Friday July 31, 2015

By Tyler Terps

An Inside Guide to Dabbing 420 Culture

While eating pizza, you don’t eat the cardboard box around the pie, you consume what’s inside. When it comes to cannabis and its medicinal properties, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t look at things the same way.


Isolating Resins

Also known as hash oil or dabs, cannabis concentrates are extracted resins of the plant that leaves leafy plant matter behind. When smoking herbs, you’re not only combusting the psychoactive and medicinal aspects of cannabis, you’re also burning up the rest of the flower as well. Much like you seek the pizza that’s inside the cardboard box, you’re mainly searching for the resins for your high. There are multiple solvents available to use to release these resins, including solventless hash. The way that you consume the two are different, but can be combined with the potency of the resins sacrificed.

Although most concentrates are made with butane, other chemicals used for extracting include CO2, propane, and d-limonene. A common misconception is that dabbing is unhealthy, while the opposite is actually true. Extracts are safe if made correctly, and shouldn’t be a problem if made in a regulated industry. A lot of the dangers attached with dabs from the news seems to be the actual creation of them, which is eliminated once professionals are allowed and encouraged to make them, and when people are educated on the proper techniques to do so.

Another option for isolating the resins to improve the potency of the product is solventless extractions. Using ice water, a mixing machine, multiple micron bags, and fresh product can produce some of the cleanest hash, which can be processed into a dabbable form from there. The dry sift technique includes bouncing the material over micron screens and gathering the desirable heads of the resins underneath, then melting them together to make it dabbable as well. Here the argument of inhaling something other than cannabis resins can be eliminated as there’s nothing else being used.

Concentrate Vapor Rigs

Concentrate vapor rigs have not always been a thing, but the question “which came first, the rig or the dabs?” can easily be answered with the latter. Prior to the invention of the nail, people would coat their joints, cigarettes, or bowl packs with hash (oil). Now that the production and consumption of extracts are up, the technology to administer them has improved drastically. For many people, vaporizers are the easiest and most discreet ways to puff with little preparation needed. However, not everyone gets the desired level of stoned from the small pens that fit in your pocket. Glass will always be a favored way to enjoy the taste of terpenes, and that’s where dab rigs come in.

Since you’re actually vaporizing when you’re dabbing, the need for diffusion in your glass isn’t there, so right off the bat the desired intent of the function of a bong versus a dab rig differs. The taste of burnt raw cannabis dirties the rich and tasty profile of the dabs you’re enjoying, so it’s important to keep your pieces separate for flowers and dabs. Thankfully you wouldn’t want to use a large bong to take your dab, especially since it would only degrade the taste with more oxygen present in the chamber.

Grav Labs Mini Sprocket Umbrella Circ

The airflow of a dab rig is open, and therefore the type of nail that you use will offer everything from the pull to the taste of your hit. Usually nails are heated with a butane torch that is allowed to cool down just enough for the concentrates to vaporize through the nail and the rig. The material and style that your nail is made up of designates the method for heating up, dabbing, and carb capping. The most widely used materials for nails are titanium, quartz, ceramic, and glass. Over time we’ve seen more people ditch the dome and head for domeless nails of which there are a few different varieties of shapes and sizes.


Rig Accessories

Common new rigs will come with a nail and a dome. These are specific accessories that must be used together in order to be successful. The dome allows space for the vapor to build up and then be sucked through as the dab is taken. Putting your finger over the top of the dome (if the space from the nail is far enough to do so) is advised after applying your dabs to the nail to activate the non vaporized cannabis. Even though there are now domeless nails, this style is still commonly in use for its ability to make wind irrelevant when medicating outside, and also for the sake of simplicity.

Domeless titanium nails will often have a rod in the middle that will allow for the user to pull the vapor from the plate down through the glass. If done properly, adding a carb cap after applying your dab will send vapor through the tubes and then depending on airflow will stay on or come off once it’s time to clear the chamber. Quartz bangers are bucket style nails that enhances flavor far more than any other option. Heat your banger up until it’s red hot and then wait 45 seconds to a minute before applying your dab and restricting the airflow with some form of a cap.

Domeless Nail Dabber and Accessories

Some nails are fit for a coil to be wrapped around them so that they can be kept at a constant temperature with an electronic nail. An electronic nail will cost you more than a torch and butane, but over time you will save money from abstaining from using a gas based heat source every time. There are quartz, titanium, and ceramic nails that are made for such use and allow for the ultimate experience. This is for people that are looking for consistency and control beyond what’s available with a torch.

Future of Dabbing

Every day, new innovations are made in the cannabis industry which progresses the experience for the person at home. Even beyond what has been mentioned, there are things like healthstones which act as bowls of greens underneath that never burns away when you take a small pocket torch to it, honey buckets which are domed quartz bangers with special carbs known as “OFZ” caps, and Nectar Collectors that vaporize the extracts in a straw like method. With all of these options available it becomes simply preference over what is the proven best method. Sure, more expensive methods are going to often be better experiences, but there’s nothing wrong with using a dome to get that hit just perfect.

Photo Credit: (license)

PotGuide Tyler Terps

Tyler is a cannabis journalist and enthusiast that seeks to educate his readers to continue to reveal the benefits, uses, innocence, and overall power of the cannabis. Starting as a music journalist, Tyler contributed to websites like,,, and Now he continues to contribute as a freelance writer, covering cannabis for publications like High Times,, and Massroots. When he's not writing, Tyler likes to book DIY shows and play drums in his band.


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