Dabbing is another way to extract cannabis and to benefit the potency of cannabis oils. Here is Cannabis Place’s guide on dabbing if any patients wonder the benefits and risks to dabbing.
No, we’re not talking about the dance move! Dabbing is a method of consuming cannabis oils that involve heating concentrated forms of marijuana extracts to high temperatures. The patient then inhales the vapour produced that quickly gives them a large dose of cannabinoids.
Joints, bongs, edibles, vaping, pipes- Do they all sound familiar to you? That’s because there are countless ways to get high with marijuana. The number of different ways you can consume cannabis has evolved over the years and a newer approach is the act of ‘dabbing’- vaporizing small concentrated forms of cannabis to experience the intense effects of cannabinoids while preserving the plant’s flavour.
These small concentrated forms of cannabis can be referred to as ‘dabs’- but there are many different names within different cultures such as wax, honey oil, butter, shatter, resin and so on. The high that comes from dabs is usually felt within minutes after consumption and can last for about two hours, given the fact that the potency of the cannabinoid content can be 80-90% THC, while Sativas, Indicas, and Hybrids of marijuana buds contain at least 20% THC.
Different Types of Dab
Dabs can come in several different forms and the most common ones are:
Shatter – This dab is a solid but sticky cannabis concentrate and is one of the most recognised concentrates. Shatter resembles a honey-coloured glass shard and is shattered into pieces to be consumed. It’s easy to manipulate and less messy than other extracts.
Butane Honey Oil – Otherwise known as BTO, this dab is a resin extracted from the cannabis plant using butane. A low temperature, liquid butane passes over the plant matter and crystallises the resins in the cannabis.
Butter – This type of dab has a doughy consistency that resembles peanut butter.
Wax – This variety of dab weed has three different types: honeycomb, crumble, and budder wax. Much like its name, wax concentrates resemble the texture of candle wax. Crumble wax is considered the least popular out of the waxes since it tends to, you guessed it, crumble, which makes it hard to handle.
Live Resin – While other dabs are extracted from dry herbs, live resins are created from entire fresh plants that are cryogenically frozen and does not undergo the normal drying process. The sticky wax has THC content ranging from 80-90%.
The Necessary Tools for Dabbing
Once you have your cannabis extracts, getting your hands on some specialised equipment is the next step. Consuming dab is usually done with a glass chamber which looks similar to a bong called a dab rig. The setup itself consists of different pieces:
Rig: The chamber of a glass water pipe that is similar to a bong that connects to a bowl.
Nail: The attachment surface where you heat to vaporise your dab. Materials that are used include ceramic, titanium, and quartz. There are different styles that can be used to change the vaporisation and the amount you can dab.
Carb Cap (optional): A cap with a small hole to cover the top of the nail to lower the pressure in the nail, trapping the heat to reduce the vaporisation temperature.
Dabber: A rod used to place dab inside the nail for heating.
Torch: The best way to heat the cannabis extracts would be to use a butane hand torch.
How to Dab Cannabis
Once you acquired cannabis extracts and a dab rig, it’s time to dab! First, heat up the nail with the butane hand torch until it is glowing red. The hotter the better! This will make sure to disinfect the nail and to start with the hottest possible surface for your dab.
Then, wait for the nail to cool down. The temperature should be around 150-230 degrees Celsius to ensure that your dab doesn’t burn. Depending on the material of the nail and how long you heated up the nail, on average it takes 30 to 60 seconds for the nail to cool.
Avoid cheap, low-quality dabbing nails. Stainless steel nails or low-quality titanium can produce toxic chemicals when heated. Patients should acquire nails made from grade 2 titanium or quartz.
When the nail is ready, place a small amount of dab on the surface of the nail and slowly inhale the vapour. Dabs usually don’t vaporise immediately so it is recommended to inhale as long and slow as possible. If you purchased a carb cap, place it on the nail while inhaling. The cap will act like an oven to trap the heat. Exhale the vapour immediately. Patients must remember that dabs have THC levels three to four times stronger than any joint of bong hits.
For patients who are not familiar with the dabbing process and its tools, it can look complicated and even risky to consume, which is why dab pens are becoming popular to use. Dab pens are long, thin vaporisers that are shaped like a ballpoint pen, similar to e-cigarettes where users can take a single hit of cannabis extracts. Because they are portable and more discreet than dab rigs, patients can easily carry dab pens around just like any other e-cigarettes. By using a dab tool, scoop out a small amount of dab and pop it into the chamber of your dab pen and spread the extract evenly.
Why Patients Dab Instead of Smoking
Reports have suggested that patients prefer dabbing and that the method is the most convenient and easiest option for therapeutic use. The main benefit of dabbing is that each dose offers the fastest method for cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream.
The high potency levels are what patients who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) need, especially when their flashbacks to traumatic incidents makes them unable to function for hours at a time. The potent dose allows patients to snap back into the present and to recover. Other patients who suffer from severe chronic pains reported that dabbing is the most effective and quickest way to relieve their pain symptoms with medical cannabis.
Dabbing is also another option for patients who want a cleaner and healthier experience than smoking cannabis. When you smoke the marijuana bud inside a joint, the combustion of cannabis results in smoke, heat, and ash that results as tar in your lungs. Dabs have greater medical benefits due to lower levels of heavy tar and producing less second-hand smoke.
But Is Dabbing Dangerous?
Dabbing is indeed the most controversial method of consuming cannabis, given the fact that patients need a butane torch and suspicious-looking extracts that look nothing like medical cannabis. While it is true that dabs are more potent and incredibly powerful, patients only require a small healthy dose everyday. With the right equipment and accurate knowledge of how much to consume, medical cannabis users have little reason to worry about their health as much as smoking a normal joint in their everyday life. Those who are considering dabbing should only do so if they are looking for medical approaches than traditional cannabis consumption.
Constance is a medical journalist that critically analyses and reports on how Australia can benefit from the cannabis industry in the future.
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