Everything You Need to Know About Dabbing

everything you need to know about dabbing
November 19, 2018 By Stoner

What is Concentrate Dabbing?

Concentrate dabbing is a method of smoking extracts. Dabbing requires an extract such as crumble, wax, shatter, etc… which is superheated to the point of vaporization. This melts the contents of the extract to the right temperatures in order to benefit from their effects.

Is Dabbing Right for Me?

If you have never taken a dab before, you have come to the right place and made a wise decision to research it to find the best advice before taking your first dab.

Stoner’s Tip: Let us start off by saying that if you have never smoked cannabis before, dabbing is not right for you. Often times, first time stoners experience paranoia, and anxious behavior. This would only be amplified by dabbing for your first experience. You want to be at least a little experienced when it comes to smoking herbs before taking your first dab.

What You Will Learn in this Article

In this article, we will help you understand everything you need to know about dabbing so that you can know how to prepare to take your first dab. We will cover:

  • What Dabbing is Like

  • How Dabbing Compares to Other Experiences

  • Everything You Need to Start Dabbing

  • 5 Steps for How to Take a Dab

  • 5 Frequently Asked Questions About Dabbing

What is Dabbing Like?

Dabbing is one of the more intense smoking experiences. Depending on the dosage and potency, dabbing may provide the user with a very intense “high” which can make for a rough time for some first time users.

Typically speaking, the higher the temperature of the dab, the more intense of an experience you will have. This is also true of the size and potency of the dab. Larger dabs are more intense, and those with higher potency can be very intense, especially at higher temperatures.

Dabs have approximately 80% THC content. When you compare this to the 15-25% commonly found in most strains of marijuana, you can begin to understand why we do not recommend dabbing for first time stoners. It is a process that needs to be eased into, and should not be done on a regular basis in high amounts.

How Are Dabs Made?

Depending on the type of dab you are smoking, there are a few different ways that they can be made. This is honestly quite the topic all in itself, and takes away from the main point of this article, so we wrote about how dabs are made here.

How Do Dabs Affect Your Body?

While there is no conclusive evidence of it yet, there are concerns that dabbing can be dangerous for your health, due to the potential damage that dabbing can cause to your:

  • Lungs
  • Esophagus
  • Mouth
Stoner’s Tip: Taking dabs at the right temperature makes for the best experience. Knowing which temperature is best for dabbing is very important to make sure that you do not put yourself at risk. Read our guide to finding the best dabbing temperature to find out exactly how hot your dab should be.

To summarize that article, the best dabbing temperature is anywhere between 350F and 650F.

  • Lower than this and your dab may not even melt and can create a huge mess and a subpar experience with little to no high or flavor
  • Higher temp dabbing above 650F can lead to burnt taste, more exposure to carcinogens, and damage to your lungs and esophagus from the intense heat  

What is the Flavor Like With Dabs?

Dabbing with concentrates of any kind can produce a very flavorful smoking experience. Due to the terpenes which are released from the vaporization of the dab, there is a lot of flavor.

Within this temperature range of 350F – 650F, you should play around with the temperature of your dab rig in order to find how hot your dab rig should be. Everyone has their own preference, and as you get hotter, you begin to sacrifice a bit of flavor for intensity, and vice versa on the lower end.

There are many flavors of dab extracts. Flavor is mainly derived from terpenes, which can be found in not only cannabis, but any other plant on the planet.

Stoner’s Tip: To learn more about terpenes, we have created this ultimate terpene guide, which can help you to understand what terpenes are, how they affect cannabis taste, experience, which terpenes are most prevalent, and which strains contain certain types of terpenes.

How Much Does Dabbing Cost?

Typically, dabbing helps to save on the cost of smoking. For many people, a very tiny dab does the trick just fine, and will keep them feeling lifted for hours. This allows them to cut down on their usage, and save a bit of money on flower.

Dabs are also easy to store, and do not have a smell like regular flower does, making it easy to store, and far less worrisome.

How Does Dabbing Compare to Other Smoking Experiences?

For stoners who already have a bit of experience, and are wondering how smoking dabs compares to vaping, smoking out of water pipes, or smoking hand pipes, this will help you understand the differences. If you are entirely new to smoking, this section can help you as well.

Dabbing vs. Using a Vaporizer

Vaporizers feel a bit cleaner than dabbing when it comes down to it. This is our opinion, some people prefer a dab rig to a vaporizer.

In terms of how they compare, this table illustrates the differences between dabbing and using a vaporizer for cannabis:

Dabbing

Smoking Vaporizers

Intensity
Medium to High Medium
Flavor
Medium to HighLow to Medium
Use of Supplies
More expensive, but also more conservative on supplies Less expensive because you use flower, and you can save the bud if you choose, to make butter and other supplies
Smoothness
Can be rough or smooth, depending on size of dab taken and temperature of dab rig/nailSmoother than dabbing, but not as smooth as smoking a bong

As you can see, dabbing compared to vaping has its advantages and disadvantages. It is up to you which you prefer.

