Dabbing cannabis extracts is the newest and hottest thing in mainstream marijuana culture. This means of inhaling cannabis can be intimidating to those unfamiliar. As time passes, a section of the CBD community has been adopting this method of ingestion due to its effectiveness.
This article is designed to lead someone with no previous knowledge through dabbing from a CBD users point of view. Below the article goes on to describe the act of dabbing, concentrates, and the equipment used.
Dabbing is the act flash vaporizing a cannabis concentrate (in our case a high-cannabidiol hemp extract) through the use of a dab rig or wax pen. The vapor created is then inhaled. Dabbing became popular because it is highly potent and effective.
Traditional sublingual and oral CBD products like tinctures and capsules are very easy to use, yet suffer from low bioavailability. For example, when swallowing an oil-based CBD capsule, only 5-10% of the molecule has an active effect. The rest of the dose is flushed from your body as waste. Once ingested, it can take up to 90 minutes for the CBD to take effect. This requires a user to consume higher amounts of the compound the desired active effect when compared to a more bioavailable method.
Despite technical advances in the ingestible CBD space, inhaling these compounds have proven to be highly bioavailable. When inhaled, with up to 50% of the CBD content is absorbed into the bloodstream. Additionally, the effects can be felt within 5 minutes giving the user nearly instant relief. For those with serious needs, this short onset time can be a real gamechanger.
When it comes to inhaling CBD, dabbing is a highly concentrated way to consume the compound. Compared to vaporizing, dabbing is simply a more potent, more direct way to get a dose.
While dabbing is efficient, that does not mean that it is free of downsides. Inhaling vaporized CBD is not nearly as accessible as other more conventional means like swallowing capsules or eating edibles. Also, the effects of inhaling cannabidiol vapor may only last for 2-3 hours where swallowing the compound can last up to 7 hours.
For more information on bioavailability, onset time, and duration see our article outlining the various methods of taking CBD.
Now that you understand what dabbing is, let's take a look at the CBD-specific products that are used when dabbing. This group of products is referred to as concentrates. As the name suggests, these forms of CBD are concentrated extracts derived from hemp. The various types of concentrates are differentiated by the extraction and processing methods used to create them:
These various types of concentrates allow for more control over the dabbing experience. The main reason's you'd choose one concentrate over another include:
These CBD concentrates can be both dabbed alone or they may be combined with a high-THC marijuana extract. Many users find that CBD 'smooths out' and creates a more 'complete' high when combined with THC concentrates. Sometimes these concentrates are added to flower that is vaporized, smoked, or rolled.
Products referred to as 'CBD oils' are most often found in tincture form and are combined with carrier oils. It is worth pointing out that these products are not designed for dabbing because they contain many additional ingredients which are not designed to be heated.
Dabbing equipment varies widely in function, features, and price. You can find a simple, low-cost option or dive in as deep as you'd like. For the scope of this article, we are going to cover the basics of the two main options available to flash vaporize your concentrates: wax vaporizers and dab rigs.
You'll find these electronic devices used for dabbing under many names including wax pens, dab pens, and dab vapes. The basic idea is that a battery powered coil is heated which is used to vaporize a concentrate that is then inhaled. The main components of every wax pen are similar:
These vaporizers come in a wide variety of forms, you'll find everything from minimalist pens that take only concentrates up to full-sized electronic glass dab rigs that are capable of vaporizing concentrates and flower.
The dab rig is constantly evolving, yet even today there are a standardized set of tools used in a dab setup:
The act of dabbing CBD is fairly straightforward in theory, yet it requires some practice to get the process down. The most important factor is controlling the temperature at which the concentrate is vaporized. Too little heat and the concentrate won't vaporize. Too much and it combusts, defeating the purpose of vaporizing altogether.
The ideal temperature for dabbing is somewhere between 300 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. At the higher end of this temperature range, you'll begin boiling the terpenes found in the plant (if your concentrate contains terpenes).
The first step to dabbing is to get your concentrate out. You'll want to divide your dose out, most CBD concentrate users find that 1-2 rice grain sized pieces of concentrate is the average size for a dose.
Once you have your dose divided, you'll simply add the concentrate to the chamber, assemble, and turn on the device. Simple pens often use a push button to heat the element, you'll want to tap the button to heat the concentrate as you inhale, start slow and try to work your way up to larger hits without burning the concentrate. For larger vaporizers, you may be able to set the temperatures and wait for it to heat much like a traditional dab rig. As your concentrate vaporizes, inhale, hold for a few seconds and then exhale the vapor.
A dab rig is often a more complicated process than a wax pen. The first step is to make sure you have all the equipment you'll use set out. You'll be working with open flames and hot materials, so keep your space clear.
Have your concentrate ready, and use the torch or e-nail to heat the nail to proper dabbing temps. As a general rule of thumb, heat the nail for 20 seconds then wait for a minute before adding your concentrate. It is not necessary to heat the nail until it is red hot.
After heating the nail, use your dabber to get the concentrate ready to be added. Once ready, drop the concentrate into the nail or run the dabber around the nail as you inhale to vaporize the complete contents of the concentrate. Experienced dabbers may be able to inhale the entire hit at once. If that's not you, once you've finished adding the concentrate, you may want to cover the nail with the dome to keep the vapor from escaping. This way, you can come back and inhale the rest of the hit.
Once you get the hang of it, this entire process is quick and easy. It will take some time to find the perfect concentrate and dosage for your needs. Once you do, you'll join the ranks of many happy dabbers out there enjoying this unique way to use CBD. Hopefully, this guide was helpful in discovering the world of dabbing! Please leave any questions or comments below.
Originally published: August 16, 2018 | Last Updated: March 12, 2019
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