How to Dab Weed Concentrates
Everybody loves weed until somebody pulls out a blowtorch to dab. Maybe it’s the high THC or the hiss of flaming butane but dabbing can be very intimidating at first for many. I mean now we have power tools involved. In reality, dabbing is simply a way of vaporizing cannabis without any plant matter. It can be a much cleaner and more direct method of experiencing everything you love about weed. Not intimidated yet? Want in?
You’re going to need some equipment. The simplest setup requires a bong (or a bubbler), a banger (the thing you heat with a torch and also holds the concentrate) a butane torch and a carb cap. You should also grab extra butane to fill your torch when it runs out. If you don’t have bong cleaner stop by the pharmacy and grab some isopropyl alcohol and a few boxes of Q-tips. Make sure your water pipe will fit with your banger as there are many different sizes. Bangers are normally made from quartz so they can withstand the high heat required to vaporize the concentrate. An alternative, but more expensive, setup is called an e-nail (short for ‘electric nail’). In this setup a heating coil doubles as the banger. The temperature of the coil is set using a control panel. Although many nails are made from titanium we recommend a hybrid nail (quartz bowl, titanium nail) if possible to avoid any metallic flavouring and to limit free radicals.
Cannabinoids and terpenes vaporize at different temperatures. An e-nail allows you to set a specific temperature but even that can be up to 100°F off the actual heat on the glass. So how do you know when the banger is hot enough? How long do you keep the gas on and how close do you hold the flame? If you’re using a torch there are two ways to go about it. A hot start is the most common: light the torch and apply heat to the bottom of the nail, or banger, evenly. I recommend small and slow circles. Do this until the glass begins to glow red. Turn the torch off and put it a safe distance away from your arms (and elbows!). Don’t worry about getting the concentrate in before the quartz cools off. You want it to cool off a bit before you drop in the dab. So take your time to portion a small amount out: anywhere from a crumb to a thumbtack size will do. If you drop the good stuff in too early and the banger is too hot you will chaz your banger: the concentrate will instantaneously burn and fuse to the quartz leaving black burn marks. You can burn them off but the more you do this the more damaged the quartz becomes, eventually greying and becoming cloudy. To avoid this, wait about half the amount of time you spent heating the glass before dropping the concentrate in. There are some tools which can help measure the exact temperature. The intrepid dabber will no doubt figure out which tool works best for them. If you’re worried about this method you can try a cold start. Before heating the banger, drop the concentrate in and heat it slowly until you see it start to bubble and vaporize. Each strain is different so make sure to experiment with this step.
So your dab is bubbling, you haven’t burnt yourself – now what? Take your carb cap and put it on the banger. The cap serves to modify the airflow, helping trap and maintain heat. In terms of how long to pull: that’s something you’ll have to figure out yourself. Everyone is different but in general you can keep hitting a dab until the flavour starts to fade or turns bitter. Some people have a rule of three tokes max per dab. This is a good rule of thumb but feel free to play around with it in the same way you will play around with glass temperature and amount of concentrate.
Don’t wait too long to clean up. If the leftover oils congeal they become much more difficult to wipe off. Ideally you want to swab this oil out while it’s still warm and viscous. The universally accepted tool for this is the ubiquitous Q-tip. Isopropyl alcohol can help when it comes to getting rid of older, tougher stains. The carb cap should also be swabbed whenever you think about it.
You can spend a tonne of money on gear. Glass alone can cost in the hundreds and even thousands depending on who made the rig and what quality of glass they used. There are simple setups available from companies like Puffco: they sell a pen ($150) and an enail setup called the ‘peak’ ($300-450). I suggest hitting up your local headshop and seeing what they have available or poke around online. At the end of the day there are no wrong answers. If something doesn’t work: you will know. Just don’t burn yourself with the torch. And don’t chaz the banger