Materials & Use

What are dabs? Know before you start

Gabi Antunes

Sep 19, 2019

A longtime favorite of frequent cannabis consumers, dabs are gaining more market share in medical and recreational markets across the U.S. These potent materials only require a little bit to produce the same, if not stronger, effects as a significant amount of dry cannabis flower.

For those new to cannabis consumption, though, dabs may present a significant learning curve. These materials do require different tools, as well as an understanding of how little needs to be consumed to feel the desired effects. In this blog, we’ll explain what dabs are, how they’re made, and how you can consume these concentrates.


What are Dabs?

Dabs are cannabis concentrates with high levels of a specific cannabinoid, typically Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or Cannabidiol (CBD). The term “dabs” is an all-encompassing one, covering several concentrate products such as budder, crumble, or wax. Dabs can be made from cannabis or from industrial hemp, depending on the cannabinoids and where the product is being sold.

Dabs typically vaporize between 300°F and 400°F. However, dabs are often heated to much higher temperatures because certain consumption tools such as a dab rig require the use of a blowtorch. In general, lower temperatures prevent terpenes from burning off and help preserve flavor, while higher temperatures ensure that all cannabinoids are evaporated. An e-nail cannabis concentrate tool allows the consumer to select a precise temperature, unlocking better control over flavor and effect.


How are Dabs Made?

Dabs are made by placing cannabis into a solvent, and then drawing out the desired substances to create the dab.

The process begins with the solvent, typically ethanol, butane, or CO2. This solvent draws out all substances found in the plant, including all cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Occasionally, such as in the case of butane hash oil (BHO), the extract name details which solvent was used. Once the cannabis or industrial hemp dissolves in the solvent, heat is applied to burn off any excess. Some methods use heat and pressure, rather than solvents, to “press” the desired materials out of the plant matter.

This concentrate material is then transformed into a dab. Different treatments are applied to create the final product. For example, shatter is made by allowing the extract to settle and rest into a thin sheet, while budder is “whipped” to give it a light and airy appearance and texture.


Types of Dabs

There are many dab varieties to choose from. No matter which you choose, a little bit goes a long way. Some popular dab types include:

  • Wax: This extract is a soft and malleable cannabis product. This highly-potent extract contains high levels of THC or CBD, depending on the purchased product.
  • Crumble: This solid extract is drier, airier, and softer than other concentrates, which makes it easier to break down into smaller pieces. The extracted cannabinoids begin to crystallize after the material is agitated by whipping it.
  • Rosin: This extract is created by subjecting cannabis to heat and pressure instead of using a solvent to obtain the cannabinoids.
  • Live resin: This concentrate is from the fresh cannabis plant before it is dried and cured. This helps to preserve the terpenes found in the plant.
  • Shatter: This hard and jagged solvent-based extract gives the appearance of shattered glass, hence its name.


How Much do Dabs Cost?

The price of a dab depends on how much you’re purchasing, the amount of THC or CBD in the dab, and the quality of the product. THC dabs can cost as little as $30 per gram, but higher-end products could clock in at more than $100 per gram. A gram of hemp CBD typically costs around $50, but the price can vary depending on the brand and the market.


How are Dabs Consumed?

The act of consuming a dab is called “dabbing.” This consumption process requires additional tools beyond what a cannabis consumer may normally have to consume dry flower or edible products.

Dab rigs are the traditional way to consume cannabis concentrates. This small pipe, often made of glass or sometimes silicone, requires a blowtorch to preheat the small area within which an even smaller amount of cannabis concentrate is placed, often with the help of a dab tool. This process partially vaporizes and partially combusts the dab inside, and the consumer inhales.

Advancements in vaporizer technology have introduced many new, and less cumbersome, tools to the dabbing process. Dab pens, a newer innovation in the cannabis accessories market, bring the simplicity of vape pens to the often-messy dabbing process. These tools bring mobility to the dab consumption process transforming a bulky piece into a slim, portable, and discreet rechargeable unit. With a dab pen, a rechargeable battery heats the heating element, leaving the torch behind. This also fully vaporizes the concentrate, eliminating the partial combustion that comes with traditional dab rigs.

For those who like to change between dabs and cannabis flower, a portable vaporizer may be a better option. These highly-portable, rechargeable devices come with the accessories necessary to switch between vaporizing dry flower and dabs. Units such as the PAX 3 are versatile load in dabs and clean out the chamber once the session is over. PAX 3 also comes with a half-pack oven lid to decrease the size of the chamber for dab use, as well as a special insert just for concentrates.


The Evolving Dab

Once a stationary, messy, and complicated process, dab consumption has simplified tremendously in recent years. Consumers were once stuck using a dab rig and a blowtorch to consume these potent cannabis or industrial hemp concentrates, but advancements in vaporization technology now enable consumers to bring their preferred cannabis products on the go. Some products, such as dab pens, are solely for cannabis concentrates, while other desktop or portable vaporizers are compatible with both concentrates and flower. No matter which device is used for consumption, the dab‘s potency continues to drive its popularity in legal cannabis markets around the world.