How to Dab Cannabis Extracts (from Shatters to Wax)

Want to know how to dab cannabis extracts? This guide covers everything from shatter to wax, with tips and tricks for getting the most out of your concentrates.

How To Dab Title

Never heard of dabbing? Settle in. Cannabis concentrates produce lots of enticing flavours and intensities. Dabbing is one way to explore and experience these, but it takes a bit of practice and requires some set-up. Read on for tips and advice to help you take the perfect dab safely and in style!

What is dabbing?

There are many types of cannabis products. Strictly speaking, dabbing is the flash vaporization of dabs (concentrates) at high temperatures so that they can be inhaled. Dabbing requires a dab rig, e-rig, or dab pen.

Terpenes are the ‘flavour heart’ of the cannabis plant’s flower. A good concentrate will extract the best qualities of the plant, resulting in a smooth and flavourful dab.

Concentrates are made via a particular kind of cannabis extraction by separating resin from the flower. The end product is very potent because the cannabinoids extracted are the maximum amount. They vary depending on texture and method used. The concentrate is free of plant matter.

Some common concentrates are:

  • Shatter
  • Wax
  • Live resin
  • Bubble hash
  • Hash oil
  • Butane hash oil
  • Keef
  • Crumble
  • Sugar Wax
  • Crystalline
  • THC Oil
The perfect dab rig for dabbing

What is a dab rig?

Most cannabis users are familiar with bongs. A dab rig is similar — it holds water, which is needed to cool vapor. A dab rig is different from a bong, though, in that it has a nail to hold the concentrates, whereas a bong has a bowl to hold the flower.

Made of quartz, glass, ceramic, or titanium, the nail can be heated to a high temperature. Nails work best with a carb cap placed on top to regulate the heat and airflow and trap the vapour. 

A small torch and a dabber are also essential components of a dab rig.

How does a dab rig work?

It works by flash vaporizing the concentrate once a small torch is used to evenly heat your nail. Vapour flows down through the rig and into the water, which cools and filters it before it’s inhaled. 

Traditional dab rigs

There are many types of dab rigs, but the traditional ones are the most popular. Made of glass, they’re commonly used to inhale wax, shatter, or resin dabs. They’re sturdy and designed to bear high temperatures and can be anywhere from six to twelve inches tall.

Learn more about cannabis extracts like wax and shatter.

Electronic dabbing rigs

Electronic nails (or e-nails) are great for the novice dabber! They maintain a consistent temperature and are heated either with a battery or by being plugged in. Electric nails are great for maximizing flavour in a safe, convenient way. And sometimes convenience is king!

How to use a dab with a dab rig: step by step 

  1. Start by partially filling the rig’s chamber with water.
  2. Using a small handheld torch, evenly heat all surfaces of the nail (thirty to sixty seconds).
  3. Let it cool (forty-ish seconds for glass).
  4. Use a dabber to place a tiny bit of concentrate into the hot nail.
  5. Inhale slowly.
  6. Cover the nail with a carb cap to preserve the vapour.
  7. Exhale and relax!
cannabis extract held up into the sunlight showing the quality

How to take dabs without a rig: step by step

It doesn’t hurt to have an option for enjoying your fave cannabis concentrate if you are out and about or away from your dab rig.

Dab pens are a thing; these are similar to vape pens but are meant for vaping concentrates of cannabis. 

What are the benefits of dabbing?

  • Better tasting — Flavours are enriched and can be enjoyed in a single inhalation.
  • Fewer carcinogens — The absence of plant matter also means the absence of potentially harmful carcinogens which is never a bad thing.
  • Maximum potency — The potency of dabs is high compared to other methods of enjoying cannabis because the resin has been extracted from the flower. Expect intense effects!

