onto a dab instantly heats it to high temperatures. These high temperatures degrade terpenes, which have lower boiling points than THC and CBD.
Sure, you’ll feel the extra potency of a dab compared to smoking flower alone, but your high won’t be as nuanced as it could be. You’ll be missing out on the aromatic terpenes and their interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system for an elevated and balanced effect.
New and highly potent strains of cannabis are hitting the market at a record pace, and the cannabis-consuming public has a seemingly insatiable appetite for them. The edibles market exploded during the past decade and goes far beyond cookies and brownies.
Although those two dessert staples remain popular, they now compete with a wide assortment of candies, chocolates, beverages, and savory items for those who like to eat or drink their cannabis rather than smoke it.
Among the various concentrates now on the market, hashish (aka “hash”) and hash oil remain popular but are losing their appeal to more-potent forms of concentrates like shatter, wax, crumble, taffy, and rosin.
A new generation of cannabis users, as well as some from older generation, have a special fondness for concentrates, and this product category drives the industry in many ways.
As odd as it may seem to those not familiar with modern cannabis products, most concentrates are not smoked, which is the manner that hash and flower are consumed. Instead, “vaping” and “dabbing” provides a stronger but healthier method of consumption.
Vaping and dabbing is the inhalation of cannabis vapor rather than smoke. This vapor is created by heating concentrates to a point near combustion but not quite at the level to produce smoke. Instead, a rich vapor results that consumers inhale. This is generally thought to be less harmful to human lungs than inhaling smoke. The cannabis experience that vaping and dabbing produces is profound and well beyond what results from smoking.
This is no doubt some of its appeal to millennials and younger generations. This is definitely not their father’s cannabis experience—although their dads may enjoy it, too. No, this is something relatively new and altogether different.
The most popular and convenient form of vaping today is from using a vaporizer pen to consumer cannabis oil, which is essentially what past generations called hash oil, although the viscosity is somewhat thinner.
Although disposable vape pens are now growing in popularity for their convenience, the most widely used pens include two parts, a battery, which is the main section of the pen shaft, and the cartridge, which contains the oil and includes a mouthpiece. Vaporizer pens provide a powerful cannabis kick, and are extremely popular because they provide a convenient and discreet way to vape.
Some vape pens are “auto draw,” meaning that all you need to do to use them is take a draw from the mouthpiece. When inhaling from the mouthpiece, an auto-draw pen automatically heats the oil in the cartridge and vapor flows freely through the mouthpiece.
Other pens require pressing a button to heat the oil and release the vapor. These pens typically have a few heat levels, and the use of button pens of this type is increasing. Either type of pen slips easily into a men’s pocket or women’s purse. They provide the most compact means to consume concentrates, which is a key reason their popularity is increasing rapidly.
In contrast to vaporizer pens, dab rigs provide the ultimate dabbing experience. Dab rigs provide a powerful cannabis experience and are to concentrates what bongs are to cannabis flower. Just like a bong provides a stronger method of smoking flower, a dab rig—which resembles a bong—provides a stronger concentrates experience than a pen. Depending on the heat level of the nail, a dab rig can produce both vapor at lower heat and smoke at higher heat.
Dab rigs have several components, and to those unfamiliar with them, the process of using them probably seems complicated. Although this is understandable, using a dab rig is not difficult. Let’s identify the essential equipment and parts of most dab rigs.
This section of the dab rig looks very similar to a bong and operates in much the same way. Heated vapor is inhaled through the mouthpiece and travels through water in a lower chamber, which cools it, before being released through the mouthpiece and into the lungs.
The dab nail is an essential part of the rig and is the location where cannabis concentrates are placed when using the rig. They are called “nails” because they somewhat resemble a carpenter’s nail. Dab nails vary in quality, largely depending on the material they are made from. There are two main styles of nails, domed and undomed, with domes being the more widely used variety.
The nail is hollow, and the vapor flows through it before being cooled by the water and exiting the mouthpiece. Because they are such a vital component of the dab rig, many people who dab regularly put a great deal of thought—as well as a nice chunk of money—into obtaining the best nail possible.
The hand torch is exactly what it sounds like, a hand-held butane torch that works like a mini blow torch to heat the dab nail before placing a concentrate on it. The nail works much like the bowl and stem of a bong, except vapor flows through the heated nail when a concentrate is placed on it, and smoke flows through the bowl and stem after its contents are ignited by a lighter or match. Lighters and matches do an adequate job when using a bong, but the more powerful hand torch works much better for a dab rig.
The use of a dab tool (aka dabber) is another essential piece of equipment when using a dab rig. Dabbing can be a messy process without the use of a good dab tool. This tool usually is made of stainless steel and is rather simple in design. Most dab tools have two usable ends, one that’s more pointed and the other that’s somewhat flat like a spatula.
The nail is gripped by hand on the shaft when collecting a concentrate (usually wax, shatter, oil, or crumble). The tool then is used to transfer the concentrate to the hot nail.
