What are Dabs? A Guide to Dabbing

What are Dabs? A Guide to Dabbing

What are dabs? It’s a question almost everyone who smokes cannabis has asked at some point. Most people have heard of dabs, but few know what they actually are.

Dabbing isn’t just a reference to the viral dance move that resembles politely muffling a loud sneeze; it is also a popular means of consuming cannabis concentrates. Moreover, taking dabs seems to have garnered the reputation of being an esoteric and even new-age alternative to using old-school bongs or vaporizers, whether for medical or recreational purposes.

You might wonder what dabbing offers that they don’t already. Before addressing this question, let’s delve into how dabbing works. It’s not your traditional cannabis smoking experience.

How does dabbing work?

We won’t get into the nitty-gritty of hitting a perfect dab here, but it’s worth mentioning what dabs are and how dabbing works. Dabs are a cannabis concentrate that delivers a potent dose of THC. This small portion of cannabis concentrate is commonly called a “dab” because of its small size. This concentrate is leftover residue of the extraction process that separates the psychoactive chemical THC from the cannabis plant.


The extraction process can be done through several methods. Most commonly involves using a solvent like butane or CO2 (carbon dioxide) to strip away the plant matter’s terpenes and cannabinoid-rich resin glands. The result is a highly potent product with highly concentrated THC levels ranging from 60-90%. With a chemical process this concentrated, it’s no wonder that taking dabs has been said to produce a more intense high than smoking traditional weed.

Dab Rigs

To consume a dab, you need a dab rig or oil rig. Rigs are similar in design to bongs but specifically designed for consuming dabs. A typical dab rig will have a water filtration system to cool the vapor before inhalation. Additionally, dabbing involves a heating element far different than what’s used for smoking cannabis from a bong.

Oil rigs usually have four main parts: the mouthpiece, the joint, the nail/banger, and the downstem. The mouthpiece is where you put your lips to inhale the vapor. The joint is what connects the nail/banger to the downstem. The nail or banger is heated to extreme temperatures (usually with a blow torch), and then the dab is placed on it to vaporize. Finally, the downstem is what diffuses the smoke through the water before it reaches your lungs.

Dab Pens

Similar to rigs, dab pens are portable but battery-operated. Dab pens have three main parts: the battery, the atomizer, and the mouthpiece. The battery powers the pen and heats up the atomizer. The atomizer is what vaporizes the concentrate when it comes in contact with the heating element. The mouthpiece is where you inhale the vapor.

Concentrated Forms of Cannabis

Dabs are just one of many concentrated forms of cannabis that are available on the market today. Other popular concentrates include hash oil or BHO, concentrated butane hash oil, CO2 oil, rosin, live resin, and shatter. The THC concentration in these products can range from 40-99%.

Butane Hash Oil

(BHO)Butane hash oil is a type of cannabis concentrate that is made by using butane as a solvent to extract THC from the plant.

CO2 oil

CO2 oil is a type of cannabis concentrate made by using CO2 as a solvent to extract THC from the plant.


Rosin is a cannabis concentrate using heat and pressure to extract THC from the plant.

Live Resin

Live resin is a type of cannabis concentrate made using fresh cannabis flowers instead of dried ones.


Shatter is a type of cannabis concentrate that is made by using heat and pressure to extract THC from the plant.

Smoking Dabs

Now that we’ve answered the question “what are dabs?” it’s time to talk about the effects of dabbing. Dabbing delivers a much higher concentration of THC into your system than smoking traditional flower. For this reason, many people who dab report feeling the effects almost immediately.

The intensity of the high from dabbing can be overwhelming for some, especially those new to concentrates. The high from dabbing can last anywhere from 1-3 hours. In addition, because of the high THC levels, dabbing can also lead to increased tolerance. This means that people who regularly dab may need to use more concentrate to achieve the same desired effect.

Dabbing is not for the faint of heart; it is an intense experience best suited for those with a higher tolerance. That being said, dabbing is becoming increasingly popular among cannabis users of all experience levels.

Benefits of dabbing

Dabbing might look complicated to first-time cannabis users, but this method of consuming cannabis offers a lot of benefits. Here are a few reasons why we love dabbing:

1. A healthier and safer method of consumption

Traditionally, cannabis flowers are usually consumed through a joint. This involves rolling up the dried plant in paper to fashion a cigarette that can be burned and smoked. Although smoking flower holds the torch (pun intended) for being the OG means of cannabis consumption, it has an undeniable risk.

One of the main issues smoking presents is the inhalation of resin and hazardous smoke that can prove detrimental to your lungs and throat. While the risk of inhaling resin can be significantly reduced with a purer plant strain, it’s challenging to get smoke out of the picture when using joints.

This is where dabbing comes in as a healthier counterpart. Since dabbing involves inhaling a concentrate of the vapor of cannabis concentrate, and not the smoke itself, it can be much easier on the lungs than joints. For those with breathing conditions who wish to open themselves up to the medical uses of marijuana, dabbing can be incredibly effective in reaping these benefits. You can get the anti-inflammatory, focus-boosting, and relaxation effects of cannabis without letting your lungs and throat take the hit.

2. Efficient way of smoking marijuana

When you dab, you consume a high concentration of cannabis in a very short time. This is more effective than smoking the flower because it allows you to reap the benefits of cannabis much more quickly. If you use cannabis for medical purposes such as reducing chronic pain symptoms, instilling relaxation, improving focus, inducing sleep, or even for recreational reasons, taking dabs is an incredibly fast-acting way to reduce your symptoms which can save lots of time and discomfort.

