The process of dabbing can seem confusing at first - perhaps even a bit sketchy? However this more modern approach to cannabis consumption is much healthier than the more traditional combustion. We’ve written this article to help ensure that as you’re dabbing on some high purity cannabis dabs, be that THC or CBD, you can sit back and relax knowing you’ve done everything properly.
The concept of a dab is more related to a vaporiser than a joint. Dabs are the flash vaporisation of cannabis extracts/concentrates once they are applied to a very hot surface. Cannabis extracts/concentrates are products like CBD wax, THC shatter, CBG rosin, CBD diamonds and sauce etc. They are much more potent than cannabis flowers so a little bit goes a long way!
In the CBD world, some CBD flowers may test at 10-13% CBD. CBD extracts can often be 8x times more potent - The Goods CBD Wax tests at 80% CBD! While THC flowers often show a higher cannabinoid % than CBD flowers, they also present much higher % concentration in extract/concentrate form.
Dabbing isn’t going to be for everyone, at least the traditional ways of dabbing. At the end of this article we’ll talk about the modern ways of dabbing that cut down the process and allow even the most novice cannabis consumer to dab.
What dab tools are needed?
This list will comprise of the tools needed to enjoy a traditional dab, as we’ll discuss at the end, there are modern ways of dabbing that just require one device and no tools.
- Dab rig
- This is essentially a water pipe, with one end where your mouth would suck into, and another end where a “nail” is fitted.
- Dab nail
- This is the end of the system that holds your cannabis extract, similar to the “bowl” on a bong.
- Dab nails can come in different materials such as ceramic, quartz and titanium. There’s even electronic nails called e-nails, that conveniently set their own temperature and minimise the tools needed.
- Dab nails come in different sizes, their connection point needs to fit into your dab rigs receiving point so that the modular system is nice and snug. If your dab rig has a 14mm stem, you will need a 14mm nail.
- Thinner stem sizes will require more suction to clear a dab, while a thicker stem size will allow for less breath to clear a dab. If you get short of breath easily, perhaps consider getting the thicker stem sizes. If you enjoy a long hard pull, maybe consider the thinner stem sizes.
- Dab nails can be “female” or “male” - you need a male nail for a female rig and vice versa.
- Dab Tool
- The dab tool is a serving stick to move cannabis concentrates from their jar into the Dab nail.
- They can come in many different sizes and materials, we’re big fans of titanium dab tools due to their resilience. The Goods dab tool is perfect for all kinds of cannabis concentrates because it comes with two “scooper” styles. One end is made for crushing up hard extracts like diamonds, the other end is more like a spoon/fork.
- Carb Cap
- This is more of an optional piece of apparatus, however it will significantly improve your dabbing experience.
- A carb cap allows for you to “swoosh” your melted cannabis extract once it is heated up in the dab nail - preventing it from burning and allowing for an equal distribution of heat to extract.
- Blow Torch
- In order to heat up your dab nail to the desired temperature, you’ll need a high power blow torch.
- We recommend something like The Goods Torch due to it’s incredibly high temperatures. The double barrel torch allows for high temperatures and wide range so you can easily cover the entire dab nail with heat.
- Cannabis extract/concentrate
- These are what hold the cannabinoids you’re looking to absorb via dabbing!
- CBD wax, THC shatter, CBG rosin and CBD diamonds are all examples of cannabis extract/concentrates.
- They are extracted via methods such as solventless extraction, BHO extraction and supercritical CO2 extraction.
- Dab mat
- This is a safe surface for you to perform your dabs. This should be a sturdy material that is non flammable.
- To get the best dab experience, a timer will be crucial. It will be used during the heat up process when the blowtorch is heating up the dab nail. A dab nail that is overheated will burn cannabis extracts - leaving them tasting foul and destroying valuable cannabinoids and terpenes.
How to dose cannabis extracts
The key to dosing your cannabis extracts is by first looking at how potent the extract is. This is why it’s important to have some level of analysis on the extract before purchase. CBD wax from The Goods for example, has a very high purity of 80% CBD. It’s generally recommended to start small and increase the dose if you feel comfortable doing so.
Visually, a small dose would be about the size of a small crumb - or half the size of a lentil. While this may not look like a lot, remember that it is much more concentrated than flowers. Even for well seasoned flower consumers, a small dab can feel a lot more intense at first - but as your tolerance adjusts, the effects become much more manageable.
Portioning your dab
In the legal cannabis market, brands like The Goods can offer you the analysis needed to understand what a standard portion should look like. Whether it’s some CBD wax or THC shatter, look at the cannabinoid concentrations shown on the packaging.
Most high purity extracts will show cannabinoid concentrations of 60-90% totally cannabinoids, with isolates (like The Goods CBD shatter) exceeding 90%. Solventless concentrates are usually lower purity, and often fall below 50% total cannabinoids.
