How to dab properly? If you’re a dab virgin, prepare yourself as it’s nothing like smoking or vaping. Dabs are incredibly more potent than dried weed flowers. Every drag hits hard, which can have first-time dabbers in uncontrollable coughing fits as their initial dab tokes tend to be way too big and hotter than it should be.

Once you learn how to hit a dab the right way, which this resource will teach, you’ll find a higher level of appreciation for cannabis plants’ wildly vast terpene expression. Dabbing shares the most immaculate form of cannabis, allowing tokers to savor the nuances in fragrance and flavors of strains fully. Plus, as long as consumed carefully and in proper moderation, recreational and medical users alike can maximize weed benefits.

Dabbing Basics

Cannabis concentrates are extracts of the plant’s flowers with a rich concentration of terpenes and cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. Their potency can reach up to 90%, towering above the typical 20 to 30% of dried flowers from the most hard-hitting strains. With new technologies and extraction techniques, higher quality concentrates are now easier to make more than ever. The list of concentrate varieties is getting longer as well, giving consumers plenty of options. Amongst the most popular are shatter, wax, rosin, and hash.

melted cannabis shatter
Melted cannabis oil concentrate aka shatter held on a dabbing tool

On the other hand, dabbing is inhaling a combination of smoke and vapor produced by flash vaporizing cannabis oil or resin by applying the product on a hot surface. The dosing process of this consumption method is tricky at first and is best handled by seasoned tokers. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, though, dabbing can bring you to an unprecedented level of head-to-toe relief, as well as unique cerebral effects brought about by high-THC concentrates. Additionally, extracts hold minimal plant material than dried buds, so you take in more of the good stuff and a lot less combusted resin.

What Tools Are Needed for Dabbing?

Dabbing cannabis has taken the 420 world by storm these past years. Its phenomenal popularity has introduced a new range of specialized instruments and accessories designed to help consumers dab like a pro and make the most out of every drag. It is crucial to bear that in mind when choosing or learning how to use a dab rig. Despite developments, though, the use and demand for the traditional dab pipes remain widespread. The setup includes these items:

Dab rig. It is a water pipe that resembles a bong, except that it is for concentrates and has a fitting for a nail instead of a bowl.

Nail. A heating component connected to a dab rig, it is either made of ceramic, glass, quartz, or titanium. Nails, also known as bangers, are heated to extreme temperatures reaching up to 800 ℉. Quartz nails don’t crack under heat or thermal pressure, unlike glass nails, and can provide a more flavorful experience. On the other hand, titanium nails are better for hash or solventless concentrates. Some dab rigs include a nail when purchased.

Dabber. This tool is used to apply the concentrate to the nail. It can be ceramic, glass, or metal and comes in several shapes — scoop, paddle, spoon, ballpoint, needlepoint, etc. The suitable form depends on the texture and consistency of the concentrate.

Carb cap. Although a dab rig can function just fine without it, this accessory can help regulate airflow. Carb cap dabbers, a combination of two tools, are becoming increasingly popular.

Torch. A butane hand torch or mini-torch is best for heating the nail. Unlike propane, butane does not produce a flame that can damage the nail. Plus, it goes through a refining process to remove impurities that may be harmful when inhaled. Consumers can also opt for an e-nail to remove the need for a torch.

Cannabis concentrate. As mentioned, concentrates are incredibly potent. They come in two types — solvent-based, commonly extracted using butane, propane, ethanol, or CO2, and solventless or those created through mechanical extraction. The most popular solvent-based extracts include butane hash oil (BHO), propane hash oil (PHO), ice water hash, and terp sauce, also called HTFSE (high terpene full spectrum extract). Solventless extracts you might have heard of are hash, charas, and rosin.

How to Dose Cannabis Concentrates?

Cannabis extracts are incredibly potent and have varying cannabinoid concentrations. Before dabbing a concentrate, it is crucial to know just how potent the product is. As a rule of thumb, start with a small dose and gradually increase it until the desired effects are achieved.

Cannabis Shatter
Cannabis Shatter on a white paper

The average dose is no bigger than a crumb. Such size may not look impressive, but it is loaded with cannabinoids and terpenes that will surely deliver fast and hard.  Dried flower smokers will find dabbing way more powerful, but they’ll eventually acclimatize to the intensity and their tolerance will adjust accordingly with continuous use.


Cannabis concentrates sold in the legal markets are required to have cannabinoid details on the packaging. Solvent-based hash oils typically share a total cannabinoid content of around 60 to 90%, but distillates and isolates can provide a cannabinoid strength (THC or CBD) of up to 99.9%. On the other hand, solventless concentrates, also known as non-solvents, may go below 50% total cannabinoid potency.

The recommended starting dosage for cannabis edibles is around 5 to 10 mg. To understand just how potent concentrates are, let’s use a hash with up to 80% THC content as an example. One gram of this extract contains 800 mg of total cannabinoids. Splitting it into eight equal parts makes single portions with 100mg of cannabinoids. Meanwhile, taking 25 mg dab from the same size slab would pretty much look like a couple of couscous grains.

Can you imagine how difficult it would be to obtain a 5 mg dab? This also emphasizes the importance of reading the label as portion sizes depend on your concentrate’s potency.

Always Start With a Modest Dab

Even if you’ve been smoking fat joints for quite some time, taking the smallest dab is recommended, as you can use it as your reference point. It is called micro-dosing, and one of its many benefits is helping consumers find a suitable dab size with ease.