For stoners who prefer a more intense high and who like the process of dabbing concentrates, it provides a better experience.

For stoners who prefer a more on-the-go experience that is both smooth and easy to dose, vaping may be best.

Dabbing vs. Smoking a Bong

Smoking a water pipe or a bong is very smooth. Compared to dabbing, there is next to no heat, and some great bong attachments like percolators and ashcatchers can make for an even smoother experience that is both cool and smooth on the throat and lungs.

There are many types of bongs and dab rigs, but overall, the feeling they each provide is about the same. Dabs tend to have a bit more of an intense “high” to them, while smoking from a bong leaves you relaxed and mellow.

The table below shows a comparison between bongs and dab rigs for beginners:

Dabbing

Smoking Bongs

Intensity
Medium to High Medium
Flavor
Medium to HighLow to Medium
Use of Supplies
More expensive, but also more conservative on supplies Can be expensive depending on how you smoke and how much you smoke
Smoothness
Can be rough or smooth, depending on size of dab taken and temperature of dab rig/nailBongs have the smoothest smoking experience in our opinion

As you can see, bongs and dab rigs are also similar to one another. Dabs tend to be a bit harsher than bongs, but for someone who is looking to have a every intense experience, dab rigs may be best.

Dabs do tend to have more taste and flavor than bongs do, mainly because they contain more oils, which release terpenes when burned, as we described earlier.

The answer to the question of, “are bongs better than dabbing” really all depends on your personal preferences, we know plenty of stoners who love dabbing concentrates, and say it is a very pleasurable and relaxing experience. For the most part, dabbing is pleasant, the main thing you want to worry about is making sure that you have the best temperature for your dab rig.

Stoners Tip: On the fence between getting a dab rig or a bong? Fortunately, most bongs also function as dab rigs, with the right dab rig attachments. This can turn a regular bong into a dab rig easily, without having to spend too much on a brand new rig.

Dabbing vs. Smoking a Hand Pipe

Smoking a hand pipe is the OG way of smoking your cannabis. While it may not be as popular or as glamorous as some other ways of smoking, it is still an enjoyable experience.

Because hand pipes are such an old way of smoking, there are many different types, which mainly differ in design rather than actual smoking experience. A hand pipe is a great gift for a stoner, especially a new stoner. They are perfect because they are cheap, easily concealable, and they are not very harsh and easy to control dosage.

For people who are interested in how dab rigs compare to hand pipes, here is a table:

Dabbing

Smoking Hand Pipes

Intensity
Medium to High Low to Medium
Taste
Medium to HighLow to Medium
Use of Supplies
More expensive, but also more conservative on supplies Less expensive as long as you are conservative, more expensive if you are not
Smoothness
Can be rough or smooth, depending on size of dab taken and temperature of dab rig/nailSmoother than dabbing, but not as smooth as smoking a bong

All the Materials You Will Need to Start Dabbing

Here we will summarize the main accessories and materials you will need in order to start dabbing for the first time.

Stoner’s Tip: If you are interested in reading a comprehensive guide about the 5 best dabbing accessories, how much they cost, which dab tools are right for you, and where to find the best dab rigs and dab rig accessories, check out this dope article!

Dab Rig

This is a standard dab rig. There are many types of dab rigs, based on the different types of percolators, nails, and attachments you can get for these water pipes.

How Much Do Dab Rigs Cost?

Dab rigs can cost anywhere from around $60 to $300+, depending on what you are looking for in a dab rig. More complex and handcrafted pieces will cost more, while a great dab rig for beginners will probably run you around $100.

What You Need to Know About Dab Rig Attachments

Dab Rigs, much like bongs, are able to be fitted with attachments very easily. This makes them very versatile and able to be changed and modified in order to get a different smoking experience.

Most standard dab rigs come with a nail, or a quartz banger. These are two different ways to heat up your dabs to the right temperature for smoking.

Stoner’s Tip: We briefly dive into some of the best dab rig attachments below, but for a more comprehensive guide to the best dab rig attachments, check out this article.

Quartz Banger

The quartz banger is a great bong attachment that provides you a sturdy quartz dab rig attachment that can be heated to medium to high temperatures.

These quartz bangers are best for dabs that are small to medium in size, though larger quartz bangers can be purchased to accommodate larger dabs.

Depending on the type of dab rig or bong you have, you may need to purchase either a male or a female dab rig attachment of a certain size. The most common dab rig attachment sizes are:

  • 10mm
  • 14.5mm
  • 18.8mm

This is the measured diameter of the hole at the bottom, which fits to the joint on the bong or dab rig.

