Written by: Kym B
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The first time my sister saw me dab, she thought I took something more than THC. When I called out that it was a dab, she smiled and immediately threw her arms up and said “oh like the dance?!” No sis, not the dance. “The Dab Dance” gets its name from the cannabis dabbing community. However, once the dance became famous in 2015 — long after the start of dabbing cannabis — the origins of its name were lost to most people who started “dabbing” on the dancefloor.
So really, WTF is a dab?! Simply put, it is a concentrated and potent dose of cannabis that one consumes by putting it on a hot “nail” and inhaling the vapors. Some definitions of dabbing may scare people away from experimenting with this consumption method. Urban Dictionary, for example, warns that dabbing is “harsh” and will make you cry. While dabbing is not for everyone, this portrait of dabbing is extremely skewed. When consumed correctly and with quality product, dabbing is incredibly smooth. Dabbing can also be used medicinally. Personally, dabbing has relieved my anxiety, as well as menstrual symptoms of dull cramping and mood swings. If you are dabbing for medicinal use, you definitely won’t cry —except in relief.
So let’s get the facts straight! Only proper education can break the stigma around dabbing.
What do I need to dab?
In order to dab, you’ll need a dab rig. A dab rig is a type of water bong made specifically to consume concentrates. You can retrofit your current water bong or get one of the many specialized rigs constructed for dabbing. Here’s a breakdown of all the pieces:
Nail or Banger: the small container that, after being heated (and cooled slightly), holds the concentrate that will be consumed. Some nails are made of ceramic, quartz, or titanium, which is the most common.
Dome: the glass covering that is placed over the nail to trap the vapors but still allow for air flow. “Dome-less” nails (see below) don’t need a glass globe, but standard nails need something to keep the vapor from escaping. On the East Coast, we call the dome a “carb cap.”
Torch: similar to a kitchen torch, a propane-fueled torch will heat the nail quicker.
Dabber/Dab Tool: the glass, metal, or ceramic tool used to scoop and add the concentrate to the heated nail.
Ok, now what? How exactly do I dab?
Dabbing may seem scary at first, but it’s dope once you get the hang of it. When you apply the dab using the dabber tool to the heated nail, it creates the vapor which is inhaled through the rig. Because a dab is concentrated, a little (A DAB) goes a long way.
Once the rig is set up and your dab is prepared on the dabber, you’re ready to sesh!
Step 1: Turn on your torch and aim the flame directly at the nail. Heat the nail until it turns red. Turn off the torch and leave it to the side. Safety Warning: the nails and glass domes become extremely hot in the dabbing process. Take caution!
Step 2: Allow titanium nails to cool for about 10 seconds and quartz nails for about 45-60 seconds. If the surface temperature is too hot, the oil will burn.
Step 3: Using your dabber, apply the dab directly on the nail inside the dome. Inhale slowly and completely. Rotating the dabber tip on the nail will prevent wasting any of your nature’s nectar! Most rigs come with a carb cap which helps to keep the vapors hot with better air flow.
Step 4: Exhale immediately and repeat only as needed.
Do you wanna dab?
Not sure if dabbing is for you? I get it. You’re a “flower” girl. I was too for 20 years. But I didn’t lose the rich variety of flower when I started dabbing. Like flower, concentrates are strain specific since they are extracted with terpenes. The extraction process gives each concentrate a unique look, taste, and feeling. For example, I’m obsessed with budder and crumble. I love the rich feeling of budder but also enjoy the taste of a citrus crumble.
Need another reason? Consider this fact: A 2019 study from Forensic Science International found that over 75% of the THC in a dab makes it into the users’ lungs. By contrast, smoking cannabis in a joint or a bowl destroys about 75% of the THC before it can get into the user. Moreover, most concentrates boast a THC content of between 60-90% whereas flower consumption is usually between 10-30%.
What are some tips and tricks for novice dabbers?
I recommend dabbing CBD concentrates first. Without the psychoactive effects, they are therapeutic and less intense. If the blowtorch is daunting, try Puffco Peak. A portable electronic smart rig, the Puffco Peak has a sexy compact design with a rechargeable electronic nail that has four heat settings. The removable ceramic bowl makes it a cinch to clean. In need of a quick dab? The Dr. Dabber is a portable, battery-powered dab rig. It’s sleek, convenient, and unassuming. It heats up quick and then boom —it’s back in my bag. Finally, my girlfriend Jacqui loves her nectar collector (a.k.a. dab straw or honey straw). It’s a mini version of a rig shaped like a pen, at about 7” long. You still need a torch so it’s less attractive to travel with (you cannot fly with a torch!), but it’s way more portable than a rig.
Ladies, if you need relief and don’t want the harmful side effects of smoke inhalation then get your ass out there and set up your rig! As I got older, the blunt smoke was getting to me. I’m a Pilates instructor and noticed that I started developing a smokers cough. I started dabbing to try a cleaner method of consumption. Women over 40 are one of the fastest growing demographics in cannabis consumption. It’s time that we expand our palettes and start dabbing on and off the dancefloor.