What is Dabbing &
How does it work?
If you’re involved with cannabis at all, whether recreationally, medically, or from a business standpoint, then you either know about or have probably heard of “dabbing.” This method of consumption has been around for at least a decade, but the advent of more advanced extraction methods have led to a flood of cannabis concentrates that have boosted dabbing’s popularity.
A dab usually refers to a dose of concentrate that is heated on a hot surface, usually a nail, and then inhaled through a dab rig. It doesn't sound so controversial in those terms, but “blasting dabs” has become a dividing point within the community both because of the intense high that it produces and for the image that it presents to outsiders.
While there are valid concerns to be addressed about the safety of the production and potency of popular concentrates, this new trend isn't all bad. Here’s the breakdown on the issues surrounding dabs and how it might actually be a good thing for the legalization movement.
What are Dabs and How are They Made?
Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis that are made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids using a solvent like butane or carbon dioxide, resulting in sticky oils also commonly referred to as wax, shatter, budder, and butane hash oil (BHO). While it's possible to extract non-psychoactive compounds like CBD, THC is what's behind the potent effects of dabs, making them the fastest and most efficient way to get really, really medicated. Terpenes, or the aromatic oils that give cannabis flavor, can also be extracted, although it can be difficult to preserve these volatile compounds in the extraction process.
[BHO dab, also known as a concentrated dose of cannabis extract]
A dab of BHO.
What are the Concerns Surrounding Dabbing?
Let’s start with the bad news first: dabbing can be dangerous. Actually, it’s the extraction that can be dangerous.The process can be tricky, but thanks to online forums and videos, many amateur "scientists" think they have mastered the technique enough to try it on their own. In cases when things go well, the product is probably still pretty poor. When things go bad, houses blow up. A few explosions by ignorant DIYers and suddenly cannabis is being talked about in the same cautionary terms as meth. That’s not good.
Additionally, the actual process of dabbing can look quite scary. Glass bongs and oddly-named substances being heated with blow torches have led to the comparison that dabs are the “crack” of pot. It’s not that BHO has any similarity to these harsher drugs, but to the uninitiated, unless it’s a baked Alaska or a creme brulee, lighting something with a torch never looks tasteful. While this is a matter of choice for most consumers, there are fears that dabbing’s ugly looks may hurt the legalization movement.
Another side effect of these home extraction experiments is “dirty” oil that may containchemical contaminants that could present health hazards to consumers. If the concern is butane, the dangers are most likely minimal since it already occurs in everyday products such as scent and flavor extracts. Whether or not the equipment used in the extraction process is adding additional contaminants is a more viable issue. When done correctly, these extras can be avoided, so as is the case with growing cannabis, it’s best to leave it to those who know what they’re doing.
One of the most unsettling facts about dabs is that thanks to the super-concentrated power of BHO, for the first time it seems possible to “overdose” on cannabis. While still not lethal, taking more than your personal limit of dabs can lead to uncomfortable highs and, in some cases, passing out. After all of the chanting that “you can’t overdose on marijuana,” concentrates could be undermining advocates’ message of safety. There have also been reports of more intense withdrawal symptoms for dabbers, but again, the information is limited.
The above tutorial explains how you take a dab using the common torch-and-nail method, but there are other dabbing attachments that deviate slightly from this process.
Dome-less nails are metal pieces that don't require a glass hood to trap vapor. Instead, a network of holes throughout the nail deliver the vapor straight through the piece. You still heat it as you would a standard nail -- the advantage is not having to hassle with an extra glass piece that can become hazardous with heat and sticky with resin.
E-nails, or electronic nails, are significantly more expensive than standard and dome-less nails, but the investment is often worth it for serious dabbers. They cut out the need for a dome as well as a torch, which is easily the most dangerous element of dabbing. Furthermore, you have full control over your nail's temperature. This is a fantastic feature if you care about making the most out of flavors and terpenes when you dab.
Dabbing technology is constantly improving and expanding, so be sure to check out other Leafly articles diving into the latest trends and products if you're interested in leveling up your dabbing game!.
How Much Oil is Enough
What is Rosin?
