Dabbing Basics: Essential Guide

If you find that flower doesn’t quite do it for you anymore, you might wonder what else is out there. While the world of concentrates may seem daunting at first, it’s relatively easy to pick up. 

Concentrates aren’t new, humans have smoked hash for centuries. But weed evolved significantly in recent decades, leaving us with a ton of new products to enjoy and ways to consume.  

If you’ve ever wondered “how do I do a dab?” you’ve come to 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, we highly urge beginners to avoid this method to prevent any negative reactions you may run into. (Please do not do dabs if you are new to cannabis or have a low THC tolerance.)

Dabbing & Cannabis: The Basics

When some people hear the word “dabbing” they may think of the iconic touchdown dance from football star Cam Newton. 

But in the cannabis world, dabbing has a completely different meaning. For anyone who isn’t familiar with dabbing in the cannabis culture here’s a quick overview. Dabbing is the process of vaporizing concentrated THC oil (or “dabs”) using a special device called a dab rig. The oil is heated until it vaporizes and then it is inhaled by the user.

What Are Dabs?

Dabs, also known as wax, shatter, amber, honeycomb, or budder, is a highly concentrated form of butane hash oil that contains high levels of THC. This concentrated component is produced using a chemical process that extracts oils from cannabis using butane oil.

In comparison to regular cannabis, research shows that dabs or BHO might have a THC content of 40-90%. Dabs are, at the very least, four times as potent as a joint. People who dab get a strong high all at once rather than gradually developing it over time.

Cannabis Concentrates and Dabs: A Quick Overview

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 a 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 usually recommend is the RAD Mixtape Special Live Resin. Simply because it is the most radical deal on concentrates you’ll ever find. Bursting with citrus and spice flavours, this live resin is made exclusively with wicked, whole-bud inputs that were flash-frozen at harvest and concentrated via hydrocarbon extraction. Just simple heat and pressure make this flavourful dab fire up.

Once you’ve decided on the type of concentrate you want to try, you can take a quick look at a common rig setup.

What Tools Do You Need For Dabbing?

Oil rigs are usually a simple-structured water pipe involving a 90-degree banger (also called a nail), similar to a bowl and a bong. While you can convert a bong to a rig using a 45-degree banger, 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 when vaporizing your concentrate, and gives 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.

How Does Dabbing Work?

The easiest way to imagine how this works is if you think of taking a puff out of a pipe, where you cover the carb and bring in more smoke, versus puffing on a joint and losing 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, because 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 ceramic, quartz, 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, this can give you a preview of some of the more common types. Here is a full list of our stock:

  • Thick 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 angled 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.

Tips on How to Have a Safe Experience with Dabs When Using a Torch Lighter

When trying dabs for the first time, we recommend doing so with someone you know and trust. Ideally someone with experience. You should remain seated while you do your dab and only consume a small amount of concentrate. About the size of a pin-head. 

You can always smoke more, but you can’t un-smoke what you’ve had. Some people can pass out due to the intensity of dabs, so being seated is extremely important, even if it is unlikely to happen. 

Here’s some tips to make your experience more enjoyable:

Tip 1

Always turn your torch off after use. Give yourself 10 to 15 minutes between hits to see how you feel before approaching the rig again. The flower or concentrates can be creepers too.

Tip 2

Generally speaking, people torch their banger from the centre of the piece and around the edges while avoiding the joints. This will allow for even heat. Do this for 15 to 60 seconds, depending on the material and quality of their banger.

Tip 3

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.

Tip 4

The amount of time you wait varies dramatically. It depends on how long you heated your banger and how high is the temperature you smoke it 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.

Tip 5

Don’t feel bad if you waste 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.

Tip 6

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.

If you’re curious about concentrates, we have a variety that you can choose from! We’ve even built a quick guide to help you out.

What Is Cold-Dabbing?  

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. 

When your concentrate begins to boil and vaporize, usually after 10 seconds, you’re getting to the right temperature. But be careful, this method could lead to waste the concentrate if you don’t heat your banger up enough

Cold-dabbing 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.

Why Does The Size of Your Dab Matter? 

Lastly, 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 you learn how to use your rig, err on the side of caution and go lower and slower than you think. Just like it’s easier to build up a high than it is to sober up, it’s more pleasant to take multiple lower temp hits than burn yourself on one high temp. Once you know your tolerance, it’ll 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 that’s comfortable and provides safe access to 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!

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