You can get a bigger bang for your buck with dabs. The average dab is the size of a rice grain, for reference. This tiny amount goes a long way and is all that is required to get a satisfying puff for anybody new to the realm of concentrates. On the flip side, with marijuana flowers, it’s ideal to pack your bowl with them densely so you can get more than just a few good hits, and a lot more gets used up in a single session.

The dabbing phenomenon has taken over the cannabis world for a very potent reason -some dabs can boast an 80% THC concentration as opposed to the 10% found in traditional marijuana. Other studies have cited that, at a minimum, dabs can be about four times as potent as a joint. This is why those who try it claim the high from dabbing seems to be ‘all at once,’ rather than gradually building up.

Being mindful of the intensity of your dabs is essential if you are just starting. Since this is a fast-acting mode of consumption, it is pretty easy to overdo it. Pacing yourself will help you find the amount that helps you the most. Alternatively, you can visit us or book a consultation at our Sherman Oaks dispensary to determine the level of dabbing that works for you.

3. Flavorful and smooth puffs

Dabbing is also a great way to enjoy the flavors of your favorite cannabis strains. Unlike smoking, which can often result in a harsher and less pleasant taste, dabbing delivers a smooth and flavorful puff that is perfect for those who want to savor the taste of their concentrates.

It is ideal to use steady and low fast temperatures to add to your smoothness and enjoyment of dabbing, as this really helps bring out the flavor of your concentrate. Low temperatures help you reap a lot more flavor when using dabs compared to bongs or smoking.

The reason the flavor of marijuana is dictated by low heat has to do with compounds called terpenes which play important functions in your cannabis experience. Not only do some terpenes have anti-inflammatory properties, but they are also fragrant compounds that give your strain its unique flavor and scent.

Unfortunately, when directly burning marijuana leaves in a joint, some aromatic terpenes are instantly burned off, which immediately dilutes the flavor. Hence, smoking joints tend to offer a much fainter flavor than dabbing.

By keeping the flame at a reasonable distance and not burning the dab directly, dabbing preserves many of the terpenes of cannabis concentrates in the residual solvents. Hence, you get to explore the flavor profiles of various dabs: from the ‘terpy’ flavor of rosin to the citrusy and sour flavor of honeycomb.

4. Convenient

Likewise, dabs are easy to fit into any schedule. You can take a few puffs and put it away for later without worrying about the dab going bad. This is due to how dabs are made: a long solvent extraction process removes all moisture from the final product. This makes dabs shelf-stable for months, as opposed to flowers that can go bad in as little as a few days.

5. Longer-lasting effects

Dabs also offer users a longer-lasting high as compared to smoking marijuana flower. When you smoke a joint, the THC is absorbed by your lungs and then enters your bloodstream, which travels to your brain. As a result, the effects are felt immediately but only last for a few hours.

On the other hand, dabbing involves using a small amount of highly concentrated THC that is rapidly absorbed by your body. This results in a stronger and more immediate high lasting up to several hours. However, because the effects of dabbing are so potent, it is essential to start slow and increase your dosage gradually.

6. A discreet way of smoking

Although cannabis use is becoming more and more socially acceptable, there are still many people who prefer to keep their consumption discreet. Dabbing provides a great way to do this, as the process can be done quickly and without producing any smoke or odor.

This is because dabbing only involves heating a small amount of concentrate at a time, which produces minimal vapor.

Dabbing is also a great way to consume cannabis concentrates if you are sensitive to smoke. If you have asthma or another respiratory condition, dabbing can be a better option than smoking, as it produces much less lung irritation.

Dabbing Tips and Tricks

Now that we’ve gone over what dabbing is and some of the reasons why people enjoy it, let’s move on to some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your experience.

  1. Start with a small amount: As we mentioned, dabbing results in a much more potent high than smoking marijuana. Because of this, it’s essential to start with a small amount and increase your dosage gradually.
  2. Use a dab rig or vaporizer: Dab rigs and vaporizers are designed to consume cannabis concentrates. You can also use a regular pipe or bong if you don’t have one of these devices. However, you’ll need to use a screen to prevent the concentrate from melting and clogging the bowl.
  3. Heat the nail: Before you add the concentrate to the nail, it’s important to heat it first. This helps to vaporize the concentrate more evenly. You can use a torch to heat the nail, or if your rig has an electronic nail, simply turn it on and wait for it to heat up.
  4. Apply the concentrate: Once the nail is heated, use a dab tool to apply the concentrate to the nail. You can then inhale the vapor through the mouthpiece of the rig.
  5. Be very careful: When handling cannabis concentrates, use caution as they can be very sticky and difficult to clean up. Also, ensure you don’t touch the nail with your bare skin, as it will be extremely hot and cause severe burns.

Understanding Dabs

In addition, it’s necessary to understand what dabs are not. While this concept is new to many, it’s important to remember that dabbing is just a method of consuming cannabis, not a form of addictive drug abuse or drug addiction. While this method is for young adults and up, it’s not something that will lead to substance abuse if used in moderation.

However, like any other form of cannabis, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks and effects before consuming it. In certain people, cannabis use disorder can develop, leading to withdrawal symptoms. If you or someone you know is struggling with cannabis addiction, it’s important to seek treatment or addiction treatment.

That said, dabbing is a great way to enjoy the many benefits of cannabis concentrates. Just be sure to start slow, use caution, and enjoy responsibly!

A Dab’ll Do Ya at The Higher Path

Using dabs has a lot more to offer than one might think. Looking to dive into the exciting world of dabbing? Come visit our Sherman Oaks dispensary to explore your options. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff would be happy to help you find the perfect dab for your needs! So book a consultation with us today to start your dabbing journey!

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