An Intro to Dabbing

We debunk some myths and discuss the safest ways to consume dabs.

For traditional pot smokers, dabbing can be a bit daunting. This is understandable. THC-concentrated wax doesn't resemble weed in any way. In order to inhale it, you have to heat it with a butane torch. And honestly, the amateur chemistry setup required to smoke dabs makes them look pretty insidious. Still, there are tons of misconceptions about the art of dabbing and the safety surrounding it. While the use of cannabis concentrates has gained significant traction over the past few years, media coverage has oscillated between hysterical nonsense and wholesale, unquestioning endorsement. Because of this, it can be tough to find reliable information about dab safety online. Don't worry though, that's why we're here.

What exactly are dabs?

Essentially, a dab is a concentrated wax version of marijuana. Some dabs are made from rosin or kief, and others are chemical extracts created via solvents like butane or CO2. There are several reliable techniques with which to create dabs, but most of these require an incredibly precise process. You may have heard of amateur dab creators blowing themselves up in the news and falsely assumed that dabs are unsafe. That's okay. Plenty of people believed that news when it first came out. That said, trying to create cannabis extracts can be incredibly dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Unless you have a solid grasp of chemistry, it's not recommended that you try to create cannabis extracts using solvents. If you mess up, you could seriously injure yourself and others. While you can create your own rosin at home, it's best that you leave butane solvents to the professionals.

Dab rig

There are a myriad of ways with which to consume dabs, but perhaps the most recognizable is the dab rig. A dab rig essentially functions like a bong, with some extra stuff thrown in there. At the end of every rig is a nail, or a small titanium, quartz, or glass tray that holds the dab. In order to smoke a dab, cut off a piece of the wax and attach it to a metal wand. Next, heat the nail with a butane torch. Then, gently touch the dab oil to the heated nail while inhaling.

While using a dab rig and a butane torch is one of the more popular methods, it's also one of the most unsafe. According to a recent study, heating a dab to temperatures over 600˚ can produce methacrolein (a toxic chemical) and heating it to over 950˚ can produce benzene (a known carcinogen). As long as you're safe and keep the nail at temperatures under 600˚ the traces of both these chemicals become negligible, but as you can imagine, it's pretty difficult to eyeball the temperature of something you've heated with a butane torch. This isn't to say it's impossible to safely smoke from a dab rig, just that there are certain risk factors smokers should take into account.

If you just bought a bunch of wax that you're dying to try, fear not! There are plenty of other ways to smoke dabs that don't involve using extremely hot temperatures. E-nails are one excellent option. These electronic devices allow you to set precise temperatures, allowing you to heat your dabs safely. Another option is to use a carb cap. A carb cap is an attachment for your dab rig that traps the vapor from the heated dab and, because of the pressure, lowers the boiling point of the dab. This allows you to smoke at much lower temperatures. An added bonus of using a carb cap, is that you actually get to smoke all of your dab, and won't lose any of it on the nail. Still, the safest option is a dab pen, or portable vaporizer. These relatively inexpensive devices are probably the cleanest way to smoke.

A dab pen

One thing to beware of when smoking dabs however, is their potency. It's difficult for first time users to judge exactly how big of a hit they should take, but considering the high THC concentration, we at Find Karma would like to advise caution. You can always take another hit if the one you took was too small, but there's no surefire way to get un-high if you take one too big. The good news is, if you smoke too much you can just wait out the high with little to no consequences. You may feel slightly nauseous but that will subside with time.

Some rules of thumb:

Don't skimp on quality: Make sure you buy your dabs from reputable sources. Otherwise you might end up inhaling a whole bunch of chemicals

Small doses: Dabs are much stronger than regular weed. Be careful.

Low temperature is better: If it's too hot you risk scorching your throat or worse, releasing toxic chemicals.

Don't try to perform chemical extraction in your house: Repeat after me. "I am not a chemist."

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