Dabs: A Beginner’s Guide
If you are at all familiar with the world of concentrates and oils, it’s no doubt that you’ve at least heard mention of something called “dabbing.” This practice has been gaining in popularity over the years, and it’s easy to see why. But what is dabbing and what are the dabs that go along with it? If you are confused by this relatively new phenomenon, we’re here to impart a little bit of knowledge to help you understand it a little bit more.
What are Dabs?
A dab is nothing more than a small amount of concentrated extract. They are extracted using a solvent such as butane or carbon dioxide. The result is the sticky oil that has been commonly referred to as a dab, although it can also be called wax, shatter, budder, and BHO. A dab has a golden, honey-like appearance, and is more heavily concentrated than many other oils and products on the market. This dab is consumed by rapidly heating it to the point of vaporization, making for a pleasant and sometimes intense experience for the user.
How to Dab
High Temperature Dabbing
Because dabbing involves rapid vaporization of the product, you’re going to need to secure some sort of heating element. One of the common high-temperature methods is performed using a nail and a torch. You simply put the nail in the pipe, heating it until it’s red hot (so be careful not to touch it with your bare hands!) From here, you use a wand to pick up a small amount of concentrate, or a dab. If this is your first time, start small so you that you can gauge your tolerance. As we mentioned, this can be pretty strong stuff, so you’ll want to test the waters before you jump into the deep end.
Bring the right-sized dab up to the scorching nail, placing it right on top. At the same time, start inhaling from the pipe. The dab will quickly vaporize thanks to the heat of the nail, and you’ll soon be the recipient of a thick, heavy dose of extract vapor. This is a pretty intense method that be harsh on a beginner’s lungs and may have some pretty fast-acting effects. This is why we don’t recommend high temperature dabbing for a first-time user. If that’s you, then we recommend the low temperature dabbing explained below.
Low Temperature Dabbing
For people who want a mellower, less wasteful experience, low temperature dabbing is the way to go. This method employs a water pipe rather than a regular one. You begin in the same way, lighting the nail in your pipe until it is red hot. However, instead of immediately bringing the concentrate to the nail, you let the nail cool for 30-45 seconds. Once it has cooled down a bit, you place the dab on the nail, waiting for it to begin bubbling. Once this starts, place the dome over the nail, allowing it to trap in the entirety of the vapor. Once all of the concentrate has been vaporized, remove the dome and pull the vapor into your lungs. Thanks to the water, this is a milder hit that is easier on the lungs and won’t be as likely to knock you into the dimension right away. You can enjoy several hits in this method to allow yourself to feel the effects in a more controlled way.
There are other dabbing methods as well, but the nail is the most common. Some companies offer electric nails that heat themselves after being plugged into a wall. These are more expensive, but they are safer as you don’t have to apply an open flame to your dab. They also allow you to control the temperature of the burn, so if you have a sensitive throat or lungs, you can dab at a cooler level to reduce the harshness of the vapor.
One method that is increasing in popularity due to its ease of use and relatively discreet packaging is the dab pen. These pens look and feel very similar to e-cigarettes or vape pens, but they have mechanisms that mimic the functions of a regular nail dab. They are easily portable, allowing for usage wherever you go without having to pack a bulky dab setup that may be annoying to carry.
Benefits of Dabbing
Dabbing is one of the fastest delivery methods for extracts and oils, providing near-instant onset without sacrificing the quality of the effects. Many people who suffer from chronic pain or nausea have reported that dabbing brings them the fastest relief for their conditions. Dabbing also eliminates most of the harmful plant products found in traditional smoking methods, so it is considered a cleaner way to consume these oils that doesn’t put as much stress on the lungs. A secondary effect of this is that there is not as much resin or hot smoke around, making for easier cleanup.
Because there are flame-free methods of dabbing, it can also be considered a safer form of smoking. Even with a blowtorch flame, there is less likelihood of fire than there would be with, say, a constantly lit cigarette. But with newer, safer technologies constantly being released, dabbing is truly at the forefront of safety when it comes to extract consumption. These factors combined with being easier on the lungs make dabbing a safer, healthier option for those who still want to achieve the calming effects of the substance.
There is also a significant monetary benefit to dabbing. If done correctly, dabbing is far less wasteful and more efficient than traditional methods of smoking. Oils may seem expensive at first glance, but hit for hit, you get a lot more mileage than you would out of a pure plant. And hey, if you’re the type that loses lighters all the time, you can always get an electric nail and put that worry to rest.
Is Dabbing Right for You?
If you enjoy the effects of these oils and extracts, it is certainly worth it to give dabbing a try. Whether you want to enjoy it recreationally or are using it for chronic pain or anxiety, there are a myriad of potential benefits that you may not currently be taking advantage of. The important thing is to put yourself in a safe, relaxing environment and do your first dab with somebody that you trust.
As mentioned before, you will want to start off small. If you jump in head first, you are bound to be headed towards a bad time, and that’s the opposite effect of what you are looking for. Taking a massive hit can result in an overwhelming effect that may be reminiscent of your worst experiences with the substance. Take small dabs at first, slowly enjoying the flavors and soothing effects that wash over your body as you drift into euphoria. Because dabs act so quickly, you will probably be able to gauge whether you are ready for more of if you just want to enjoy your newfound mindset and engage your thoughts.
Another thing to consider is that dabbing can have long-lasting effects. We certainly don’t recommend trying your first dab a few hours before your next work shift. There’s a distinct possibility that you will just want to chill out for the rest of the day, enjoying whatever couch you’re on and perhaps finally watching that sci-fi movie that you’ve been waiting for. Prepare yourself with some comfortable clothes, tasty snacks, and a whole lot of hydration, because you may be in it for the long run. For most people, that’s an enjoyable thing.
The Future of Dabbing
Dabbing itself is an amazing technology that has benefited many people thanks to its milder smoke and fast-acting effects. However, taking advantage of the extract for physical sensation is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this new technology. The ability to extract the most active ingredients in the plant has led to some interesting new developments and is encouraging research across the board.
Researchers and scientists see the effectiveness of these extracts as a reason to explore ways to extract other chemicals from a variety of other plants, as well as finding different active ingredients within these oils themselves that may have an effect on the way we feel when we consume them. Growers have been cross-breeding different strains to achieve different effects for decades, but with the newfound science behind extraction, we may be able to find even more success in this process.
Certain labs have been able to use high-end machines to extract and refine multiple kinds of chemicals within these oils, combining them in various ratios to create new strains and strengthen or hamper certain feelings associated with each chemical. For example, they can engineer certain oils and extracts to be more geared towards medical use, while others can be tailored to provide a specific sort of recreational benefit. It truly is remarkable that the technology behind dabbing may open the doors for such significant medical research.