How to Dab: A Beginner's Guide to Dabs and Wax - 420 Science

How to Dab: A Beginner's Guide to Dabs and Wax

Taking a dab is experiencing a strong dose of concentrated cannabinoids in a short amount of time. While the extraction method may differ, the consumption method is often using a dab rig. In this article, we will discuss the gear you'll need and the steps taken to enjoy dab rig smoking.

What is Dabbing?

Cannabis concentrates are made using an extraction process that can vary mainly by the solvent process used. Different extraction methods yield more terpenes or more THC. Some ways of making dabs combine two processes like distillate THC crystal extraction and traditional butane extraction to make Diamonds and Sauce style dabs. Some methods like rosin pressing only use heat and pressure. Regardless of the method used, dabs are the concentrated and extracted THC and Terpene compounds from the cannabis plant.

When you do a dab you are flash vaporizing or slow vaporizing these concentrated cannabis extracts by placing them on a heated surface and inhaling them through a mechanism like a dab rig.

Some concentrated forms of cannabis like hash and honey oil have existed for decades and even centuries but the mechanical extraction process using evaporated solvents has been around for about thirty years. This process has been innovated and industrialized to make it extremely efficient and yield a result that is pure THC and terpenes without any of the plant material remaining.

What are the Benefits of Dabbing?

How you choose to smoke is, of course, totally up to you. It’s all about preference. But there are certain benefits of dabbing that people tend to enjoy. Three common benefits of smoking dabs are the taste, fewer carcinogens, and maximum potency.

1. Better Tasting

A dab rig doesn’t produce any chemicals. Therefore, it adds nothing to the concentrate. This purity means the vapor created when dabbing weed tastes better, making it more enjoyable for many people.

2. Fewer Carcinogens

Since a dab rig doesn’t create smoke or add extra materials, it produces fewer carcinogens. Many people consider the vapor healthier to inhale. Also, extracts contain a lot less plant material, so you’re inhaling more cannabinoids and less resin. But it’s important to note that this is only true if done correctly. If you dab at too high of a temperature, you can produce some bad stuff. So, you want to make sure your process is right.

3. Maximum Potency

The concentrates you use for dabbing are a lot more potent than a flower. Bud usually is between 15-25% THC, but concentrates are 50-80%.

What are the Most Common Types of THC Concentrates?

Dabs come in many variations that range in potency, flavor, and texture. Here are some of the most commonly encountered types of dabs.

  • Crumble- These type of dabs are made with a solvent extraction method. The light yellow to green color signifies that its rich in THC and some terpenes. These dabs have very little moisture in them and are best picked up with a shovel or scoop type dabber.
  • Live Resin- This is often one of the most coveted types of cannabis concentrate. Live resins are made witch complicated multistage equipment. This method used frozen plant material and a closed loop system to extract a high amount of THC and terpene oils from the plant.
  • Oil- This is an early phrase for dabs that refers to the crude terpene, solvent, and cannabinoid mixture in mostly butane extractions. These types of dabs are not fully purged and contain more plant materials.
  • Wax- Another term for dabs that refers to the texture of the concentrate having a waxy or dull finish to it. This appearance comes from the low moisture content in the dabs and additional colors from paraffins extracted in the plant.
  • Shatter- A good blend of high terpene and THC content shatter is made with a solvent extraction and additionally purged removing trace solvents and some moisture. The result is flavorful and potent.
  • Diamonds and Sauce- THC crystals are made using a distillate extraction method. This method targets a single compound to isolate and gather in extremely potent concentrations. Later the isolated THC is mixed with specific isolated terpenes to create intense flavor and an extreme high.

What Tools are Needed for Smoking Dabs?

Typically concentrate dabs are consumed using a setup of a dab rig, a banger, a torch, a dabber, and a carb cap. This may seem like a lot of accouterments for getting stoned, but adding up the number of items for a traditional joint or bong rip is close to the same amount.

  • Dab Rig- A dab rig is traditionally smaller than most water pipes and contains a low level of water filtration; vapor will recondense on the sides of a larger tube used for dry herb.
  • Dabber- This is a tool to portion the dabs and place them in the banger. Dab tools come in many forms that are specialized for different uses and types of dabs.
  • Banger or Nail- A banger is customarily a quartz "bucket" that slides into your rig's downstem. The banger is heated where the dab is applied to be turned into the vapor-hit you'll be inhaling. There are also variations of the banger known as nails, but the use of a titanium nail is quickly fading, as quartz bangers preserve the flavor of concentrates better over time and are inexpensive.
  • Carb Cap- This sits on top of the banger and does a few jobs. It caps the banger keeping vapor from escaping and raises the temperature and moves air more efficiently so your entire dab is vaporized. Some carb caps can be moved directionally and others create a vortex of wind.
  • Dab Torch- A dab torch is used to heat up your banger to the proper temperature to vaporize your dab.
  • THC Concentrate- Extracted and concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant. Grab your dabs of choice from one of your local dispensaries or wherever you acquire them.


dab tools

How to Dab: Step by Step


    1. Unlike traditional bowls, concentrate dabs require much less material to consume. Using a titanium or quartz dabber, collect a small amount of concentrate on the end and set aside until the nail is heated to the appropriate temperature. Just remember, the larger the dab, the more intense the initial high will be. The initial rush can be overwhelming.

    1. Add water to your dab rig’s chamber. Test the waterline by inhaling with no banger in the downstem. If water backsplashes into your mouth, you have too much water in the rig. You need to pour some out.

      Use your torch to heat the banger until it gets red because it’s so hot. You want to apply the torch to the outside and bottom because that’s where you’ll load the concentrate.

      We know the idea of switching to a high-powered torch is daunting at first, but over time, it becomes second nature. If the concept of torch flames is too much to deal with, consider switching to an e-nail, which provides a consistent temperature through a coil attached to a nail or banger that is plugged into the wall. The only concern would be tripping over the cord.

    1. Once the banger is hot, wait 30-45 seconds for it to cool down. If it is too hot, it will scorch your concentrate, and that’s not how you do dabs. You can buy a terp timer to use on this step of the process to maximize flavor, but you can also use your watch or phone.

    1. Apply the wax onto the banger with your dabber, then slowly inhale it through the mouthpiece. Rotate the dabber tip on the hot banger to avoid wasting any wax stuck on it. Use a long, slow inhale because most of the concentrate doesn’t vaporize instantly.

    1. Cover the dab with a carb cap and finish inhaling. The cap helps regulate the airflow and gives you a better hit. A carb cap helps ensure all material is consumed by reducing the air pressure inside the banger which raises the temperature and allows you to direct the flow of air where you need.

    1. Exhale the vapor and repeat the process. Remember to be cautious when you first begin dabbing. You don’t want to over-consume the concentrate and green out. It’s easy to do when dabs are so potent.

carb capping

Time to Fire Up Your Wax Rig!

Ready to give dabbing a try? The entire process of taking a dab may sound drawn out from start to finish, but it shouldn't take longer than a minute once you get the hang of it. Check out 420 Science for all of your dab accessories, rigs and related tools.

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