WTF r Dabs?
For the beginner, doing dabs might look a little like… crack. We see the images on Instagram, of young and pretty women with their torch aflame and a perma-stoned smile. And we get scared. I mean, butane? Hot pokey tools? Are we chasing the dragon here? Certainly, none of that stuff has a place in a responsible parents house… right?
The truth is, doing dabs, or dabbing, is simply a fast, clean way to get as stoned as possible as quickly as possible. Instead of smoking flower (what we call traditional marijuana), you are smoking a cannabis concentrate, an extract from cannabis that has higher levels of cannabinoids than just the flower itself.
Dabbing simply refers to the act of “dabbing” a piece of marijuana concentrate onto a very hot surface, creating smoke that is then inhaled.
Dabs got a bad reputation because of the media’s sensationalist treatment of it. Because concentrates have higher cannabinoid levels (this is a good thing, not a bad thing), some secretly funded “articles” started popping up calling doing dabs “marijuana’s crack”. I’ve found “articles” stating that because of dabs , overdosing on marijuana is a new possibility. But of course, there is ZERO EVIDENCE of this anywhere, and it looks like despite it being 2016 we’ve still got harmful misconceptions about cannabis that need to be rebutted publicly.
So, say it with me: Smoking a cannabis concentrate is no more dangerous than smoking weed. In fact, many prefer dabbing because of its high effectiveness and immediate onset. For those with severe pain, dabbing is quite literally a godsend, providing instant relief for the most serious of ailments.
Benefits of Dabbing
- Dabbing is quite possibly the fastest way to feel the benefits of marijuana.
- A highly potent product is NOT a bad thing. Concentrates can often mean less overall consumption. We’re talking less bowls smoked, less minutes hiding in the garage, etc.
- Many report a “clearer” and functional high, rather than couch lock, drowsiness, etc.
- The high goes away quicker. To the busy adult, that is not necessarily a bad thing. I know moms who prefer dabbing because they know they will be totally sober an hour after doing it. When you’re always on the go that is important.
- Less smoke, more cannabinoids. Cannabinoids already exist in the human body. Smoke, not so much.
Cons of Dabbing
- Concentrates are expensive. Think perfume. Perfume is like the flower, easy to acquire and affordable. Eau de Parfum is the concentrate, a sophisticated product crafted to produce the essence of marijuana. Yes, I am high.
- Initial start-up cost. Dabbing requires some specialized gear. At minimum, you need a nail, dome, and torch.
- Quality of your concentrate is very important. Almost all concentrates are made with some sort of solvent, and this is not something that everyone is cool with. Quality concentrates, made with professional equipment on a legal site, are essential to reaping the health benefits of dabbing. You know the guy you read about in the local news who blew up his garage trying to make “hash oil”? Do you really want to be smoking that dude’s stuff? Be a legit user, and acquire a legally made, high-quality concentrate.
- Tolerance issues. Many people report their tolerance increasing rapidly after starting a dabbing routine. As always, results vary among stoners. I experienced a tolerance increase myself and quit dabbing for a few months because I knew I didn’t want to have to buy concentrates to get high.
- The high is different. A dabbing high has a shorter life span and often produces a cerebral effect over a body high. Because of this, I believe that dabbing works really well in a parents routine. It’s fast, efficient, and rarely results in couch lock. This makes you creative, productive, and happily energetic. When the “body high” is your desired end result, I recommend trying edibles. (More on that, later this month!)
Okay, so if dabbing simply refers to the method of consumption, what do you call the “stuff” that you actually consume? The stuff is the concentrate- some form of cannabis extract. Some different types of concentrate you will hear of: oil, BHO, hash, wax, budder, shatter, ice wax, dry ice hash, and live rosin. Some people just call it ‘dabs’, regardless of the form. Some people don’t even dab concentrates; instead, they sprinkle a small amount into a joint or bowl and burn it along with the weed. I started that way years ago, saving ice wax as a treat that got me extra in the mood, if you know what I’m saying.
A concentrate becomes its final product based on the extraction method. Because there are so many techniques to make a concentrate from cannabis, we see many forms of concentrate, with different names and viscosity, all too often getting confused and lumped under the label of “dabs”.
Common Concentrates found at Dispensaries
Live Rosin – Nerdy violin players, rosin up your bows. The concentrate “rosin” got its name because of it’s similar consistency to the lubricant used on violin strings. Rosin is a solventless concentrate, meaning it was made with zero harmful chemicals, with extractors using a heat and pressure on a plant that was frozen right at harvest, thus the “live” part of the description.
Because there are zero solvents used with this method, live rosin is considered the cleanest and healthiest concentrate to dab. It is much thinner than other concentrates, making it quite runny and thin. The best thing about live rosin is the purity of taste due to the richness of terpenes.
Shatter – a popular and abundant concentrate that resembles smooth, honey-colored glass. Shatter is translucent and “shatters” or sometimes “snaps” when broken apart. Shatter is sticky and easy to work with.
Wax – Another readily available concentrate; wax runs the gamut from looking like sticky earwax to a drier, more crumbly product. Wax is more fluid and viscous than shatter, making it easy to scoop up.
Hash – Easy and safe to make at home. Hash is made by compression of the plant’s resin. David makes this pretty regularly for me with the shake from our home harvests. Hash is less potent than other concentrates but does not need to be dabbed, making it super convenient for discrete stoner moms.
Budder – Another form of wax. Budder resembles butter, and is much creamier than wax’s more crumbly form.
BHO (Butane Hash Oil- or Butane Honey Oil) – Refers to a very fluid, highly potent concentrate consumed by dabbing or vaporizing. Quality and reputability of the extractor is very important with this form of concentrate, as the burning off of butane is an essential part of getting a low-toxin product.
CO2 Oil – I cannot even explain what this is, because its definition uses terms like “supercritical”. Read more about CO2 oil here. It is pretty cool, although a bit eye-glazing.
What you need to start dabbing
Dab Rig – This means a basic bong (water pipe) and the proper attachment on which to dab. You don’t use a bowl like when smoking flower. Instead, you use a piece called a nail. A nail is just a glass, ceramic, quartz or titanium piece that you fit onto your bong and then heat to a very high temperature, only applying the concentrate when the nail is fully heated.
If your nail is just a flat-ish piece without some sort of bowl shape, then you will need to get a dome as well. The dome is essential for trapping the smoke.
If you are starting from nothing, I recommend ordering a complete setup from an online headshop. SmokeCartel is an awesome one, and they sent me a complete grown-up dab rig by Sesh Supply. I adore it. You can get one just like mine here.
Looking for something smaller? BFF’s first dab rig was this super solid mini-cube by Diamond Glass. Because it’s so affordable and hits so well, I highly recommend this piece for the newbie.
Okay, now that we have the dab rig under control, what else do you need to dab?
- Something to Dab ie: concentrate! Shatter, wax, whatever.
- a Butane Torch – a kitchen one is fine. crème brule bitches.
- Replacement Butane – you’ll run out quick, I promise.
- Dabber – a metal or glass pokey tool used to apply the concentrate to the nail. Cause you ain’t using your fingers. Right?
- *optional Carb Cap – depending on your setup this may not be a necessity, however, they are awesome. Use a cap of some kind to put over the nail when you dabbed more than you can take for that second.
Who is dabbing good for?
- Those treating severe or chronic pain
- Those with extreme nausea
- those seeking the fastest, most efficient way to get an energetic, cerebral high
As always I hope this post was informative, and maybe eased some of your irrational fears of torches. If you are interested in watching some dabbing in action, you can also watch this video.