What Is Dabbing

By now I’m sure most of you will have in some way heard of dabbing. However, there is a good chance that you aren’t sure what it is or don’t know how to do it. It’s just sort of one of those terms that we hear bandied about the place. So today we are going to have a good look into what dabbing is and how it works. 

What Are Dabs?

First, let’s actually find out what the term “dab” means. So dabs go by a few different names such as honeycomb, wax, shatter, amber or budder. They are a concentrated form of butane hash oil that is created via a cannabis extraction method. Dabs are a highly concentrated form of THC which is far stronger than the concentration usually found in cannabis. Basically, dabs are for anyone who wants an immediate and powerful effect from their experience rather than the slower, softer release of smoking a joint. BHO, butane hash oil, is created by using butane oil in a chemical reaction that extracts the oils from the cannabis plant. 

How Does Dabbing Work?

To dab, we use an electronic device usually referred to as a dab rig, dab pen or e-rig. Generally, these rigs look very similar to a bong except they work a little differently. When we burn cannabis plants the heat isn’t particularly high as it is an extremely flammable material that produces low heat smoke. When we are dabbing we are heating the concentrate at a significantly higher temperature essentially causing it to combust. The rig still has a mouthpiece and a chamber with water in it to cool the smoke, it just replaces the bowl with a small metal torch heated surface. This is usually referred to as the “nail”. The nail is heated to a very high temperature with a torch and then allowed to cool for a little while. Once it is at the correct temperature the dab is dropped in, a small piece of the concentrate. From there the dab combusts and releases smoke in the same way as grass would and it is inhaled through the bong. The primary difference being the dab can be a bit of a sticky nightmare and it is far more likely to knock your head off. 

Why Bother With Dabbing?

The reasons why people enjoy dabbing will differ from user to user. There are definitely a plethora of things that would make using dabbing preferable to straight-up smoking, but they may double as reasons for avoiding it altogether. 

  • Dabbing tends to be cleaner than smoking as you aren’t inhaling smoke but rather a vapour. It also doesn’t require any kind of tobacco. Extracts tend to be extremely pure and clean so you can have all of the THC and terpenes without any of the other nasty bits. 
  • It is also significantly more potent as we mentioned earlier. On average the extracts used for dabbing are about 4 times as potent as regular cannabis. This is great for anyone with a very high tolerance or who just can’t be bothered with the effort that goes into properly smoking weed. If you can just go straight to the high then why not?
  • The effects hit immediately which can be perfect for anyone using for medicinal reasons. If you need a painkiller and you don’t want to wait for the high to sink in then dabbing may be a more sensible solution for you. 
  • It isn’t just the effect and the THC that are massively heightened, many say that the flavour of the plant comes through far more intensely with dabbing. This is due to the fact that you are basically smoking the essence of the plant without muddying it. 

Is Dabbing Dangerous?

Now to the rather serious part, some research has shown that dabbing can have some negative effects. There is evidence to suggest that in the long term dabbing can create issues for smokers both in their physical health and their mental health. 

  • Studies suggest that dabbing can massively increase your tolerance and is far more likely to create mental addiction than smoking normal weed. It may also cause withdrawal symptoms in a way that smoking cannabis usually wouldn’t. 
  • Dabbing is nothing like smoking weed, it is a severely more potent form of weed and so is not nearly as controllable. 
  • If you are not ready for dabbing it can cause severe paranoia, blackouts, headaches, anxiety and a variety of other issues that will certainly ruin any good time you were having. 
  • Unlike just burning cannabis the extremely high temperature of the nail can release harmful chemicals if done wrong. If the nail is too hot you may be exposed to some unwanted gasses release from the dab due to the way it was created. If you’re not careful it can be more akin to inhaling a solvent. 
  • If you are planning on making your own be very careful. The techniques used to create dabs are very unpredictable and extremely combustible. There have been a number of cases where explosions have destroyed homes and caused serious physical damage. 

You should do extensive research before trying dabbing and I would recommend fully avoiding if you suffer from any mental health issues, just in case. 

Can You Overdose?

As potentially dangerous as dabbing is the good news is you still cannot overdose. They can cause super unpleasant experiences if you are unprepared but it is exceedingly unlikely to cause anything close to an overdose. The key is to be extremely careful and remember it’s going to feel like that time you ate four pot brownies because they weren’t working then they all hit you at once, and then some. Make sure you are in a familiar space with a friend and that you have everything you need close to hand because you may not be able to move for a little while. Start with a very small amount and increase as needed, definitely don’t try to be a hero. 

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Photo by Jeff W on Unsplash