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How to Dab Cannabis

Dabbing is a way to vape cannabis concentrates like wax, shatter, budder, and butane hash oil (BHO) by heating them on a hot surface (like a nail) and inhaling the vape through a dab rig.

Cannabis dabs are unmixed with any other substance, so it allows you to essentially take a very pure form of CBD. They typically come in some sort of waxy-like form, and they come in a variety of consistencies and tastes.

What is a Dab?

A dab itself is the actual substance that the concentrate comes in. You would buy a “dab” and use it the same way you would a tincture or edible. They typically come in packages that you can purchase in person or over the internet. When you purchase a dab, make sure you read the lab report that comes with it. This report will allow you to confirm what is actually in the dab.

What is Dabbing?

Typically, dabbing means heating a bong with a blow torch (yes, you heard right!), but you can also dab with a number of other devices such as a hot nail, knife, E-nail, vape pen, or portable vaporizers.

Despite the inherent danger of using a blow torch, and worries about the solvents used in concentrates, many people like dabbing because of the potency of THC extracts. In fact, some cannabis extracts clock in as high as 90% THC (compared to the 10-25% found in bud), which means it packs a pretty mean and immediate punch. It’s also fast-acting, and you only need a “dab” of concentrates per session, which is where dabbing gets its name. So, if anyone asks, “what is a dab?”, it refers to the concentrate you’re using, as well as the amount.

Why are People Dabbing?

With so many options for consuming cannabis, why would someone choose to dab? Well, the quick high and powerful hit is certainly a draw for recreational users, but those same attributes are also very beneficial to anyone using cannabis for medicinal purposes. Patients dealing with severe or chronic pain, or even those with extreme nausea often learn how to dab because they see it as a way to get immediate and effective relief. It can also be more cost-effective for some people as compared to flowers, depending on their use and the market they’re in.

And in terms of other benefits, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just fun to experiment. Whether you’re vaping, dabbing, smoking, or enjoying edibles, everyone has their own experience with each means of consumption. And now that concentrates and dabbing devices are more readily available, it’s a lot easier to take the plunge and give it the ol’ college try.

What Do You Need to Dab? 

A great first step in any new cannabis adventure is to pick the product you want to consume. In this case, that means sifting through your options and getting your stash of concentrates ready. Once you’ve got the goods, it’s time to get the gear. To learn how to dab, you’ll need to outfit yourself with the following basics:

A Dab Rig

If you’re feeling confident, buy a rig specifically designed for taking dabs. Or, if you’d rather dip just your toe in the water, buy a dab attachment for your bong.

A Torch

If you’ve always dreamed of owning a flamethrower, this will be the best part of your shopping experience. You can go big and grab an industrial-sized one from your local home hardware store, or purchase a smaller, less intimidating torch from a cannabis store or anywhere concentrates are sold.

A Nail

The nail is the surface you heat before you place the wax on, and it’s usually titanium, quartz, or glass. There are two types: regular and dome-less. If you’re buying from a shop, the person at the counter should be able to give you some advice on what will work best for you.

A Dab Pen

This is the metal or ceramic utensil you’ll use to place the concentrate on the nail once it’s heated. Concentrates are notoriously messy, so keeping a distance between your fingers and them is key. And pro tip: Don’t touch the nail with your bare hands. It’s ridiculously hot!

How to Dab

Now that your shopping is complete and you’ve got your gear and your concentrates, it’s time for your dabbing adventure to officially begin. Here’s the quick beginner’s guide on how to dab:

1. Scoop some concentrate onto the dabber. Remember when we said concentrates can pack a big punch? Well, if this is your first time dabbing, we suggest you start small. Probably something no bigger than the tip of a pencil. Remember, you can always add more later.

2. Use the torch to heat your nail. Once your torch is lit up, aim it at the nail. Most people will heat their nail until it begins to glow red. If you do, let the nail cool for about 10-15 seconds after it turns red to avoid inhaling vapor that’s too hot for your lungs.

3. Touch the nail with your dabber. If you’ve got a proper dabber, you’ll notice that the rounded scoop roughly matches the rounded nail, allowing you to vaporize all of the concentrate on your dabber. Make sure you’re pulling on the mouthpiece of the rig, just as you would when taking a bong hit. Otherwise, the vapor (and all that cannabis goodness) will just float away. Oh, and since dabs do pack that punch we warned you about, you may want to make sure you’re sitting down.

4. Exhale and enjoy. If this is your first time, there’s a good chance it’ll go straight to your head. Even if you don’t feel that immediate rush, the best advice is to give it a few minutes, as it’s easy to take a little too much when the concentrations are so high.

How To Use a Dab Pen

Dab pens come with multiple parts, including a charging cable and port, a cartridge, the pen itself, and a charger. A pen must be charged before it can be used. Pens usually do not require a huge amount of set up, and following the instructions provided will most likely be enough to allow you to set the pen up. From there, you use the dab pen the same way you use a vaping pen. If you’re looking for a discreet vape pen that is easy to load, the Puffco Plus is simple to use, with a convenient dab tool built right into the mouthpiece.

Buying Concentrates for Dabbing

When buying concentrates for the first time, it’s always best to do your research. Having a real, live person to chat with can be a great way to start. Listen to their stories. Pick their brains. And ask lots of questions. We recommend hitting up your local dispensary and starting up a conversation or reach out to a few of the more seasoned cannabis connoisseurs in your social network. They’re probably more than happy to share. Once you’ve started to narrow the field, try something from your local store, or visit one of the hundreds of websites out there that will deliver to your door. Either way, it’s sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget.

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