Your Complete Guide to Dabbing

Dabbing, a method of vaporizing cannabis concentrates, has become increasingly popular over the past few years as more people discover the high potency of dabbing and fast activation of its effects. Dabbers are taking advantage of technology that allows manufacturers to extract compound-rich cannabis oils to maximize their cannabinoid intake.

We have compiled everything you need to know about dabbing, so you can get started consuming cannabis concentrates with confidence.

Types of Cannabis Concentrates

What are cannabis concentrates? Cannabis concentrates are created by extracting the oil from the cannabis plant.

This extraction process concentrates compounds like the terpenes (aromatic oils that add to the cannabis plant’s smell and flavor) and the cannabinoids found in cannabis, creating a strong, flavorful oil that can reach potencies up to 90% cannabinoid content or higher.

cannabis concentrate

Extraction can be done using a number of methods and with a variety of solvents (butane, CO2, ethanol, etc.), each presenting its own advantages and limitations affecting potency, purity, and flavor. While light coloring and translucence are prized in cannabis extracts, it isn’t a perfect indicator of quality.

Cannabis concentrates can take a number of forms, depending on how the cannabis oil is processed after extraction. Heat, moisture, and high terpene content also affect the end result.

Here are the most common forms of concentrates that can be dabbed:

  • Sap: often formed when extracts have high terpene contents, these aromatic oils are thick and viscous, resembling tree sap.
  • Shatter: hard, stable, glass-like concentrate formed by cannabis oil that has not had its molecules disturbed.
  • Wax: opaque and sometimes sticky concentrate formed when molecules are disturbed and refract light, causing it to loose its translucence.
  • Crumble: similar to wax in color, crumble or honeycomb is drier and less oily, creating a more solid texture.
  • Oil: CO2 extraction, regarded as a non-toxic and much safer method, often creates a soft, oily product that can be left as is or further processed into various forms.
  • Isolate, cannabinoids such as THC or CBD that have been chemically removed and purified from cannabis oil, creating up to 99% pure concentrates that appear as crystals or powders.

dabber of cannabis concentrate

What is Dabbing?

One of the fastest growing methods for consuming cannabis oil, dabbing flash-vaporizes cannabis concentrates for consumption. A dab of cannabis concentrate is introduced to, or “dabbed”, onto a hot surface, and the resulting smoke-free vapor is inhaled. This is done using a uniquely adapted water pipe or “dab rig” specifically designed for dabbing.

How to Dab?

Before you can start to dab your cannabis concentrates, you need to acquire some specialized equipment.

What do I need to dab?

  • Cannabis concentrates (“dabs”) of your choice.
  • A nail – the surface you heat to vaporize your dab. Popular materials include titanium, quartz, and ceramic.
  • A special water pipe or “dab rig” with a fitting for a nail.
  • A dabber, typically metal or glass, used to apply a dab to a hot nail.
  • A blowtorch, used to heat your nail. Torches are now available specifically for dabbing in a range of sizes and styles.


  • Carb cap, placed over your nail after dab is applied to capture lost vapor.
  • Glass dome, placed around a hot nail before dabbing to prevent lost vapor.
  • Electric nail – an electric powered coil that continuously heats your nail, removing the need for a torch.

Once you have everything you need to start dabbing, the process is quite simple.


Steps to Dabbing:

Most consumers of cannabis concentrates will first load a dab onto their dabber and set it aside. This ensures it will be ready to use before your nail cools once again.

Using a torch, heat your nail until it begins to turn red. Be careful not to overheat your nail, especially when working with quartz, to avoid potential damage. The typical heat range is 500°– 800°.

There is some debate over the ideal temperature at which to dab cannabis concentrates. While a hotter nail will more fully vaporize your dab, a lower temperature dab will provide more flavor and a smoother hit.

You will then want to dab your extract onto the hot nail. To do this, repeatedly tap and/or place your dabber on your nail’s hot spot. Watch your dabber and nail to see if the dab is vaporizing properly and adjust your dabber’s positioning until the extract is completely vaporized.

As the extract melts and vaporizes, inhale from the mouthpiece to draw the vapor up through the water in your dab rig and into your lungs, hold for a moment, and exhale.

Be sure not to touch the hot nail during or after your dab, as it can stay extremely hot well after you have finished your dab.

Because dabbing rapidly introduces high levels of cannabinoids to your system, it has become the method of choice for many looking to quickly supplement their endocannabinoid system.

Can Dabbing Be Dangerous?

In some minds, blow torches and glowing hot surfaces are dangerous, giving dabbing a bad reputation. However, using a torch for dabbing is no more dangerous than making a creme brulee.

Another fear about dabbing is the higher potency of concentrates over dried flower. While it is true that dabs are stronger than flower, there is no reason to believe the average user will consume more. Dabs simply offer an efficiency that requires less to be inhaled.

A very real danger that exists, however, is potential residual contamination from toxic solvents from the extraction process or herbicides and pesticides used on the source cannabis. That’s why it’s crucial that you obtain your cannabis concentrates from a source you trust. If possible, look for brands that test their products to protect against this potential contamination.

Benefits of Dabbing

A main benefit of dabbing is that it offers an incredibly fast method for cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream, offering near instantaneous effects. Due to the potency of cannabis concentrates, users are also able to take on a less is more attitude. Dabbing means you no longer need to inhale large amounts of burning plant material to get the effects you want. That is a good thing. Rather than smoking entire joints, and exposing your lungs to harmful chemicals in the smoke, consumers can dab once or twice to get their cannabinoids, inhaling only vapor – not smoke.

loading concentrate onto nail

Learn More about Dabbing CBD

Many brands, like Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s own Dixie Botanicals®, now offer CBD concentrates. Available in dabbable oils, crumbles, and isolate powders, CBD oil derived from hemp is federally legal because it contains only a trace amount of THC, far below psychoactive levels. Extracted using safe supercritical CO2, CBD hemp oil concentrates are dabbed the same way as marijuana extracts, providing fast and effective benefits.

Learn more by visiting our Cannabis 101 page.

  • November 21, 2017
  • Jeffrey Stamberger