What Does Dab Mean? Everything You Need to Know!

If you’ve been anywhere near marijuana in recent years, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term ‘dab’ or ‘dabbing’. Don’t feel left out of the party if you don’t know what it means, because as you’ve probably noticed, new terms and slang are definitely a big part of the culture. In this article, we’ll do our best to explain simply and concisely what dabbing is all about and why everyone keeps talking about it!

If you’ve been anywhere near marijuana in recent years, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term ‘dab’ or ‘dabbing’

What Is a Dab?

A dab is a highly-concentrated form of cannabis that has been gaining huge popularity in recent years, mostly thanks to the major steps progressive countries and states made lately in regards to the legal status of marijuana. With all the excitement surrounding legalized marijuana, a lot of people are finally beginning to understand how it can be used in a variety of ways, and dabbing is one of the most talked-about ways to smoke today.

What Does Dab Mean

Dabs are prepared by using an extraction agent, such as carbon dioxide or butane, as a way to extract THC and other cannabinoids from the plant. The result is a sticky and very potent concentrated oil, sometimes called BHO (Butane Hash Oil), budder, shatter or wax. For a quick reference on how potent dabs are compared to traditional buds, consider how much THC (the major psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) can be found in each. While a regular bud contains anywhere between 5 and 25% THC, dabs average at between 50 and 80% THC.

What is Dabbing?

Dabbing is a verb form of the word dab that describes the wonderfully-pleasant act of consuming high-potency dabs. Generally speaking, dabs are heated on a hot surface until smoke begins to emerge. The smoke is then inhaled quickly, giving you the same result as when smoking a joint. However, unlike a joint, you end smoking less because of the high concentration found in dabs.

Are there Special Tools for Dabbing?

Yes, and they’re great. Dabbing rigs let you enjoy dabs without an elaborate set-up and help you keep things clean and simple. Dabbing rigs become an even bigger advantage when you’re on the go and don’t feel like setting up camp every time you want to top-up. After all, that extra work doesn’t blend well with most highs. You can make your own or buy a ready-made dabbing rig, but they generally have the following components:

Dab Rig
  • Water Pipe – A promising start to any list of components.
  • Dabber – The tool used to apply the dab on the nail. Go for a ceramic or glass dabber. Metal will also work, but they aren’t as pleasant.
  • Nail – A regular nail, similar to the one you’d use to hang a picture on the wall. This is where the dab will be heated.
  • Heating Component – This is the part that heats the nail. You can use a mini-torch or a bigger propane torch if you’re building the dab rig yourself. Some of the ready-made dabbing rigs include an electric heating component, such as an e-nail, but expect to spend a bit more money for the luxury. E-nails also give you the option to set the temperature of the heat, giving you more control over the flavor and the experience of dabbing.
  • Dome – This part is placed over the nail and is used to capture the smoke/vapor, allowing you to inhale it more easily.

Important to Remember: DON’T USE Alcohol-Based Extracts with Dabbing Rigs!

stop sign

Dabs that have used alcohol to create the extract aren’t safe to use with dabbing rigs. Stick to dabs extracted with BHO or CO2. If you have any doubts, don’t take any risks.

How Much Dab Should You Use?

cannabis joint dab oil

Not every dab was created equally. Some have more THC, some have less. That’s exactly why it’s good to know the potency of your dab beforehand. If you don’t know how potent your dab is, start small and increase the dose accordingly. In this case, “small” means the size of a small crumb. It might not sound like a lot, but dabs are significantly more potent than regular buds. Dabbing can get more intensive than other forms of consuming cannabis, so be sure not to punch above your weight. Remember to take a few minutes before increasing the dose in order to stay in your comfort zone.

Are there Benefits to Dabbing?

Dabs, if used responsibly, offer a few major advantages over traditional smoking methods.

  • Faster high onset – You can feel the effects of dabs more quickly.
  • More potent high – As we’ve mentioned before, dabs are significantly more potent than regular buds.
  • Less harmful for the Lungs – Because dabs are so concentrated, you’ll need fewer hits to reach the same high. Furthermore, you won’t have to smoke various plant matter that is unavoidable in traditional smoking methods.
  • Convenience – Dabbing is a much shorter affair than smoking a king-size joint.
  • Preferred by medical marijuana users – Because it requires less smoking and takes less time, many medical marijuana users prefer dabs.

Are there Risks to Dabbing?

Yes, but the risks depend on whether you do the extraction yourself or not. If you plan on making a dab yourself, consider the following risks:

  • Extraction risks – Although there’s no shortage in helpful guides, there are still plenty of risks associated with extracting dabs. Remember than the agents used to extract THC from the plant are extremely flammable. Without proper ventilation, there a very high risk of causing an explosion.
  • Impure dabs – If a dab was extracted at home without any professional insight, there’s no way of knowing whether your dab contains unhealthy contaminants. To uncover the purity of a dab, you’ll need professional lab equipment (such as a spectrophotometer to measure concentrates), pure solvents, and experience in chemistry.

    As a dab consumer, there are a few risks, but they aren’t as immediate as those you need to be concerned over as a producer.
  • Burns – Dabbing requires heat. Applying heat to a small metal object, the nail in this case, always carries the risk of causing burns. However, this risk is easily mitigated with e-nails.
  • Dabs that are too potent – We know, a lot of people would jokingly place this point under “advantages”, but we have to get serious here. Joking aside, getting too high isn’t a pleasant experience at all. While you can’t overdose on cannabis, over-consuming it can cause a sensation of panic, increased heart-rate, hot and cold flashes, and incoherent thoughts.

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