What’s the Difference Between Male and Female Dab Rigs and Bongs?

The joint is male if it is skinnier and fits into the attachment, or female if it is wider and the attachment fits into it.

Ceramic, Titanium or Quartz Nail

If you do not have a quartz banger, you will need either a titanium, ceramic, or quartz nail for dabbing.

Like quartz bangers, these bad boys are heated up in order to vaporize your dab extracts when smoking, and release terpenes which give flavor and add to your experience.

These attachments are easy to find in our online head shop. They fit very well to just about any dab rig and come in multiple sizes. Most dab rigs come with either a quartz banger or a nail when you purchase them, so you will likely not have to worry about this unless you are looking for a new dab rig attachment.

Extract – The Dabs

Extract can come in many shapes and forms, primarily, the main types of cannabis extract being:

  • Shatter
  • Wax
  • Crumble
  • Honeycomb

Each of these different types of dabs differ based on the way that they are formed. This has an effect on both the flavor and the potency of the dabs, as well as the the clarity of the dabs and their quality.

Stoner’s Tip: For those who want to know more about the different types of dab concentrates and how to tell the quality of your dabs, we touch on it later in this article, in the FAQ section.

Torch

Because of the high temperatures needed in order to properly release the terpenes in your dab extract, you will need a torch in order to smoke your first dab.

Torches are not usually very expensive, typically ranging in the $30-$50 area. Most torches used for dabbing are fueled using butane, which can reach temperatures in excess of 1000F, which is more than enough to get the job done.

A Dabber Tool

Last but not least, we cannot forget about the dabber tool. These little guys help you easily move your dabs around inside of your rig in order to avoid a mess while dabbing, and get the most out of your dabs by vaporizing them all.

This is truly a must have dabbing tool. It is pretty hard to take a dab when you cannot even get the most out of your experience. Not to mention, dabber tools are very cheap and easy to find.

Dabber tools for dab rigs are cheap, usually running you about $5 to $10, with some more expensive ones that are unique and handcrafted costing up to $50.  

Now that you know what supplies you will need to get started dabbing, let’s jump into the 5 Easy Steps for How to Take a Dab.  

5 Steps to Taking a Dab

1. Set Up Your Dab Rig

This one is pretty self explanatory, you need to set up your dab rig before getting started. Add enough water to your rig, then attach the nail or quartz banger to your dab rig. You will also want to have your dab concentrates on hand for when the time is right.

2. Heat Your Nail or Banger

Now it is time to heat your quartz banger or nail up using a butane torch. Depending on the type of material your nail is made out of, it can take longer to heat than quartz. Ceramic can hold heat the longest, and titanium can hold heat well also.

Stoner’s Tip: For you stoners interested in learning more about how to heat your quartz banger or nail, we wrote a guide to it here.

3. Insert Your Extract

Once your dab rig is heated up and ready to go, it is time to put your dab extract on the tip of your dabber tool, and gently place it into your nail or banger.

While placing your dab on the banger, you want to have your mouth close to the mouthpiece and ready to begin taking your first dab.

Be careful to not go too big when it comes to dabs. You can always do more later. They can be kind of harsh on the lungs as they get bigger, and you are better off taking a few small ones than one huge one for no reason.

Stoner’s Tip: For those of you wondering more about how big of a dab you should take, we answered that question in the FAQ section below. Keep reading!

4. Inhale

Once your dab is in your rig and you have your mouth on the mouthpiece, it is time to begin inhaling the smoke from your dab rig. Try not to do this too fast, as it can come quicker than you may think.

In the inhalation process, you begin to see the importance of a percolator for dab rigs, as nearly all rigs have them. Percolators help to cool the smoke, and also filter out more particulates, so that by the time the smoke from the dab reaches your lungs and throat, it is very smooth, tastes good, and is not too hot so as to hurt you.

Stoner’s Tip: For those looking to learn more about percolators, how they work, what they are, the many different types of percolators, how much they cost, and where you can find the best ones, we wrote an awesome guide to everything you need to know about percolators here.

5. Enjoy Your Dabbing Experience

Now it is time to exhale, and enjoy your experience. It is best to smoke adab when you do not need to do anything intense, or strenuous. Dabbing is not best for people who must do complex tasks, but should rather be enjoyed in peace and harmony.

However, this isn’t to say that we haven’t met stoners who think the exact opposite, and can handle doing a dab and going out and being active. It mainly depends on your dosage, its potency, and your overall tolerance and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dabbing

What Size Dab is Best for Me?

So you might be asking, “How big of a dab is too big?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. When we first smoked dabs, we were just as lost as any newcomer to the cannabis community.

