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What is Dabbing & How to Dab Cannabis?

Your comprehensive guide to what dabbing is and how to do it.

Cannabis culture is highly concentrated with new information. As scientists and farmers discover more possibilities for its use, being an enthusiast can feel like it requires continuing education hours dedicated to the field. While there’s no shortage of material when it comes to type, method, and wellness, it all seems to center around a few topics. Maybe you’ve read a ton on sativa, indica, and hybrid strands or figured out whether you prefer edibles to joints. Whether you’d consider yourself a novice who’s hungry for knowledge or a habitual user looking to change up your routine—we’ve got you. In this article, we’ll give you a crash course in dabbing (no, not the dance move) and some recommendations to get you started. Keep reading for more.

What Is Cannabis Dabbing?

close up of a dab

Image courtesy of Honest Marijuana Co.

Before we get into what dabbing is, let’s talk about what’s needed to do it. Essentially, a dab is sticky cannabis oil that’s extracted from whole flower using either a solvent like butane or a solventless method. Similar to how you won’t find THC in CBD products, you generally won’t spot CBD in a dab (although that’s starting to change). To put it in plain language, a dab is what you want for a deeply cerebral experience. It’s incredibly concentrated, so if you’re a novice, we suggest starting with whole flower before trying this method. 

Something else to keep in mind is that the THC levels within a dab won’t look the same as whole flower. At 60-90% THC, the cannabinoid content is much higher. Not only does that make for a powerfully potent experience, but a shorter wait-time in feeling its effects. With any new cannabis experience, we advise users to take their first hit slowly, but especially in this case. 

Besides “dab”, you may hear these doses referred to as wax, hash oil, budder, live resin, diamonds, rosin, crumble, or shatter. Each of these terms refer to the varying textures users may come across as well as the method of extraction. Dabs can be created with the help of a solvent such as butane or propane, or they can be obtained without a solvent and the aid of new advancements in heat extraction. While once you could be hard pressed to find solventless dabs, now there are a wide variety to choose from. Which one you pick is up to you!

How To Dab

Follow these steps, and you’ll be good to go

Before you get started—a note on home extraction

Some of you reading this might already know a thing or two about dabbing. We know this may not be what you want to hear, but it's best to leave the extraction process to the professionals. There are tons of how-tos at your disposal via Google, but they don’t always account for the risks. At the least, at-home extraction could lower the quality of your experience. And at worst, everything could combust. At Caliva, we pride ourselves on the purity of our products—including extracts.  

1. Gather your dabbing tools

hand holding dabber and putting a dab of wax in dab ring

Image courtesy of Weed Maps.

If considering going the dabbing route, be sure to have all of the necessary components at the ready. The thing about dabbing is that it requires some non-negotiable specialized equipment, so there’s not much to improvise. Here’s what you’ll need: 

Dab Rig - Though the glass contraption pictured above looks similar to your average bong, it isn’t. Actually, it’s an apparatus made specifically for smoking wax that’s called a dab rig. While bongs and dab rigs are both water pipes, a dab rig connects to a nail.

Nail - This isn’t the kind of nail you’ll find in an IKEA furniture set, but a glass attachment that holds the wax or dab.

A dab of wax - This is the star of the show. Not sure where to find some? No worries. At Caliva, we’ve got a few different resin options ready for you to try (more on that later).

A dabber - This doesn’t refer to a dose but a small metal tool used for transferring dabs from its original container to the rig.

A torch - A handheld blowtorch is necessary for heating the dab and vaporizing it. 

If you’re not interested in using a torch to dab, you might want to look into e-rigs that are high-tech, all in one set ups that require no torch. E-rigs are accessible, convenient, easy to use, and allow you to precisely control the temperature.

2. Heat up the nail

torch heating up nail

Image courtesy of The Cannabist.

After you’ve got your materials rounded up, it’s time to start dabbing. Take your torch and light the nail for about 8-10 seconds. When you see it turn red hot, turn off the torch and allow your glass attachment to cool down. Cooling is essential because an overheated nail can scorch the dab, making for a less enjoyable experience.

3. Put your dabber to use

dabber inserted in the dab container

Image courtesy of AZ Natural Selections.

Once your nail is ready-to-go, use your dabber to pick your dab out of its original container. Be advised: you don’t need more than a crumb to have an effective experience. As the old proverb says, “Less is more.” With your dab on the dabber, transfer it into the nail and wait for it to melt. 

4. Slowly inhale your dab

young man inhaling dab

Image courtesy of Leafly.

With your dab melted, take a long, slow inhale and let the dab do its thing. With this method, it doesn’t take very much or very long for the good times to kick in, so start with one hit and see how you feel. Now, all that’s left to do is enjoy!

Our Recommendations

Learn what Caliva has to offer in the way of dabs

When people think of dabs, they typically think of high levels of THC, but there is a wide variety available in sativa, indica, and hybrid. Here are some of our favorite brands offered at Caliva.

West Coast Cure

west coast cure dab

Consider trying out one of West Coast Cure’s dabs that make for a highly heady experience with a joyful kick. With notes of sandalwood, pine, citrus, and sweet chai, this terpy dab sauce piques your senses. West Coast Cure’s Jack Herer is a great choice when you need a mid-day motivator, some creative inspiration, or social levity. To let go, be present, and enjoy, we love this dab.

Raw Garden 

raw garden live resin container

Raw Garden’s dreamy resins have no additives, fillers, or artificial flavors. Raw Garden Leeroy OG 22 Live Resin is perfect for that after-work chill out. A note on this one: use your discretion. We’re not joking when it comes to its potency that settles in around 81% THC. 

For cannabis newbies and regulars alike, dabbing is often an untapped method. Whether you’ve been interested in it for a while or are just hearing of concentrate, knowing the ins and outs of all aspects of cannabis culture is useful. Dabbing takes lots of knowledge and practice, but once you’ve got it down, the experience will be that much more rewarding--trust us. We’d know. 

Cannabiotix

cannabiotix live risen package with opened dab resin container

You can’t go wrong with a resin from Cannabiotix. With Cannbiotix’s White Wedding, you’ll get the best of both worlds. This resin is a hybrid that provides a powerful, energetic high that’ll last. This resin will be sure to add a little get up and go to whatever is on your schedule for the day. We love this one for creative endeavors.

Fun Uncle

Fun Uncle live resin

Fun Uncle’s resin strains are always ready to let the good times roll. Why not see what their Sour Fizz Live Resin has to offer. This sunny extract tastes and smells as good as it looks. With notes of lemon and resin, it’s perfect for your next walk, sprint, or hike. 

Nasha

Nasha live resin package and opened container

If you’re looking for a smooth and flavorful dab, pick up one of the many strains offered by Nasha, such as Red Temple Ball Hash. With these dabs it’s easy to mellow out to the enticing aromas and flavors you won’t soon forget.

Utopia

utopia live resin

No matter which strain of Utopia dabs you decide to try, you’re going to be convinced you’ve arrived in your own personal paradise. With indica, hybrids, and sativa strains available, whether you’re looking for an evening in (try out Skywalker OG), or a day full of fun (we like Pai Gow), these dabs have got you covered.

Field

field live resin package and opened container

Field live resins are all full spectrum cannabis extracts from fresh frozen plants, making them some of the most enjoyable dabs around. These hybrid strains range anywhere from 61% THC  (Casper OG), all the way to approximately 82% (Jet Fuel) so there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy!

For cannabis lovers in search of new methods for enjoying cannabis, dabbing is the new frontier. With new equipment and a potent, efficient experience, don’t be surprised if you find yourself going back for more.