What is dabbing and how do you do it?

If you're an old-school stoner, the amount of information and options available right now is astronomical. The same goes for new users exploring the wide range of products and how to consume them.




So what is dabbing? Dabbing is a method of vaporizing cannabis extracts that has become increasingly popular over the past few years as more people discover the high potency of dabbing and fast activation of its effects. Dabbing takes advantage of technology that allows manufacturers to extract compound-rich cannabis oils to maximize their cannabinoid intake while preserving the plant’s flavor.


Extracts, eh? There are two main methods of creating cannabis concentrates/extracts, solvent-based extraction and solventless extraction. In solvent-based extraction, chemical solvents such as butane, propane, carbon dioxide (CO2) and alcohol are used to separate resin glands containing the psychoactive compound THC from the cannabis flower. In solventless extractions, water, temperature and pressure are the predominant factors.

Again, it is important to note that even though most concentrates/extracts are known by their appearance, the real difference between products is how they are made. Different extraction methods alter the chemical and biological makeup of the final product form in ways that are not forthright to the naked eye, which is why it is always important as a consumer to understand the process behind the product. Both solvent-based and solventless concentrates/extracts are superb methods of consuming cannabis, and by knowing the key differences consumers are able to make educated decisions based on their personal preferences.


Most Popular Solvent Based Products


  • Shatter: A semi-transparent thin sheet of concentrate that looks like amber glass. It is easy to break below room temperature.



  • Budder: Looks a lot like peanut butter and is malleable because of its doughy consistency.



  • Oil: Also known as 710 or honey oil, this dab type is a thick liquid with an amber or dark gold color. Most oils are vaporized or smoked, but it is possible to eat some varieties.



  • Live Resin: Live resin is made the same way as wax, however the starting product is fresh frozen plant material. By using cryogenically preserved plant material, the finished product has robust, exceptional terpene and cannabinoid profiles that resemble the qualities of the live plant. Live resin is known for its excellent flavor and resemblance to the aroma and taste of the live plant. It ranges in color from light amber to yellow-gold and has a moist, shiny looking exterior with a strong, rich smell.



  • Wax: This crumbly, coarse substance often looks like brown sugar and sometimes resembles earwax in color and consistency.



  • Diamonds: Known as "diamonds" for its distinct similarity to the precious minerals its named after, THCA crystalline is a pure, refined product that is created by isolating the cannabinoid THCA through solvent-based extraction. THCA crystalline can look like a fine dust or powder, but when left to properly form, crystals can take on large formations that look very similar to diamonds



Most Popular Solventless Products Used for Dabbing


  • Rosin: Producing rosin involves the use of high heat and high pressure to isolate the resinous essential oils from trichome heads to create a solid form of resin.



  • Live Rosin: Similar in production to standard rosin, the key difference with live rosin is that the starting plant material is not cured before the trichomes are harvested. Live, fresh frozen plant material is used to make the bubble hash starting material. While live rosin is not technically as “live” as live resin (the bubble hash is allowed to dry before being pressed), terpene retention is still higher than regular rosin methods. This creates a final product that exudes flavor and mimics the original terpene profile of the live plant it was extracted from.


So Now The Real Question; What Is Dabbing and How Do You Do It?


What Is It? Dabbing flash-vaporizes cannabis extracts for high-intensity consumption. A dab of cannabis extract is introduced to, or “dabbed”, onto a hot surface, and the resulting smoke-free vapor is inhaled. This is done using a uniquely adapted water pipe or dab rig specifically designed for dabbing.

**For you old-school smokers, it's like a fancy way of using hot knives, just easier on the lungs.


So How Do You Do it? A basic dab rig involves four components: a water pipe, nail or banger, dome and dabber. You can either use a standard water pipe and swap out the components or purchase a specific dab rig. The nail or banger is the heating portion and can be made of ceramic, quartz or titanium. A banger is shaped like a bowl and traps the vapour; if you’re using a nail, it will require a glass dome. The dabber is a tool used to apply the extract. You’ll also need a small torch to heat the nail or banger. Other accessories include carb caps, trays, mats and cleaning supplies.


There are variations on this standard “torch and dab” method. Domeless nails are made of titanium and do not require a dome to trap the vapour, as the nail itself features small holes that draw the vapour through it. E-nails are similar but are also self-heating, eliminating the need for a torch.





Too Many Steps? Try This: You can also use cannabis extracts without a dab rig by using specially equipped vape pens and portable electronic dab rigs. These battery powered vaporizers convert the battery’s electric power into heat via its atomizer or electronic nail to convert your extracts into vapor. Electronic dab rigs tend to be larger units, about the size of a 20 oz bottle of soda. Wax vape pens are smaller units that can slide into your pocket, so you can use your cannabis extracts discreetly on the go. Either way, these electronic units make “dabbing” possible without the use of torches or exposed hot surfaces. Electronic dab rigs and wax vapes are more portable than a full-sized dab rig, and you don’t need to wait until a hot nail cools completely before you can pack them away.


Wax/Concentrate Pen


Portable E-Rig (Electronic Rig)


E-Nail (Electronic Nail)

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