What Is Dabbing?


Dabbing — it’s not just a dance move! We’ve got the lowdown for you on everything you need to know about this new and popular way of enjoying marijuana. From tools to methods and pros/cons, you’ll find all the important details in our new guide. Sit down and grab a pen: Welcome to Dabbing 101.

What Is Dabbing?

Dabbing is a method of consuming marijuana that involves heating up a quartz or metal nail to super high temperatures — usually between 600 and 710 degrees fahrenheit — and then “dabbing” a tiny bit of marijuana concentrate onto that hot surface. The concentrate instantly evaporates into a gas, and that gas is then inhaled through a water rig.

That’s the high-level definition, but let’s dig in a little more on the details. First, let’s talk about the cannabis concentrate that is unique to dabbing. It’s called butane hash oil, or BHO, and it’s made by stripping marijuana plants with butane oil. This method creates a concentrated version of THC that’s incredibly strong compared to OG flower; it has about a 70% to 90% THC concentration, versus the 15% that flower normally does.

The BHO is smoked using a dab or oil rig, which is made up of the nail — a ceramic, metal or quartz surface that gets superheated — and a water chamber to help lessen the harsh bits of smoking such a hot gas.

Pros and Cons of Dabbing

Because of how intensely concentrated BHO is, dabbing is popular among veteran cannabis users; you only need a tiny amount to achieve a serious high. Dabbing is also great for people who have built up a tolerance for THC over the years, or for people who are seeking out high levels as a method of chronic pain management.

If you fall into any of these categories, then dabbing might be right for you. There’s an initial investment in the tools you’ll need, but you’ll see savings over time because of how little concentrate you need to buy. Plus, many cannabis enjoyers report positive experiences when using a dab rig.

However, there are some cons to dabbing. The biggest is probably that the instant and extreme high can be incredibly overwhelming for people who are new to cannabis. If you’ve never smoked before or are just starting out, it’s recommended that you start with flower or edibles before trying your hand at dabbing.

The other con with dabbing is that some people find the inhalation process to be harsh and irritating to their lungs. If you’re sensitive to smoking or have respiratory issues, then a non-combustible ingestion method might be a better option.

What You Need To Dab

Dabbing requires a lot of tools, but once you’re all set up, it’s a simple and quick way to consume cannabis. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A dab rig and nail. You can’t dab without a dab rig! If you’re new to dabbing, a small rig is better. You’ll also need a nail, which is where you’ll heat up the BHO. Most dispensaries will sell these two items together to make it easy. E-Rigs are electronic alternatives to the classic dab rig setup.
  • Butane hash oil (BHO). Also called wax, shatter, or budder, BHO is the concentrate you’ll use while dabbing. Like flower, there are different varieties, aromas, flavors and effects.
  • A dabber. Dabbers are the little tool that you’ll use to dab the BHO onto the nail. They’re usually pretty cheap, and they keep the dabbing process safe and hygienic (fingers and BHO don’t mix.)
  • A torch. You’ll need something much more heavy-duty than a traditional Bic  lighter. A butane torch will last for years and makes it easy to heat the nail up to the temps needed for successful dabbing.
  • A carb cap. Also called a carburetor, this cap is used to cover the concentrate  while you inhale. The carburetor helps to contain all of the BHO while it converts to gas, preserving the flavors and creating a more effective dabbing experience.
  • A silicone container. Extracts do best in a dark, small storage container that  reduces air exposure and helps preserve the oils, aromas and flavors. A small silicone container will do the trick nicely.
  • A dab mat. While not strictly necessary, we’re big fans of the way that dab mats keep your space clean and hold both the BHO and the rig nice and steady for use.

How To Dab

You’re all set up, so now it’s time to dab. The first thing you’ll want to do? Take a seat! A dab high is intense, so make sure you’re seated safely before getting started. Once seated, follow these steps:

  • Prepare your BHO on your dabber. If this is your first time, the smaller the better — about as much as the head of a pin. You can always do more, but you can’t do less.
  • Heat the nail with your torch until it turns red. Wait 10 seconds or so after that point before inhaling so that you don’t burn your lungs.
  • Touch the dabber to the nail and inhale at the same time, similar to taking a hit off a bong.
  • Exhale and be prepared for a head rush. Coughing is totally normal.

Dabbing is a quick method for an intense high. If the experience is unpleasant or overwhelming, drink a soda or chew some peppercorns to offset the effects.

Visiting a Dispensary

Just like with flower or edibles, the friendly budtenders at your local dispensary are experts in dabbing. They’ll be able to point you toward the right rig, BHO and other tools you might need to get started.

And also just like flower or edibles, there’s a whole world of varieties, aromas, flavors and effects of BHO. A budtender can talk to you about what kind of experience you’re looking for and what kind of goals you have for dabbing before making any recommendations. They’ll make sure you feel confident and comfortable in your purchasing decision before walking out the door.

Dabbing may be relatively new, but it’s quickly become a popular method of cannabis consumption for a reason. Go ahead, give it a try — just make sure you’re sitting down first!

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