What are dabs?
Many people have heard of oils, but what are they? Oil, 710, hash, concentrate, dabs, wax- all roughly boil down to being the same thing: refined, concentrated, marijuana- derived product that usually tests between 60-90% THC. Solventless versions of concentrate are produced through pressure and heat (like rosin) or ice water and strainers (think old school bubble hash.) These solventless concentrates are cleaner tasting to smoke and are what I recommend for those who like a little additional thc for a bowl topper. The counterpart to solventless concentrate is, of course, solvent-utilised concentrate. Butane, propane, ethanol, and CO2 are the main solvents used in concentrate in Colorado currently (and pretty much everywhere else dabs are done, I’d imagine.) CO2 is the cleanest tasting extractor out of the bunch, but that’s not saying that PHO (propane hash oil) or BHO (butane hash oil) can’t be tasty too- it’s all about your extraction process. Using a solvent allows for a higher thc content to your dabs, though it comes with a little more harshness to your smoke.
And how exactly do you smoke dabs, anyway? As I mentioned before, sprinkling some hash on top of your bowl- or even mixing it in your roll up, is a way to enjoy a little bit of additional thc without taking a step too outside the box. If you’d like to just smoke your concentrate straight, that’s great too! You’ll just need a specialized rig to smoke out of or with. Any rig that you purchase, be it a straight nectar collector straw that you can take on the go or a bong-style piece that lives on your coffee table, will have 3 pieces:
1) the nail- like a bowl, but for dabs. A flat dish or cup made of quartz, titanium, or ceramic.
2) a mouthpiece through which you inhale your vaporized concentrate.
3) whatever sort of air or water chamber in between those two bits.
You’ll also find yourself needing a small butane chef’s torch and butane as needed to refill. (Unless you’re doing the e-nail life and that’s a whole different article.) A small dab tool or other heat resistant stick-thing (think unbent paper clip if desperate) to get your concentrate from its container to your nail might be helpful, too.
When you’re ready to pick up your own gram of concentrate to smoke, you might find yourself a little overwhelmed. Wax, crumble, shatter, sugar wax, budder, batter, resin, sauce are all different consistencies of concentrate. They will all smoke the same on your nail and give you the same effect. Choosing your type of concentrate boils down to personal preference and what you find easiest to work with. I like shatter. I warm it up in my hands and roll it out into snakes and chop my dabs off there. When shatter is cold though, it shatters. (Shocking.) The only real difference between concentrates is whether they are a live process or not. Live resin, Live sauce, and live sugars are all live concentrate. A live extract takes the entire plant, cuts it down, flash freezes it with liquid nitrogen, and then uses the whole plant to process concentrate. This results in a concentrate that tastes and feels closer to smoking buds, and provides the benefit of all the additional cannabinoids in the plant. It also tends to make your dabs a little bit more pricey, but definitely worth the occasional splurge.
The biggest turn off to concentrates is the process of smoking. Once you have your rig, your torch, and your dabs, the fun begins.Superheat the nail of your rig with your torch until it reaches 500-650 degrees Farenheit. Presuming you won’t have a thermometer to measure your nail, most people heat until their nail glows red hot, then let it come back to normal colour and take their dab. Again, personal preference is the largest factor here. The hotter your nail, the more smoke you’ll get but you’ll lose out on some flavour. (Be warned, too hot of a dab can start doing damage to your lungs) A cooler temperature dab will give you more flavour from your concentrate, but you my not get as much smoke. One dab is going to be much more intense than a bong hit or smoking a joint, so give yourself some space and time for your first dab.
And that’s concentrate! Not scary by any means, and a fun next step when you feel flower isn’t packing the punch you’d like anymore. Can it completely substitute for buds? I don’t think so. Smoking flower is still its own experience, but I do absolutely love my dabs.