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The Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Dabbing and How to Get Started

Cannabis concentrates are everywhere - from vape pens to highly potent extracts. Here’s everything you need to know about vaporizing concentrates, also known as dabbing, and how to get started.
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Cannabis concentrates have flourished since legalization in Canada. New extraction techniques are developed regularly, and products on the market have never been so widely available.

Often referred to as dabbing, this consumption method provides highly potent, clean-tasting tokes with near-instant results for users. Getting started in the world of dabs can be intimidating, with plenty of unfamiliar terms and a whole new method of consumption to be learned.

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to dabbing - from what it means to tips on getting started, you’ll be able to enjoy cannabis concentrates with confidence.

What is a Dab?

A dab simply refers to a concentrated cannabis product that is flash vaporized and inhaled. While most flower on the market contains around 10-25% THC, extracts will typically run between 60-80% potency. Here’s a rundown of standard extracts you’ll find at the dispensary and what they mean.

Wax - One of the most popular extracts, wax is typically made with a solvent, primarily butane. You may also hear it referred to as BHO or butane hash oil. Wax comes in many forms like sugar, crumble, or budder, but they’re all relatively similar. It usually comes in sticky clumps with an amber or gold color. Wax doesn’t have a long shelf life but typically contains high amounts of terpenes, making tokes extra tasty.

Shatter - Although it uses a similar extraction process to wax, shatter is brittle and sometimes tricky to handle. It comes in flat squares or sheets and has the consistency of rock candy. Choosing between the two is entirely a personal preference, but shatter will last longer and can be cheaper than wax products.

Rosin - While people have been making their own rosin with “shoe hash” over the years, the process has gotten much better. Plant material is compressed with hydraulic presses to remove the resins. The final product is a golden, oil-like substance with a high level of terpenes. If you want to get the plant’s full taste in each hit, rosins are for you.

Oils - This concentrate has exploded in popularity due to the rise of the vape pen. Carbon dioxide is used as a solvent instead of butane in oil products, and it’ll contain more terpenes than products like shatter and wax. Most disposable vapes have oil, but you can also use a dab rig for consumption.

Live Resin - A relative newcomer on the extract market, this method flash freezes live plant material to lock in a massive amount of terpenes and aromas. You won’t find a tastier product on the market, but be prepared to pay a premium for these dabs. Unlike other products above, vaporizing is genuinely the only method of consumption, so you’ll need some specialized accessories.

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How to Get Started

While there is a cost of entry to get set up for dabbing, there are numerous budget options that will work just as well as the high-dollar items. These are two main ways to get started in the world of concentrates:

Vape Pens - The easiest way to start experimenting with concentrates is with vaporizers. Most dispensaries sell disposable and rechargeable options, with pre-filled cartridges loaded with oil. There are also refillable options available that will allow you to reuse your pen whenever you want. With refillable vapes, you can buy the extract of your choice and vape new strains every day.

Dab Rigs - If you have a successful start with vape pens, investing in a dab rig is an intelligent choice. A dab rig is essentially a bong with a special bowl for vaporizing concentrates. You’ll need a dab tool (think dentist utensil) to gather extracts quickly. Use a torch lighter to heat your specialized bowl, known as a nail, and inhale while touching concentrates on the nail.

Dab nails are usually made of glass or titanium and will instantly vaporize your concentrates. As you learn the process, you’ll be able to heat the nail to your desired temperature, and get clean, delicious dabs on demand.

While there’s a learning curve, understanding dabbing can help make your cannabis consumption super-efficient. With high THC levels and terpenes providing flavorful tokes every time, concentrates are well worth the investment.

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