What is dabbing? Is it good or bad?
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Put away your bong and burn your rolling papers, there is a new kid in town and its name is “dabbing”.
Whether you use cannabis recreationally, medically, or not at all, chances are you’ve heard of dabbing or dabs.
This new trend has taken the cannabis industry by storm, and while it is presenting recreational and medical users with new ways to enjoy/use weed, it has also been behind some negative press regarding the safety of cannabis dabs and their production.
So is it really that great? Or should we be scared? Let’s clear some stuff up.
WHAT IS DABBING AND HOW ARE DABS MADE?
Dabbing is a term used to describe the process of heating cannabis concentrates, such as Butane Hash Oil (or BHO), on a hot surface and inhaling them - often through a dab rig. The concentrates used are usually referred to as “dabs.”
Dabs are concentrated forms of cannabis that have been made using a complex process that extracts the main compounds from the plant.
This process involves using a solvent, such as butane or carbon dioxide to separate the trichomes from cannabis plant material. These trichomes, which appear as small, frosty particles on cannabis buds, leaves, and stems, contain the highest concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC (the cannabinoid that’s responsible for getting you high) is obviously the main target of this extraction process. However, it can also be used to extract other cannabinoids, such as CBD.
These concentrates, or dabs, can also be rich in terpenes. However, terpenes are very fragile and are usually lost during any extraction process that uses butane or a similar substance.
Most of the concentrates on the market (whether sold legally or illegally) are made using butane as a solvent. Any concentrate or dab made with butane is considered BHO.
If you’re after a concentrate with a rich terpene profile, we suggest you check out Live Resin, a type of BHO made under unique conditions to specifically preserve more terpenes like myrcene, limonene, and more.
SO WHAT OTHER TYPES OF DABS ARE THERE?
Dabbing has become extremely popular, especially among younger generations, and more and more types of dab are hitting the market.
To clear things up a bit, we made you a list of some of the most popular kinds of dabs going around at the moment:
BUTANE HASH OIL (BHO)
As we mentioned earlier, BHO is probably the biggest player in the concentrates scene.
The process for making Butane Hash Oil usually involves packing cannabis flower into a container with a small opening, blasting it with butane, and collecting the resulting liquid. This mixture is then purged to remove as much of the butane as possible - normally through a heating or vaccum process.
The final product is a golden concentrate, which can contain very high concentrations of THC and other cannabinoids. BHO is usually sold under the following names:
Cannabis Shatter is a type of BHO with a glass-like texture that usually breaks or Shatters when it’s dropped (as the name suggests).
Many people think that Shatter is the purest kind of BHO due to its clear appearance, but this isn’t true. During the manufacturing process, Shatter is purged (generally under a vacuum) in order to remove the butane.
Unlike other dabs, which may be shaken, or whipped, Shatter is left alone after purging. Shatter isn’t agitated by shaking or whipping, and therefor it’s molecules are undisturbed, making for a transparent concentrate.
BHO Wax usually has a very sticky texture and can vary in consistency. Unlike Shatter, Wax isn’t transparent. It usually has a creamy white color similar to honey or beeswax.
This is because waxes are usually whipped during the purging process, which agitates the molecules in the concentrate and makes for a completely different end product.
Cannabis Wax is available in a variety of different consistencies. FOr example, Crumble, a kind of wax with a similar texture to the topping on an apple crumble dessert. There is also Honeycomb, a kind of wax which, you guessed it, looks similar to a honeycomb. Lastly, there is Budder - wax with a particularly thick and creamy texture, similar to butter.
Live Resin is quickly making a name for itself as one of the best new kinds of BHO.
It is made using fresh cannabis flowers (regular BHO and concentrates are always made with cured buds), which have been flash frozen right after harvest and kept at extremely low temperatures during the entire extraction process.
This makes for an extremely potent extract with a higher concentration of terpenes and complex flavors/aroma.
ICE WATER HASH OR BUBBLE HASH
Ice Water or Bubble Hash is type of dab made using ice water extraction.
It usually involves taking frozen cannabis trimming, covering it with ice water, and agitating the mixture (either by shaking or stirring) to loosen as many trichomes from the plant material as possible.
The buds and trimmings are then removed from the mixture, which is then passed through a variety of filters to purge the hash from as much plant particles as possible.
The final product is then dried to make for a granular-type dab, which can be manipulated by hand and pressed into bigger blocks.
Because it is relatively easy and safe to make, Ice Water Hash is a great alternative for anyone looking to make his or her own dabs at home.
Just like Ice Water Hash, Rosin is relatively easy to make, which makes it another great alternative for anyone interested in making their own dabs.
