Dabbing Dos and Don’ts

Advice to ensure a superior sesh.


Access to quality cannabis products is growing as more states continue to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use. If you’re in a state with dispensaries, or find yourself at a pot event, you’re going to encounter a variety of ways to get stoney.

Nowadays, getting high includes using cannabis concentrates that can be dabbed — like shatter, budder, rosin, CO2 oil, live resin and more. To take a dab, a small amount of hash oil is placed on a hot surface called a nail, which is made of quartz, titanium, ceramic or glass. The oil vaporizes on the hot surface, creating one small toke that can have an effect much stronger than a couple hits off a traditional joint.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when dabbing to ensure a high-quality experience: 

DO be prepared. The effect of a dab is immediate, so make sure you’re comfortable before you start. Sit down, make sure there’s a beverage on hand and that you’ve eaten something recently. Dabs are just weed, but they’re highly concentrated weed, and coughing and feeling faint are not uncommon side effects. If a dab hits too hard, a drink with sugar can help or you can also try a dab of some CBD, an anxiety-reducing cannabinoid.

DON’T take mystery dabs. Concentrates can vary widely in potency and production technique, so asking about the hash is always a good idea. Distillate can be over 90 percent THC, which is much stronger than the average BHO or rosin. You can definitely tell a bit by looking at and smelling the concentrate, but knowing about the solvent used and starting material is the best way to make an educated decision and wind up with a great dab.

DO mind the temperature of your nail. It’s important to find the temperature that’s right for your dab. Too hot and the oil will burn, making the hit harsh and destroying many of the tasty terpenes and desirable cannabinoids. Too cold and the oil will just puddle, leaving almost nothing to inhale. E-nails are great for experimentation. The e-nail allows you to control the temperature digitally, so a little trial and error with an e-nail will reveal the right timing for a torch-based technique.

DO use the right tools for the job. In order to touch the hash to the nail, dabbers sometimes use a dab tool — a piece of metal, glass or ceramic that the hash is placed on to avoid touching fingers to the hot surfaces. Consistency of oil can vary. Some is sticky, and a pointed dabber is great for that, but some is crumbly, in which case a scoop tool is a better way to go.

It’s a good idea to have a few tools around so, no matter the concentrate, collecting it with the dab tool will be easy and efficient. Also important is a rag — something to wipe off your dirty tools with post-hit to avoid flavor cross-contamination — as well as some cotton swabs to keep your quartz nail clean.

Lastly, a carb cap is something that belongs in every dabber’s kit when a domeless nail is in play. It condenses the heat through convection and prevents the vapors from dissipating so that you get the most out of the dab.

DON’T hold in your hit. While the habit of holding in the smoke for as long as possible is common practice when smoking flowers, concentrates pack such a punch it’s unnecessary to wait before exhaling. Coughing is common and a quick breath out after inhaling can make the experience much smoother.

DON’T feel the need to show off. Dabbing a gram of oil in one go is a great way to gain a lot of acclaim and not get the most out of the hash. Taking a bunch of smaller dabs won’t waste nearly as much and the high won’t be a wild card — you can stop when you’re stoned enough. Similarly, if a cough is oncoming and you can’t take the whole dab in one hit, don’t force yourself to keep going. Exhale and finish it in a second, third or fourth breath so the dab cough stays at bay.

DO keep it clean and stay healthy. Passing around the rig doesn’t mean you also have to be passing around the germs. Carrying your own supply of isopropyl alcohol wipes can help you avoid illness, especially at one of the many cannabis events popping up across the country. A dab bar can be a hectic spot and trying new rigs is fun, so swab before each dab (or using a barrier device) when you’re not sure who has been hitting the rig to ensure that the dab cough is the only cough you’ll have to worry about.

Originally published in Issue 25 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, have you ever tried a dab?

Laura Notini is a cannabis activist, enthusiast and MMJ patient currently residing in Potland, Oregon. She enjoys travel, cooking, everything about weed (and hemp!), fighting for legalization and blogging about all of it at www.marijuanderlust.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *