Dabbing is a recently popular way to consume cannabis that involves heating a small amount of cannabis concentrate (known as a ‘dab’) on a hot surface to vaporize an extremely potent dose of cannabinoids.

This process often requires a blowtorch and looks a bit aggressive to those unfamiliar with the consumption method. Because of the increased potency of the concentrate itself (higher THC percentage than flower), it can make people exceptionally high–to the point that some recreational users will become uncomfortable.

Key Takeaways

  • Dabbing is a cleaner and healthier alternative to smoking
  • Using a smaller rig and lower temperature will result in a better dab experience
  • Practice good dab etiquette with our ten dabbing rules

Why You Should Try Dabbing

The truth is that consuming a more pure and potent form of cannabis is a huge benefit for medical users. You see, because the volume of cannabinoids is so much higher in a dab, patients can achieve dosages that are difficult to attain by simply smoking flower via a pipe or joint. This is incredibly valuable for patients using cannabis to manage seizures and other medical conditions.

We recommend dabbing for people who don’t necessarily love the hazy, heavy feeling of smoking pot but have an interest in using cannabis for its medical benefits. While this is not to say that dabbing is only for medical use, it’s simply that one dab is often the effective dose. The easiest way to start is by simply purchasing a dab pen and experimenting with the hybrid concentrate from your local dispensary. Once you’re ready to take it to the next level, we recommend an e-nail for a consistent temperature when dabbing.

Less Smoke is Healthier

One of the primary benefits of dabbing is that it’s actually healthier than smoking because you are vaporizing a concentrate without any plant matter – it is primarily composed of cannabinoids and terpenes. Vaporization creates a milder, less dense cloud of smoke overall, and this benefits both your lungs and the air surrounding your neighbors. If you’re trying to smoke discreetly on the move, a dab pen is a perfect solution because they’re easy to load on the go.

More Potency in a Single Hit

Modern science has made it possible to extract these compounds from the plant and create concentrates that are significantly more potent and pure than what has been available historically. If you feel like you’re unable to achieve the effects you desire by smoking flower alone, dabbing is the next frontier that will take your cannabis experience to a new level.

Less Mess

Whether you use a blowtorch with a dab rig, an e-nail, or even go with the ultra-efficient dab pen, concentrates offer a straightforward way to consume. You don’t need to use a grinder or worry about the mess created by weed crumbles. Plus, concentrates are far less pungent from a distance than the weed itself. When you need to carry a stash on the go, we recommend concentrates because they are far more discreet.

More Flavor

Concentrates also contain a high concentration of terpenes, the aromatic compounds that give cannabis its unique smell and taste. When taken at the correct temperature, a dab can provide an amazingly clear and deep flavor profile that is rarely experienced when smoking the buds themselves.

The High is Clearer

Although concentrates are considered to be more potent, many people find the high associated with their consumption to be a more clear and insightful buzz than the foggy, slow-motion experience of smoking flower in pipes,  joints, or blunts. This is primarily because dabbing involves vaporizing concentrated cannabinoids (free of plant material), while smoking flower involves combusting the plant material itself. Perhaps the best analogy is eating the coffee bean itself vs. extracting all the caffeine and essential oils.

How to Dab on the Go

The best option is to carry all your dabbing supplies in a Safety Case and load your dab pen anywhere. No one will ever know you have your supplies with you, and you’ll have the security of being able to medicate whenever you need to. Now that TSA has released their guidelines, you can even take your dab pen on a plane and travel to your next vacation in style.

How to Take a Great Dab

One of the most enjoyable sensations when dabbing is tasting the amazing ‘essence of plant’ flavors delivered with each inhalation. ‘Dabbing’ is the process of dropping a dose of cannabis concentrate onto a heated water-pipe attachment (known as a nail) and inhaling.

These intense flavors are courtesy of terpenes, a class of pungent oils stored in the plant’s trichome heads. Did you know that there are ways to maximize the amount of flavor you taste with each dab? We can help you fine-tune the factors that impact the flavor of your dab, from the size of the rig to the temperature of the nail.

Get a Small Rig

The first step to maximizing flavor is to select an oil rig with a small chamber volume and a small joint size (10-14 mm). As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the rig, the more flavor (some tiny rigs are referred to as ‘flavor savers’) and vice versa. In addition to preserving taste, these smaller rigs provide a more regulated airflow allowing for a long inhale and clear, all in one breath. We also suggest an oil rig with minimal diffusion as they maximize efficiency while minimizing oil condensation within the rig (reclaim). The smaller joints aid in providing a smooth sustained inhale instead of the ‘chugging’ sensation experienced when trying to clear a large rig or converted bong. Looking for a new dab rig? Check out our guide on the Best Dab Rigs of 2022.

Add a Quartz Nail or Insert

Your nail is a critical component of the dabbing process. It’s heated using either a torch or an electric coil and is manufactured in various materials, the most popular of which are titanium, quartz, and ceramic. While there are pros and cons to each material, we strongly recommend utilizing a quartz nail to maximize flavor. Whether it is a full quartz nail or just a quartz insert, the important part is that the dabbing surface is quartz.