It’s critical to determine the dab size that works for you as different dab sizes and ratios of cannabinoids provide a unique experience to everyone. A 25mg dab of the same THC-rich hash is most likely too much for a new dab smoker but may not get the job done for a regular dab consumer. Besides the varying THC tolerance, the psychoactive effects are guaranteed to hit differently as our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) has an individual response to cannabinoids. If you don’t know the dose that works for you, the best way is to start with the smallest dab and gradually work your way up.

How to Dab The Right Way?

Dabbing is an effective way to get the most out of a cannabis concentrate. The preparation for a perfect dab also works as an excellent meditative ritual that provides a moment to loosen up, like cooking and grocery shopping, which many find therapeutic. It may not seem like it in the beginning as you’re still familiarizing yourself with the dag rig and dosing, but once you’ve already established a routine, pre-dabbing becomes a few minutes of relaxation.

Knowing how to properly dab allows consumers to try various techniques that can enhance the experience. It also means that you get to find the method that works best for you.

Dabbing Rig
Clean glass bowl for dabbing

Before you start dabbing, simply set the dab rig up and prep the dab, then drag away following the instructions below. In the interest of safety, we advise sitting down during a dab sesh as the effects could be intense. Also take caution when handling the dab rig as the nail becomes extremely hot. Always wait for all the components to cool down before touching them.

Step 1: If you are using a traditional dab rig, turn on the torch and aim its flame directly at the nail. Most dab tokers heat the nail until the base starts to turn red hot. Electronic nail users can skip this and refer to the instructions below for more information.

Step 2: Turn off the torch once the nail is hot. We recommend letting titanium nails cool for 10 seconds and quartz nails for up to 45 seconds to prevent burning the dab. A timer comes in handy, particularly to noobs who are prone to those mentioned above.

Step 3: Apply the dab onto the nail using the dabber and take small drags slowly. To avoid wasting any leftover concentrate on the dabber, rotate the tool’s tip on the nail.

Step 4: Cover the dab nail or banger with a carb cap to help regulate the air movement and trap the heat. Cap your dab until you finish.

Step 5: Exhale and refrain from taking another dab until after 10 to 15 minutes. Enjoy the sesh!

How to Clean Your Nail?

Expert dabbers know that a clean glass is critical to having an excellent dabbing experience. This is why regular cleaning is essential in getting high-quality hits out of your dab rig. No doubt, nothing ruins the flavor of even the highest quality concentrates than the absence of thorough cleaning, which results in nasty resin build-up from weeks of dabbing.

After a dab, you’ll notice some residue build-up of carbon, oil, and particulates in the nail. Most dab consumers clean the banger with a cotton swab after every sesh to ensure each drag is smooth and satisfying. It keeps your gear in pristine condition, preserves the best flavor, and produces safer smoke.

Here are some ways to clean your nail:

Heat and scrape. The easiest way to clean a dab nail is to heat it again with your torch. There’s no need to make it piping hot; temperatures around 300°F is warm enough to liquefy or loosen accumulated resin on your nail. If you are cleaning a ceramic or quartz nail, do not expose the heated nail to thermal shock or rapid temperature change as it causes structural stress or damages.

Once the nail is heated up, go grab your dabber and slowly scrape off as much resin as you can. There may be spots your dabber can’t reach, we recommend using a paper clip for those. Be gentle, though, as paperclips can scratch your nail if you apply too much pressure.

Soak in alcohol. Put the nail or the entire dab rig in a resealable zipper bag. Fill the bag with enough 91% isopropyl alcohol with some coarse salt and submerge the equipment. Leave it overnight for the solution to dissolve even rock-solid resin and rinse thoroughly under warm water the next day.

What Are E-Nails?

The cleaning methods mentioned above are for traditional nails or those that still require a torch. Electronic nails are becoming increasingly popular nowadays, though, and must also be discussed.

E-nails are way more expensive than conventional nails. However, if you’re a serious dabber, the investment is often worth it. It removes the guesswork out of heating, which is the most dangerous part of dabbing. Moreover, it heats up the nail without reaching combustion, so you make the most out of the terpenes and cannabinoids of your concentrate. Basically, it provides the full experience without having to operate a dab like a veteran. You can also choose between portable e-nails, which are excellent for traveling and some discreet dabbing, or desktop e-nails for at-home use.

Dabbing Right

Just as there are various types of concentrates, there are many ways to consume and enjoy them as well. Smoking cannabis extracts has been around for a decade, and tokers enjoy dabbing them due to the higher THC potency they offer — up to an astounding 90%, with some reaching up to 99%. Because of the higher potency and, therefore, more intense effects, recreational and medical marijuana patients must keep dose low and slow. They must also determine their tolerance level to maintain a pleasurable experience.

cannabis concentrate shatter
Pieces of cannabis oil concentrate aka shatter

Above everything else, dabbing is all about two things — rich flavor and incredible potency. Dabs take all the terpenes that give cannabis plants their aroma and taste, along with the cannabinoids that gets us high and/or provides relief to several health conditions, and mash them into one smokable oil. With the perfect temperature, you can maximize everything your concentrate has to offer and, if you’re using a THC-rich one, you’re in for the most enjoyable highs possible.

Such psychedelia, however, is best reserved for veterans in the cannabis game. One tiny dab can incapacitate for hours on end. You might even still feel a buzz after the high calms down. Having said that, consumers must not fear dabbing concentrates. With proper practice, you’ll get to know how much you really need to achieve the desired results, and it will certainly take your relationship with the herb to the next level.