Marijuana Dabs 101: A Guide To Your First Time

What is a dab and how do you do it?

marijuana dabs
Photo by Flickr user Andres Rodriguez

I remember — vaguely — the first time I did marijuana dabs. Within 15 minutes I had passed out. It didn’t have to be this way.

What is dabbing? Is it safe? Why am I hearing more about it now? Before you even consider dabbing, do yourself a favor and read this first. Chances are, you’ll avoid fainting and you may enjoy it. But it’s not for everybody.

Educate Yourself

Dabbing is not anything like smoking a joint. It requires a whole new set of tools. The cannabis is in completely different form. The psychoactive effect is exponentially more intense. And the intoxication will last longer.

Essentially, a dab is a small dose of highly concentrated cannabis that is heated on a hot surface and then inhaled. Focus on the word “concentrate” — and fully grasp the meaning. Cannabis concentrates are exactly what they sound like: Take the herb and extract all the THC out of it as you can. The extreme amount of THC in the concentrate means you will need very little (just a dab) to achieve the psychoactive effect.

Dabs are concentrated doses — typically about the size of a Tic-Tac breath mint — of marijuana.  Dabs are manufactured by extracting THC, most commonly by using a solvent such as butane. The end product is a potent oil often referred to as wax, honey, shatter, budder, crumble or butane hash oil (BHO).

Typical marijuana bud contains roughly 15 to 25 percent THC; concentrates typically range between 65 to 85 percent THC, depending on the type and quality of the product.

Find A Dab Buddy

Dabbing alone is not advised the first few times you try it. Find a friend who is willing to experiment with you — or at least be your chaperone as you do it yourself. Ideally, you will know someone who not only has tried it, but can bring along his or her own dab kit — the set of tools one needs to dab correctly.

Why a dab buddy? Just as a precaution in case you feel faint or paranoid. Other possible side effects include a rapid heartbeat and hallucinations. If you feel any of these symptoms, hydrate, lay down and close your eyes.

Remember, you can’t suffer a fatal overdose from cannabis — and that includes dabbing. But you can harm yourself if you should fall down. Your dad buddy is there for insurance just in case the situation becomes uncomfortable.

What You Need

The technology of dabbing is changing quickly, with more and more ancillary products promising more effectiveness, greater ease or lower cost. But, essentially, if you are going to dab on a regular basis, you will need to purchase some new tools:

  • The concentrate: Whether it is wax, honey, shatter, budder, crumble or BHO, this is the THC-rich product. It is highly recommended that you purchase the concentrate from a licensed, tested retailer. There is a lot of black market wax out there that is full of residual contaminants from processing. Trust me on this: The raw material needs to be high quality — and that does not mean high in THC, it means well made. Start small. A small dose looks no larger than a crumb. If you need more, go for a second dab. But it’s better to be cautious when it comes to dosage.
  • Dabber: The dabber looks like a small poker. Typically, the dabber is made of metal or glass or ceramic and is used to apply the concentrate to the nail. With the dabber, take the small amount of the concentrate and keep it on the tip of the dabber.
  • Dab rig: Dab rigs, also known as oil rigs, are basically glass water pipes (bongs) used for vaporizing extracts, oils, and concentrates. Like bongs found at head shops, there are sorts of sizes, shapes and colors. You will use the rig to inhale the fumes after lighting the nail.
  • Nail: The nail fits inside the gauge of your rig (or water pipe). Most experts swear by the nails made of high-quality titanium, but there are also ceramic nails and quartz nails. Glass nails are out there, but are a bit tricky.
  • A dome (or carb cap): There are some “domeless nails” on the market, that do not require a carb cap, but most standard nails need a dome to trap the vapor. Essentially, all the dome does is limit the amount of air flow inside the rig, allowing for the vapor to be inhaled rather than vanish in thin air.
  • A torch: Have you ever used a crème brulee torch? Well, if you have then you will be able to use a dab torch. A butane cigar lighter or something like that is simply not powerful enough for a dab. The torch is used to heat the nail to extreme temperatures. The goal is a red-hot nail in a short amount of time.
  • Butane: You’ll need butane to refill the torch.

Step-By-Step

  1. Sit Down: Dabbing is best sitting down. Get comfortable on a couch or chair. Have all the tools arranged in front of you.
  2. Heat Nail: Turn on the butane torch. Once you have properly adjusted the flame, heat the nail until it begins turning a medium shade or red.
  3. Dome It: Once the nail is red-hot, turn off the torch — the last thing you need is to accidentally start a fire. Turning off the torch is important. Now that the nail is ready, place the carb cap or dome over the nail.
  4. 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.
  5. Apply Dab: After the nail is domed or covered, count to 1o to let the nail cool just a little. Put the dabber in your dominant hand and touch the dabber on the hot nail. You will see white vapor (it looks like smoke, but it’s really vapor) collecting inside the dome. Slowly inhale. Rotate the tip of the dabber on the nail until the concentrate is gone.
  6. Exhale: Stay seated for a few minutes. Drink a glass of water. Enjoy the experience. And thank your dab buddy,

 

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