What Is a Dab in the World of Cannabis?

Nowadays, there are more ways than ever to get high. Smoking cannabis flower remains the most beloved method, but it’s not the only game in town.

Dabbing weed extracts is becoming incredibly popular. This potent modality is becoming a favorite among consumers thanks to its efficient nature and powerful effects.

Sales of cannabis concentrates rose by over 40% between 2020 and 2021. A recent survey of weed enthusiasts revealed 58% had tried concentrates at least once and over 36% dabbed at least once a month.

However, many people are still confused about how to smoke dabs, how they’re made, and their benefits. STIIIZY is here to set the record straight.

Cannabis flower nugs sit next to crumble and shatter concentrates for dabbing.

What is a dab and what is dabbing?

Dabbing is a broad term used to describe the consumption of any type of cannabis oil. It’s called a dab because you only use a tiny bit of extract each time—just a dab’ll do ya.

There are lots of different ways to dab, including the use of specially designed glass pipes or electronic devices typically called rigs.

There are several types of cannabis concentrates, ranging from viscous oils to thick, frosting-like badders and shiny diamonds. These extracts can be produced in a number of ways, each offering its own benefits.

A dab kit on a table is complete with the dabbing tools, banger, live resin diamonds, and packaging.

How are cannabis concentrates made?

Dabs are concentrated versions of weed. The active ingredients within cannabis flower, including cannabinoids and terpenes, are separated from the plant material.

The flower used may be dried or cured before it’s processed. Other times, it’s freshly harvested. In those cases, the resulting products have the word “live” in the name.

Dabs are much stronger than regular cannabis. The flower usually has anywhere from 15% – 35% THC whereas concentrates can have 65% – 95%.

Solvent Extraction

The majority of cannabis extracts on the market are made using solvents like butane or CO2. Cannabis flower is placed in a special machine where the solvents pass over it, stripping the active ingredients. Any residual solvents are removed, leaving a potent concentrate.

A lab technician operates machinery to make cannabis extracts using solvents.

Non-solvent Extraction

Solventless dabs are usually called rosin and are made using either ice water and/or heat and pressure.

Flower is placed in an ice water bath to remove the trichomes (the white crystals on the bud). These trichomes are then dried and pressed together.

Some rosins are made using a heated hydraulic press. Cannabis is sandwiched inside parchment paper, and the active ingredients are squished out.

Solventless live rosin is pressed out of hash in white wax paper.

Different Types of Cannabis Concentrates

There are a dizzying amount of extracts on dispensary shelves. Their names typically denote the consistency of the product, and how they were made. Here are five of the most popular cannabis extracts:

Badder

Resembling thick pancake dough, badder is a favorite among dabbers because it’s easy to work with and provides a smooth flavor. To craft badder, extracts are whipped and aerated resulting in a soft, butter-like substance.

A glass jar with thick solventless live rosin badder sits on a black surface.

Sauce

Sauce is another popular concentrate variety because it’s fairly easy to produce at scale, making it affordable and potent. It has a soupy texture and is usually amber-orange in color. It’s usually made via solvent-based extraction, and live resin sauce tends to come with diamonds.

A glass jar holds a solvent-based cannabis extract for dabbing called sauce.

Jam

Jam lands somewhere between sauce and badder in terms of its consistency, resembling a delicate jelly. It’s a popular dab type thanks to its terpene-rich nature. Jams can be made using solvent extraction or solventless methods. 

STIIIZY's solventless dab called live rosin jam sits in a black jar.

Shatter

Shatter exploded in popularity in the earlier days of adult-use legalization. It has a glass-like texture but can get sticky if it gets warm. While some believe shatter has gone by the wayside, it’s still a prevalent substrate thanks to its accessibility for budget consumers.

A flat, glassy, amber dab called shatter is served on a dabbing tool.

Diamonds

Cannabis diamonds are a standard among concentrate enthusiasts. Crystalline rocks  with a glimmering amber hue are suspended in sauce, offering a perfect dab every time. Diamonds are made via special machines and may be winterized to remove plant lipids.

Live resin diamonds ready to be dabbed are served on a metal dabbing tool.

Ways to Dab

Now that you understand how extracts are made and the various types, it’s time to explore exactly how to dab cannabis concentrates

Traditional Dab Rigs

Glass dab rigs usually resemble a bong and may hold water. They have a special bowl called a banger where the oil is placed. Most are made from quartz but titanium is another common material.

The banger is heated using a blowtorch or a device called an e-nail, which sees a coil placed underneath the bowl connected to a digital temperature control box.

Once the banger is hot, the dab of oil is placed inside using a dab tool. Vapor is instantly formed, which can then be inhaled through the mouthpiece of the rig.

Some people prefer what’s called a “cold start” dab. This is where the oil is placed in the banger prior to being heated. The benefit is that you can taste the terps as the vapor begins to form.

A large glass dab rig from STIIIZY sits on a black and white mat.

Electronic Dab Rigs

For those who want to enjoy the dabbing experience but don’t want to mess with a blowtorch, electronic rigs are an excellent option. There are many e-rigs to choose from at a range of prices.

These high-tech dabbing devices are a bit more sleek and portable, relying on an internal heating element that is usually activated with a push of a button. The bowls are usually ceramic but quartz chambers are often available.

Some of the most popular e-rigs include the Puffco Peak, the Ispire daab, and the Dr. Dabber.

A Puffco electric dab rig sits on a black surface and is ready for dabbing extracts.

Nectar Collectors

Another convenient alternative to traditional rigs, nectar collectors (also called honey straws) are a slick way to dab. They resemble straws; one end is heated and once at the desired temperature, you touch the oil inside of its container and inhale the vapor through the other end.

There are some quartz nectar collectors as well as electronic versions. One great product is the Dab Dipper, an electric honey straw that is portable and easy to use.

Someone wearing denim holds a blue dab pen and a jar of cannabis extract for dabbing.

Vape Pens and Pods

While most people associate dabbing with rigs, hitting a vape pen is also technically a form of dabbing since you are vaporizing cannabis oil.

Weed pens, pods, and carts use a battery-powered heating element called an atomizer. They attach to a pre-filled cartridge or pod which contains oil. Some all-in-one vape pens have the atomizer and oil chamber built into a single device.

Vape pens have become increasingly popular since they’re incredibly simple to use and discreet. When the pod or cartridge is empty, it is thrown away and replaced.

Three live resin pods and packages for weed pens offer another form of dabbing.

There are many ways to consume dabs, all offering pleasantly potent effects. Just be certain to only purchase oil and accessories from legitimate, licensed retailers in order to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

At STIIIZY, we only use premium flower for all of our cannabis extracts including our live resin, live rosin, and proprietary pods. Explore all of STIIIZY’s products here.

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