Typically speaking, for people who are new to smoking dabs, we recommend a dab no larger than the size of a pin tip. At maximum, the size of an apple seed.

The saying “a dab will do you” is really applicable when it comes to smoking dabs for beginners. Just one tiny bit will definitely be enough to be feeling great. Even if it is not, you are better off waiting to see than taking too big of a dab and ruining your experience.

How Hot Should I Heat My Nail on My Dab Rig?

Heating up your dab rig can be a delicate process that every new dabber must master on their own. When it comes to finding the right temperature for your dab rig, you generally want to stay between the temperature range of 350F to 650F.

At this range, the dab is hot enough to vaporize, but not too hot to burn, or potentially harm you. It has been recognized by a few research studies that dabs which are burned at 700F or higher release higher amounts of harmful chemicals. Needless to say this is not good for you, and neither are the higher temperatures.

Stoner’s Tip: For you stoners out there looking to find the perfect temperature for taking dabs, we wrote this comprehensive guide. It tells you all about the perfect temperature for taking dabs, and what is considered low temp vs. high temp dabbing. We also discuss the different types of dab rig nails, and which material is best for nails.

Are E-nails Better than Traditional Nails and Quartz Bangers?

There are such things as electric nails, or e-nails. These are nails that heat up automatically once they are plugged in and turned on. This type of nail is more expensive than traditional ceramic, quartz or titanium nail attachments for dab rigs, but also last much longer and have the ability to maintain very specific temperatures for extended periods of time without the need to be reheated.

Overall, e-nails are a good investment for the stoner who is getting into dabbing and really enjoys it. You just need to make sure that you unplug your e-nail after you are done using it in order to avoid fire hazards.

What is the Difference Between Shatter, Wax and Crumble?

You may have heard people call dabs many different things, like wax, crumble, shatter, or perhaps even honeycomb. But what do these different terms for dabs mean? Are they actually different from one another, and if so, how so?

Stoner’s Tip: This section could honestly take up a whole article in itself, so we wrote all about the different types of dabs in this article.

To summarize quickly, the different types of dabs work like this:

Shatter

Shatter is the umbrella term used to describe a dab extract that is used in the dabbing process. These extracts are made using Butane, and can be considered Butane Hash Oil, or BHO. This BHO is different from some other types of dab extracts made using other processes such as PHO which is made with propane.

Shatter comes in a large sheet, and looks similar to honey laid out, and forms in a glass candy type of way in thin sheets. These thin sheets typically have bubbles in them, from the decarboxylation process. This type of dab is high in terpenes and therefore flavor profile, and is also easy to melt.

Shatter provides a fairly strong flavor, with high intensity.

Wax

Wax is a bit more oily than shatter, and it is not in such a solid state. Wax is made by pressing down with extreme pressure and heat on resin that is left over from various other processes which weed and weed extracts are used in.

This resin is pressed into what is called rosin, usually on a Rosin Press. The wax material that comes out is called rosen, wax, or sometimes just dabs. This material is about the consistency of peanut butter, or a fruit roll up. It is easy to melt, and provides high flavor as well as medium intensity for dabs.

Crumble

Crumble is made by taking the same heated up BHO that is used to make shatter, and instead of putting it into a vacuum oven to remove the butane, the product is put in trays or pans, where they sit to cool in a semi-liquid form.

While cooling, they are repeatedly agitated, which separated the terpenes and kief from the butane that is trying to escape. This turns the remaining substance into a crumble, similar to brown sugar in consistency that falls apart easily.

This crumble is great for adding onto marijuana when smoking, and can make a decent dabbing experience too, though it can be messier and also less intense on its own than other types of dabs.

Honeycomb

Honeycomb is initially made the same way as BHO or PHO, and is just dried differently, which creates a honeycomb looking structure, that has the consistency of peanut brittle.

To make honeycomb dabs, the extract is first heated to high temperatures using butane or propane, and then left to dry without agitation or vacuum oven to remove the butane.

This means it takes longer to cool and form. The resulting dab is potent and flavorful, but can be a bit on the smokier side, and can require higher temperatures to melt.

How Can I Tell if I Have High Quality Dabs?

If you are new to the dabbing world, you will want to make sure that the cannabis extracts you are using are of decent quality before smoking them, in order to make sure you get the most for your money, you enjoy your experience, and you are avoiding as many toxins as possible while dabbing.

There is one very simple trick that can help you instantly identify the quality of your dabs: checking what color they are.

The darker in color, the more toxins in them, and the less pure the extract is. You obviously will never be able to find a pure clear piece of shatter or honeycomb or wax, but you can find some that are light yellow in color and less orange or brown like some lower quality dabs.

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