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New Study Reveals Hot Dabs Might Cause Cancer

Hot dabs: they don't just hurt and taste awful, they might give you cancer.
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New Study Reveals Hot Dabs Might Cause Cancer

A recent study found that low-temp dabs — in addition to providing a more flavorful and pleasant cannabis experience — do not include the same potentially lethal chemicals as hot dabs.

First of all, most people can intuitively tell that hot dabs aren’t healthy because of how massively unpleasant and painful it is to take one — I’ve heard the phrase “chemical burns” used to describe the sensation in your throat and lungs after dabbing off a too-hot nail or banger.

But, while most informed dabbers have long since embraced the use of timers and other tools to ensure they’re dabbing at optimal temperatures for flavor and efficacy, there are undoubtedly still thousands across the country who insist “red means go” when it comes to dabbing. Dabbing at such a high temperature isn’t the equivalent of putting ketchup on a charred steak (where merely flavor is sacrificed), it’s more like pouring gasoline over the meat and chowing down.

A recent study conducted by Portland State University’s chemistry department — one of the first to explore the effects of “terpenoid degradation” in the context of cannabis concentrate consumption — found that dabs over 750 degrees can contribute to the formation of carcinogen-filled smoke, and that even hotter dabs present an even greater risk.

From The Oregonian:

The study, led by PSU chemistry professor Robert Strongin, showed that oils present in the extract release potentially cancer-causing chemicals when heated to temperatures above 750 degrees. When heated above 932 degrees, the oils released benzene, a known carcinogen.

“The higher temperatures go, the more risk that (users) will be inhaling things that could be harmful,” Strongin said.

Thankfully, it’s very easy to ensure your dab is well under 750 degrees.

Here’s how to make sure your dab occurs at a safe temperature:

If you’re using an e-nail, it’s as simple as setting your temperature in the safe zone — my personal “sweet spot” is usually 505, but it also depends on the brand and the material used in the heating element.

If you’re using a torch, you can dial in the target time for a quartz banger using a watch or digital timer. Heat up the surface of the banger evenly until the bottom of it just starts to glow orange, but do not let the entire thing get glowing hot. Wait for 60 seconds and then take a test dab. Chances are it will be a little too cold, unless the heating element is very thick. Now you can dial down the cooling time to 45 seconds, then 30, and maybe even 15 seconds for smaller ones — whatever gets you a full, flavorful dab without leaving burn marks on the glass is just about right.

And if you happen to have a “heat gun” laying around, feel free to use that for extra precision, but it’s not strictly necessary.

Even the study mentions the availability of technology and techniques — e-nails and low temp timers — but insists most people are still taking hot dabs.

From the study:

Use of an electrically controlled nail (“e-nail”) allows temperature control; but, more commonly, users heat the nail (made of titanium, ceramic, or quartz) with a crème brulee torch and have no temperature control. A minority of dabbers use lower temperatures to preserve flavor, whereas a majority use higher temperatures to assure complete vaporization with no wasted material. E-nail users posting online cite a preferred temperature around 710 degrees. 

Bottom line? You should embrace low temp dabs and the philosophy of “waste it to taste it,” a philosophy which will subsequently protect you from exposure to toxic fumes. It’s not just good taste — it’s science.

TELL US, do you take hot dabs? Will this study make you stop?



  1. BrilliantMood

    October 15, 2020 at 1:58 am

    Dabbing at a super high temp is like turning your stove on too high and burning browned butter. Duh.

  2. Dude

    December 15, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    710 is not really a preferred temperature, it’s “OIL” upside down. It’s the 420 of concentrates.

  3. Jay

    December 10, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    Just the info I was looking for. Been doing them at 700 and going to move it down to 505 for a bit to see how that works. Thanks for the info

  4. Eric borchardt

    June 14, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    No more hot dabs for me. I was lead here by looking up causes that might explain my ct results I just got back. Says I have bibasilar atelectasis, as well as several micronodules measuring 2-3mm found in Lung bases.
    I only hope this is from scorching my lungs and it’s parts. And I hope the micronodules are just built up deposits of wax in the bottom of my lungs.
    I am 31 male, physically fit.
    I am old school and try to ghost every hit I take. At least a 10 sec. at the very minimum.
    Anyway I will probably switch to oral roa or just stop as I am at the end of road with drugs anyway.
    I got the scan done for kidney stones.

    • Race Blakhart

      October 6, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Holding it in has been proven to do nothing. So your “old school” method is only killing you.

  5. Julian

    January 24, 2018 at 11:44 am

    I’m going to keep my nail set to 690-735. Anything under that wastes it

  6. thcdna

    December 5, 2017 at 10:14 am

    no more hot dab for me

    • Biggs

      March 26, 2020 at 10:23 pm

      Me no like hot dabs no more thanks

  7. Lonng

    November 25, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    this is not the DAB i’m looking for

  8. Titanium Brotherhood

    November 1, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Take this knowledge with a consideration to the facts.Inhaling any super heated hot vapor could damage the respiratory system.Thanks for the information and comments.All knowledge is useful to those whom have wisdom.

  9. Abby Dabs

    October 27, 2017 at 3:07 am

    My email is always set to 710. Perfect dabbing temp, no run sensation, great favour. etc

    • Holt Mansfield

      December 4, 2017 at 8:20 am

      That is right in the carcinogenic range of temp.

  10. J C

    October 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Yes I’m going way too Hot I guess. I’ve developed a ruff smokers cough and I’m thinking this may be the reason so I will try low temperatures for a month to see. Thanks great article.

    • VinnieK

      February 6, 2018 at 8:47 pm

      Did you ever see if you were running your dabs too hot

  11. JasonIsn'tHavingIt

    October 24, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    I find this article completely lacking in one basic understanding.
    Marijuana smoke in itself technically contains higher levels of certain carcinogens than tobacco smoke, but marijuana itself does something that seemingly protects us from which in a way tobacco smoke does not. the scientific correlations as to why are currently unclear, and not understood. To state that a high-temp dab could possibly cause cancer is a reckless interpretation of the fact that of course once we hit truly burning temperatures, and are further and further away from a more vaporized-like dab, that it would contain more of the chemicals that science has labeled as carcinogens… much like all forms of smoke… (good thing it’s still from cannabis)
    So quit using health-scare tactics, around things like dab-life. the study also is in reference to solely BHO and as cannabisnow should know, that is not the only form of concentrate being dabbed….

    • bruh

      October 26, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      i think this comment just gave me cancer

      • LameAss

        October 28, 2017 at 9:06 am

        Lmao stop trying to sound smart

      • CancerFreeHomie

        October 28, 2017 at 3:42 pm

        “To state that a high-temp dab could possibly cause cancer is a reckless interpretation”

        To sate that cannabis “protects” you from the carcinogens that are being delivered when you smoke it is also a reckless assumption to make, since we don’t have any science telling us exactly which good compounds are protecting us from the bad compounds. You have to make an assumption to get to the point where you say this article makes an assumption.

        • Holt Mansfield

          December 4, 2017 at 8:21 am

          & if there is a compound in Cannabis that protects us we don’t know that compound ever makes it into the concentrate

          If dabbing at 500 degrees is as effective I don’t get what is so difficult about this.

    • boobug

      January 1, 2018 at 10:38 am

      You loose a lot of the beneficial canabinoids dabbing at that temp.

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