Concentrates are the new frontier of cannabis experiments both in research and consumption; with dabbing definitively embodying one of the most innovative and interesting trends of the last years. And no, we are not talking about dabbin’ the dance style, although yes we find that cool too, but we’ll stick to what we know best: cannabis…
What is a dab?
With the term dabs we are talking about a substance, distinguished by an oily or waxy consistency, with a high concentration of cannabinoids. This concentrate is obtained through a procedure of extraction of the plant material with solvents like butane, water or carbon dioxide. In further articles we will look at the differences between these methods of extraction.
The effects of a single inhalation from a concentrate is roughly equal to 5-10 hits from the same weight of a herb. So, although the same ratio also applies to the price, keep in mind that the concentration of THC or CBD of an oil is estimated at about 60-90%. The different levels of concentration of the cannabinoids depend on the method of extraction employed and the properties of the cannabis strain used. So for a concentrate rich in THC a flower rich in THC is used, the same goes for CBD. The resulting product is a dense, viscous oil which is referred to as wax, shatter, honeycomb, crumble and butane hash oil (BHO). Please note that other concentrates exist, but which are not apt for dabbing.
What is dabbing?
There are two ways to inhale a dab. During the last years the vaporizer market has produced a variety of devices which can be used with concentrates. These pen vaporizers vary in heating methods, the technique of inhalation, size of bowls and materials used in contact with the concentrate. With the new Boundless 710, for instance, it is possible to inhale huge (as in huuuuuge) clouds of vapour by directly applying the heating element onto a silicone or glass container. More traditional dabbing pens, such as the Dr. Dabber Aurora or the Dabstorm 2.0 come with a wide variety of accessories and materials to cater to all types of concentrates and preferences of inhalation intensity. The main advantage of these pen vaporizers is a more portable device, a more accurate temperature setting and no open flames.
However, a new range of products to recently hit the commercial mainstream are the oil rigs or dab rigs (for instance the Cheech & Chong Love Machine, see picture.) These operate on the principal of placing a dab on a metallic, glass or ceramic spike (a nail) with a torch (link), which is then attached to a water pipe (a rig). In order to not waste any precious vapor, it is also recommendable to use a glass dome, which can be placed over the nail to stream the vapour into the rig chamber. Although these glass devices are not very portable, they do offer the best in taste and quality of materials. Vapor inhaled through a glass water pipe undoubtedly gives off the purest, most flavourful vapour. Not all beginners, however, are comfortable handling hot hot hot devices operated on open flame, especially under the conditions of getting high high high.
How to store dabs
Since these are very pure and potent extracts (and usually very expensive), it is highly unlikely that you will use the entire quantity of material in one session (although YouTube tells a different story). This is why it is necessary to think about an appropriate storage container to preserve your precious concentrates. Silicone containers (such as the Red Eye Tek Dab Station) are by far the most recommended containers. They withstand up to 300°C, and because of the flexibility of the material, they also create a tight seal for a fresh and odourless protection. And wait did we forget to mention that dabs won’t stick to it?
Like with any substance, especially the ones that have such potent effects and which are not yet regulated, there are some issues to be considered and debated, and to which each one should make their own responsible conclusion. Right? Right… Firstly we should mention quality: if the extractions are produced with low-quality butane (in the case of BHOs), it is much more likely that certain residual solvents or contaminants could be in the final product. Unfortunately, there is no way of determining the quality of a dab without a lab test, which is able to show the purity and the cannabinoid content of the extract. Furthermore, we would like to remind potential dabbers that the high concentration of cannabinoids such as THC is not necessarily something that is suitable for everyone.
As our little mommy alter-ego recommends for any new substance, start small, be in a safe space and know your limits!
Over the coming weeks we will be expanding on this topic, so in case you have any comments, concerns or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments below. We will attempt to address all (appropriate) questions.