Learning how to smoke dabs may seem daunting at first, but it’ll comes easily once you read about it. To help ensure your first time goes smoothly, this resource will teach you how to take a dab.
Essentially, dabbing is the flash vaporization of cannabis concentrates, once they are applied to a hot surface and inhaled. These concentrates (you’ve maybe heard of shatter, wax, BHO, oil, etc.) are a lot more potent than flower, so a little bit goes a long way.
While bud tends to test between 15-25% THC, concentrates typically range between 50-80% THC, depending on the extract type and quality. You can even dab non-intoxicating CBD extracts for quick therapeutic effects with little to no cerebral euphoria, but in some regions these oils can be difficult to find.
Dabbing isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re new to cannabis entirely. The dosing process is more delicate, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, concentrates can offer you new heights of physical relief and unique cerebral effects. Extracts also contain a lot less plant material than flower, so you’re inhaling more cannabinoids (e.g. THC, CBD) and less combusted resin. Check out our tips for dabbing.
What dab tools are needed?
When learning how to use a dab rig, keep in mind that dabbing technology is evolving. The traditional setup includes the following items:
- Dab rig. This water pipe is like a bong except it will have a fitting for a nail.
- Nail. This is like the bowl for your bong and where you will put the concentrate. The standard today is a quartz banger, which has a bucket shape. Ceramic and titanium are other options, and e-nails are becoming more common. Be sure to get the correct joint size, where the nail slides into the dab rig: If your rig has a 14mm stem, you need a 14mm nail. Nails can be male and female as well—you need a male nail for a female rig, and vice versa.
- Dabber. Use this tool to apply the concentrate to the nail. They can be metal, glass, or ceramic, and have many shapes: ballpoint, needlepoint, scoop, spoon, paddle, etc. Pick a shape depending on the texture and consistency of the concentrate you’re dabbing.
- Carb cap. Although not necessary, we highly recommend one of these to help regulate airflow. Combination dabber/carb caps are increasingly popular.
- Torch. Mini-torches used for crème brulee are commonly used, but you’ll have to stock up on propane for them. Again, e-nails are increasingly common (but expensive) and cut out the need for a torch.
- Cannabis extract. These come in a variety of forms, but the most common ones used for dabbing are shatter, wax, BHO, and solventless extracts like rosin.
- (Optional): Dab mat. To keep your dabbing surface clean and not sticky.
- (Optional): Timer. To ensure you heat your nail up consistently dab after dab.
How to dose cannabis oils and concentrates
Measuring a dab can be daunting as well. Different extracts have different THC concentrations, so it’s helpful to know how potent your concentrate is before dabbing it. It’s generally recommended to start small and increase the dose if you feel comfortable doing so.
A small dose is no bigger than a crumb. It may not look like much, but that’s a lot of THC going straight to the dome at once. Dabbing can feel a lot more intense to those accustomed to flower, but as your tolerance adjusts, the effects become less jarring.
Legal markets are required to add cannabinoid information on their concentrate packaging. Potency is broken down into a percentage. Most solvent-based hash oils will land in the range of 60-90% total cannabinoids, with a few special examples exceeding 90%. The potency of some solventless concentrates may fall below 50% total cannabinoids.
For example, if you have one gram of hash that contains 80% total THC, that one gram will contain 800mg of total cannabinoids. For reference, the recommended starting dosage for an edible is between 5-10mg. This should be an indicator that dabbing is generally for more experience cannabis consumers. Obtaining a 5mg dab from a piece of hash is difficult.
If you split that gram of hash into eight equal portions, each portion will have 100mg of cannabinoids. It’s easier for the naked eye to split the concentrate into eight pieces than pulling a 25mg dab off of an 800mg slab. For reference, a 25mg dab at the ratio of 80% total THC typically comes in about the size of a couple grains of couscous. This will change depending on the potency of your sample, which is why reading the label is important.
Always start small
Don’t be afraid to take the smallest dab that your tool will allow and use that as a reference point. Micro-dabbing offers many benefits, and you can always take another dab. Find a dab size that works for you.
