If you’ve heard about THC dabbing before, but aren’t sure what it is, this is your guide. We’ll cover how to do it, if you should, and tips for beginners.

What Is a Dab? A Beginner’s THC Dabbing Guide

Dabbing has quickly become a buzzword in the cannabis community, intriguing beginners and seasoned enthusiasts alike. It’s a method that promises a potent experience, distinct from traditional smoking or edibles. But if you’re new to experimenting with different forms of ingestion, dabbing can seem like a dive into the deep end of cannabis culture.

This guide aims to illuminate the dabbing process, offering a comprehensive overview for beginners. From what dabbing is to the essential tools and tips for a safe, enjoyable experience, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started! 

 Close up of a dab rig

What Is Dabbing?

Dabbing is a method of consuming concentrated forms of cannabis, known for delivering a powerful dose of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in a single inhale. This technique involves vaporizing a small amount of cannabis concentrate, often called a "dab," on a hot surface and inhaling the resulting vapor. 

The process requires specific tools, including what’s called a “dab rig,” a torch, and a dab tool, to handle the concentrate and apply it to the heated surface. The appeal of dabbing lies in its efficiency and the intensity of the experience. Unlike traditional smoking methods, dabbing produces a cleaner, more flavorful vapor, free from the combustion of plant material, providing users with a purer ingestion of THC.

What Are Cannabis Concentrates? 

The cannabis concentrates used in dabbing can come in various forms, such as wax, shatter, and oil, each offering a unique texture and potency. These substances undergo processes that strip away plant material, leaving behind the essential compounds that give cannabis its effects. The result is a product that’s significantly more concentrated than traditional flower buds.

One of the substances most often used for dabbing is live resin, a type of concentrate produced from fresh, uncured cannabis plants that are flash frozen after harvest. This process preserves a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes that otherwise can be lost or degraded during the drying and curing process. The result is a final product that’s both more potent and particularly rich in the distinct aromas and flavors of its strain, which is why live resins are particularly valued by connoisseurs.

 Close up of cannabis concentrate shatter, now n'laterz strain

What Is a Dab Rig?

A dab rig is a specialized type of smoking apparatus designed specifically for the consumption of cannabis concentrates, often referred to as dabs. Resembling a traditional glass bong in appearance, a dab rig is engineered to facilitate the vaporization of cannabis concentrates rather than burning dry herb.

The key component of a dab rig is the nail or banger, which is heated with a torch to vaporize the concentrate. Made from materials like quartz, titanium, or glass, the nail is the surface upon which the concentrate is placed and vaporized. Dab rigs often feature water filtration systems to cool and filter the vapor, creating a smoother inhalation experience.

Some of our favorite dab rigs are made by:

 KMAC cured resin shatter in a dab rig

How Do You Dab?

  1. Heat the Nail: Use a torch to heat the nail or banger of your dab rig until it’s visibly hot. Most prefer quartz or titanium nails for their heat tolerance and durability.

  2. Cool Down: Let the nail cool for about 45 seconds to a minute. This step is crucial for achieving the right temperature, which should be hot enough to vaporize the concentrate but not so hot that it burns, ensuring a smoother experience.

  3. Apply the Concentrate: Using a dab tool, apply a small amount of concentrate directly onto the nail inside the dome. The amount should be no bigger than a crumb to start with, especially for beginners.

  4. Inhale Slowly: Cover the nail with a carb cap if you have one, and inhale slowly through the mouthpiece of the dab rig. The carb cap helps regulate airflow and maximizes the vaporization of the concentrate.

  5. Exhale and Enjoy: After inhaling the vapor, exhale immediately. You should feel the effects quite quickly due to the high potency of the concentrate.

  6. Clean the Nail: After use, it’s a good practice to clean the nail with a cotton swab to remove any residue, maintaining the purity of flavor for the next dab.

Why Is Dabbing So Popular?

Dabbing has surged in popularity primarily because it offers a significantly more potent experience than traditional smoking methods, making it appealing to those seeking stronger effects from cannabis. The purity and concentration of dabs allow users to achieve their desired effects with smaller quantities, making it more efficient and economical.

On top of that, dabbing can also allow for a greater appreciation of the subtle flavors and aromas inherent in different cannabis strains, thanks to the preservation of terpenes during concentrate extraction. 

 Cured resin concentrate for dabbing

How Long Does the Effect of a Dab Last?

The duration of the effects from a dab can vary widely based on several factors, including your individual tolerance, the potency of the concentrate, and the amount consumed. Generally, the immediate effects of dabbing can be felt almost instantly, peaking within the first few minutes and lasting anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. However, residual effects or a sense of an altered state could persist for several hours beyond the initial experience. 

It's important for beginners to start with small amounts and gradually increase as they become more accustomed to the potency and effects of dabs, as the concentrated nature of these products can lead to more intense and longer-lasting effects compared to traditional cannabis flower. However, since the effects of the THC hit you pretty immediately after inhaling, it can be easier to gauge your reaction than it is when consuming edibles, where it can take several hours for the full effects of the dose to reveal themselves.

Dabbing Like a Pro (the First Time)

Dabbing for the first time can be an exciting yet daunting experience, given the potency and the unique method of consumption. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, it’s essential to understand the process, from heating the nail correctly to using the right amount of concentrate. Knowledge and moderation are key, as is starting with a low temperature and a small amount of concentrate to enjoy the flavor and effects without overwhelming yourself.

How Do You Get the Best Hit from a Dab?

Getting the best hit from a dab involves a combination of correct temperature, proper inhalation technique, and using high-quality concentrates. 

  • Heat the nail until it’s hot but not overly so, allowing it to cool to the right temperature before applying the dab. (See our note above about letting the nail cool for 45 seconds to a minute after heating.)

  • Inhaling slowly and steadily, rather than taking a quick, forceful draw, helps you absorb the maximum amount of vapor for a potent effect.

  • Always use concentrates from reputable sources to guarantee the purity and flavor of your product, enhancing the overall dabbing experience.

How Much Dab Wax to Use?

For beginners, it’s advisable to start with a very small amount of dab wax, no larger than a crumb. Even experienced users typically use only a small dab at a time, given the high potency of concentrates. The ideal amount can vary based on individual tolerance, the potency of the wax, and desired intensity of effects. As you become more accustomed to dabbing, you may gradually adjust the amount used according to your personal preference and tolerance levels.

Is Hash Stronger Than Wax?

Hash and wax are both forms of cannabis concentrates, but they differ in potency, consistency, and the method of extraction. Wax is generally stronger than traditional hash because it has a higher concentration of THC. Wax is produced through a solvent-based extraction process that results in a sticky, oily substance with high cannabinoid levels. Traditional hash, while still potent, typically has lower THC levels compared to wax. The choice between hash and wax depends on personal preference, desired potency, and the consumption method.

Sun-Grown Cannabis Concentrates in Maryland

If you’re eager to explore the world of dabbing, you should begin by finding the right products. Here in Maryland, SunMed Growers supplies a wide range of premium concentrates perfect for a first-time experience or for refining your dabbing technique after years of enjoyment.

Whether you're in search of wax, resin, or any other form of concentrate, quality is key to a satisfying dab. Since 2018, we’ve been growing affordable, top quality cannabis in our state-of-the-art Dutch greenhouse. Our strains are enriched with natural sunlight to produce more complicated and robust terpene profiles. Visit a dispensary near you to find out what sets SunMed’s cannabis products apart.

Erin Tyszko