A Beginner’s Guide to Smoking Dabs

Dabbing is becoming one of the most popular ways to consume marijuana–but it can be overwhelming when you’re a beginner. Dabbing requires more equipment and set up than other methods, so it’s not as intuitive as smoking a joint or eating an edible. However, once you know how to do it, dabbing is a quick and easy process. 

If you’re interested in learning how to smoke dabs, we’re here to help. In this beginner’s guide, we’re answering frequently asked questions about dabbing, giving an overview of the equipment you’ll need, and sharing step-by-step instructions on how to smoke dabs. 

What Is Dabbing?

Dabbing is how you consume cannabis concentrates that are meant to be vaporized, also known as dabs. Dabbing is how people smoke concentrates like wax, shatter, and hash oil. 

Why Do People Smoke Dabs?

There are many reasons someone might prefer dabbing to other consumption methods, but a top reason is that dabs are highly potent. This ultra concentrated form of the cannabis plant ranges from around 60% to 90% THC. Compare that to cannabis flower, which typically has a THC level of 10% to 25%. 

Another reason people like dabbing is flavor. Concentrates are rich in trichomes, which makes them potent–but also more flavorful and fragrant. And, unlike smoking flower, dabbing doesn’t create smoke that can affect flavor and aroma. With dabbing, there’s no smokey smell or taste. 

Which Kinds of Cannabis Can Be Dabbed? 

Marijuana concentrates that can dabbed include: 

  • Butane hash oil
  • CO2 oil
  • PHO
  • Rosin 
  • Kief
  • Hash
  • Moonrocks
  • Diamonds
  • Terp sauce 
  • THCA 
  • Distillate
  • Honeycomb
  • Bubble hash

Note that some types of cannabis concentrates are not on this list–that’s because they’re not meant to be dabbed. Highly flammable, alcohol-based extracts (such as alcohol-based Rick Simpson oil, tinctures, and ISO Wax) are not meant to be dabbed. 

If you’re unsure of how to use a particular form of concentrate, check with your dispensary to make sure you know the right way to use your product.

What Equipment Do You Need to Smoke Dabs? 

Smoking concentrates requires more equipment than most consumption methods. Let’s break down what you need to smoke dabs. 

To smoke dabs, you need a main rig and some accessories. 

For your main rig, you can use one of three options: 

  • Dab rig: A water pipe used to vaporize dabs. This is the dabbing equivalent of a bong. 
  • E-rig: This electronic version of the dab rig eliminates the need to use a torch. 
  • Dab pen: A small, portable electronic dabbing device that looks similar to a vape pen. 

To use a dab rig, you need a few accessories: 

  • A dab nail: Also called a banger, this is the dabbing equivalent of a bowl slide. Typically made of quartz, glass, ceramic, or titanium, a nail is where you place your dabs before you smoke them. Traditional dab nails are meant to be used with a handheld blow torch, but there are also electronic nails (e-nails) that use electronic heat. 
  • Torch: If you’re using a traditional dabbing rig, you’ll need a handheld torch (like a butane torch) to heat your dab nail. 
  • Dab tool: Also known as a dabber, this stick-like tool is used to scoop and manipulate concentrates. 

There are also optional accessories to consider: 

  • A carb cap: A cap with a hole in it that serves a similar purpose to the hole on the side of a traditional pipe. Once you’ve heated your nail and added your concentrate, you can put a carb cap on the hot nail to help control airflow and temperature. 
  • A silicone container: Silicone containers are ideal for storing concentrates, since they can provide an airtight seal and they’re made of a non-stick material that sticky dabs won’t cling to. 

Lastly, these things will help you keep your dab rig clean: 

  • Cotton swabs: Cotton swabs, like Q-Tips, can be used to swiftly clean residue from your nail after dabbing. 
  • Isopropyl alcohol: You can use a drop of isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to remove stubborn residue from your dab nail. 

Step-By-Step Guide to Dabbing 

Once you have your equipment, it’s time to start dabbing. E-rigs, dab pens, and e-nails can have unique instructions that are specific to the exact product, so be sure to carefully read your device’s manual before using it. If you’re using a traditional dab rig, follow these five steps. 

Step 1: Prepare Your Dab & Dab Rig

Use your dabber tool to pick up a small amount of your concentrate of choice, then set it aside for later use. Remember that concentrates are highly potent. If you’re not sure how much to pick up, err on the side of using too little rather than using too much. 

Add water to your dab rig’s water chamber. If you’re not sure how much water to add, try inhaling on your mouthpiece with no dab nail in place. If water splashes into your mouth, you need to pour water out. 

Step 2: Heat Your Dab Nail 

Using your torch, heat your dab nail until it’s red. Apply the torch to the outside and bottom of your dab nail. Remember to be careful when you’re done using your torch. Be sure it’s turned off when you set it down. 

Step 3: Wait 30 to 45 Seconds

Once the nail is very hot, stop applying heat and allow it to cool off for around 30 to 45 seconds. You want your nail to be hot enough to vaporize your dabs, but not so hot that it scorches them. 

Step 4: Apply Your Dab & Inhale 

After your nail has cooled off a bit, add your dab to the nail using your dabber tool and slowly inhale. You can rotate your dabber tool in the hot nail to heat your dab evenly and avoid sticking. Inhale slowly and evenly. 

If you have a carb cap, you can quickly place it over your nail after adding your dab. Experiment with adjusting your carb cap as needed to keep an ideal temperature. 

Step 5: Clean Your Nail  

Lastly, clean your nail when you’re done using it. A quick swipe with a cotton swab is good enough to clean extra material from most ceramic nails, glass nails, titanium nails, and quartz nails. But if your nail has any stubborn, sticky residue, clean it with a drop of isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab.

Final Thoughts 

We hope this guide has been helpful for beginners who are just starting to dabble in dabbing. If you have any questions about dabs or how to use them, visit a DC Collective dispensary near you and speak with one of our expert team members.  

August 1, 2023

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