Types of Dab Nails
As we just learned, although it’s only one part of the dab rig, the nail is extremely important. Most dab rigs are sold with a domed nail. Domed nails are the best choice for those new to dabbing, and they offer some advantages. For one thing, they are generally less expensive, domed nails also are easier to clean and less wasteful than domeless nails, because the dome holds the vapor in and prevents it from dissipating into the air.
Experienced dabbers often prefer a domeless nail because it allows easier access to the nail. People who love to dab often like to take really big hits off their nails, and domeless dab nails allow the person using them to load considerably more concentrate. This, of course, allows them to inhale more vapor or smoke.
Newer to the dab scene than traditional nails are the electronic nails that eliminates the need to have a hand torch. Just like it sounds, the electronic nail relies on electricity to reach the perfect heat level. Most people who dab often have definite thoughts about e-nails. Some praise them while other revile them.
A dab nail usually is constructed from one of a few materials: quartz, glass, ceramic, or titanium. Titanium nails are probably the most popular, but each type has its advocates. Glass and ceramic nails usually heat quicker than titanium nails, but titanium retains heat better.
Let’s identify the benefits and weaknesses of each dab nail material.
Undoubtedly the cheapest and most basic dab nail is the glass nail. This type of nail often costs $5 or less, which is a good thing because they are prone to breaking. At lower heat levels, a glass nail can conduct heat fairly well, but at high heat—which many experienced dabbers prefer—it can shatter. Glass nails can also chip and collect concentrate residue quickly, which compromises their performance. Because of this, most experienced dabbers opt for dab nails constructed of other material.
Slightly better than a glass nail is the ceramic nail. Ceramic has distinct advantages over glass. For one thing, it retains heat better than glass, and heat retention is always desirable in dab nails. On the negative side, a ceramic nail takes longer to heat than a glass or quartz nail. Another drawback of a ceramic nail is that it is difficult to determine its heat level, and ceramic nails that are consistently heated too high are prone to breakage. Instead of glowing red like a quartz or titanium nail, the ceramic nail usually appears more or less the same regardless of the heat level. The price point for a ceramic nail is higher, too. A decent ceramic nail will cost approximately $15, but the price can go significantly lower or higher.
Obtaining a quartz nail is a good introduction to the world of higher-end dab nails. A quartz nail heats fairly quickly and is on a par with glass in this regard. It’s also not prone to breakage like glass. The biggest drawback of a quartz nail is that it loses heat quickly, and heat retention is desirable in a good nail. Gauging the nail’s heat level is much easier with quartz than it is with ceramic, which makes it less likely to scorch valuable concentrates as well as finger tips.
Since the quality of a quartz nail is generally better than glass or ceramic, expect to spend more when buying one. All things considered, a quartz nail makes a good choice for novice to intermediate dab fans.
The titanium nail generally is considered the best-quality nail. There are compelling reasons for this. For one thing, a titanium nail is lightweight yet extremely durable compared to other nails. It heats quickly and retains the heat well—two other great qualities in a nail.
On the negative side, titanium nails can sometimes give a slightly metallic taste to the concentrate that’s dabbed. High cost is another drawback that might make a titanium nail undesirable for some people. A good titanium nail can cost the better part of $100. Regardless of the high cost, it makes the best choice for those who like to vape dabs on a regular basis.
If you are looking for a high-potency and fast-acting cannabis experience, dabbing may be right for you.
Cannabis dabbing can be intimidating for first-timers, but our dabbing guide teaches you how to safely consume cannabis concentrates to reap their many benefits.
Dabs are a highly concentrated form of cannabis that are usually vaporized and inhaled in a dab rig. Cannabis flower contains 1-30% THC levels. THC produces intoxicating effects. Dabs can have 50-99% THC, a significant difference compared to flower products.
Cannabis concentrates can be made at home or in a commercial lab through solvent-based or solventless extractions. Solvents include supercritical carbon dioxide, ethanol, and butane. Processors extract the trichome resins from the plant material.
Marijuana Dabbing Pros and Cons
- Aroma and flavor
- Cleaner vapor compared to smoke
- Fast onset of effects
- May be too potent for low-tolerance users
- May require the use of flammable and explosive chemical solvents to make dabs
- Can decrease THC tolerance
- Concentrates may contain harmful residual toxins
- Carcinogens, smoke, odor, cough, congestion, sinusitis, butane inhalation, and carbon monoxide
Cannabis concentrates are separated into two main groups: solventless-derived concentrates and solvent-based extracts. Cannabis concentrates come in different textures and potencies.
