How To Take A Dab (Best Methods)
Dabs have been on the scene for a while now. It can be a little nerve-wracking to ask, “how do you take a dab?” You wouldn’t want to look like a total noob, after all.
No worries fam, we’ve got a complete guide on how to take a dab. We’ll go over dab equipment, dab temperature, dab technique, and even how to dab without a rig. We’ll have you dabbing like a pro in no time.
What Is a Dab Rig and How Does It Work?
A dab rig is like a bong but made for dabs. A dab is a hit of vaporized cannabis concentrate.
Concentrates like wax, shatter, or budder can contain up to 90% THC. Basically, a dab from a rig gets you really high.
Dab rigs tend to be a bit smaller than bongs made for smoking dry herbs. Instead of a bowl, it has a nail.
You do not use a lighter with a dab rig. Instead, you use a blowtorch to superheat the nail.
Then when it’s just the right temperature, you put a little bit of cannabis concentrate on it. The concentrate instantly vaporizes, which you then inhale.
Tools Needed Before Taking a Dab
In order to do a dab, you’re going to need some equipment. Here’s the breakdown of the things you’ll need, and a few things you might want.
1. Dab Rig
It’s the glass piece you use to dab. They look like little bongs with a nail instead of a bowl. Most are made of glass and have percs to make the smoke smoother.
There are many types of nails. They can be made from quartz, titanium, scientific glass, or ceramic.
The original nails came with a dome, but these days you see a lot more domeless nails.
The most popular type of nail looks like a bucket. This style of dab nail is called a banger.
Bangers are typically made of quartz. A lot of them have flat tops to make it easier to use a carb cap.
3. Carb Cap
This is a simple accessory that allows you better control over the airflow in your banger.
There are many different types of carb caps, but they all essentially have the same function. They give you a lot more control while doing your dab.
4. Dab Tool / Dabber
A dab tool of a dabber is the thing you use to place your concentrate onto the red-hot nail.
Concentrate is sticky and the rig gets hot, you need tools to handle it. In a pinch, any long metal item can function as a MacGuyver’d dab tool.
You use a blow torch or torch-style butane lighter to heat up your nail.
Vape pens and e-rigs use an electrical heating element, and therefore do not require a torch.
That said, dab rigs that use torches are just more fun.
6. Cannabis Concentrate
You absolutely cannot dab without concentrate! This is more than your standard-issue bubble hash. People use butane as a solvent to create hash that is 70-90% THC.
Different types of cannabis concentrate are named by their consistency. Some names for butane hash oil (BHO) are wax, shatter, budder, crumble, and oil.
7. Dab Mat (optional)
This is a small item that can save you a lot of headaches. It’s a rubber or silicone mat you put under your dab rig.
It keeps everything from slipping, and is easy to clean if you drop some sticky wax on it.
It’s also super useful if you prefer using a dab straw or a nectar collector. Your concentates will not slide around on this surface.
8. Dab Pearls (optional)
Dab pearls are also called terp pearls. They’re little balls that spin around your banger as you take your dab.
They help keep heat evenly distributed and prevent the oil from pooling in your banger when you take big dabs.
How to Take a Dab
So here’s how you actually do a dab.
Step 1: Prepare your stuff
Assemble your dabbing stuff. This includes your rig, concentate, torch, dab tool, and carb cap.
Step 2: Use the torch to heat your nail
Most people torch their nail until it is red hot. You might be tempted to dab right now, but that will overheat your concentrate. Patience is the key to a perfect dab.
Step 3: Allow the nail to cool
The best dabs occur at the optimal temperature. In general, it takes quartz 45-60 seconds to cool down, and titanium takes 10 seconds. You might want to use the timer on your phone here.
Step 4: Apply concentrate
Slowly inhale as you put the concentrate on the hot nail. Move it around the nail to spread it as evenly as possible.
Step 5: Place the carb cap
Use the carb cap to control the airflow. Lift it up when you want more air, place it down when you want to concentrate the vapor.
You don’t technically need a cap, but you get much better dabs with one than without. Keep inhaling while you use the carb cap. Stop when you don't see any more vapor.
Step 6: Exhale!
Yeah, boy! You just did a dab. Don’t worry if it feels a bit harsher than a bong hit. Remember, if you don’t cough, you don’t get off!
How Much Dab Should I Use the First Time?
You don’t need a lot of concentrate to get really, really high. It’s called a “dab” because “a lil’ dab’ll do ya.” When it comes to dabs, less really is more.
Let’s talk numbers. Now, the recommended starting dose of an edible is 5-10mg of THC. Let’s say you’d like to kick things up a notch and take 25mg of dab hit.
You have one gram of wax that’s labeled 75% THC. So in that 1000mg of hash, there’s 750mg of THC.
