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Thursday April 14, 2022

By Paul Barach

Dabber with golden concentrate being touched against a quartz banger. Education

Dabbing can look pretty complicated. There are special tools, multiple parts, new terms, and a small butane torch (is crème brûlée involved?) However, there’s a reason that dabs are so popular, despite the learning curve in how to smoke dabs. Weed concentrates like dabs pack a much stronger THC punch than flower or edibles, up to 98% THC. This makes them ideal for anyone who’s built up a high tolerance, medical patients in need of extra medical relief, or cannabis consumers who’d like to ride the THC rocket into the stratosphere. 

If you’re a beginner just starting to dabble in concentrates, PotGuide is here with some helpful tips and tricks on how to smoke dabs.

Ways to Smoke Dabs

Whichever form your concentrate takes, whether it’s sticky oils like resin or rosin, to dryer concentrates like wax or shatter, to crumbly forms like bubble hash, the idea is the same.

A jar of dabs on a black surface with a titanium dabber leaning against it and smoke over the top.
There are several different ways to smoke dabs effectively. photo credit

Take your hash, apply it to a heated (preferably in the “low-temp” dab range) surface, inhale the vaporized oil, and get real stoned. When it comes to how to smoke dabs, the big three options, especially for beginners, are dab rigs, dab straws, and dab pens. Most dab fans learn how to smoke dabs using a dab rig, so we’ll start there. 

How to Consume Cannabis Concentrates with a Dab Rig (For Beginners)

A dab rig looks a lot like your standard bong, and the idea’s the same. However, dabs are a bit more complicated and require special tools. 

Basic Dab Tools

Dab Rig - Like a bong, but with a titanium or quartz dab nail where the bowl usually goes. Just like a bong, the concentrate vapor bubbles through the water chamber to the mouthpiece, cooling it. 

Nail - Your rig’s bowl (usually metal, ceramic or quartz). After heating the nail with your torch, this is where you’ll put your concentrate with your dabber. 

Dabber - A thin, dental-looking tool (usually metal or glass) for putting concentrate on your heated nail. If you’re dabbing with dryer concentrates like shatter or wax, you’ll want to use the flat end of the dabber. If you’re dabbing with a stickier resin or oil, use the thinner pick end.  

Torch - A propane/butane fueled mini-torch for heating up your dab nail.

Before we go into how to smoke dabs with a rig, just know that the temperature of your dab nail makes a big difference in both the flavor and effects. Most beginners learn how to smoke dabs at higher temps, since it’s easier, which means a stronger but harsher hit. 

How To Smoke Your Dab:

  1. Using your dabber, scoop up a tiny amount of concentrate. This should be no bigger than a crumb or the size of a small grain of rice.
  2. Fire up your dab torch and touch flame to nail for about 30 seconds. Turn off the torch and set it aside. 
  3. Let the nail cool for 30 seconds to a minute (depending on your nail), or until the temperature is between 350℉ and 400℉. 
  4. Using your dabber, touch your concentrate to the inside lip of the hot nail. The concentrate should vaporize the moment it hits the metal. 
  5. Put your lips to the mouthpiece and inhale slowly. The vapor will travel from the nail down through the water chamber, then bubble up through the mouthpiece and into your lungs. 
  6. Exhale the vapor. Expect to cough a lot if you’re a beginner.

Smoking Concentrates Without a Rig

As we said above, there are two other options for beginners who don’t want to smoke dabs using a rig: dab straws (AKA nectar collectors) and dab pens. 

How to Smoke Dabs With A Dab Straw

A dab straw is a long glass tube with a titanium or ceramic dabbing tip on one end and a mouth piece on the other. These are a more portable, simple, (and cheaper) option than smoking dabs with a rig, since you’ll only need the straw, a torch, and a container of concentrates. But unless your dab straw has a water chamber, it’s going to be a hotter vapor.  

How to Smoke a Nectar Collector:

  1. Hold your dab straw in one hand with the dab tip angled down. 
  2. Fire up your dab torch and touch just the end of the flame to the dab tip. 
  3. Turn the dab straw to distribute the heat evenly until it starts to glow.
  4. Wait several seconds for the tip to cool down. 
  5. Pick up your open container of concentrate. 
  6. Inhale gently from the mouthpiece while brushing the tip of your dab straw across the edges of your hash.
  7. Afterwards, rest your dab straw on a flat surface to cool with the hot end tipped up. 

How To Smoke a Dab Pen

If you’re looking for how to smoke dabs the easiest, especially for beginners, dab pens are it. A dab pen, commonly referred to as a vape pen) can come in two varieties, cartridge form or load-your-own. How you smoke a dab pen is simple. For cartridges, simply screw it onto the battery, press a button and inhale – they even make models with no buttons.

A load-your-own dab pen on a table with a spear shaped dabber and container of concentrates.
Load-your-own dab pens are a great introduction to concentrates and dabbing. photo credit

Load-your-own dab pens are basically bulked up vape pens with a souped up heating plate or ceramic bowl. To use a load-your-own dab pen, unscrew the mouthpiece, place your concentrate inside in the bowl, then screw the mouthpiece back on. Adjust the temperature setting, hit the button and inhale.

The Best Ways to Smoke Dabs

Whether you’re smoking out of a dab rig, a dab straw, or a dab pen, the best way to smoke dabs, especially as a beginner, is the way that’s most fun and easy for you (and preferably with some friends.) While dabs may be a bit more complicated than flower, they are there to be enjoyed, however you smoke them. 

What’s your favorite way to smoke dabs? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

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