Back to Canna Culture

Dabbing THC: How to Dab Concentrates

Since the practice of dabbing THC took the cannabis world by storm in the late ’90s, smoking dabs has become one of its most exciting areas of exploration. Why? Compared with flower, the cannabis concentrates used in dabbing THC offer a huge increase in potency. What’s more, those concentrates have the potential to capture the complexity of the cannabis plant’s flavors and aromas in ways we never thought possible until recently.

If you’re new to cannabis or dabbing, even the mention of a dab rig can be enough to inspire confusion. 

In today’s post, we’ll share everything we know about THC concentrate, dabs, and best practices for a potent, enjoyable, and safe dabbing experience.

Dabbing THC: An Introduction

Cannabis concentrates go by many names: Wax, shatter, badder, budder, live resin, and others still. And while there are several ways in which you can work with them, one of the most popular is by smoking dabs of THC concentrate. Dabs are small servings of a cannabis concentrate or extract, and “dabbing” is the act of vaping or smoking these dabs.

dab wax in glass dab jars lined up in rows and columns

Why do people bother dabbing when they could just smoke or vape cannabis buds? There are a couple of reasons. For one thing, dabs are far more potent and hard-hitting than cannabis flower. While flower tends to top out at around 30% THC, extracts can easily hit 80%+ THC levels, making them several times more potent and effective for certain chronic symptoms.

Then there’s the topic of flavor. As we’ve written previously, there are many styles of cannabis concentrate, each of them offering specific facets, textures, and variations on the cannabis experience. Some styles, such as those called “live resin,” offer users the chance to experience a truly new depth of flavor. That’s because these dabbable concentrates are produced using flash-frozen cannabis instead of the dried and cured flower producers typically work with. As a result, they preserve a far higher percentage of the flavorful terpenes that do so much to define the aromatic profile of different cannabis strains. Dabbing live resin offers an almost “hyper-realistic” expression of the cannabis plant, one you just won’t find anywhere else.

The amazing complexity of aromas and flavors cannabis plants produce was a source of inspiration for our very own Kings & Queens line of concentrates, available in our Maryland stores. We’ve crafted a variety of live concentrates, including live badder, live budder, and live diamonds from strains known for their unique terpene profiles.

So whether you’re looking for greater overall potency or trying to address stubborn symptoms that standard smoking or vaping can’t manage, dabs have the potential to open a whole new window onto the cannabis experience. That said, we’d like to offer a word of caution: Because of the extremely high potency of cannabis concentrates, dabbing THC should be done mindfully. It takes practice and prudence to get the most out of smoking dabs, and in this next section, we’ll share some best practices and tips.

How to Use THC Concentrate: The Mechanics of Smoking Dabs

There are a number of ways to use cannabis concentrates. Perhaps the simplest is by adding them to the flower or hash in a bowl or joint. But in reality, adding a sticky or oily extract to crumbled cannabis flower can be a messy and frustrating process. Concentrates with a more solid consistency—such as crumble or wax—are easier to handle, and arguably a better option when you’re using this simple, low-tech option. And as we mentioned before, given the very high potency of these products, it’s important to work with very small quantities—perhaps the size of the head of a nail—when you’re first trying them.

Of course, there are other methods of smoking dabs. And one of them doesn’t actually involve smoking at all! Vaping is the practice of heating cannabis concentrate such as THC oil to the point at which the cannabinoids and terpenes vaporize into a fine mist (but before they actually burn). Because there’s no burnt plant matter, many fans believe this method produces far more flavorful hits than smoking. Moreover, it’s typically far easier to load dabs into a vaporizer than into a bowl or a joint.

Why are vape dabs so much better? Not only is the vapor smoother and less harsh than smoke, but vaporizers can hit specific terpene vaporization points one by one as they heat up, releasing those terpenes and producing more flavorful hits.

Moreover, vaporizers with temperature control can give you greater control over the terpenes in cannabis. For example, vaping at 165℃/320℉ will release terpenes such as caryophyllene, pinene will vaporize at 156℃/312℉, and myrcene at 167℃/332℉, for example.

How to Use THC Wax

Wax is a popular form of concentrate and nowadays many conventional vaporizers are designed to be compatible with wax-based concentrates and extracts. But it’s always important to check beforehand that your vape can indeed handle extracts without breaking down.

five dab pens on a table

The vaporizers known as “wax pen vapes” are one of the most popular ways of dabbing THC. These handheld vaporizers are easy to use and are perfect for on-the-go dabbing of wax-based concentrates. If you don’t want to dab out of a rig, or are simply looking for a more mobile alternative, we’d be happy to guide you towards some attractive wax pen options when you visit any of our dispensary locations.

How Do You Dab? A Step-By-Step Guide

Of course, using a purpose-made dab rig is the most effective way to enjoy dabs. As the name implies, a “dab rig” is a glass water pipe specially designed for doing dabs. Glass rigs produce smooth, flavorful hits that truly bring out the terpene profile of a dab. In actuality, dab rigs function very similarly to bongs, except that instead of a bowl for your flower, dab rigs have a nail for your dabs.

But before you can get down to dabbing out of a rig, you need to make sure that you have all the necessary equipment to properly use it. Alongside your dab rig, you’ll also need a nail (also called a banger), a carb cap, a torch, and a dab tool. Once you’ve got everything ready, you can begin dabbing. Here’s how to dab from a dab rig:

how to dab by scooping wax from jar with metal tool
  1. Grab your torch and use it to heat up your rig’s nail/banger for about 30 to 45 seconds or until it becomes visibly red hot.
  2. Let your nail cool down. Titanium nails can be cooled for as little as 15 seconds while quartz nails may need as long as 45 seconds. Why is this important? Dabbing with a nail that is too hot will result in combustion (that is, smoke) instead of vapor.
  3. Use your dab tool to scoop up a dab of your concentrate and apply it to the nail. Remember, start with minuscule amounts until you get the hang of the process.
  4. Inhale slowly while using the carb cap to cover the dome and manage airflow.
  5. Exhale. You’ve successfully dabbed!

How to Use THC Concentrate: Dabs Demystified 

We sincerely hope this guide provides clarity around what has historically been a cloudy topic. Based on a large and growing body of clinical evidence, we believe that cannabis compounds such as THC and CBD can help address chronic medical conditions, as well as supporting your well-being in a number of ways. And while they’re not for everyone, dabs can provide a sizable dose of cannabinoids in a fast-acting, potent formulation.

To get started, find the Green Goods location closest to you and check out our live menus to see which concentrates we have in stock right now: You can find us in Minnesota and Maryland! If you’re in Maryland, be sure to check out our Kings & Queens line of beautifully fragrant and flavorful concentrates.

If you have any other questions about dabbing THC (or any other cannabis-related topics), don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to help!

Please note that qualifying conditions vary by state, and the information relating to qualifying conditions may not apply to cannabis patients in all states. Product availability also varies based on state program restrictions and rules, so the products discussed may not be available in all states. Be sure to check with your local Green Goods location about the products available in your state!