In recent years dabs have been all the rage; but what is dabbing? In this article we take a look at the trend that’s stormed the cannabis scene.
What are dabs?
According to Leafly; “Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis that are made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids using a solvent like butane or carbon dioxide, resulting in sticky oils also commonly referred to as wax, shatter, budder, and butane hash oil (BHO).”
While it’s possible to extract non-psychoactive compounds like CBD, high levels of THC are what make dabs so strong.
What is dabbing?
Dabbing is the process of consuming dabs. This is done through the use of an oil rig; this is a bong that’s been designed to have a nail, instead of a bowl. Users will place a small amount of cannabis extract on the tip of a dab stick. They will then light the nail with a torch, unless they have a self-heating nail. Nails are often made of titanium or quartz; they can also be made of glass, but can crack easily due to the high heats of the torch.
Once the nail is thoroughly heated, a dome is placed over it; the dab stick is then pressed against the nail and the consumer smokes it like a typical bong. The step of adding the dome can be avoided with the use of a dome-less nail.
The necessary equipment:
To begin dabbing, you will need a few things:
An oil rig. These can be purchased online, or in many smoke shops.
A marijuana nail. Typically these will come with the oil rig, but are often glass. We highly recommend upgraded to a titanium or quartz nail; you won’t regret it.
A torch (unless you have a self-heating nail).
Some form of dabbable cannabis extract.
Here to stay, or a trend?
It’s safe to say at this point that dabs are not just a trend or fad. They are here to stay. There will always been those who will avoid it, and stick with traditional cannabis; and that’s also fine. But for those who want a much stronger high; or those wanting more powerful medical relief, there’s nothing that compares to dabs.
Measuring a dab can be a daunting task to anybody who is inexperienced with cannabis concentrates.
Be it a wax, shatter, sap, or anything in between, most hash oils are served up in one grab and/or half gram portions. Their coin envelops and plastic containers may contain cannabinoid profiles at best, but there are no directions for usage, let alone dosage recommendations of any kind.
When dabbing, there are no universal tools for measurement, and seldom do dabber tools suffice in pointing to the direction of a sufficient dab size. For newcomers, the saying, “Start with a small dab” doesn’t help much when most whole samples are less than the size of a quarter.
Fortunately, there are a few tricks to better understand the dosage of your dab, as well as a couple of techniques you can utilize to give you a more accurate understanding of the strength of your concentrates.
Read the Label
Most markets are required to add, at the very least, some cannabinoid information on their concentrate packaging. On the more liberal end of that spectrum are products containing key cannabinoid markers and, in some cases, a basic terpenoid profile. A majority of hash oil products will contain at the very least total THC content, with certain products going a step further to indicate the ratio of THCA to THC. This will give you a general indicator as to how potent your hash oil is.
Potency is broken down into a percentage. Most solvent-based hash oils will land in the range of 60-90% total cannabinoids, with a few special examples exceeding 90%. The potency of some solventless concentrates may fall below 50% total cannabinoids, but the majority of all hashish products will fit into this potency range.
Let’s use an example of a one-gram sample hash oil that contains 80% total THC. That one gram will contain 800mg of total cannabinoids. For reference, the recommended starting dosage for an edible is between 5-10%. This should be an indicator that dabbing is not for those who are new to consuming cannabis. Obtaining a 5mg dab from a freeform sample of hash oil in any consistency is next to impossible.
Use the Right Tool
Dabber tools come in a myriad of shapes and sizes. There is absolutely no standard for a collection tool when it comes to dosing concentrates, so choosing the right tool for the job will come down to a few factors, an important one being handleability. If you can only choose one tool, pick one with versatility in handling different concentrate consistencies.
For instance, a pointed dabber tool is not going to be effective in portioning a sap or high terpene, full-spectrum extract. Conversely, a scooper tool isn’t the best option for somebody trying to tackle the monumentally frustrating act of breaking apart shatter (cue searching around a carpet for rogue shards). Dabber tools with broad tips, like paddle dabbers or various shapes, are versatile enough to handle most consistencies.
Let’s refer back to our aforementioned one-gram sample. At 80% total THC, your gram will contain around 800mg of cannabinoids (assuming there are no other cannabinoid markers present). If you took your gram and split it into eight portions as evenly as you could, you would be left with eight 100mg portions. Granted, this procedure is much easier to achieve with some hash oil consistencies than others. Shatters portion relatively easily if you heat up your dabber tool; use it to slice through your sample like a hot butter knife. Waxes and crumbles may be a bit harder to handle.
This technique helps to give your naked eye a better grasp for your cannabinoid dosage; it reduces the guesswork down to a more manageable quantity. Pulling a 25mg dab from 800mg of shatter is tougher than pulling one from a 100mg piece. For reference; a 25mg dab at an 80% THC ratio typically comes in about the size of a Dippin’ Dot; or a single piece of couscous. This will change depending on the potency of your sample; this is why reading the label is always the first thing you want to do before portioning.
Consider Vaporizer Cartridges
If portioning seems like too much work, you may want to consider pre-portioned options such as vaporizer cartridges. These products take the guesswork out of dosing hash oils by offering them in a more manageable delivery vehicle. Cartridges are a fantastic way of dosing a quick dab without having to overcomplicate the work by offering a “one hit=one dose” option.
Unlike dabbing free-form hash oil, cartridges minimize the risk of overconsumption in a single pull. You can still use cartridges to experiences higher doses of cannabinoids, though it will require multiple pulls that will each force you to make the autonomous choice to continue incrementally. Many cartridge manufactures can also give you an estimated maximum number of hits that their units will give. Dividing the milligram content of your cartridge by the estimated number of hits that the unit will allow before it’s depleted will land you a rough estimate of how potent your pulls will be.
Always Start Small
It’s important to understand that different ratios of cannabinoids will affect everyone uniquely. Our endocannabinoid systems all operate differently, and each individual will experience a variance in how their systems uptake cannabinoids. The best way to find out what dose works for you is to start small and work your way up.
Don’t be afraid to take the smallest dab that your tool will allow you to load; use that as a reference point. Like wine tasting, micro-dabbing has a world of benefits; such as affording you the opportunity to take another dose if you desire. Try to find a dab size that works for you and apply your preference consistently. This way, your only dosage variable will be in the total cannabinoid content of whatever sample you’re consuming. And remember, you can always go back for more.
A new study published in the most recent issue of the journal Addictive Behavior has found that dabbing – the process of consuming cannabis extracts such as butane hash oil – is safe and causes no more accidents than cannabis in any other form, despite consumers perceiving there being a greater risk.
According to the study; “A new method for administering cannabinoids, called butane hash oil (“dabs”), is gaining popularity among marijuana users. Despite press reports that suggest that “dabbing” is riskier than smoking flower cannabis, no data address whether dabs users experience more problems from use than those who prefer flower cannabis.”