What is Cannabis Dabbing? A Guide to Dabbing Marijuana

Dabbing Cannabis Crystalline THC

Cannabis laws across the United States have evolved dramatically over just the last decade. More states now allow not only access to medical cannabis for patients with qualifying conditions but also access to recreational cannabis for adults to enjoy. As more states start embracing both medical cannabis approval and decriminalizing recreational cannabis, more people than ever are experimenting with cannabis in different ways. From cannabis topical lotions to infused edibles and beverages to evolving the way people inhale cannabis, there have been countless additions to the options available to cannabis users over the last several years.

One of the latest trends to gain significant traction in the cannabis world is dabbing, but what is cannabis dabbing? If you are new to using cannabis or are considering trying it for medical purposes, it is essential to know your options for how your body can process THC.

This article is a guide to dabbing that will introduce you to the method and equipment used for this method of using cannabis concentrates.


What Is Dabbing?

Dabbing is something of a hybrid between smoking and vaping cannabis. While smoking devices require an open flame to heat dried cannabis flower and vaping requires exposing an infused oil or similar substance to an electronic heating element, dabbing offers a means of vaporizing various types of solid cannabis matter in a discrete, effective, and convenient way.

Cannabis concentrates are some of the most potent and sought-after products on the modern cannabis market. They come in many different forms, from waxes to glass-like substances.

Pro tip: it is not a good idea to try and burn these substances like dried cannabis flower.

Dabbing requires the use of a specialized device.

There are typically two main ways people dab:

  • Using a dab rig, which requires a full setup and has to be lit with a mini torch.
  • Or, using a dab pen, which is a modified, portable dab rig you can take almost anywhere.

Using A Dab Tool


Why Do Some Marijuana Users Prefer Dabbing to Smoking?

Marijuana Dab Wax

There are several reasons behind the surge in popularity of dabbing in the United States. First, more marijuana users than ever seem to be interested in moving away from traditional smoking to enjoy cannabis. While there is a great deal of discussion comparing smoke from cannabis to smoke from tobacco, the latter of which holding documented evidence of causing significant health risks, smoking is ultimately a personal choice.

Cannabis users who do not like smoking have many alternatives available, from cannabis-infused edibles and beverages to vaporizer oils, there are many different ways to ingest cannabis. However, the method of ingesting cannabis is almost as important as the variety and strength of cannabis ingested when it comes to anticipating the effects one might experience. Dabbing offers an experience similar to smoking, which typically results in a rapid-onset high that one can feel within minutes, but without the drawbacks typically associated with smoking.

Dabbing makes it possible to not only enjoy a new way of consuming cannabis but also to consume cannabis in new and interesting forms. With the right equipment, it’s possible to not only dab dried flower but also several types of cannabis concentrate such as wax, shatter, or condensed oil. These substances offer highly concentrated doses of THC without any of the additional matter found in dried flower.


Dabbing Equipment

If you are interested in dabbing, you need the right equipment. It’s not a good idea to heat most cannabis concentrates with an open flame such as you would a dried flower joint or bowl. In most cases, the concentrate won’t burn correctly and will not only create a mess but also waste cannabis. A dab rig is a device made specifically for ingesting cannabis concentrates safely.

A Dab Rig

Cannabis Dab Rig

Similar to a bong, a dab rig is a device typically made from glass that includes a specialized surface for heating the cannabis concentrate. It generally comes with a fitting for a nail.

Dab Nail

Dab Nail

The nail is like a bowl with a long stem at the end. This is where you put the cannabis concentrate for heating. Your nail should be fitted to your rig. If your rig has a 14mm stem, for example. you need a 14mm dab nail for it to fit right.

Dabber or Wand

Dabber or Wand Tool

The act of dabbing is when the user superheats the concentrate. In order to get the wax, oil or crystals users onto the nail, they’ll use a metal tool. This is called the dabber. They are generally metal and have a little scooper on the end.

Mini Torch

Mini Torch for Dabbing
Image Credit: Eyewitness News ABC7NY

Dabs need to get extremely hot in order to reduce the concentrate into vapors you can inhale. Many users buy a mini torch to heat their dabs rather than trying to use a lighter.

Dabbing E-Nails

Dabbing E-Nails
Image Credit: Yo Dabba Dabba


Some newer dab rigs feature “e-nails,” or electronic nails that require plugging the rig into the wall. Instead of using a torch to heat the nail, the e-nail stays at a constant temperature with electricity. There are also dab rigs that use e-nails and allow for fully customizable dabbing experiences, from heating temperature to vapor production.


What Is a Cannabis Dab Pen?

Cannabis Dab Pen with THCA Crystals

A dab pen is essentially a miniaturized dab rig. Similar in construction to vape pens designed for vaping nicotine, a dab pen features a similar construction with all the functionality a dab rig offers. Early dab pens still required the use of a torch and metal tool for applying concentrate to the heating element. Some of them used rudimentary coils that were difficult to clean and prone to breaking.

Some dab pens mimic the construction of vaping pens designed for nicotine-infused flavored oils and juices. However, the cartridges these vape pens use typically require thinning out the cannabis concentrate in some way, ultimately diminishing the potency. Standard heating elements are moving aside as the industry turns toward electronic “ovens” that are more reliable and efficient at heating high-quality cannabis concentrates in a way that users can enjoy to the fullest.


Understanding How Dab Pens Work

When you see how much equipment and work goes into dabbing, it’s easy to see why so many people are confused or hesitant about it. However complicated it may seem, it ultimately breaks down to two components: high-quality cannabis concentrates and devices capable of heating them correctly packed into a convenient delivery system.

The most basic construction of a dab pen is essentially a bad rig built into a vape pen, typically a battery with a heating attachment fitted on top. These devices offer the battery operation and variable control of a vaping device with the heating capability of a dab rig, making them a preferred method for consuming cannabis concentrates discreetly.

Advanced dab pens available on the market today are somewhat bulky compared to standard vape pens, but they offer unique heating options that make it easy to enjoy all types of cannabis concentrates, and even dried cannabis flower. Instead of a torch-heated nail or a battery-operated rig heating element, the battery inside the vape pen heats a ceramic bowl or similar oven-style heating environment. This makes cleaning the heating element easy and prevents scorching, resulting in a tastier and more efficiently vaporized concentrate.

How Dab Pens Work

The only hurdle remaining with this type of setup is how to get the concentrate into the heating space, but many high-end dab rigs come with concentrate tools included. If not, applying concentrate to the heating element in the dab pen is relatively straightforward. Users can customize the vaporization temperature as necessary to accommodate all types of cannabis concentrates.


Finding the Right Marijuana Dabbing Products

Image Credit: Image via Leafly.com

Now that you understand the basics of how to use a marijuana dab rig or dab pen, you might wonder which device is better for your lifestyle and cannabis consumption preferences.

Take a look at the products on the market and remember that cannabis concentrate can be extremely potent. If you plan to try dabbing, be sure to do your research on the different types of cannabis extracts you might dab. Remember, there are a variety of forms, but the most common ones used for dabbing are typically shatter, wax, butane hash oil, and solventless extracts like rosin.

If you’re a local Arizona MMJ patient, you can review dab products on our website menu, learn more about shatter and wax dabs and stop by the Kind Meds Mesa dispensary to talk to a Budtender about your medical marijuana needs and if dabbing is right for you.


Recommended before your visit:

What You Need to Know About Kind Meds Medical Cannabis Dispensary During COVID-19