Dabbing, Cannabis, Shatter

What is Dabbing?

What is Dabbing

Dabbing, dabs, dab rig, dab sweats — do these terms ring a bell?

Dabbing is the new way to enjoy marijuana concentrates, which are also often referred to as “dabs.”

The very name “dabs” describes a dab of a concentrate a cannabis user picks on a metal dabber (another word from the dabbing vocabulary) which is further placed onto a nail and inhaled through a device called a dab rig.

Dabbing concentrates as a method of marijuana consumption has been around for at least a decade, but the emergence of new extraction methods have led to a sudden development of a whole new sector in the cannabis industry.

These highly-concentrated cannabinoid extracts are currently the most efficient way to get really, really high — and to draw even greater benefits from the therapeutic properties of marijuana.

However, there’s also a hot debate among cannabis skeptics regarding the potential dangers behind dabbing weed.

So, what’s all the buzz about? What is dabbing and what equipment do you need to dab concentrates?

Read on to find out.

What are Dabs

What are Dabs?

Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis that are obtained by pulling THC and other cannabinoids from the whole cannabis plant using a solvent like butane or CO2.

The extraction results in sticky oils also known as budder, crumble, shatter, wax, and butane hash oil (BHO).

Dabs are heated on a red-hot surface — typically a nail — and then inhaled through a dab rig, which is a glass bong-like device for smoking extracts.

While it’s possible to extract non-psychoactive compounds like CBD, THC is what’s behind the remarkable effects of dabs, hence the striking popularity of THC-based dabs.

Terpenes can be extracted, too, but it can be difficult to preserve them in the extraction process; as a rule of thumb, the more concentrated the extract, the fewer terpenes it has.

What is Dabbing?

As you may guess, dabbing refers to the act of smoking (or flash-vaporizing) small bits of cannabis concentrates inside a special device called a dab rig.

Why do People Dab?

Well, the idea behind dabbing is pretty simple — to gain a more intense and faster high from marijuana than the person would achieve from less potent forms (e.g. flowers). The extra punch comes from the elevated concentration of THC — the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis — and from terpenes that can amplify THC’s effects.

This marijuana format also yields a better therapeutic effect for people who need high levels of THC to treat a specific medical condition. Dabs are often used by patients suffering from chronic pain, inflammation, gastrointestinal issues, and sleep disorders.

What do You Need for Dabbing

What do You Need for Dabbing?

Dabbing requires several items, namely:

  • A dab rig
  • A dabber
  • A nail
  • A torch
  • Cannabis extract
  • Carb Cap (optional but works well with domeless nails)

Here’s a quick breakdown of each ingredient.

Dab Rig

Simply put, rigs are just water pipes with extra features that make them compatible with concentrates. They come along with the dab nail and torch.


A dabber looks like a wand and is used to apply oils and waxes onto the dab nail. There are plenty of different dabbers available on the market; they vary in terms of shapes and sizes and are usually made of ceramic, glass, quartz, or titanium.


Similar to dabbers, nails come in different shapes, sizes, and materials, and the differences are apparent even for dabbing newbies. Currently, titanium nails reign over other materials because they provide greater durability and are able to heat up quickly.


You can use a propane or butane torch for this purpose, though the majority of people usually go with butane because it burns at lower temperatures and produces a cleaner experience. Propane-fueled torches should do their job, too, but they entail the risk of melting non-titanium nails.

Cannabis Extract for dabbing

Cannabis Extract

Choosing between different marijuana concentrates can be overwhelming if you’re just getting started, so if you aren’t certain about what you’re holding in your hands, ask the budtender for advice. Most new users go with Butane Hash Oil (BHO), which is one of the most popular extracts used for dabbing — not to mention that it’s madly potent.

Carb Cap

Carb caps are great for domeless nails.

A domeless nail allows you to take bigger dabs than its domed counterpart. It is, however, less efficient. There’s the risk of burning off more concentrate than you can inhale in a single hit, and without a dome, the vapor just dissipates into thin air.

Now, if you have a carb cap, you can trap that vapor in the rig and get several hits off of one dab. If you’re using low temps for dabbing, then you definitely need a carb cap.


Those who have never dabbed before are advised to take extra caution when getting started. Dabbing may bring you the first THC-induced panic attack if you overindulge in it. Keep in mind that the concentration of THC in dabs varies between 60 and 90 percent, so it’s not a force to dabble with.

Step #1: Heat the Nail

Take the torch, aim it directly at the nail and begin heating it until it turns red. Once hot enough, let the nail cool off a little bit, typically around 20-40 seconds.

How to Dab

Step #2: Prepare the Dab

While the nail is cooling, you’ve got a perfect spot to prepare your dab. Grab the dabber and measure out your preferred dose — nothing better than eyeballing here — and transfer it onto the nail. Don’t blush if you don’t know what’s going to happen upon your first pass, no one is going to judge you. Just take a small portion of the concentrate and enjoy it.

Step #3: Inhale

Once you’ve applied the dab to the nail, begin inhaling steadily. If the feeling is too harsh, the nail may not be cool enough, the amount might have been too much, or it’s just the harsh nature of dabbing. If your first hit was too much, you can cover the nail and save some vapor to pass around to your friends.

Conclusion: is Dabbing Safe?

Dabbing itself is safe with the proper precautions.

However, Making dabs can be dangerous.

The process is tricky, and even if you don’t end up blowing up the whole house during extraction, your concentrate might not shine in terms of the quality or purity. “Dirty” oils from self-proclaimed master dab makers may contain chemical contaminants or excessive amounts of residual solvents that could pose risk to consumers’ health.

Eliminating these risk factors typically calls for:

  • High-grade solvents
  • Closed-loop extraction equipment (in a professional facility)
  • Well-trained extraction professionals
  • Lab testing (to ensure the purity and potency of concentrates)

What’s your experience with dabbing?

Are there any particular concentrates you like to blast in a rig?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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