Rosin refers to an extraction process that utilizes a combination of heat and pressure to nearly instantaneously squeeze resinous sap from your initial starting material. The term "rosin" originated as a method of making a product used to lubricate violin bows. With cannabis, this method is incredibly versatile in that it can either be used with flowers or to clean up hash and kief into a full-melt hash oil. The result is a translucent, sappy, and sometimes shatter-like product. If executed correctly, rosin can rival the flavor, potency, and yield of other solvent-based extraction products.
Why is Rosin So Popular?
One reason for rosin's newfound popularity is that it's a solventless technique, meaning the process does not require use of any foreign substances. Instead, rosin uses a mechanical process involving heat and pressure to extract the resin from the plant. Other extraction methods utilize light hydrocarbons such as butane and/or propane. Often, these complex and mechanical systems require a lengthy purge to safely remove most, if not all of the residual solvents from the final product.
Rosin, on the other hand, simply uses heat and pressure and does not require any additional cleaning, so your final product is clean and ready in just minutes. When compared to BHO(butane hash oil), the two are aesthetically indistinguishable. Rosin, when made properly, retains just as many valuable terpenes that account for aroma and flavor. However, in a lab test, rosin will never contain a single parts per million (PPM) of residual hydrocarbon. In other words, you are essentially getting shatter without any solvents when using this process.
Perhaps the most important reason why rosin has been so widely adopted is the sheer simplicity of this technology, allowing enthusiasts with no background in chemistry or botanical extractions to try it out for themselves with minimal risk.
Rosin can be made almost anywhere, and requires nothing more than the following items:
A hair straightener
A bit of parchment paper
A collection tool
Some heat-resistant gloves (safety first!).
How to Make Rosin
That's it! Nothing more is required, and this process takes only a few minutes to complete. Compared to the days it takes to safely make BHO products, you can see why rosin is the latest trend in cannabis culture.
The significance of this discovery is paramount. Never before has there been an arguably more versatile, efficient, and safer method of achieving a high-grade solventless hash oil than rosin. Innovators are already creating industrial-sized presses that are capable of processing large amounts of hash oil within seconds. These machines scale up to multiple tons of pressure to extract at extremely low temperatures, thus preserving valuable terpenes. Many dispensaries are now utilizing this technology and stocking their shelves with rosin. Today you can find it in almost every legal market. The horizon is bright for rosin, and this product will surely continue to make waves in the cannabis industry.
What Are E-Nails and Dome-less Nails?
All oil is extracted from the tiny crystals on cannabis flowers such as this one.
Dabbing technology is evolving, but the traditional setup includes the following items (keep in mind that the appearance of each tool may vary slightly depending on its design):
A cannabis extract. These come in a variety of forms, but the most common ones used for dabbing are BHO, CO2, and solventless extracts like rosin. Don't dab with alcohol-based extracts, and if you have any doubt at all about the safety of dabbing a particular oil, ask your budtender.
A water pipe. You can take the glass bowl pieces out and replace them with dabbing attachments to turn your pipe into a dab rig.
A nail. Find a nail that fits your water pipe’s gauge. Some are made of ceramic and quartz, but titanium is the most commonly used type.
A dome. This is the glass hood placed around the nail. “Dome-less” nails (see below) don’t need a glass globe, but standard nails need something to trap the vapor before it's inhaled.
A torch. Mini-torches used for crème brulee will do the job, but some choose to upgrade to larger propane-fueled torches that heat nails faster. New flame-less methods of dabbing are becoming available, but most people still use the torch method due to the low cost investment.
A dabber. This is the glass, metal, or ceramic tool used to apply a dab.
Imagine being able to enjoy your shatter without the side of solvent. Now you can, thanks to an emerging
solventless technique called “rosin” technology.
Different extracts have different THC concentrations, so it's helpful to know how potent your oil is before dabbing with it. However, it’s generally recommended to start small and increase the dose if you feel comfortable doing so.
A small dose is no bigger than a crumb. It may not look like much, but that’s still a lot of THC going straight to the dome at once. Dabbing can feel a lot more intense to those accustomed to flower, but as your tolerance adjusts, the effects become less jarring.
