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Dabbing 101

Education Posted Oct 14 2019

While there are many ways to consume cannabis, dabbing marijuana concentrates has quickly become one of the most popular methods among users. Dabbing is a great way to consume a high dose of THC with a small amount of product. While the thought of learning how to dab can seem intimidating to beginners, it is not as complex as it might at first seem.

What Dab Tools Do I Need?

Before you start your dabbing experience, you will need to make sure you have the right set up. While dabbing is always evolving, we will go over what you will need for a basic set up.

  1. Cannabis Concentrate: First and foremost, you will need some form of concentrate to dab with - traditional flower cannot be consumed this way. Concentrates that are commonly dabbed with are: wax, shatter, budder and butane hash oil (BHO). If it is your first time purchasing cannabis concentrates, ask you local budtender about which concentrate to purchase.
  2. Dab Rig: Ever dabber needs their trusty dab rig. Basically, dab rigs are water pipes with modified bowl attachments that make them perfect for smoking your concentrates. But don't try and dab with a regular water pipe because it won't work - your rig will need to be specifically made for concentrates.
  3. Dab Nail: Dabbing nails come in a variety of materials. Some common types of dad nails are titanium, ceramic, quartz and glass. Dab nails are essential when heating up your concentrates. The type of nail to buy can depend on what type of concentrate you will be dabbing, so ask your local glass shop for more information.
  4. Dabber Tool: This tool is used to transfer your concentrate from the container onto your dab nail. Dabbers come in all shapes and sizes. When choosing the dabber you want to use, you will need to consider what type of concentrate you are smoking as well as what type of dab nail you are using.
  5. Torch: The torch is what really separates dabbing from other methods of consuming concentrates. When using the torch, it allows for high temperatures in a more controlled setting. A butane torch is usually recommended because it combusts at a lower temperature. Propane torches can also be used, but be careful as they heat up much faster and have the potential to melt non-titanium nails. There are torches specifically made for dabbing, however any torch will work.
  6. Carb Cap: This is an optional tool, however if you have a domeless nail a carb cap can trap the vapors which can allow you to take more than hit off of one dab. Carb caps are essential if you are dabbing at lower temperatures.

How Do I Dab?

Once you have your dab rig set up it is time to learn how to take a dab. We recommend that you take a seat when first learning how to dab, as they can be powerful and hit beginners hard.

  1. First things first, you will need to light your torch and begin heating up the nail. Continue to keep the flame on the nail until it turns bright red. If you have an electronic nail be sure to read your manual for instructions on proper use.
  2. Once your nail is red hot, turn your torch off and place your dome over the nail. Allow your nail to cool for 20 to 45 seconds, depending on what kind of nail you are using.
  3. While your nail is cooling, take your dabber tool and get your concentrate you plan on dabbing with. A good dab size for beginners is about the size of a pinhead. The effects of dabs hit users fast and hard and can be overwhelming for first time dabbers. Remember you can always do more but you can never do less once you've inhaled. While you can't overdose on dabs, you can become "uncomfortably" high.
  4. Once your nail is cool apply your dab directly onto the nail inside of the dome. Inhale slowly while you rotate your dabber tool around your nail. Avoid handling the dome or the nail directly while it is still hot.
  5. Now exhale and enjoy the dab that you have just taken.
  6. Wipe any excess concentrate left over with a q-tip to keep your rig in tip top shape.

How Do I Clean My Dab Rig?

After more than a few dabbing sessions, it is easy for your dab rig to have excess buildup on the nail. Cleaning your nail every so often can help to extend the life of your nail so you don't have to replace it often. Preventative maintenance is always the best choice - after every dab, wiping down your nail helps to keep it clean. However, we totally understand that given the circumstances you might be more inclined to just sit back and enjoy the dab you've just taken.  If that's the case - worry not! There are three main ways to clean your nail:

  1. Using your torch is probably one of the easiest as well as most effective ways to clean your nail. Heat up your nail and wait for it to burn off any reclaim or residual carbon on your nail. Once your nail is red hot and all residue is gone, allow your nail to cool off completely before gently scraping anything left off. If you have a ceramic or quartz nail, avoid exposing your nail to rapid temperature changes as it could crack and damage it.
  2. Using a sharp dab tool, or even a paperclip, you can scrape off any minor buildup on the interior of your nail, removing most of the buildup However, for harder to remove build up, like sticky reclaim, you may need to read on to our next option.
  3. For a total clean, soaking your entire rig in 91% isopropyl alcohol will not only reach and break down any left over reclaim or carbon, it was also leave your rig looking shiny and new again. Soak your rig in alcohol for 10-15 minutes, then remove and thoroughly wash with water several times. After you have done this, season your nail by applying a small amount of wax or oil and then heating it up - this will create a thin layer within the open pores of your nail. This will help to ensure that all the alcohol has been removed.

While dabbing can seem daunting at first, we promise it's easier than it looks. Have you purchased a dab rig yet? Tell us about your first dabbing experience in the comments below!

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