What is Cannabis Dabbing and How to Dab Marijuana

cannabis oil concentrate

What Is Cannabis Dabbing And How To Dab Marijuana

Roughly 44% of the U.S. population lives in a state where it is legal, or soon will be legal, to consume cannabis recreationally. As cannabis becomes more commonplace, so does the familiarity users have with the popular methods of consumption such as joints, edibles, and pipes. One less familiar, but increasingly popular, way to consume cannabis is by dabbing.

What is Dabbing?

At its most basic, dabbing is the consumption of concentrated cannabis (a dab) through vaporization. Driving the interest in dabbing is that cannabis extracts generally contain very high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which makes it one of the fastest and most efficient ways to feel the effects of marijuana.

Dab Rig 

The classic way to dab is with a dab rig—a water pipe similar to a bong specifically designed for use with concentrates. A dab rig consists of a few parts:

  • Pipe: the chamber, or chambers, which dab vapors run through    
  • Nail: the piece that the cannabis extract is heated on; commonly constructed from titanium, ceramic, quartz, or glass 
  • Dabber: the dentist-like tool—generally made of glass or metal—used to apply the concentrate on the nail
  • Blowtorch: used to heat the nail; butane torches are popular but many dabbers use torches specially designed for dabbing (it’s worth noting that some dab rigs feature an electronic, nail which allows for flameless operation)

There’s some debate among those who dab over the merits of using a dome with a dab rig’s nail. Proponents argue that a dome makes the rig safer and helps retain vapor. Detractors argue that a domeless dab rig is simpler and allows for bigger hits. Domeless dabbers commonly employ a carb cap to help control the temperature of the dab for a cleaner taste.

Dab Pens/Vape Pens 

Heating the nail with a blowtorch is intimidating, especially for many first-time dabbers, which is one reason for the popularity of torchless dabbing devices like pens and vaporizers that use a heating element, rather than a flame, to heat the cannabis concentrate. Other reasons users favor dab pens are that they’re easy to operate, portable, and discrete—similar to other types of vape pens or e-cigarettes, they’re easily stashed in a pocket. 

Types of Dabs

Cannabis concentrates can take a variety of forms depending on how the oil was processed after extraction. Common types of dabs include:

  • Shatter: Thin and semi-transparent, shatter looks like an amber-tinted pane of glass and is typically thought of as one of the purest extracts.
  • Butter/Budder: Similar in texture to peanut butter, but with an amber/yellowish color, butter or budder, is known for its ease of consumption and storage.
  • Wax: Alike in appearance to a candle or ear wax, wax is popular for its appealing smell and flavor, easy handling and storage, and its potency.
  • Oil: This thick, dark gold liquid (sometimes also called honey oil) is produced using carbon dioxide instead of butane, leaving it with a distinct taste.
  • Distillate: A unique tasteless and odorless oil that is devoid of compounds other than THC, making it extremely potent.
  • Rosin: Created by applying heat and compressions to the bud of a cannabis flower, rosin is a sticky substance that doesn’t contain any solvent residue, making it favored by users who prize flavor and purity. Rosin is sometimes confused with live resin.
  • Live resin: A sticky matter with textures varying from sappy to jellyfish, live resin is a favorite of users who value flavor and aroma, in addition to effects.

The Benefits of Dabbing 

Marijuana users find that dabbing professionally produced cannabis concentrates procured from their local dispensary offers several advantages over other methods of consumption:

  • The effects are felt swiftly and the effect is potent
  • Since dabs contain no plant material, they are cleaner tasting, smoother, and contain fewer compounds compared to smoking 
  • It’s a more efficient means of consumption than the 10-15 minutes it takes to smoke a joint or bowl, or the 30 minutes to two hours it can take for edibles to kick in 
  • Dab vapor has a much more subdued smell than distinctly scented marijuana smoke, making it a more inconspicuous option, especially when consumed using a vape pen
  • Cannabis concentrates are more expensive than other forms of cannabis, but thanks to the small amounts required to achieve effects, they’re often the most cost-efficient method to consume marijuana 

The Downside of Dabbing 

The quality that draws many to dabbing is also its greatest drawback: dabs are strong. Cannabis extracts often contain between 70% to 90% THC; conversely, in 2015, researchers found the average THC level of legal marijuana in Colorado was 18.7%. The combination of quick effects and strong potency adds up to a form of marijuana that is very easy to go overboard with, no matter if you’re a new or experienced cannabis user. 

If you’re new to dabbing and want a positive first experience, it’s advisable to start slow with a tiny amount. 

Get Dabs from Your Local Dispensary 

Even though it’s somewhat common to come across homemade dabs and DIYers can easily find directions to make do-it-yourself dabs, it’s best to get your dabs from 

your local dispensary. First and foremost, making your own dabs is dangerous and more than one person has blown up their house (and gotten into heaps of legal trouble) trying to make their own cannabis concentrate. 

In addition to eliminating the danger of production, the professionally made dabs available at a dispensary near you also are also transparent about how they are made and the amount of TCH they contain. 

Lowkey Dispensary

Lowkey Dispensary is a trustworthy source of all your cannabis needs and stocks everything required to get started dabbing—from dab rigs and pens to shatters and waxes to accessories such as blowtorches. Our trained staff can even offer advice to help you find the right method, form, and strain to get the dab experience you want.

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