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What Is Dabbing, and How Do You Consume Dabs?

Updated on December 16, 2023

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What is Dabbing and Dab?

Many beginners new to cannabis consumption wonder, “What is d a b?” or “What is dabbing weed?” Dabbing is the act of vaporizing and inhaling concentrated cannabis extracts.

The term “dabs” refers to concentrated doses of cannabis derived from extracting THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and other cannabinoids using solvents like butane or carbon dioxide. Wax, shatter, budder, and crumble, among others, are all terms used to describe the end product’s consistency.

These concentrates have a much higher potency than typical cannabis flowers, often ranging between 60% to 90% THC. As a result, dabs offer a more intense and rapid high. Cannabis dabs are popular among experienced users because of their potency, but they are also prone to overconsumption and impurities if not properly produced.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dabbing

Dabbing, like many consumption methods, has its own benefits and drawbacks based on user preferences. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of dabbing:


  • Potency and Efficiency: One of the most significant benefits of dabbing is potency. Dabs provide a concentrated dose of cannabis, which can be especially beneficial for medical marijuana patients who need high doses of cannabinoids for relief. The heightened potency often means less consumption is required to achieve the desired effects.
  • Quick Onset: The effects of dabbing are almost immediate. This can be particularly useful for those seeking rapid relief from symptoms like severe pain or nausea.
  • Flavor Profile: Many users appreciate dabs’ distinct and often enhanced flavor profile. The concentration process can capture and magnify the terpenes (flavor and aroma compounds) from the cannabis plant, leading to a rich tasting experience.
  • Reduced Smoke: Dabbing produces vapor, not smoke. This might be seen as a cleaner way to consume cannabis, potentially leading to less respiratory irritation than traditional smoking methods.


  • Overconsumption Risk: Due to the high potency of dabs, there’s a greater risk of overconsumption. This can lead to uncomfortable highs, paranoia, or even greening out (feeling sick after consuming too much cannabis).
  • Production Concerns: If dabs are not produced correctly, especially if made using solvents, residual chemicals can be left in the final product. It’s essential to get dabs from reputable sources to avoid impurities.
  • Complex Setup: Dabbing requires specific equipment like a dab rig, torch, and dab tool. This makes it less accessible and more intimidating, especially for beginners.
  • Cost: High-quality dabs can be expensive, especially considering the initial investment in the necessary equipment.
  • Tolerance Buildup: Regular dabbing can lead to an increased tolerance to THC. Over time, users might need to consume more to achieve the same effects, which can have implications for recreational and medicinal users.

While dabbing offers a potent and flavorful way to consume cannabis, it comes with challenges and potential risks. Consumers need to be informed and cautious when diving into dabbing.

Ways to Consume Dabs

Now that we’ve worked through the question, “What is a dab,” let’s talk about dab smoking. Dabbing might be synonymous with a specific method of consumption, but there are several ways to consume dabs. Here are some of the most popular:

The most traditional method involves a dab rig, a water pipe specifically designed for this purpose. A “nail” (made of quartz, titanium, or ceramic) is heated with a torch until red-hot. Once the nail cools slightly, a small amount of the dab is placed onto it using a dabber tool, instantly vaporizing the concentrate for inhalation.

Vape Pens are portable devices designed for vaporizing cannabis concentrates. They offer the convenience of mobility and discretion, making them popular among many dab enthusiasts.

E-Nails are electronic nails that can be set to a specific temperature, eliminating the need for a torch. It offers a consistent temperature for vaporization, ensuring a smoother and more predictable dabbing experience.

The last method is T-Waxing, which involves sprinkling or spreading concentrates over flower before smoking a dab in a joint or a bowl. While not a pure dabbing method, it’s a way to enhance the potency of traditional smoking.

Remember, no matter the consumption method, due to the potency of dabs, it’s crucial to start with a small amount and gauge your tolerance, especially if you’re new to concentrates.

Prepared Tools to Smoke Dabs

Dabbing has grown in popularity due to its potent effects and intense flavor profiles. However, the process requires specialized tools and equipment to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Below are some of the essential tools you’ll need to smoke dabs:

  • Dab Rig: This is the primary tool for most dab enthusiasts. It’s similar in appearance to a water pipe or bong but designed specifically for consuming cannabis concentrates. The dab rig provides a chamber where the vaporized concentrate is cooled down before inhalation.
  • Nail: This is where you’ll place your dab. Nails come in various materials, including quartz, titanium, and ceramic. Each has its own heating properties and durability factors. For instance, titanium nails are durable and retain heat well, while quartz nails offer a cleaner taste.
  • Dome: Some nails require a dome, a glass hood placed around the nail. It captures the vaporized concentrate, directing it into the rig’s chamber. However, many modern nails are “domeless,” streamlining the process.
  • Dabber Tool: This small tool, often made of glass, metal, or ceramic, is used to pick up and place the dab onto the heated nail. It’s essential for safely handling dabs, especially given the high temperatures.
  • Carb Cap: After placing the dab on the hot nail, a carb cap can cover the nail. This tool helps regulate airflow, maximizing vaporization at lower temperatures, leading to a smoother dab with more flavor.
  • Torch: A handheld butane or propane torch is used to heat the nail. Size and output vary, with some users preferring larger torches for their heat capacity and others opting for smaller, more portable versions.
  • E-Nail (Electronic Nail): An alternative to traditional torch-heated nails, e-nails allow users to set a specific temperature for their dabs, ensuring consistent heat and a predictable experience. They are handy for those who dab frequently, as they eliminate the need to use a torch.
  • Dab Pads or Mats: These are protective surfaces on which you can place your rig and tools. Given the sticky nature of concentrates and the high heat of the tools, having a dedicated, non-stick, heat-resistant surface can be very beneficial.
  • Reclaim Catcher: This attachment for your dab rig catches any excess concentrate that doesn’t get vaporized. Not only does this help keep your rig cleaner, but the collected “reclaim” can be reused.
  • Silicone Containers: Concentrates can be very sticky. Silicone containers provide an ideal storage solution because dabs don’t stick to silicone, ensuring you can use every last bit.
  • Q-tips and Isopropyl Alcohol: After several dabs, residue can build up on the nail. To maintain a clean and flavorful experience, cleaning the nail after each use is advisable. Q-tips dipped in isopropyl alcohol can be perfect for this.Dab Cooling Units: These specialty items, often filled with glycerin, can be frozen and added to the rig. They help cool the vapor even more, offering a smoother inhalation.

