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Dabbing Basics: Anatomy and How To Guide

If you find that flower doesn’t quite do it for you anymore, you may be wondering how to improve your experience. While the world of concentrates seems daunting at first, the terminology is incredibly easy to pick up. Historically speaking, concentrates aren’t new, as humans have smoked hash for centuries—but they have evolved significantly in recent decades, leaving us with a myriad of products to enjoy. 

But if you’ve ever wondered, “how do I do a dab?” you’re in the right spot. While cannabis flower will naturally top out at around 24-28% THC, dabbable concentrates can have a THC content that is as high as 90%! Because of this concentration, we highly urge beginners to avoid this method of consumption to prevent any negative reactions. Please do not do dabs if you are new to cannabis or have a low THC tolerance.

Dabbing & Cannabis – The Basics 

While concentrates and dabs require a bit of homework to properly enjoy them, the result is worth the effort and investment. Dabs are a very terpene-rich, flavourful, and cost-effective method of enjoying cannabis, especially for those who find they are spending too much on the flower to maintain their high or have a very high tolerance for edibles. You can dab most concentrates, even hash, at low enough temperatures. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the various types of concentrate, take a peek at this breakdown. A product our budtenders always recommend is the San Rafael ‘71 OG Chemdawg Live Resin, simply because it is beautifully crafted with fresh whole flower and uses no solvents or hydrocarbons to get that rich terpy goodness from the bud…just simple heat and pressure make this flavourful and zippy dab go.

Once you’ve chosen the type of concentrate you think you would enjoy, it’s important to take a quick look at a common rig setup.


Setting-Up Dabbing For Your Cannabis 

Consider Your Options 

Oil rigs are usually a simple-structure water pipe involving a 90-degree banger (also called a nail), much like a bowl and a bong. While you can convert a bong to a rig using a 45-degree banger, do be aware that you are likely to lose some flavour in your vapour. 

Though carb caps are not mandatory to enjoy a dab, they are commonly used so that you can control the air pressure in your rig. This results in a lower temperature to vaporize your concentrate, giving you a smoother and more flavourful hit. Some are even designed to allow you to blow the concentrate around in the banger, so it boils more evenly. 

The easiest way to imagine how this works is if you compared taking a puff out of a pipe, where you cover the carb and bring in more smoke, and if you puff on a joint and lose more of the smoke. Both get you high, but one is more efficient. A carb cap can be used on both flat and angle-top bangers, and they are occasionally built into the piece.

Because dabbing is a highly temperature-sensitive art, getting the correct temperature is important so that your concentrates aren’t wasted. This means that you should be investing in high-quality pieces, as cheap glass won’t get you very far. While the bulk of your rig can be glass, you will need to make sure your banger is made of ceramicquartz, or titanium and is of a higher quality. This is to prevent damage to your rig through cracking (or, in extreme cases of cheap glass explosion) of your piece when enough heat is applied.

Bangers come in a variety of shapes. While we don’t stock the whole range of these accessories, hopefully, this can give you a preview of some of the more common types. Here is a full list of our stock.

Thicker bottomed pieces are better for heat retention, allowing for someone who prefers a cold start, for example, to maintain the ideal dabbing temperature for longer. This also applies to the hot dabbing method but be aware that it will take longer for your banger to cool to a perfect temperature.

A bell-shaped banger is intended for more even heat distribution in an even-thickness piece, allowing for better boiling of your concentrate while in that ideal heat-temperature window.

Most bangers have a flat top, but angle top bangers make the application of your concentrate to your banger easier, especially if you have converted a bong into a rig. They may make carb caps slightly more difficult to use, but not impossible.

Be Careful If It’s Your First Time 

When first exploring dabs, we recommend doing them with someone you know and trust, ideally someone with experience with an oil rig. Barring that, we recommend that you remain seated while you do your dab and only consume a small amount of concentrate. Pin-head sized small. You can always smoke more, but you can’t un-smoke what you’ve had. Dabs will slam a lot of THC into your skull very quickly. Knowing what to do if you start greening out will also be helpful. Some people can pass out due to the intensity of dabs, so being seated is extremely important, even if it is unlikely to happen. 

Always be sure to turn your torch off after using it and keep the hot materials away. Give yourself 10 to 15 minutes between hits to see how you’re feeling before approaching the rig again—just like flower or concentrates can be creepers too.

Generally speaking, people will torch their banger from the centre of the piece and around the edges while avoiding the joints. This will allow for even heat, and most people do this for 15 to 30 seconds, and as long as 60 seconds, depending on the material and quality of their banger. The target temperatures for most dabs are between 200 to 300 degrees F, and if you do not have a temperature reader, you may need to experiment a little in order to hit that sweet spot. You should be waiting 15-60 seconds before applying your dab to the banger because it is important to let the material cool. The amount of time you wait varies dramatically on how long you heated your banger and how high a temperature you want to smoke at. If you wait 60 seconds and find that it is still burning, just wait a little longer. This is especially true for thicker pieces.

Don’t feel bad if you chazz some of your concentrates the first few times, as dabs have a massive learning curve. Just be sure to clean your rig, so you aren’t left with gross-looking and worse-tasting carbon spots. Also, make sure that your banger has time to completely cool between dabs because uneven application of heat can cause damage to your piece or even fracture it.

 Concentrates may be what you’re looking for, and we have a variety of concentrates at our cannabis dispensary! We’ve built a quick guide to help you out.


Cold starting your dab is another option if you want a more flavourful and cooler smoke from your rig. Also called reverse dabbing, cold start dabs are done by applying your concentrate to the banger before heating it and then slowly bringing it up to whatever temperature you like to smoke at. If you have a carb cap, apply it after putting the concentrate in the banger, but before applying heat. This method works great with carb cabs due to the convection they help produce inside of the banger. 

When your concentrate begins to boil and vaporize, usually after around 10 seconds, you’re getting to the right temperature. However, this method can lead to concentrate wastage if you’re not careful, especially if you don’t heat your banger up enough. This method is also better for single hits rather than a longer session over time. But for a first-timer, it may be perfect for giving you a better idea of how your rig reacts to heat, how much time you need to heat your rig, and what it will feel like. Cold starts are also better for the health of your rig, as the banger itself is less likely to sustain damage from frequent application of high heat.

Always Be Mindful

Finally, be mindful of the size of your dab rig and its complexity. Besides cleaning it, the size of your rig influences the temperature of the vapour you inhale. This can be critical knowledge—if your hit is too hot, you run the risk of harming your throat and lungs on the high-temperature vapour. While still learning your rig, please err on the side of caution and go lower and slower than you think you should. Just like it’s easier to build up a high than sober up, it is more pleasant to have to take multiple lower temp hits than burn yourself on one high temp. Once you know your tolerance, it will be easier to push your boundaries and experiment further.


Bud Bar is your trusted Calgary dispensary. We pride ourselves on creating an open and welcoming environment where you are comfortable and safe access recreational cannabis. We set ourselves apart with personalized customer service with our budtenders providing one-on-one sessions so that you can learn about our cannabis products and accessories. We offer a selection of high quality yet affordable products, including flower buds, pre-rolls, oils, capsules, as well as accessories like vaporizers, bongs, and pipes. As your trusted Calgary marijuana dispensary, we can make it easy and safe for you to get recreational cannabis. Visit our marijuana stores in Calgary Northwest today, or place an order online!