How to Dab

Dabbing allows you to maximize the impact of every hit enjoyed from your herbal medicine while intensifying the flavor. This is an alternative method of consuming medicinal herb which is easier on the lungs. It is considered a cleaner method because unneeded plant material is discarded in the process of creating the oil. Make sure you have your favorite snacks on hand and a comfortable place to sit because you will want to thoroughly enjoy every moment of the high once you learn how to dab.

What You'll Need To Get Started

  • Dab rig
  • Rag or alcohol swab
  • Titanium Dabber
  • Hand Torch
  • Nail
  • Bowl of water
  • Tongs 
  • Wand
  • Oil concentrate

What Is A Dab, Anyways?

A dab is an oil concentrate extracted from dried herb which is consumed one small hit (and can be grown in a grow tent) at a time. It comes as a wax or in the form of “shatter” which is an herbal concentrate in a glass-like form that can shatter or break when handled. Oil concentrates typically come wrapped in wax paper, so it’s easy to pull a small amount off with a titanium wand.

The term “dab” reflects the small amount inhaled per hit, just as you might tell someone to “add a dab” of oil when cooking food. A solvent such as Butane, CO2, isopropyl alcohol or ethanol is used to separate valuable herbal oil from plant matter that you have no reason to smoke. Since this process isolates the most potent portion of dried medicinal herb, a dab can hit much harder than a hit from a joint.

Dabbing” is used to reference the process of inhaling dabs. A dab of the extract is touched to a heat source, vaporizing the oil. The vapor is then inhaled much like you would inhale vapor from an e-cigarette.

Dabs have been reserved for more serious smokers in years past, but the process is now catching on even with casual users. If you are interested in intensifying the effects of your medicinal herb or just want to try something different, dabbing is open for exploration. Many users find that dabbing is preferable when consumed in groups because the rig is easily passed around, allowing everyone a turn. When learning how to dab, this is an essential element to keep in mind. 

STEP 1: Select A High-Quality Rig & Purchase An Extra Nail

A dab rig, otherwise known as an oil rig, is composed of a chamber, downstem and nail. Rigs often come with glass nails which deliver a clean taste, but these nails tend to break within three months. You can purchase ceramic, titanium or quartz nails as a long-term replacement. Quartz and titanium nails are the most popular because they are more durable than glass but still deliver the same clean taste produced by glass.

When your first figuring out how to dab, keep in mind that most rigs come with one nail and a dome or a nail that doesn’t require a dome. If your rig doesn’t come equipped with these items, you will need to purchase a nail and dome prior to your first dabbing session.

Keep an extra nail on hand at all times, especially if you decide to use a glass nail. If the nail breaks, you will need to replace it quickly to continue dabbing.

Step 2: Water The Chamber, And Season The Nail.

Always start by adding water to the chamber of your rig. You can blow into the downstem to ensure that you can make the water bubble as air is forced into the chamber. If you feel water splash up into your mouth, pour some of the water out of the chamber before moving to the next step.

A brand new nail left unseasoned may emit polish into the vapors that you inhale and may change the taste of your vapor. Season the nail before use by placing it in the rig and heating it with your torch just until you start to see it turning red. Use your dabber to apply essential oil concentrate or wax over the nail’s head. Once the wax melts and coats the nail, use your tongs to remove the nail and place it into the bowl of water.

Water will work if you don’t want to use your wax for the seasoning process, but it works better with wax. You should repeat this seasoning process at least three times before considering your nail ready for use. You only have to do this the first time you use a new nail when learning how to dab. 

Step 3: Prepare Your Dab

Use your wand to pick up a small amount of herbal concentrate in wax or shatter form. Remember, even a slight hit of dab is more potent than a hit of dried flower. A little goes a long way with this method of consumption, and beginners should never try a large hit.

Set the wand to the side but do keep it close enough so you can grab it quickly after heating your nail.

STEP 4: Use Torch To Heat The Nail, Then Wait

Use your hand torch to heat up the nail. Make sure the flame points away from your rig or the heat may crack the glass. Remove the heat just as you see the nail start to glow orange. If your nail requires a dome, place it over the nail at this time.