Reasons why you shouldn’t dab

  1. Dabbing can be risky, especially if concentrates are being used that aren’t made well. These can be unreliable. Consider the harmful, adverse effects of concentrates made from plants that have gone moldy, or that were grown with pesticides. Of course we run extensive quality control here at BudCheap so make sure you’re buying from a trusted source!
  2. Because the THC concentration is high, dabbers have a stronger risk of becoming addicted. Inexperienced dabbers can also experience vomiting, coughing fits, anxiety attacks, and other dangerous side effects if they inhale too much too quickly. The duration of effects will last longer and be no fun at all. Please go slowly if you’re new to dabbing.
  3. Novices will be unaccustomed to the dab rig, nail, and torch set-up. It’s not uncommon to get burned during the process. Keep some aloe vera handy.

How to regulate dab temperature

You want your dabbing session to give you a smooth and tasty hit. One of the secrets to this is by knowing your heat-up and cool down times. If you heat your concentrate too high, it’ll lose more than just taste — it’ll lose potency because the cannabinoids and terpenes will be bitter and burnt.

Dabs heated at lower temperatures will provide a slower, more euphoric experience, so don’t be hasty—take your time and aim for a heating temperature around five hundred to seven hundred degrees Fahrenheit. You can intentionally engineer a low-temp dab (known as cold-start dabbing) by placing the concentrate in a nail before you heat it, and inhaling with a carb cap once the concentrate melts.

How to clean a dab nail

Good old Q-tips (not the plastic ones, they’ll melt!) are the best tools for cleaning used nails. And you do want to do this, otherwise your nail will eventually turn black and reduce the flavour of your concentrates. Don’t use cleaners or harsh chemicals. 

Start by heating the nail slightly. Use a dabber to scrape obvious residue. Once the nail is down to room temperature and is more of a warm nail, finish the job by dipping a Q-tip in isopropyl alcohol and making the nail clean.

jars of live resin on a table from mama venom brand

FAQ Ways to Dab Cannabis

I want to dab, but I’m new. How should I start?

  1. Start small. Seriously! Dabs are potent, very concentrated cannabis. A very tiny amount (the size of a pinhead) is enough for starters. Don’t be in a hurry to increase dabs. 
  2. Watch out for a nail that is too hot — it will induce a coughing fit, and maybe even vomiting. Keep it chill.
  3. Start with the lowest possible temperature. If the surface is red hot, don’t inhale at all! Ever!
  4. Consider starting with a vape pen and working your way up.

Can you dab cannabis concentrate?

Extracts are simply specific types of cannabis concentrate made exclusively through the use of a solvent. So yes. Most are consumed by dabbing.

Is it better to smoke dab with or without water?

Water leads to smoother inhalation. Water filters and cools the vapour and eliminates some of the harsher qualities of the potent concentrate.

Do dab pens leave a strong smell if I smoke in my room?

Although dab pens are stylish, portable, and easy to use, they do indeed have a smell. It’s not as strong as the smell that comes from smoking a joint or pipe (dry herb) but inhaling potent cannabis and then exhaling it back into your space is gonna leave a smell.

What should you not do when dabbing?

  • Overheat the nail — do NOT smoke from a red-hot nail! If it’s troublesome using the torch to heat at the right temperature, consider using an e-nail instead. E-nails heat at consistent temperatures and provide a smooth, flavourful smoke.
  • Overload the nail — too much concentrate means it won’t vaporize well. All you need is a tiny crumb.
  • Grab the nail — It’ll be super-hot and y’all will get burned!
  • Take oversized hits — do not hit it like it’s a bong. It ain’t! This is super potent cannabis. You will get very high very fast.

And — ask a buddy to hold down the rig. Put one hand on the main chamber while the other feeds the concentrate to the nail. You don’t want to knock the hot rig over.

A last tip — don’t collect the vapour in your mouth and swallow it. It’ll make you sick. Instead, inhale directly into your lungs.

mambavenoim skywalker shatter packaging

In conclusion

Dabbing CAN be overwhelming. The blowtorch alone is a safety hazard. The effects of dabbing are intense and immediate, and that’s AFTER gathering the rig, setting everything up, and inhaling. It’s a lot to consider!

There are advantages to this method of cannabis ingestion. One, the high THC content will provide pain relief. Second, a dab is quick, more so than smoking a joint or bowl. Traditional dabbing with a tried-and-true sturdy rig might be a good way to start.

Just be careful. Start SMALL.

And — Know your limit, and dab within it!

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