Dabbing is the process of heating a special form of cannabis and then inhaling the vapor. Dabbing gets its name from the tiny dabs of wax that are used with a special rig (a dab rig) to get high (THC dabs) or get your medicine (CBD dabs).
Let’s take a moment to clarify those two sentences by talking about dabs, wax, and equipment specifically.
What Are Dabs?
Think of dabs as “bite-sized,” single-serving hits that are usually no bigger than your pinky nail (though that’s actually a lot!). You scoop a dab onto the nail using a dabbing tool and then apply a flame to turn the solid into vapor. Finally, you inhale as much of the vapor as possible. That’s dabbing in a nutshell.
What Is Wax?
Wax is a type of dab (the other being shatter). And if you’re wondering why wax is called wax, the answer is really very simple: the stuff looks like earwax. Sounds gross, we know, but you’ll get over it after you’ve tried your first hit.
What Equipment Will You Need To Dab?
Dabbing requires some specialized equipment, so you can’t just decide one morning that you’re going to try it without first going shopping. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Dab rig — A specialized bong used with dabs.
- Nail — This isn’t the type of nail you buy at the hardware store.
- Dome — Fits over the nail and helps contain the vaporized wax.
- Carb cap — Creates a mini oven that helps vaporize the wax at lower temperatures.
And then, of course, you need your dabs.
So What’s The Big Deal?
Dabbing is a big deal because the wax or shatter that you use is a concentrated form of the buds you buy at your local dispensary. And by concentrated, we mean really high in THC or CBD. How high exactly? Anywhere from two to four times over regular bud.
Depending on the strain used to start, wax can clock in at 50-90% THC (or CBD). Even the strongest strain only hits around 25%. So you can see why dabbing is such a big deal: You can get seriously high with just one or two hits.
Benefits and Risks of Dabbing
Being a highly concentrated product, Dab is usually 60%-90% concentrated THC, for those who value immediate effects and a strong high sensation wax may be ideal. Also, most dabbing methods are practically odorless compared to other combustion methods, which is a great asset for those who are seeking a more discreet alternative to marijuana consumption.
Perhaps the only positive health aspect of consuming wax is its reduced damage association to the lungs in comparison to traditional marijuana consumption. However, although dabbing may be slightly gentler on the lungs when compared to smoking cannabis, there is no definitive evidence to suggest that dabbing is any safer.
Medical marijuana smokers however, may find immediate relief from chronic pain and depression from dabbing their recommended strains. Medical cannabis is often prescribed by a professional so it seems that medicinal users may be the most apt users for wax.
Cons of Dabbing
Dabbing or wax consumption is often subject to mass production nowadays. If the oil used is not crafted with the appropriate standards and caution wax may contain very high levels of butane. Butane in large and uncontrolled doses is very harmful, especially for those who are allergic to it and other hash oil toxins. In rare instances, there have been reports of lung injury from inhaling butane hash oil (lipid pneumonia).
Consuming wax isn’t risk free, and the negative side effects of cannabis may manifest more often than less when using such a concentrated amount of cannabinoids in one sitting. Increased heartbeat, paranoia and in some cases an unsettling tingling across the body are some of the most common to experience. For those who are prone to it, psychosis and hallucinations may occur with high doses of THC.
Edibles, dabs and other concentrates may also be associated with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, but again, there is more small-scale and anecdotal evidence for this than any definitive studies.
Dabbing is also rather expensive for those on a budget – the cost of the product itself is above average in comparison to other cannabis-derived products. Investments on a blow torch, nail and dab rig are necessary and can be expensive. Those who want to vaporize oils will need a vaporizer that is adapted to heating up concentrates.
There’s also the risk of developing a high tolerance to THC. The body may become accustomed to this level, thus requiring the same or higher levels of THC in order to achieve a similar relief.
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Rise in Popularity
Wax or dabs are very popular among those users who prefer THC. Due to its concentrated nature and high THC content of up to 80%, its effects are not only more potent but obviously faster to act.
DIY Wax – the Solvent-Free Way
Look at these few tips on how to make wax at home. The basic idea behind making any sort of rosin in this manner is the application of heat and pressure. If you are lucky enough to have a proper rosin press, then lucky you, and you needn’t follow the below method!
The ideal amount of cannabis to prepare your own cannabis wax in this manner is 2 grams (some would recommend about 5 – 7 g in a rosin press). You’ll need a flat iron, oven mittens, a razor blade and an unsticky parchment paper (aka baking or bakery paper) in half. You may use Hair straighteners for this, but flat irons can be easier to handle.
How to Consume Dabs
If a rig is inaccessible there are various home items you can use to consume your homemade dabs.
Stock the bowl with grinned cannabis and drop the dab onto the weed. The idea is to avoid the contact between the flame and the wax. The heat from the ground strain will help consume the dab into smoke you can inhale with a pipe.
A Vaping Pen
Not all vaping pens are up to this task, you’ll need a separate atomizer for this.
Place the dab with your collecting item in the atomizer and then slowly inhale to get the most of your wax.
Fully enclosing the wax with your ground cannabis, thus limiting the exposure of the dab to the flame.
Making waxes like this can be an expensive endeavour, and it is no surprise that many charge more for rosins, shatters, hashes etc. A high-quality press can ensure that less is wasted because of heat, but these presses can be large and expensive initially. However, in comparison to making BHO, rosins are generally much safer to make and consume. The same with solventless hash, which can be made using ice, bubble bags or silk screens. Many also find BHOs quite overwhelming in terms of effect, so other, less “pure” (i.e. ones that leave some of the plant matter intact in the final product) trichome extraction methods may be more tolerable.