Once the rig is set up and your dab is prepared on the dabber stick, you're ready to get started. We advise you to sit while taking a dab, since the rush of THC can be physically intense.
Step 1: Turn on your torch and aim the flame directly at the nail. Most people will heat the nail until it begins turning red-hot. If you're using an electronic nail, refer to the section below for more information on heating.
Step 2: Once the nail is hot, turn off your torch and place the glass dome over the nail. It's recommended to let titanium nails cool for about 10 seconds and quartz nails about 45 seconds so the surface temperature isn't too hot. Refer to this article to learn more about the importance of low-temperature dabbing).
Step 3: Take your dabber, apply the dab directly on the nail inside the dome, and inhale slowly. Rotating the dabber tip on the nail can help you prevent wasting any oil stuck to the dabber.
Step 4: Exhale and enjoy!
Safety notice: nails and glass domes become extremely hot in the dabbing process. Take caution when handling them, and always wait for all pieces to cool down before you even think of touching them.
How to Take a Dab
How to Dab Concentrates for Beginners
I (sort of) remember my first dab. I had only smoked flower and hash before, so the number of tools and steps laid out before me seemed like a lot to handle (and I wasn’t even stoned yet!). Dabbing may seem daunting at first, but it’s one of those activities that comes easily once you’ve seen it done, so in an effort to avoid having your first time go better than mine, today you're going to learn how to take a dab.
Dabbing is basically the flash vaporization of cannabis concentrates once applied to a hot surface and inhaled. These concentrates (you’ve maybe heard of shatter, wax, BHO, oil, etc.) are a lot more potent than marijuana flowers, so a little bit goes a long way. While bud tends to test between 10 to 25% THC, concentrates typically range between 50 to 80% THC, depending on the extract type and quality. You can even dab non-psychoactive CBD extracts for quick therapeutic effects with little to no cerebral euphoria, but in some regions these oils can be difficult to find.
However, dabbing isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re new to cannabis entirely. The dosing process is more delicate, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, concentrates can offer you new heights of physical relief and unique cerebral effects. Extracts also contain a lot less plant material than flower, so you’re inhaling more cannabinoids (e.g. THC, CBD) and less combusted resin.
What Tools are
Needed to Dab?
What are the Medical Benefits of Dabbing?
The biggest positive of concentrates are that they give a powerful dose of medicine to those who truly need it. Patients dealing with severe or chronic pain or extreme nausea report thatdabbing can be one of the best ways to get immediate and effective relief. The amount of flowers that would have to be smoked or vaporized to get the same effect is just unfeasible for some patients who need potent medicine quickly.
Yes, the safety issues associated with making extracts are real, but they can be easily controlled in a professional environment. Professional extractors eschew the dangerous “open” extraction method that can be done at home and instead choose closed extraction, which is safer but requires more sophisticated equipment. Also, there are other extraction methods, such as CO2 or ice-water extraction, that are safer and reduce or remove the possibility of explosions.
The relationship between concentrates and technology is symbiotic with the product in need of more research and testing that labs are excitedly advancing technology to meet. Because the industry is expanding and more and more producers are improving and upgrading their methods, it seems most likely that these homemade disasters will remain anomalies. As more places that can legally sell concentrates emerge, there will be less of a need to make your own (though intrepid home chemists will probably still exist). Technology is also probably going to lead to less dabbing in the future, anyway. Improvements in vaporizers mean that more people are using these “no-torch necessary” products to heat their oils. Conveniently, this is the most publicity-friendly path for concentrates to go.
One of the more surprising side effects of the dabbing trend is that it has created an interest in activism in the community’s younger members. Industry events such as the Cannabis Cup, which used to focus on flowers, have also become proving grounds for the best concentrates and extraction experts. Most popular among consumers in their twenties, dabs are under the same legislative crackdown as other forms of cannabis, and more activists are starting to get involved.
While dabbing may be going through its awkward phase, overall, concentrates have much to offer patients and cannabis consumers in the future, and dabs are just one option among many.Type your paragraph here.