How much of that hash equals 25mg of THC in your hit? If you don’t feel like doing the math, you need 33 mg of that wax to get a 25mg THC hit.
But what does that actually look like? 33mg is just a little bit bigger than a grain of rice. One gram of hash should give you about 30 good hits.
People love to brag about how big of dabs they can take, but don’t fall for the flex. If you take too big of a dab, you can end up with excess hash pooling around in your nail.
This is a waste of expensive concentrate. It also makes your rig harder to hit properly the next time. If you want to get higher, you can always take another dab.
Dab Temperature Tips
The key to a good dab is the right temperature. You want your nail to be between 500 and 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
How do you know your rig is at the right temperature? There’s an easy way, a hard way, and a boring way.
The easy way is to get a dab thermometer. These are ideal for those who want to take lower-temperature dabs.
Low temp dabs let you really taste the flavor of your BHO.
The hard way is to learn the correct timing of your particular nail. You can use your phone's timer to figure it out.
If you start by using a dab thermometer, you’ll naturally pick up the timing for it.
The boring way is to get a den or an e-rig. It uses an electric heating element to get the correct temperature every time. Still, the blowtorch is fun.
Cleaning Your Dab Rig
A clean rig hits well. You might notice even after a few dabs, it’s not hitting so fresh and so clean.
Most experienced dabbers wipe down their nail after every dabbing sesh. There are a few easy clean methods:
- Q-tip: A clean q-tip can soak up oil that may have pooled in your nail. Be aware you have to wipe it down before the concentrate re-solidifies
- Torch it: Applying the blow torch should burn off any excess. Make sure you cool it down before giving it a good scrape.
- Dab tool: After torching it, take a dab tool and scrap out whatever’s left behind. Don't forget about dab tool holders.
- Good ole’ isopropyl: It’s the tried and true THC cleaner. A ten-minute soak will have your nail sparkling.
Other Methods for Taking a Dab
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to take a dab. If you’re looking for different ways to do dabs, we’ve got you.
Cold Start Dab
This is also known as “reverse dabbing”. It’s where you put the dab on a cold nail and then heat it up.
Some people prefer cold start dabbing. As with all low-temperature dabs, it preserves the flavor and terpene in the concentrate. It’s a bit easier on your rig since you’re not heating it up as much.
However, there are a few downsides. Like all low temp dabs, cold start dabs don’t vaporize all of the oil.
This means you have to keep your nail clean if you prefer dabbing this way. The residual oil left over can ruin the taste of your next dab.
Best Ways to Dab Without a Rig
No rig? No problem! You can still dab without a rig, here’s how.
Using a Bong for Dabs
Do you already have a bong? You can totally use a bong for dabs. You will need to get a nail that fits your bong.
This can be a little tricky because most nails are female-jointed and most bong bowls are male-jointed.
That said, you can easily get a male-jointed nail, or you can use a joint adapter.
Use a Healthstone
A healthstone can be added to a bong or pipe so that you can use it for doing dabs. It’s basically a piece of porous rock that you can put in the bowl of your favorite piece.
Place the wax on top, heat the stone with your butane torch, and enjoy your dab.
Have you ever wanted to feel like a hummingbird while taking a dab? A nectar collector, aka a dab straw lets you do that.
Using one of these is super simple. You heat up one end of the straw and put it directly in your concentrate container.
Inhale, and there’s your dab. Just like a hummingbird.
We recommend using a dab mat for this method. A dab mat serves two functions.
First, it gives you a place to put your nectar collector after you’ve done your dab.
Second, it keeps your concentrate container from slipping.
Dab Pens and E-rigs
Dab pens are one of the greatest things to come out of the last decade. It’s a super simple device. It’s basically an e-cigarette full of THC concentrate.
You can purchase both pre-loaded cartridges for your dab pen, or get a dab pen that you can manually load wax into. Check your pen’s instructions before purchasing.
An e-rig is a dab rig with an electric heating element. They will give you the perfect temperature dab every time.
E-rigs are rechargeable, while not all dab pens are. E-rigs also let you use any concentrate, not just what comes in pre-loaded cartridges.
Ok this is getting a little into ratchet territory but, yes you can use a hot butter knife to do a dab.
You take your butter knife and heat it on the stove until it's red hot. Then you put the wax on it, and inhale.
Some people like to use a straw, funnel, or cut-up two-liter bottle to get all the vapor. A lot of it goes to waste though, it’s really not the best way to do a dab.
Roll a Joint
This one’s easy peasy, as long as you know how to roll a joint. Grind up your weed, put it in joint formation, and put some hash on it.
How exactly you do this depends on the consistency. Get it as evenly distributed as possible.
Then finish rolling your J, spark up and enjoy!