After the nail is heated and the dome is in place, wait for no more than 40 seconds while the nail cools slightly. The exact amount of time you need to wait will depend on your nail and rig, so you will need to experiment the first time. You should wait at least 10 seconds, but many users find that they get better dabs if they wait 20-30 seconds before proceeding to the next step.

STEP 5: Place Wax On Nail, Inhale Through The Downstem

Once you believe your nail is the perfect temperature, pick up the wand and place the wax or shatter around the nail. You want to slowly rub the end of the wand containing the wax around the interior edges of the nail while pulling air through the chamber, making the water bubble as the vapors are produced.

As the concentrate melts, you will see the vapors filling the glass. Inhale your medicine as it comes out of the downstem, enjoying a few seconds of flavorful herb. You want to continuously inhale until you see no vapor remaining in the chamber. When you're figuring out how to dab in style, this part is key. 

STEP 6: Exhale And Repeat As Needed

When the chamber is clear of all vapor, you can lower the rig and exhale; releasing a healthy amount of smoke is wise - even from a small dab. Continue to heat the nail and insert wax until you feel the mind-blowing effects of your medicinal herb.

STEP 7: Remove The Dome And Clean The Wand And Nail

Use your torch to heat the end of the wand that you used to pick up your wax. It only takes a second of heat to melt away the residue. Wipe it clean with a rag or alcohol swab while the residue is hot and easy to remove.

Heat the nail with the torch again, but this time your goal is to keep heating it until all residue is eliminated. This will prevent the nail from harboring a sticky film of residue and ensure that your rig is ready for the next use.

Give yourself time and lots of practice to perfect the art of dabbing. It may seem like you’re wasting more medicine than you’re using at first, but you will eventually learn how to dab without wasting this precious resource. The intensified effect of each dab is so pleasurable that many users stop smoking their medicinal herb altogether after learning how to dab correctly.

How to Dab: Helpful Tips

  • You will need to clean your dab rig as oil resin accumulates inside. Don’t throw this resin away because you can use it to season new nails, ensuring you don’t have to use fresh wax. You may even want to add it to your rolled medicinal joints for extra impact.
  • There are different types of concentrates made from dried herb, and they are sold under many different names. In general, you can expect a concentrate to share the scent and taste of the herb strain from which it was extracted. The effects are just intensified since you are only consuming the most potent portions of the flower.
  • If the use of an open-flame torch scares you, think about the risk involved when cooking dinner with a gas stove. The torch used to dab is small, and the risk is no more than you take when lighting up a gas stove to boil water. You just need to use as much caution as you would use when cooking.
  • Don't like the usage of a torch? Try investing in a vaporizing pen or an electronic nail. These devices allow you to maintain better control over the dabbing process while eliminating the need for open flames.
  • You do need to purchase an oil rig that you use exclusively for dabbing. When you smoke flower, resin builds up in the chamber. That resin will interfere with the clean taste of your dabs. Adding an attachment to your bong will save you money, but it will reduce the quality of your dabs.

Important Considerations & Warnings

  • Dabbing may build up your tolerance to the effects of medicinal herb faster than dried herb. This means it is more likely to lead to an addiction than smoking dried flower herb.
  • Many users consider dabs riskier than other types of herbal medicine, so this type of hit is often reserved for hard-core users. This is potentially an inaccurate assumption since one study found that users do not experience an increase in accidents or mishaps when dabbing. It’s still a good idea to dab carefully and follow the above instructions closely when you start learning how to dab.
  • When creating the oil used to dab, useless plant matter is separated from the more potent components of the plant which actually deliver the effect you crave. That plant matter is potentially hazardous to your lungs, so you may do your body a favor by learning how to dab.
  • The process of extracting oil from the medicinal flower is dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing or don’t take precautions. It is best to let those with more experience do the extracting while you simply enjoy the incredible effects that come from consuming the oil in wax or shatter form.
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