Contributor: B. O'Neal
We have all been there. You think you know everything there is to know about cannabis, then some new trend starts and, before you know it, you are completely left behind. You hear people talking about it using terms and phrases you have never even heard before, and you can’t help but feel “left out of the loop” so to speak. But, as time goes on, you find yourself increasingly embarrassed and far too timid to ask anyone about it. You simply act like you know what others are discussing, or you convince yourself that this new trend simply isn’t for you. The fact remains, you are curious to learn about it – you just don’t know where to start.
That’s exactly how I felt about “dabbing.” And I don’t think I’m the only one who, at first, considered this marijuana medium more for the youngsters, and not meant for seasoned stoners, such as myself. But that was a wild misjudgment, and I’m happy that I sucked it up and educated myself on dabbing and it’s various benefits – I just wish I did it a lot sooner, because dabbing is awesome.
Here’s A Beginner’s Guide To “Dabbing” Cannabis
First off, a couple questions that may be running through your mind are likely: What is a dab and how do I do it?
In short, dabbing is basically smoking a concentrated form of THC. Through a series of methods, cultivators extract THC (the psychoactive property of cannabis) and condense the heck out of it. The end result is called a concentrate, named after its concentrated THC-packed contents. These concentrates are often goopy, but they can also have the structural integrity of glass, and they come in a variety of different mediums. They can be waxes, shatters, budders, crumbles, and even oils.
Every concentrate holds its own potency level, and there’s not one medium of concentrates that’s superior to another. So, always be sure to check the label and ask your budtender which concentrate would be good for your specific needs. There is no such thing as “dumb questions” so don’t be shy. The more you know about your cannabis – the better off you will be.
Once you have procured yourself a concentrate, you will need a way to smoke it. And, no, this isn’t something you simply toss in a pipe and toke. You will need what they call a “dab rig.”
A dab rig is basically a standard water pipe, but with a few additions. Instead of a bowl wherein you’d typically pack in pinches of flower, there’s something called a nail. This nail serves as the epicenter for your concentrates. But you don’t toss the concentrate in the nail and just start inhaling. What you’ll want to do first and foremost is heat up the nail by using a hand-torch. Keep that flame on that empty nail until its red hot. At that point, stop lighting it and allow it to cool down for a minute or so. This lets the nail reach an optimal temperature to apply your dab of concentrate upon.
Once that nail has cooled for a bit, pick up your desired amount of concentrate with an item known as a “dab tool.” In most cases, this is a thin, metal stick with a tiny, spoon-like end for your concentrate to rest. Now, with your concentrate applied at the end of your dab tool, gently lower it onto the heated nail, and inhale as you do so.
The heat from the nail slowly melts the THC-packed concentrate off the dab tool as you pull from the mouthpiece of the water pipe. And, boom, that’s how you dab!
But, I must warn you to use caution when taking dabs because these are no-joke. As you may imagine, with higher THC percentages (found in concentrates) – the higher you will get it. Dabs are notorious for their fast-acting, long-lasting effects. They don’t wait for a time-released cue to make their presence known. Quite the contrary, actually. Dabs are powerful and they want the consumer to feel relief instantly. So, it’s not uncommon for folks to find themselves supremely high seconds after exhaling, if not sooner.
THC concentrates truly embody the phrase, “A little dab’ll do ya,” because consumers don’t need much for a hit to provide them with a wealth of benefits. I would say no more than a pinky-nail’s worth of concentrate at the end of a dab tool is a great way to start. To be honest, even veteran stoners, such as myself, rarely exceed that amount of concentrate when dabbing. Concentrates are incredibly strong, so the application of an obscene amount would just be a waste of money, in my opinion.
Which is another thing worth talking about: price. Now, I’m sure you are all curious about how expensive concentrates are. To be fair, the price points on these items can vary greatly. For those just getting their feet wet in the world of dabbing, I would say expect to pay anywhere from $20-$50 for half a gram. Obviously, dispensaries can charge whatever they see fit, but you should know that most concentrates, given that they are so potent, are usually sold by the half-gram. Like I said, you won’t need much per hit, making it very easy to ration out that amount for quite some time.
Another thing to consider, financially-speaking, is the cost of the dab rig, itself. If you are lucky and have a water pipe with a specifically angled stem that can already house a nail, you won’t have to purchase much. But, if you’re like me, you’ll have to head on out to your local smoke shop and pick up an entire new setup. Which, while fun, can end up costing a pretty penny. Especially since there are so many items you need in order to dab.
You will need a water pipe, hand-torch, butane fuel, a nail, and a dab tool. You could also choose to purchase what is known as a “dome.” This object is placed atop the nail as the remainder of your concentrate melts. It traps in the potent smoke that would otherwise be floating into the air between dabs. This is a great way for casual stoners to leisurely enjoy their dab, as opposed to those who take the whole thing in one hit. So, it really comes down to your personal preference at this point.
But, regardless of how tricked out you want to get with your dab rig, the fact remains that you should take it easy. Nobody, and I mean nobody, should dive headfirst into dabbing without a healthy amount of caution. These hits will get you coughing, but don’t fret. That is a normal occurrence with dabs, so be sure to ease yourself into this new realm of high-potency.
The fast-acting nature of dabs may be too intense for some, and that’s fine, know your limits and whatnot. But if you suffer from any ailment that requires the immediate comfort of a speedy THC delivery, than dabs are the way to go. Yes, they can serve to be substantial throat-clearers, but when the smoke clears (literally) you will be left feeling abundantly relaxed, mellow, and ready to chill out – for a long time – trust me.
Happy dabbing, my fellow stoners.