The first time I took a dab hit, I got an immediate, overwhelming headrush— then fell off my chair. This is a hell of a lot stronger than regular marijuana, I thought, as I hit the ground.
Dabbing is the word used to describe placing a small amount of cannabis concentrate onto a heated hot knife, or onto heated “dab rigs,” and then inhaling the vapors.
One gram of quality dab material can contain THC and other cannabinoinds equal to what you’d get from a quarter ounce or more of top-shelf buds. That’s why premium dab products cost about $65 per gram.
Dab products come in various formulations, depending on how they’re made.
Dabs are created by using C02, alcohol/ethanol, or butane as solvents to separate cannabinoids and other substances from whole marijuana plant material. The resultant products are called “solvent-extract concentrates.”
As you can well imagine, using chemical solvents may involve personal danger for the dab manufacturer, or the dab user.
Dab manufacturers often create explosions, especially when using butane extraction indoors.
Improperly-made dabs, especially those containing butane or alcohol, taste bad, make you feel bad, and can poison you.
Purging cannabis with solvents results in different endproducts, depending on the solvent, the extraction process, and the skill and professionalism of the manufacturer.
One of the complicating factors in describing dabs is that different solvent processes purge differential amounts and types of materials from the whole cannabis.
Some dab-making processes create dab materials that contain cannabinoids, terpenes, oils, and waxes found in the original bud material.Other solvent processes create dab materials containing only cannabinoids, only THC, or cannabinoids and terpenes with no wax, etc.
Inferior cannabis extracts (often made from inferior whole marijuana materials) contain contaminants and pollutants such as solvents, pesticides, molds, and mildews.
At present, only in Colorado is there a regulatory mechanism for inspecting the purity and safety of cannabis extracts.
You hear many names given to solvent-derived cannabis concentrates, but in reality there are only three major types of solvent-extract dabs: oil (otherwise known as errl), budder (sometimes called wax), and shatter (sometimes called glass).
Oil is most often butane honey oil (BHO). Budder is most often made using ethanol as the solvent. Shatter is made by processing BHO until it turns into a brittle, glass-like material.
You can use dab materials by placing them in joints or on top of whole bud in regular cannabis glass, bongs, or other devices, but solvent-extract cannabis concentrates come in oil form, or if it’s a budder or shatter, it quickly melts or vaporizes as soon as its heated, which means it may disappear into your pipe, or be lost to the air as a joint burns down.
That’s why people buy special dab rigs from stores like this one.
A dab rig has a “nail,” or other platform (skittle). You heat the nail or skittle, and then you place your dab material on the heated platform. A dab rigs also has glass tubing to gather the dab vapors so you can suck them into your lungs.
Dab rigs and dabbing are complicated when compared to smoking joints or vaping/combusting whole marijuana buds.
To do dabs, you need a torch to heat the nail or skittle, a dab tool used to put the dab onto the heated nail or skittle, and a dab rig through which to inhale the vapors.
The most common nail and skittle material is titanium, and there are worries that some of the materials used in dab rigs will off-gas or otherwise deliver contaminants into your lungs.
Not only that, quality dab rigs, torches, and other necessary dab rig accessories cost at least $550 total if not a lot more. They’re breakable and somewhat difficult to use when you’re super-stoned.
Many users are tempted to go back to old school inhalation methods, rather than invest in expensive rigs that require you to carry a torch around just so you can get high.
I’ve inhaled about three dozen different brands or types of solvent-extract products, most of them sold by amazingly diverse Colorado marijuana dispensaries.
My favorite is budder. It’s easy to carry and work with, and it’s almost pure THC.
My least favorite is butane honey oil and its derivatives. Whether you use an oil vape or other method of inhaling butane cannabis extracts, you’re almost certain to be inhaling butane.
Whenever I use that butane stuff, no matter how purified (winterized) it is, I get a headache, and the high sucks. Many other users report the same problems with butane cannabis extracts.
Butane extraction cannabis products are used to make oils, shatter, and edibles. Butane cannabis product promoters claim their products may have only 1% or less butane in them, but butane is a poison and can harm cannabis products manufacturers and those who consume their products.
So before you buy butane honey oil or any other butane-derived marijuana concentrates product, ask the seller to provide a third-party certified lab analysis that shows 0% butane.
The “old school” alternatives to solvent extract cannabis products are bubblehash, dry sift, kief, and other concentrates that isolate resin glands without using harsh solvents.
These types of hashish usually aren’t as potent as solvent extracts, but they’re easier to use, they contain no solvent extract residues, and they’re easier to make.
In future articles, we’ll give you more information on making and using dabs, hashish, and other concentrates. Please watch the videos in this article so you get even more information about marijuana dabbing.
And if you’re a grower who wants to make dabs from your marijuana plants, read this how-to article.
For now, I’ll leave you with these words of cannabis wisdom: dabs are to whole marijuana as Everclear is to beer!