- Shatter: Hard, brittle, and glass-like
- Wax: Sticky and thick
- Crumble: Brittle and crumbly
- Budder: Smooth and pliable
- Live resin: Made from fresh-frozen flower; high terpene levels
- Distillate: Highly refined cannabis oil; high concentrations of THC or CBD
- Isolate: Diamonds or powder form; up to 99.9% THC or CBD
- Kief: The collection of trichome glands from cannabis plant material
- Dry sift hash: Kief is compressed into a slab or ball
- Bubble hash: Made using the ice water extraction method
- Live bubble hash: Made using fresh-frozen cannabis buds
- Rosin: Made using a rosin press; sappy consistency
- Live rosin: Made using live bubble hash
Time Until Onset of Effects of Marijuana Dabbing
The effects of dabbing appear after about 30-90 seconds.
The effects of dabbing can last 2-3 hours.
- Banger: Flat-bottomed, square-necked dab rig nail
- Carb cap: A type of dome that contains vapor and restricts air flow
- Dab rig: Special water pipe designed for dabbing concentrates
- Dab tool (aka dabber): Used to pick up the concentrate and apply it to a heated nail
- Dome: Glass good that contains the vapor in a dab rig
- Nail: Part of the dab rig that is heated and vaporizes the cannabis concentrate
- Quartz insert: Small dish that goes inside the dab nail to provide an extra surface area for better low-temp dabs and to protect the dab rig from becoming hazy or breaking
- Reverse tweezers: Dabbing tool used to pick up hot dab rig parts
- Terp pearls: Dabbing accessory used to evenly distribute the concentrate
WARNING! Nails can become extremely hot while dabbing. After dabbing, let your dab rig components cool off before handling them.
- Set up the dab rig and open the cannabis concentrate container.
- Heat the dab nail until it begins to glow red or orange.
- If you are using an electric nail, turn it on and wait until it has heated the nail to your desired temperature.
- If you are using a blow torch, turn it on and aim the flame right at the nail until it is red hot (around 20-60 seconds, depending on your torch).
- After the dab nail has heated, you can place a dome over it.
- Use a dab tool to apply a dab (smaller than a grain of rice or more) directly to the nail or banger.
- Inhale slowly. Rotate the dab tool on the nail to vaporize all the concentrate that’s stuck to it.
Some users prefer to take dabs off a red-hot nail, while others prefer low-temp dabs. Ultimately, the best dabbing temperature is up to you.
Experiment with different temperatures if necessary to gauge the difference in effects.
Hot dabs can produce immediate effects, but low-temp dabs allow you to preserve more of the aromatic terpenes and produce a more flavorful experience. Terpenes have a lower boiling point than cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
Low-temperature dabs: 400-500º F (204-260º C)
Standard dabs: 545-570º F (285-299º C)
Hot dabs: 570-600º F (299-315º C)
Cannabis concentrates aren’t just meant for dabbing. Dabs can be smoked, eaten, or added to your favorite carrier oil to make a soothing topical.
- Smoke: Add cannabis concentrates to your joints or bowls to enhance the potency. Smoking, however, can burn the fragile terpenes in the extract.
- Edibles: Substitute cannabis flower with concentrates in your recipe. Dabs must be decarboxylated to activate the THC and CBD and make cannabutter or cannabis cooking oil.
- Topicals: Infuse cannabis concentrates into your favorite topical recipe to add more therapeutic power. Topicals can be applied topically for localized relief and are not absorbed into the bloodstream.
An electronic rig heats dabs with a battery compared to a torch when using a standard dab rig. An e-rig is plugged into an electrical outlet and can heat dabs to precise temperatures, depending on your preference.
An electronic nail (e-nail) is an attachment to a traditional dab rig that replaces the standard nail. It is made of ceramic, quartz, or titanium and attached to a control box that allows you to set it to a specific temperature.
- Precise temperature control
- Consistent experience
- No open flame
- Not all are portable
- Requires electrical outlet
- Requires laborious cleaning
Final Thoughts on Dabs and Dabbing Weed
As elaborate and complicated as dabbing may seem at first, it’s something that is fairly easy to master. Of all of the equipment necessary for dabbing, the dab nail ranks as one of the most important. A good dab nail is essential for ling-term dabbing and high-quality vapor or smoke.
Although glass and ceramic dab nails are great choices for beginners, the quartz and titanium nails will perform much better for intermediate and advanced dabbers who like to dab on a regular basis. Dabbing equipment provides a range of choices at a variety of price points. The cannabis dabbing experience is a powerful one, so buckle up and enjoy!
If you want to know more about the different ways of doing dabs, than visit the Cannabis Training University to get all the details.
Gavin is a worldly adventurer and cannabis connoisseur, embarking on journeys that take him to the far corners of the globe to explore and document the varied effects, flavors, and histories of both renowned and lesser-known strains. From the misty high-altitude farms of the Hindu Kush highlands to the vibrant cannabis cafes of Amsterdam, Gavin's quest for knowledge spans continents. A recognized authority in the cannabis industry, he frequently lends his expertise to leading publications such as Cannabis Training University, where his captivating blog articles chronicle his unique experiences with different cannabis strains.