Beginner’s Guide to Dabbing: What is Dabbing and Why It’s Awesome

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Dabbing has exploded as one of the most popular methods for using cannabis.

But why is dabbing so popular? What’s so great about dabbing?

There’s a whole sub-culture of dabbers and terpene flavor chasers that each have their own personal preference of dab temp and dab rig setups.

Let’s take a deep dive into everything you need to know about dabbing for beginners. We’ll cover why it’s so popular, what are the benefits of dabbing, and how to take a proper dab.

What is dabbing?

Dabbing is a popular style of smoking weed. However, since dabbing allows you to vape your weed without causing combustion (no smoke and no fire), it’s technically a form of vaping cannabis – not smoking it.

When taking a dab, it typically involves vaping cannabis concentrates like wax and live resin by using a dab rig or water pipe along with a heated surface such as a nail or a banger. 

Dabs are cannabis concentrates like wax.

The nail or banger acts as the bowl piece which is heated with a butane torch or other heat source (such as a battery-powered e-rig or e-nail), then a dab of wax is applied to the hot surface where it is instantly vaporized.

Many marijuana enthusiasts enjoy dabbing because of its hard hitting effects and ability to produce really clean highs and tasty vapors.

The cannabis extracts that are dabbed are often high in concentrated THC levels and terpene-rich flavors that give dabbing it’s appeal.

You might hear the phrase “dab pen” or “wax pen” being used, but this typically refers to a portable vaporizer like a handheld vape pen – not what a classic dabber would consider to be a “real dab”.

Portable wax pen from AirVape

While these portable dabbing devices are able to vape the same type cannabis extracts and mimic a similar style, taking a proper dab is quite different.

What Are the Benefits of Dabbing?

Learning to dab takes some practice and requires more tools than other forms of consuming cannabis. Although it’s more involved, dabbing comes with many unique benefits.

Hardcore dabbers love dabbing because they enjoy the hard hitting effects and wildly delicious flavors from a perfect dab. Most cannabis extract products, such as those made from butane extraction like hash oil or shatter are extremely potent and can reach the 70-90% THC ranges. 

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Dabs are considerably more potent when contrasted against high THC flower falling in the 20-30% THC range.

A lot of the active compounds are also lost during combustion when you spark up some flower. You’re also burning a lot of wasted plant material that doesn’t get you high when you smoke weed. This is not the case with dabbing.

Just a tiny dab can go a long way, making dabbing extremely effective.

Dabbing is also one of the best ways to maximize the tasty flavors from terpene-rich cannabis extracts. Extracts that are minimally processed and derived fresh cannabis flower, like live resin or wax from a rosin press, maintain ultra-rich terpene profiles, producing maximum taste and flavor.

As with dabbing, not only are there specific cannabis strains to choose from, but there’s also a staggering variety of the different types of THC concentrate products that you can take dabs of.

In contrast to cannabis flower, which typically varies by strain, dabs or extracts can vary in strain as well as terpene-profile and extraction method. 

Because of the extraction method alone, there’s an endless variety of dabble products such as live resin, badder, diamonds, live sugar, crumble or other cannabis oil. Each type of concentrate will give a unique dabbing experience.

What Do You Need to Start Dabbing?

Ready to try dabbing for yourself?

For taking a traditional dab, basically all you need to get started is a dab rig, a quartz banger (or a nail – think of this as the bowl piece), a torch and a dab tool to for transferring your cannabis concentrate.

stache rio quartz banger male core
Quartz banger for dabbing wax from Stache Products.
eyce spark rig pink
Eyce Spark dab rig includes a banger and dab tool.

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You can find a dab rig like the Eyce Spark at Puff it UP the online retailer and many other dabbing rigs and accessories at Smoke Cartel.

Although it’s optional, you should also use a carb cap that fits your banger/nail. The carb cap will restrict airflow and also agitate the melting wax which helps to evenly heat the dab and condense it for a better hit.

Once you have the basics of your dab rig setup, you’ll need a good cannabis concentrate like wax or oil. You can pick up dab products from your local dispensary.

If the idea of using a torch to smoke weed freaks you out, we totally get it. Not everyone is into the whole torch style of dabbing. In this case, you can pick up one of these new school e-rigs. Also known as an electronic dab rig, these battery-powered devices are another great tool for smoking concentrates. Some even allow you to conveniently switch back and forth between concentrates and dry herb, all-in-one device.

drdabber boost evo rgb display
Dr. Dabber Boost EVO is a torchless, battery-powered e-rig.