Use a Consistent, Low Temperature

If you desire maximum flavor with every dab, it’s time to retire your torch and invest in an electric nail. Also known as an e-nail, an electric nail unit uses a coil to heat the dabbing surface to a specified temperature, thus allowing you to take a dab at the perfect temperature every time. We recommend a lower temperature for maximum flavor. Each nail is slightly different, but somewhere in the 550-650°F range is the sweet spot for many.

Select a Properly Refined Concentrate

The next step is to dab a high-quality, properly refined concentrate. If consuming a solvent-based concentrate, it is important to ensure that the oil is free of both plant matter (also known as contaminate) and residual solvent. If you seek the essence of the fresh plant, we recommend live resin, which is made from freshly frozen plant material immediately following harvest. To learn more about how to smoke dabs on the go, click here.

Concentrate connoisseurs, however, will likely appreciate the flavor and terpene preservation associated with solventless extracts like dry sift and ice water hash. High-quality solventless extracts are comprised of isolated glandular trichome heads; they are packed with pure, unadulterated terpenes.
You can also dab CBD or  Delta-8, which is a very effective consumption method.

Drop the Carb Cap

For those unfamiliar, a carb cap is a tool used to help fully vaporize cannabis concentrate at lower temperatures. The carb cap is typically dropped on top of the nail, creating a partial seal. Think of it as creating an oven for optimum vaporization of concentrates. Carb caps are essential for maximizing the flavor and efficiency of low-temperature dabs. Grasscity offers a massive variety of carb caps.

Make Your Own Dabs at Home

If you don’t have access to cannabis concentrates, you can make your own! With a few inexpensive supplies, you can use your cannabis flower to implement the rosin tech and safely make dabs at home. In our experience, most people are blown away by the quality of rosin dabs. Give it a try!

10 Rules for Dabbing

Dabbing requires a lot of tools and can seem intense to a dabbing novice. Following these rules will help you understand the art of dabbing. As a general rule of thumb, even if you’re an experienced dabber, if you’ve never tried that specific rig, nail, or type of hash before—ask questions! For instance, some rigs have different moving parts, and nearly all-electric nails have different relative temperatures; quartz and titanium nails heat and cool at different rates. There is no shame in getting more information.

Serve your own stash

You know the potency and quality of your own stash, so it’s imperative to help serve others appropriately. Given the large variety in types, consistencies, and prices of concentrates, it will help the overall process if you aid others in arranging a dab. Along those same lines, if it’s someone else’s stash, let them serve you. If they give you the green light to serve yourself, by all means, go ahead!

Know the type of concentrate you’re dabbing

Every type of concentrate is different. For instance, a solventless hash is usually pressed out before dabbing, while solvent-based oils can be dabbed in their existing state. Along these same lines, the portion size and preferred dabbing temperature will fluctuate based on the extraction method. 

Use a dab and/or rig mat

You do not want to be responsible for breaking an expensive  glass dab rig—set it on a mat! These mats provide a soft, padded surface that prevents rigs from slipping off of tables. Furthermore, it would be best if you asked before handling another person’s rig. Silicone dab mats have the added benefit of a non-stick surface for working with concentrates.

Heat the nail, not the rig

To take a dab, you will need a hot surface—this will require the use of a small torch if you’re not using an electric nail. Make sure you concentrate the flame on the dabbing surface of the nail without letting it touch the rig. Dab rigs are expensive and constant heating and cooling of the glass itself can result in broken joints. 

Don’t touch the nail

This may sound obvious, but it happens to even the most experienced dabbers. Even after a dab has already been taken, the nail will remain hot for some time—don’t touch it! Usually, this occurs on accident, so be mindful of hands, elbows, and clothes when moving around the dab zone.

Set a timer

This is more a tip than a rule, but it helps everyone when you set a timer, so the nail cools to the perfect temperature. After heating the nail with the torch, it will be scorching, and the most flavorful dabs are taken at a lower temperature. Each nail is different, but let it cool for 30-60 seconds before dabbing seems to be the sweet spot.

Don’t leave vapor in the tube

Make sure you finish the entirety of your hit! Nobody wants to taste the stale vapor you left in the rig. You don’t have to finish it all in one inhalation, but make sure that the entirety of the vapor in the rig has been cleared before passing the torch.

Clean dabber after use

After you take a dab, there will inevitably be some sticky residue remaining on the dabber—wipe it off! Use a lighter to heat the end of the dabber and wipe the sticky leftovers onto a paper towel. This will ensure the person dabbing after you have a clean tool to use. Nobody likes grabbing a sticky dabber or tasting your leftovers.

Clean nail after use

This rule piggybacks off the rule above—clean any residual solids off the nail after you’ve completed your dab. It’s important to use the dabber, a q-tip, or the torch itself to remove any residue from the nail, especially when smoking hash with the presence of plant matter. Now, the person dabbing after you will have a clean surface to use.

Keep the rig clean

This rule is simple enough—keep your rig clean. You are responsible for the hygiene of your rig! Dirty rigs are visually unappealing and provide a significantly less flavorful hit than a clean rig. It doesn’t have to be spotless, but get those gross chunks of concentrate out of your tube (here’s how). If you’re dabbing in a large group, it’s polite to have alcohol wipes or something similar to sanitize the mouthpiece between hits.

Heat the nail for the next person

It’s common courtesy to heat the nail up for the next person dabbing after you. While you’re heating the nail, they have time to get their dab arranged on the dabber.