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Dabbing 101

"Choosing a dab setup will come down to personal preference, but water filtration will enhance almost any session."

THC is what’s behind the potent effects of marijuana wax and other forms of dabs, making them the fastest and most efficient way to get really, really stoned. But with the high-potency comes some risks. Read our dabbing 101 guide to learn more about process and determine if dabbing is right for you.

Terminology

Fresh Frozen: material that has been flash-frozen fresh off of the plant to preserve the ‘live’ profile and/or potency.

Live: a term used for products made with fresh frozen material and in reference to the plant’s potency and terpene profile while still living.

Full Spectrum: the ‘full’ range of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds present in a particular cultivar.

Cured: material that is dried and aged in a controlled setting. Factors like humidity, temperature and time are regulated to achieve optimum smoke, smell, flavor and effect.

Full Melt: also referred to as ‘melt,’ this term is used for hash of the highest quality. The melting reference pertains to the product’s cleanliness and ability to ‘melt’ fully without leaving plant residue on the nail (see Six-Star).  

Six-Star (6*): a numerical hash rating system from one through six developed to determine quality. The system is based on how factors like cure, contaminant, water content and more affect the overall ‘melt,’ with six-star being the highest quality. 

CRC: an abbreviation for color remediation column (or cartridge) used in reference to an added process some producers employ to filter extracts of color and other compounds.

HTFSE: an abbreviation for high terpene full spectrum extract.

Types

BHO: an abbreviation for butane hash oil, this type of extract is pulled from the plant using butane as a solvent.

PHO: an abbreviation for propane hash oil, this less common type of extract is pulled from the plant using propane as a solvent.

CO2: an abbreviation for carbon dioxide, this type of extract is pulled from the plant using supercritical CO2. 

DISTILLATE: a high-potency, essentially odorless extract that’s been stripped of plant compounds like terpenes and waxes through further refinement after original extraction.

HASH: resin (mechanically) collected from the Cannabis plant. Hash can range from smokeable to dabbable, depending on quality and presence of plant matter in the final product.

ROSIN: generally made from hash, rosin is the product of heat, pressure and a system of screens to filter waxes and plant matter. Rosin is the product of further hash refinement for a cleaner dab.

Tools

Rig: a pipe or water vessel for consuming your Cannabis concentrate or extract.

Banger: the quartz, cup-like device used to hold and heat your Cannabis concentrate or extract.

Carb Cap: a lid-like device used to trap heat and move air around in your banger or nail. This provides a more regulated draw from each dab.

Terp Pearls: tiny, quartz balls used in your banger when dabbing. These aren’t essential, but may enhance your experience by spreading around the warm extract. 

E-nail: an electronic device used to keep your nail or banger at a continuous temperature without the use of a torch.

Torch: used for heating up your nail or banger.

Temperature Gun: used to monitor your nail or banger’s exact temperature and provide a personalized dabbing experience.

Dabber: the tool to scoop and serve a dab with.

Cotton Swabs: swabs (like Q-tips) are essential for cleaning your nail or banger after each dab.

Technique

Choosing a dab setup will come down to personal preference, but water filtration will enhance almost any session. Be sure to thoroughly clean and rinse your rig frequently for the safest and smoothest smoke. ISO alcohol (or bong cleaner) and some warm water should do the trick!

Quality titanium, borosilicate glass or quartz tools are a must to avoid breakage and potential off-gassing when touching your warm nail surface. Similarly, it’s smart not to skimp too much when picking out your nail or banger. For an effective carb cap, make sure it covers the top of your nail or banger and includes a hole to pass air through.   

A heat source will be required to put all of these tools to work. If you’re just getting started, try looking into different types of creme brulee torches for an affordable option. Top of the line torches, heat wands and E-nails offer added customizations if you’re ready for the next step.

Temperature is king when it comes to taking high quality dabs. THC is thought to vaporize at normal atmospheric pressure in the range 250-400º F. Terpenes will vaporize at a range of different temperatures, but are generally thought to have boiling points in the ballpark of THC. This dab devotee recommends starting out around 350º F. Temperatures as high as 550º can yield substantial vapor with minimal flavor loss, so just work your way up to a satisfactory experience based on flavor, vapor and overall effect.

About Amanda Day