Rosin is made by pressing cannabis flowers between two hot surfaces and collecting the fine, golden oil that is extracted from the buds by this process.
While large-scale producers working in legal cannabis markets have specialized equipment to make rosin on a bigger scale, you can easily make it for yourself at home.
Simply roll a cannabis bud in some parchment or baking paper and press it between two hot surfaces (such as a sandwich press or the panels of a hair straightener) for a few seconds.
Next, remove the parchment paper from the bud and collect the sticky rosin stuck to the inside of the paper.
CO₂ oil is made using a carbon dioxide as a solvent instead of butane or water.
Making CO₂ cannabis oil is an extremely complicated process that involves specialized equipment. It does, however, produce beautiful amber oil, which is considered one of the purest types of concentrates available on the market today.
CO₂ oil is usually mixed with food-grade propylene glycol or glycerin to keep it liquid at room temperature and is most commonly vaporized in vape pens. It can also be frozen and dabbed using a regular dab rig.
HOW TO DAB
Dabbing essentially involves quickly heating and evaporating a concentrate with really high temperatures and inhaling the resulting smoke. However, the process of dabbing can be a bit scary…
Imagine you are used to smoking a joint but then someone suddenly hands you a blowtorch. Yikes!
Don’t worry; dabs are usually smoked through a type of water pipe known as a dab rig. It consists of a few different parts, including a nail, a dome and usually you need a blowtorch.
First, you’ll need to assemble your rig. Next, heat the nail with a blowtorch until it is red-hot. Now, you’ll want to place your dome on top of it. The dome is designed to stop any smoke escaping once you sit your concentrate on the nail.
Next, you’ll want to use a dabber (a type of tweezer used especially to handle dabs) to grab some concentrate. Drop it into the dome and inhale from the mouthpiece of the pipe to inhale the smoke. You may also want to touch your dabber against the nail to avoid wasting any concentrate still stuck to the end of it.
We always recommend dabbing while sitting down. Dabs provide a really quick and potent blast of THC, which can be very intense, especially your first time around.
THE BENEFITS OF DABBING
Dabs have become extremely popular because they allow cannabis users to get an extremely potent hit of cannabis almost instantly.
While this is great news for many, it can be extremely helpful for medical users who need a strong dose of cannabis quickly. For example, patients suffering from extreme pain may need a strong dose of THC or CBD very quickly to control their symptoms, and dabbing offers them a fast acting alternative which smoking, vaping, or eating cannabis simply don’t provide.
THE CONCERNS FOR DABBING
Dabbing has gotten a lot of negative attention from the media, especially across the US.
One of the biggest concerns with dabbing is the safety of their production.
There are countless tutorials online on how to make dabs, which has led some amateur “chemists” to try their hand at making a variety of different concentrates at home, most commonly BHO.
The process of making BHO is extremely dangerous. This is mainly because it involves butane (which is an extremely flammable substance) posing obvious dangers.
This isn’t a problem for professional manufacturers working in legal markets, as they generally work in professional laboratories and use expert equipment to minimize any risks involved in the production of their dabs.
But the same can’t be said for some guy in his apartment cooking butane in a pan on a gas stove to purge his homemade Shatter. Homemade dabs have lead to countless horror stories in which houses have exploded, and people have been killed.
There is also concern about the chemical content of dabs. Most people are easily put off by the idea of smoking a product that is made with butane, a gas that is normally being used in Zippo lighters.
The fact that dabs are relatively new and little-to-no research has gone into testing them for their effects on our health, doesn’t help either. Although a high-quality dab will have all of the butane removed through vacume purging.
Another major concern surrounding dabs is their potency. Some dabs can contain up to around 80% THC, where regular flower contains about 15%.
While it isn’t possible to have a fatal overdose from dabs or any other marijuana extract, this increased potency and the fact that the effects of dabbing take hold within minutes, make it more difficult for people to control their dosage and they are more likely to end up feeling sick or passing out.
It’s needless to say that these kinds of stories don’t bode well for the legalization movement, which aims to convince people that cannabis is a safe and natural product that’s been enjoyed by society for thousands of years.
One final concern about dabbing is its appearance. Many people compare it to the “crack” of cannabis and are put off by the way it is consumed.
While it’s not easy to predict the future of dabbing and how it will affect the legalization movement, it's important to realise that there are some serious concerns regarding the production of dabs, the way they’ve changed how cannabis is consumed, and the way they are affecting the image of cannabis use.
On the other hand, it is also good to realise that the arrival of cannabis concentrates such as dabs have given many patients a better medicine.
Whatever you think and do, when trying your hands on dabbing, make sure to be well informed. Be careful, but enjoy!