What is Dabbing? How Do You Smoke Dabs?

If you’re newer to cannabis, you may find yourself wondering, “What is dabbing?” And before we go any further, no we’re not talking about the dance. Dabs are doses of cannabis that are concentrated, making them much more potent than flowers. They offer a high that’s faster and loftier, making them ideal for people who are in intense pain and need immediate relief. Dabs have much more THC than other products, so caution should be exercised when using them. A flower strain is considered high in THC if it has 20 percent or so; the percentage of THC in a dab is around 60 percent to 90 percent. Dabbing has quickly grown in popularity, going from something hardcore to the mainstream. It offers a higher high which naturally makes it appealing. But, dabbing is not for everyone.

How To Do a Dab

There are definitely a few more steps to dabbing than hitting a bong or a pipe, so if it’s your first time dabbing, you might want someone who has dabbed before nearby to supervise. There are a few things that you need to get started:

  • A glass piece (also called a rig)
  • A nail (usually titanium, glass, or quartz)
  • Butane torch (a smaller torch with a more manageable flame is best)
  • Dabber tool
  • Dabs
  • Dome (optional)

Look at this dank dabThe first thing you want to do is grab your torch and heat your nail until it turns red. The time it takes your nail to both heat up and cool off varies depending on what material it’s is made out of (titanium nails heat up and cool off faster than glass and quartz nails.) Next, you’ll want to wait for your nail to cool off. If you try to take a dab while the nail is too hot, you’ll waste a lot of THC and terpenes, and you’ll have a much harsher hit.

Remember, at its core, dabbing is nothing more than vaporizing, so a general rule of thumb is lower temperatures are better than higher temperatures.

On average, you should wait around 10-20 seconds for your titanium nail to cool off and somewhere between 30-40 seconds for your glass/quartz nail to cool off. However, these aren’t exact measurements, and a lot of variables will affect how long you need to wait before taking a hit. Every rig is different, as well as everyone’s temperature preferences, so you may have to do a few trial and error runs before you figure out where your sweet spot is. If you have an electronic nail, you’ll be able to specify the temperature you want to smoke at. The sweet spot for low-temperature dabbing is somewhere between 400 – 450 degrees Fahrenheit. I personally prefer a little more vapor, so I dab somewhere between 500-550 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, this is personal preference, and it’ll take a few dabs before you figure out your ideal temperature.

Waiting for your nail to cool off is a great time to get your dab ready! Take your dab tool and put your dab on the end of it. If this is your first time, you’ll definitely want to take a small dab – remember, this is concentrated THC. If you’re smoking budder, it’ll be fairly easy to scoop out. If your dabs are shatter, though, it’ll be a little bit tougher. My advice is to heat up the tip of your dabber for half a second with the torch, and then try to scoop your shatter; this will melt the dab just a tiny bit and make it more malleable. After you have your dab on your dabber tool, touch it to the nail and inhale. Don’t feel like you have to take the whole dab in one breath though! Use your dome to cover the nail and save the vapor between pulls. It also traps the heat, allowing you to get more vapor out of one dab. If you don’t have a dome, don’t worry. Anything that has a flat bottom on it (and that won’t melt) can be used as a dome to cover your nail in between hits.

Why Try Concentrates?

Concentrates aren’t recommended for people who are inexperienced with weed, but they may be necessary for medical marijuana patients with certain ailments that other types of cannabis don’t touch. Flowers might not be strong enough while edibles can take too long to take effect – some edibles take as long as two hours before relief sets in.

dabs and a quartz nailRecreational users often try dabs because of the high (duh) but also because of the ease of use. Unlike joints that you have to roll (and that smell strong enough everyone near you knows exactly what you’re doing), dabs are more discreet – you might be able to smoke a dab in a nearby closet without everyone wondering about a skunk.

Tips for Your First Time

Dabbing for the first time isn’t the same as the first time you smoked cannabis flower; it’ll be a much heavier experience. Don’t go into it expecting similarities: you’ll end up on the ground convinced you’re dying. Besides dabs having a high that hits hard and fast, there are a few other things to be mindful of. Some of these include:

It’s easy to take too much

You can’t overdose on marijuana, but you can certainly dab too much and this can result in a trip you wish you hadn’t taken. You may vomit, pass out, or find yourself unable to move and think. Nothing that makes for a fun and exciting Friday night.

Your tolerance might not mean much

If you’re well-versed in weed – you’ve been smoking regularly since college or you eat edibles like they’re regular candy – dabbing shouldn’t be quite as crazy for you (when compared to someone who spent their college days drinking milk and reading Chaucer). But that’s not a given.

Dabbing is the equivalent of smoking several bowls in a small amount of time

something you likely haven’t done unless you have multiple mouths. Just as edibles can still drastically impact people with tolerance, dabs follow suit. Be prepared.

You’ll turn your head and cough

Most people who dab experience a cough that makes them feel as though they are indeed coughing up a lung. Sometimes, this cough lasts for hours, leaving your ribs sore and your voice so raspy you sound like Bea Arthur. But it gets easier – the more you dab, the less you cough. Drinking water should help as well.

You’ll Sweat

Another side effect of dabbing is sweating. Not everyone experiences this – some people are more prone to overheating than others – but don’t be floored if water pours from your pores. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – you can pretend you exercised even if you didn’t. A marijuana marathon.

You’ll End up on the Couch

The couch is likely your destination the first time you dab: when you smoke concentrates, you punch a one-way ticket to sofa city. Again, this isn’t necessarily bad, but be sure you have everything you need for the next few hours. This is not the time to have to search the cushions for the television remote. If you want to minimize the effects, maybe a strain like Bubba Kush will help you avoid couchlock.

Dabbing and Psychosis

Marijuana-induced psychosis is so infrequent that some people wonder if it really exists. But hospitals have seen an increase in psychosis ever since Shatter on a dabbing tooldabbing grew in popularity.

According to Q13 Fox News, some hospitals are reporting a drastic increase, up to two cases a day. These patients hear voices, exhibit paranoia, and often yell at everyone. They also suffer from hallucinations, hallucinations that can last for several days.

This increase has led some pot shops to tap into education:

Rainer Express began holding classes that teach people to safely smoke hash oil (maybe don’t mention this class on your resume)

The goal is to keep people from smoking too much and to help them understand that going from flowers to dabs is like going from lite beer to very strong liquor. There is a difference.

Other Dabbing Tips

There are a few other things to keep in mind as you embrace dabbing with open lungs. First of all, avoid products that are sketchy, low-quality, or made in someone’s basement somewhere – you want to know what you’re smoking. Second of all, learn how to use a dab rig. Whenever you’re dealing with heat, you don’t want to go in blindly (or while holding a bottle of Aqua-Net).

And start small – the tinier dab the better. You don’t need to consume a lot to have a strong experience

Finally, never attempt to make your own dabs at home. It’s extraordinarily dangerous even if you know what you’re doing. Many people have been hospitalized because of explosions while some fatalities have occurred. So, leave the experimenting to the professionals and live vicariously through Jesse Pinkman.

What is Dabbing? How Do You Smoke Dabs? was last modified: by
Jenn Keeler

About the author: Jenn Keeler is a freelance writer and illustrator specializing in humorous lifestyle articles. She is one of the few people on earth actually using an English degree. Her heart belongs to the Denver Broncos and her husband. In that order.