How to Smoke Dabs?

Dabbing might initially seem intimidating, but with some guidance, you can enjoy this potent method of consuming cannabis. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to smoke dabs:

Gather Your Tools: Ensure you have all the necessary equipment: a dab rig, nail (or e-nail), torch, dabber tool, carb cap, concentrate, and, optionally, a dab mat to protect surfaces.

Preparation of the Dab: Use your dabber tool to take a small amount of concentrate. If you’re new to dabbing, start with a tiny amount – remember, dabs are very potent. Place the dab on a non-stick surface or keep it on the dabber, ready to apply.

Heat the Nail: If using a traditional nail, turn on your torch and aim the flame directly at the nail. Most users will heat the nail until it starts turning red-hot. If using quartz, it usually takes about 20 seconds. Titanium may take a bit longer.

Cool the Nail (If Necessary): Let the nail cool for about 10-45 seconds after heating for a smoother and more flavorful dab. The cooling time will depend on the nail’s material and your personal preference.

Apply the Dab: With the dab ready on your dabber tool, gently touch or “dab” the concentrate onto the nail. The concentrate will immediately begin to vaporize.

Inhale Slowly: As the concentrate vaporizes, start inhaling slowly from the mouthpiece of the dab rig. Ensure a steady inhalation to get all the vapor.

Use the Carb Cap (If You Have One): Cover the concentrate with the carb cap once the concentrate is on the nail. This helps maintain a lower temperature inside, vaporizing the dab more efficiently and offering a smoother hit.

Exhale and Enjoy: Pull away the rig and exhale after inhaling the vapor. The effects of the dab will set in almost immediately.

Clean Your Nail: Post-dabbing, it’s good practice to clean the nail to prevent residue buildup. While the nail is still warm (not hot), gently swab it with a Q-tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol. For deeper cleans, soaking the nail in alcohol can help, but ensure it’s completely dry before reheating.

Safety First: Always handle the torch carefully, ensure it’s turned off after use, and keep it out of reach of children. Also, given the potency of dabs, find a comfortable place to relax after consumption, especially if you’re not used to the intense effects.

What to Look for in a Dab Product

With the growing popularity of dabbing, the market is flooded with various dab products. Knowing what to look for is essential to ensure you’re getting a high-quality and safe product. Here are key considerations when choosing a dab product:

  • Purity and Clarity: Generally, a clear and translucent concentrate indicates a high level of purity. Cloudy or very dark concentrates may have impurities or have been poorly processed.
  • Consistency: The texture should match the product’s description: shatter, wax, budder, or oil. For instance, shatter should be hard and glass-like, while budder should have a creamy consistency.
  • Lab Testing: Always opt for products that have undergone lab testing. This ensures the concentrate doesn’t contain harmful solvents or impurities. Lab results can also provide details on cannabinoid and terpene profiles.
  • Source Material: The quality of the original cannabis used to make the concentrate is crucial. The product should be derived from organically grown cannabis, free from pesticides and harmful chemicals.
  • Extraction Method: Look for concentrates extracted using CO2 or solventless methods like rosin. These are generally considered safer and cleaner than concentrates derived using butane.
  • Terpene Profile: Terpenes contribute to the flavor and aroma of the dab. Some producers reintroduce terpenes after the extraction process for a more enhanced flavor. If you have specific flavor preferences, check the product’s terpene profile.
  • Packaging: Proper packaging can help maintain the freshness and potency of the concentrate. Look for products packaged in non-stick containers, ensuring you get the most out of your purchase.
  • Brand Reputation: Established and reputable brands are more likely to produce high-quality products. Do some research, read reviews, or ask for recommendations.
  • Price: While you don’t always have to opt for the most expensive product, extremely cheap concentrates might be a red flag for low quality.
  • Legal Sources: Always buy from licensed dispensaries or trusted sources in regions where cannabis is legal. This reduces the risk of purchasing counterfeit or contaminated products.

So choosing the right dab product is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience. By being informed and discerning, you can ensure you get a product that delivers quality and effect.


Dabbing has revolutionized cannabis consumption, offering users a potent and flavorful experience. However, with its intricacies and array of products, it’s essential to approach dabbing with knowledge and caution. By understanding the process, investing in quality equipment, and selecting pure, lab-tested concentrates, enthusiasts can safely enjoy the intense benefits of dabbing. Always prioritize safety, understand your tolerance, and relish this unique cannabis journey responsibly.

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