Hash has come a long way in recent decades, and dabbing continues to be at the forefront of cannabis concentrate, with new variations continuing to surprise consumers all the time. Key to enjoying the experience, however, is finding an optimal temperature to vaporize all of the delicious compounds without burning them to smithereens.
With so many different types of dabbable concentrates, and such a wide variety of new devices for their consumption on the market, finding the right approach can be confusing. We'll try to sort through some of the chaos so you can get straight to finding the best concentrate for you, and the best way to consume it.
WHAT'S IN A DAB
Dabs are basically the essential oil of the cannabis plant, give or take a few plant parts and possible residuals. Many dabbable concentrates are made by butane extraction, which results in a product with very little plant matter. However, even old-school bubble hash will be sold as dabs (with a much higher plant concentration, and correspondingly lower THC concentration). As a general rule of thumb the more plant matter in your dab, the higher the required temperature for full combustion. Here are a few of the most popular concentrate products, in order of decreasing plant matter:
- Full Melt (or ice hash)
- Waxy Concentrates(butter, earwax)
- Live Resin
Each type of product has an individual purity and chemical profile, giving each a distinct quality of flavor, combustion, and even effect. Usually, more terpenes and less plant matter mean the most flavor and biggest buzz.
Terpenes are flavor compounds that cannabis shares with citrus plants, pine trees and other flora. These compounds are what a lot of dab enthusiasts won't shut up about. Vaporizing terpenes at the right temperature will bring out insane flavors in cannabis concentrates that pipe smokers could hardly imagine. If amazing flavor is what you're after, then look no further than Live Resin. If you're not familiar with Live Resin I suggest you change that, and quickly. It's the product of a new process that has become so popular for terpene extraction, that it has recently been adopted by the craft beer industry. Reefer Scientists for the win.
Terpenes and all the other important compounds of your concentrates will vaporize between 315-440 degrees, but the temperature will need to be modified depending on the device you're using and the consistency of your concentrate.
WHY THE DEBATE
Aficionados tend to swear by low temperature dabs, because they're the most flavorful. The trade-off is that a lower temperature dab can result in a lot of uncombusted (or wasted) material. Lower temp dabs also produce less vapor, and therefore, less of an effect. Obviously, if you're on a budget that can add up quickly. It's a fine line, though, as overheating your dabs can actually destroy all the valuable compounds before you can even get to them! My first few grams of dabs were lost to this situation until a kind, squinty-eyed head-shop owner showed me the light.
As a quick tip, the flavor conscious always seem to go for a few things: quartz glass buckets with a carb cap, on a percolated glass rig. For anyone new to the scene, that's a little bong with an attachment . It's typically heated with a torch. Torches can take some getting used to, but fortunately there are plenty of options for getting a good tasting dab without one.
SO MANY PRODUCTS, SO LITTLE TIME
I'm currently vaping shatter through a portable, electronic cigarette sort of thing (and it's starting to make it hard to write). There are dozens of models on the market, but a good battery – I'd recommend one with at least 25 watts – and a decent burner dedicated to concentrates is an awesome way to get medicated, or just wicked high, almost anywhere. I find waxes tend to work best with this type of device, as concentrates with less plant matter can easily clog airflow vents. New burner designs are coming out constantly but crowd favorites usually boil down to two categories: coil-wrapped quartz-glass rods and ceramic buckets. The coil-wrapped quartz is my preference. It requires less maintenance than ceramic, has a quicker heat up time and seems to produce more vapor. New ceramic buckets definitely provide a better flavor but at the cost of a smaller hit. One nice thing about any of these options is that (with a decent battery) you can select the actual temperature setting in seconds to adjust for different consistencies in concentrate. These batteries are also ideal for vaping e-cigarette juice and other types of cannabis concentrates popular now at local dispensaries.
DOMES, NAILS, BUCKETS AND STRAWS, OH MY!
There's an astonishing assortment of devices on the market these days to help get your dabs out of the jar and into your lungs. Some of these devices are more confusing than others, and require more attention to effectively use. For that reason alone, I still enjoy dab straws. They're super simple and can be one of the cheapest ways to get ripped. Variations can be complex and have built-in water filters or attach to pre-existing bongs, but the simplest versions are just glass straws heated at one end and grazed across a glob of dabs(waxy solids work best). This certainly isn't the most conservative or even best tasting way to vape, but its a fun way to get into dabbing without a huge initial investment.
The nail/dome setup was one of the first to get popular on the dab scene, but was eventually replaced in popularity by buckets, also known as bangers or domeless nails. These bong attachments easily fit on standardized pipes and allow for an easy transition for a pre-existing water pipe.
So what is the best way to dab? Well, it's situational. If you've got the cash and plan to dab often at home, spring for a nice glass rig with a banger and cap. Be sure to grab that Live Resin while you're at it and maybe even get a digital temperature gun to hit that ideal range.