It’s important to understand that different sizes of dabs—and different ratios of cannabinoids—will affect everyone uniquely. A 25mg dab of THC is not guaranteed to give you the same psychoactive effects as your friend; our endocannabinoid systems all operate differently. The best way to find out what dose works for you is to start small and work your way up.
Wondering How to Smoke Shatter Weed?
One of the easiest ways for newbies to smoke shatter is by means of a joint. Simply crumble the shatter on top of your weed and roll it with a joint. This is known as the “baby steps towards shatter” because it allows you to gauge little by little how you might react to the spiked THC potency. The one major drawback with smoking shatter in a joint is that you won’t be able to fully indulge yourself in the extract because much of it will be wasted during the smoking process.
However, if you’re short on equipment to vaporize your shatter and new to the product, then this way will suffice. One of the most popular ways of consuming shatter is by using an oil rig. There are a few ways to burn shatter, but this method is the most popular. Essentially, an oil rig is a glass pipe that looks similar to a bong. It contains a vertical chamber and a mouthpiece with a hole which is used to insert a small nail made of metal or glass.
When the nail turns red, you use a metal dabber (usually made of titanium or quartz), scoop up a small piece of shatter and then dab it onto the nail. This causes the oil to vaporize immediately and produces a thick cloud which you can inhale through the rig. The perfect temperature of the surface should be between 550 and 750 degrees Fahrenheit. As you can imagine, this is extremely hot, which is why you need the dabber.
Moreover, there will often be extra oil on the nail after you dab the shatter. To smoke without wasting a single bit, you can either blast the nail again or just wait until the clog begins to form. If this happens, immerse the rig in alcohol and bring the substance to a boil. Once all the alcohol has evaporated, scoop up the remaining shatter and repeat the dabbing process. Using an oil rig is not a cheap method, but it is one of the most effective.
However, you don’t need to have a dab rig for shatter. Technically speaking, a dab is just a small dose of extract. This means that no matter where you heat it up, you’re dabbing. So no oil rig, no problem. Simply fill up your bowl with ground up weed, then add a few drops of dab onto the flower. Continue filling the pipe with the remaining weed, and spark up when you’re done. This prevents an open flame from coming into contact with the shatter and also keeps the THC from being charred before it enters your lungs.
Lastly, you may or may not have heard of the term “shatter vape.” Yes, you can inhale shatter by vaping it.
There are two main types of vaporizers; desktop and portable. The desktop vaporizers, although impressive in size, don’t work well with shatter. Instead, they have been replaced with more compact models known as “vape pens” or in this case, a shatter vape pen.
So you’re probably wondering, what is a shatter pen? This is a portable vaporizer and can cost anywhere between $30 to $200, depending on the quality of the material and the features of the unit. Shatter pens are designed for use with oil or wax concentrates, and the greatest advantage of a vape pen is that it lets you experience the full flavor of the extract with absolutely no combustion of the material. This is also the best way to inhale shatter in terms of health.
So now, the question remains of how to smoke shatter in a vape pen. This process is the same for any wax or oil concentrates. First, prepare the shatter for loading by dabbing a small amount onto the end of the dab tool. Then, gently apply the shatter onto the coil with the same tool. Next, you should “prime the wick” before you start vaping. This melts the wax down onto and around the coil, helping the pen to produce better vapor and more consistent hits from the get-go. Finally, vape it up and inhale all that your lungs can handle.
Now that we know how to use the vape pen, let’s take a look at the best vape pen for shatter. According to The Vape Guide, one of the best dab pens of 2018 is the KandyPens Prism. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced vaper, this vape pen will work for you. It’s compatible with any type of concentrate, THC wax, shatter, or dab. There are of course other options out there, but this is thought to be one of the best for shatter.
So now that we’ve covered a few different ways that you can smoke shatter, it’s important to keep in mind that this is the most potent cannabis concentrate of all. When you first take a dab, don’t enter a rampage; you’ll want to wait up to 10 or 15 minutes before you take a second hit. When in doubt, keep your wits about you and take it slowly.