For the vast majority of people, dabbing is a popular dance move among the youth that received its second life thanks to Fortnite.
But for the cannabis community, dabbing has a completely different meaning.
If you spend much time in Social Media, you’ve probably come across different Instagram influencers getting huge rips from scientific devices and calling them “dabs” or “dabbing”.
Dabbing has become insanely popular among cannabis aficionados.
While originally intended for medical use, it seems that this form of cannabis consumption has conquered the hearts (and lungs) of recreational users, too.
This guide explains everything beginners should know about dabbing: from its definition to origins and evolution to how you should properly dab your cannabis to potential dangers behind dabbing.
To understand what dabbing exactly is, we first need to elaborate on the definition of a dab.
A dab is a slang term for cannabis concentrates; it means a tiny amount of something and that’s exactly how you use a dab.
You only need a very small amount of a concentrate to feel the potent effects. Concentrated forms of weed have existed for a long time, but they have never been as popular as they are now.
So, long story short, dabbing is simply the act of burning or flash-vaporizing a dab of cannabis concentrate.
You can dab concentrates out of several different devices, but before we dive deeper into this subject, let’s talk about the history and origins of dabs for a while.
The origins of dabs date as far back as 100 A.D. when the use of hashish, the earliest form of cannabis extracts and a concentrated medicine, began to spread from Eastern Asia to India, Nepal, Himalayas, Morocco, Turkey, and Afghanistan.
However, what we know today as “dabs” emerged in the mid 1960’s when the Brotherhood of Eternal Love – an organization of drug users and distributors from Orange County, California – started a “Psychadelic Revolution” throughout the US during that time.
The Brotherhood of Eternal Love soon started to import hashish into the country. They were also experimenting with more potent forms of marijuana, which led to the first BHO extraction – Honey Oil.
Honey Oil turned music and party scenes during the 1970s into what later became the hippie and stoner peace movements, showing passive protest against violence and spreading ideas of free love and peace.
This gave rise to what would become the future of dabbing. Since the Psychedelic Revolution, the purity of concentrates has grown to nearly 90%, and both medical and recreational users have welcomed this form of cannabis with open arms.
Dabs can be categorized by extraction method.
Currently, dabs can be created either via solvent-based or solvent-less extraction.
Below you’ll find a brief overview of both.
As the name suggest, solvent-based extractions use some kind of a solvent to extract the cannabinoids from the plant material.
The most popular solvents are Butane, Propane, and CO2.
For this type of extraction, cannabis buds are placed in a stainless steel column (also known as a “closed-loop” system) for safety reasons.
Then, super cool butane, propane, or another type of hydrocarbon is funneled into the system.
As the solvent begins to soak into the cannabis, it binds to cannabinoids and brings them down into collection dish.
Once collected, the oily extract is poured out onto a sheet of parchment paper and purged from any residual solvent in a vacuum oven.
This is currently the most widespread method of making cannabis concentrates.
Unlike solvent-based extractions, their solventless counterparts use only heat and pressure to make concentrates.
Dry sift, ice wax, rosin – these are all solventless extractions.
This method calls for putting cannabis flowers, trim, or dry sift hash in a micron mesh bag. The bag is then placed in a heated press/extractor so the concentrate can be properly processed.
You can easily perform solventless extraction at home with any hair straightener, a piece of parchment paper, and your favorite weed strain.
Here’s how people tpically consume dabs:
A dab rig is a scientific name for a water pipe with extra features that allow for the use of concentrates. Dab rigs come together with the dab nail and torch.
Some of those devices are equipped with a dabber, which is a wand-like tool used to transfer oils and waxes onto the dab nail.
If you want to blaze your concentrate in a dab rig, you’ll need to place a tiny amount of it on a dabber, apply it to the nail once it becomes red-hot, and inhale the cannabinoid-rich vapor through the rig’s mouthpiece — just as you would when taking a bong hit.
Some people prefer the old-school way of mixing cannabis flowers with a few drops of concentrate on top of their joint.
If that’s the way you like to get high or draw the medical benefits from the herb, then sprinkle some wax, crumble, or budder on the weed, and roll it up. Beware not to go overboard, though, as the mix of flowers and concentrate can pack a serious punch of THC.
You can even ditch the glass or rolling papers. After all, the original way to dab was with hot knives.
Nowadays, there’s a myriad of devices that will heat your concentrates enough to create the hot knife effect without a torch or a rig.