One gram of CBD wax from The Goods will contain 80% total CBD - therefore 1 gram will contain 800mg of CBD. The recommended starting dose for most cannabinoids is 5-10mg, therefore a lot of care should be placed in this portioning step!
A good way to avoid taking too much and reach your desired portion is to break your extract into many equal portions. Let’s use The Goods CBD wax as an example:
- Split the Goods CBD wax into 8 equal parts, so that each portion will have 100mg of cannabinoids.
- It’s easier for the naked eye to split the concentrate into 8 pieces than pulling 25mg off of an 800mg slab.
- For visual reference, a 25mg portion of CBD wax from The Goods will look liike a few grains of couscous.
Dabs are one of the fastest acting ways to absorb cannabis. For this reason, we highly recommend starting off small with your dab portions - if you need more, it takes no time to absorb more. The act of taking small dabs is actually being coined as “micro-dabbing” similar to the concept of micro-dosing. This is why using a dabbing tool is so important, and sticking with the same one - different tools have different “edges” which can vary the portion sizes.
Everyone reacts to cannabis differently, a 25mg dab could feel overwhelming for some and soft for others. The best way to find out what dose works for you is to start small and work your way up.
How to dab cannabis extracts
Once you have all your tools and equipment and knowledge on dosing, you’re ready to get started! Take a seat, and clear your dab station for this stage.
- Step 1: Turn on your The Goods torch and aim the flame directly at the dab nail. Most people will heat the dab nail until it reaches a red colour, make sure to not hold it at this colour for too long or you could damage your banger.
- Step 2: Once the nail is hot, turn off the torch. It’s recommended to let quartz dab nails cool down for 45 seconds (10 seconds for titanium dab nails) so the surface temperature isn’t too hot.
- Step 3: Using your dab tool, apply the dab directly onto the nail and begin inhaling slowly. Rotating the dab tool on the nail can help to apply all your scooped extract onto the nail and prevent waste.
- Step 4: Cover the dab nail with a carb cap and finish inhaling - the carb cap will help regulate the airflow and “swoosh” the extract so as to heat it up consistently.
- Step 5: Exhale and sit back!
You can also try another method of dabbing that is much simpler called the Cold Start method. Here are the steps for the Cold Start Dab:
- Step 1: Using your The Goods dab tool, apply your dab position onto the dab nail and close the cab nail system off with a carb cap
- Step 2: Turn on your The Goods blow torch and start heating up the extract, carefully distributing the heat so as to not accidentally burn any extract.
- Step 3: Watch your cannabis concentrates carefully and as soon as they begin to bubble and vaporise (usually after 10 seconds of heating) put the torch down and take the hit.
- Step 4: While inhaling, rotate the carb cap.
- Step 5: Exhale and enjoy!
How to clean your dabbing nail
Arguably the final step in the dabbing process - the clean up! After taking a dab, particulates can build up in the dab nail. Especially so for low concentration extracts such a solventless CBG rosin - less so with high concentration extract like CBD wax. Many people clean their dab nail after each hit (when the banger is still warm and gunk can be removed easily). At the very least, you should clean the dab nail after every session.
The ways we clean our dab nails have changed a lot over the years. There was a time when it was the industry norm to use a blow torch to blast off any carbonised extract. Now we know that this is not the best way to sustain the lifetime of a dab nail - especially quartz hangers that can become increasingly brittle when heated up to extreme temperatures. Even the “scraping” method, which involves using the dab tool to scrape gunk off the dab nail, causes minor damage to your equipment.
The best way to clean your dab nail is by soaking it in isopropyl alcohol for at least 10 mins. Use a cotton swab if there are still particulates that are holding onto the nail.
Dabs don’t need to be complicated
As you can see, the traditional dabbing process requires some learning. Once you’ve become fluent in the process, taking a dab is very rewarding and easy. It does have it’s limitations though, and they go beyond the learning process. Taking a dab the traditional way can be near to impossible in public places. Firstly the blow torch isn’t something you can spark up in public, and the value of dab rigs and dab nails would prevent most from taking them outside the safety of their homes.
Thankfully there are modern alternatives that simplify the entire dabbing process, making it as easy as pressing a button and as portable as a pen. In fact they’re named after pens - dab pens!
We highly recommend the Linx Exber as a high quality and well priced portable dab pen. It has 3 temperature settings, an “long dab setting” that holds the temperature on for a long time for big doses. The battery life is perfect for a weekend of dabbing and it really is as portable as a small pen.
Before we end this article please be extremely careful while going about the traditional dab method. Many people have accidentally injured themselves, burning arms on dab nails. Thankfully The Goods blow torch is designed to not get hot immediately after use, however if you leave it on for too long even that needs to be handled with care. Remember to suck your dab rig from the correct end - or else you might burn your lips! With that being said, we hope you enjoy your dabbing experience, exhale and enjoy.