The Dr. Dabber Boost EVO and the Dr. Dabber SWITCH vaporizers are two of the leading e-rigs for torchless dabbing. The EVO is strictly for concentrates while the SWITCH is compatible with both marijuana extracts and flower.

The Puffco Peak vaporizer is another extremely popular one. If you want something a bit more budget-friendly, go with something like the the G Pen Connect dab kit. The Connect attaches to any water pipe or bong with compatible joints.

Here’s some electronic dab rigs we’ve reviewed:

Dr. Dabber Boost EVO e-rig

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G Pen Connect Wax Vape

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Dr. Dabber SWITCH e-rig Best seller

The Dr. Dabber SWITCH is a powerful, electronic dab rig designed to conveniently vape both your dry cannabis flower as …
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Because these e-rig vaporizers are battery-powered and don’t require the use of a torch, they’re a lot safer for beginners and have less of a learning curve.

To recap, you’ll need the following equipment for dabbing:

  • Dab rig
  • Quartz banger, dab nail, or e-nail
  • Torch
  • Dab tool
  • Carb cap (optional, but highly recommended)

Now that you have all your necessary dabbing equipment and cannabis dab product on hand, let’s take a look at the process of actually taking a dab.

How Do You Take a Dab?

Once you have your dab rig water pipe filled with water and your banger in place, the first step will be to heat your banger.

There’s different ways to heat the banger. How you heat up the banger will depend on several factors including the material of your banger, the type of torch you’re using, and ultimately personal preference of dab temperature.

Low Temp Dabs

While there’s lots of debate as to whether low versus high temp dabs are better, if you’re starting out, you should go for a low temperature dab, a medium one, or something in the middle.

The easiest way to heat your banger is to aim the torch around the base of the banger. Rotate the flame around the banger to heat it as evenly as possible. Once the banger starts to glow slightly, turn off the torch.

Higher Standards Blazer Big Shot Butane Torch
Butane torch for dabbing with a banger

Give the banger a few seconds to cool off. You will have to experiment with how long to let the banger cool down to get just the right temp. This is the most challenging part of learning to take the perfect dab.

After the banger has had some time to cool down, use your dab tool to scoop some wax on the edge of the tool. Immediately transfer that dab into the heated banger. Start inhaling through the mouthpiece of your just as would take a hit from a bong.

At the perfect temp, your dab will completely boil off, leaving very little residue in the banger. If you get the temp just right, the dab should taste good, produce lots of vapor on the exhale, and be smooth on the throat. If it’s too harsh, that usually means that the temperature was way too high.

Cold Start Dabbing

Cold start dabbing is another way to enjoy your concentrates.

It’s just like hot start dabbing, except you prep your banger with the concentrate before heating it. This lets you enjoy more terpenes and cannabinoids without having to wait for the nail to heat up.

When you cold start, you take the guesswork out of timing how long to heat your banger and also maximize flavor output.

You can take cold start dabs with almost any dab rig. The Boost EVO e-rig is a prime example of cold start electronic dab rig. This rig uses an atomizer that you preload with concentrate, then a bubbler sits on top of it that you draw from while it’s heating up.

But to take a cold start dab with any other rig, you simply pre-load your wax concentrate into the banger before you heat it up. That’s why it’s called a “cold start”.

Once you have a dab of concentrate loaded into the banger, start heating the banger. As the banger heats up, start drawing inhales from the mouthpiece. When you notice that the wax concentrate begins melting and bubbling, you can kill off the heat.

stache rio all in one dab rig
Stache RIO for cold start dabbing

The Stache RIO is a fantastic vape for cold start dabbing. The RIO has a unique design that features a torch built in to the base of the rig which aligns perfectly with the quartz banger.

Stach RIO Dab Rig

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Taking a dab this way ensures that you don’t over heat the banger any more than is necessary. Not only will this taste delicious, it should make for the optimal dab temp that is comfortable on your throat and lungs.

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JB is the founder and chief editor at Cannabis Vape Reviews. Having worked in the cannabis industry for several years, he helped manage one of the leading tech-based cannabis delivery services in Los Angeles and is a vaporizer enthusiast.

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