You can try one of the vaporizers designed to be compatible with concentrates. Nonetheless, keep in mind that the quality of your device is paramount for a smooth dabbing experience. Cheap vaporizers, even when designed to handle concentrates, pale in comparison to a dab rig.
In this section, we’ll show you how to dab concentrates with a dab rig in four simple steps.
Theory first, ladies and gentlemen!
Aside from your favorite marijuana concentrate, you need to bring all the necessary stuff to dab it. This includes:
Can you spot each piece of the equipment on the table? That’s great because it’s time to start working with your dabs.
If you’re dabbing for the first time, start with baby steps. We know you’ve seen people devouring ridiculously large portions of wax or honey oil, but that’s not something you want to do as a first-timer. Start with something the size of the tip of a pencil — nothing beyond that.
Once the torch is working, aim it at the nail. People usually heat their nail until it becomes red-hot. It may happen that you overheat the torch a little bit and the vapor will be too hot for your lungs; if that’s the case, let the nail cool for about 10 seconds after it turns red.
Inhale the concentrate through the rig’s mouthpiece. Remember that concentrates are way more potent than cannabis flowers, so the vapor might land harder on your throat and lungs. Also, too large a hit can knock you on your ass.
Well, if you’re a recreational user, the list of benefits is short yet to-the-point.
With so much THC, dabs can create a powerful high.
Concentrates are about four times stronger than flowers, so if you’re looking for a way to step up your weed game, you couldn’t find a better way to do this.
After all, dabs didn’t get the nickname “pot on steroids” for no reason.
But for medical users, it’s about more than just the high.
Dabs generally have rich cannabinoid and terpene profiles, which not only gives them a superior flavor but it also strengthens the therapeutic effects of each cannabis strain.
That’s because many experts in the field of cannabinoids, including Ethan Russo, believe terpenes are responsible for a large share of cannabis’ medical properties and can modulate its psychoactive effects.
Medical cannabis patients need to consume less material with concentrates than they would if they sticked to flowers or other, less potent forms of their medicine. On top of that, dabs have an insanely fast onset time, which proves invaluable for immediate relief from your condition.
Dabbing can be a great way to consume cannabis when you know what you’re doing and what to avoid.
However, new users should take extreme caution because dabbing carries some potential dangers, many of which come from the extraction process or the quality of the equipment used for vaporizing concentrates.
According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, butane extraction can cause severe burns and injuries in users. Just as butane is capable of heating up metal and glass, it can easily heat you up and cause damage.
Not to mention that you can also start a fire around you and impact other people. For example, in November 2013, 33-year-old David Shultz started fire at his apartment and caused an entire explosion in the building while using butane for making his concentrates.
As a result, seven other residents were hospitalized and a 87-year-old woman died from injuries.
Dabs come with such a strog dose of THC administered so quickly that the body could become accustomed to the high levels of THC in the nick of time.
If your tolerance continues to build up, you’ll need larger amounts of cannabis to get high. Consequently, you might have trouble getting high off flowers once your body gets used to concentrates.
There are many ways to fight high tolerance levels, but you can avoid such buildups by simply doing smaller dabs.
While cannabis has never killed anybody, overdosing on THC doesn’t belong to the most pleasant experiences in the world.
If you have a little too much THC in your system, it might backfire at you with the THC-induced anxiety and maybe paranoia.
In the worst case scenario, you’ll experience a green-out, turn pale, get nauseaous, vomit your sins out, and take a nap.
Still, responsible consumption prevents such scenarios from happening.
When buying concentrates from a legitimate and trusted source, you get high-quality concentrates which are free of any solvent residue or potentially harmful chemicals.
But if you buy your dabs from a self-proclaimed DIY manufacturer, you must be aware such products don’t have a certificate of analysis to prove the potency and purity, which means you might very well get poisoned with some anonymous chemical contaminants.
One of the most unexpected side effects of the dabbing trend is that it has gained so much attention among the community’s younger members. Dabs are most frequently used among people in heir twenties.
While some people are concerned about the impact of dabs on abusing cannabis in general, it goes without saying that concenrates have much to offer medical cannabis patients and are a good way to add pizzazz to your experience with the herb from time to time.
Besides, dabs are just one option among many, so you can always stick to your flowers or edibles.
Do you like dabbing? What are your go-to concentrates? Let us know in the comments below.