What Are Marijuana Dabs and How Do Dabs Work?

By Alison White
Last Updated on

What Are Marijuana Dabs and How Do Dabs Work?

The cannabis industry is growing and evolving all the time, giving users and enthusiasts new cannabis strains to try, different products to test out, and an increasingly wide range of ways in which to use and consume cannabis in general, including marijuana dabs.

Dabbing cannabis is a popular method to experience fast-acting effects and make the most of cannabis concentrates and extracts like marijuana wax and cannabis wax, and there are more and more self-proclaimed dabbers out there than ever before.

But what is dabbing? How do marijuana dabs work and what are some of the benefits of dabbing marijuana as opposed to other methods? This detailed marijuana dabs guide will tell you all you need to know about dabbing marijuana.

What Are Marijuana Dabs?

We’ll begin with a simple definition of what are dabs and what is dabbing. Marijuana dabs are highly concentrated doses of cannabis, made by extracting cannabinoids like CBD and THC, as well as cannabis terpenes, from the cannabis plant itself.

They’re also commonly known as concentrates and can be referred to under various names like cannabis wax, shatter, budder, sugar, sauce, and so on. They contain all the effective parts of the cannabis plant, with none of the unnecessary plant material or any unwanted extras whatsoever.

The process of smoking dabs or dabbing cannabis involves taking a dab (a small piece of one of the concentrates mentioned above) and then applying it to a hot nail on a dab rig. Dab pens may also be used. Upon contact with the nail, the dab vaporizers can then be inhaled.

What Are the Perceived Dangers of Dabbing?

While dabbing is becoming more popular all the time as people learn more about this unique method of consuming cannabis and become more eager to see what cannabis wax and marijuana wax and other concentrates have to offer, there are some possible risks associated with the process, such as:

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The Potency

Because dabbing is done with cannabis extracts and concentrates, it involves highly potent substances that can have very intense effects. Many people say that their first experience of dabbing is much stronger and more affecting than their first joint or vape. This high level of potency can be overwhelming for first-timers or inexperienced dabbers.

Increased Tolerance

Since dabbing cannabis involves the use of such potent substances, it can be more likely that a dabber will build up a tolerance as they spend more time smoking dabs. This can mean that they need bigger and bigger doses of marijuana wax and concentrates in order to feel the effects, which can be problematic and could pose health risks.

Risk of Explosion or Burns During the Extraction Process

Smoking dabs is a technical skill. It requires specialist equipment, like a dab rig, and you usually need to make use of a butane torch in order to heat the nail before applying your marijuana dabs and vaporizing them. Using these torches and tools can be dangerous if you aren’t careful and could lead to a chance of explosions or burns.

Can You Overdose on Dabs? 

It’s impossible to die from a cannabis overdose, but you can get very high and feel some uncomfortable, intense effects if you go too far with dabs. Cannabis concentrates can contain high levels of THC, leading to intense highs and psychoactive effects, so if you use too much, there are risks to take into account.

Marijuana Dabs

How to Dab Weed Concentrates?

So how do you actually get into dabbing in the first place? Well, as mentioned earlier, you need certain tools to dab and you also need to carry out the steps of the process with care.

Read on to find out all you need to prepare and the steps to follow for safe dabbing.

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What Dab Tools Are Needed?

For a full dabbing experience, you’ll need to assemble the following items: 

  • Rig – A dab rig is the main piece of equipment required for dabbing. Rigs can be found in various shapes and sizes. Many of them look like bongs, but with slight differences and fittings for a nail. 
  • Nail – The nail is the part of the rig that you will heat up and apply your concentrates to in order to vaporize them. Nails can be made of various materials like ceramic, titanium, and quartz, and they can be both “male” or “female” – you need to get the right type to fit your rig.  
  • Dabber – The dabber is a little tool you can use to apply the concentrate onto the nail. Again, they can be made from various materials like glass, ceramic, or metal, and may have different shapes to suit different types of concentrate. Little scoops or spoons can be good for softer and more viscous concentrates, while needlepoints are good for brittle types of concentrate. 
  • Carb cap – Carb caps aren’t really necessary for dabbing but can help to keep air flowing smoothly throughout the rig for a more pleasant experience. 
  • Torch – You’ll need something to heat the nail of your dab rig, and most people use a butane torch. 
  • Cannabis concentrate/extract – Some type of cannabis concentrate or extract will also be needed, like shatter, wax, or rosin.

How to Dose Cannabis Concentrates 

One of the keys to good, safe dabbing is making sure to measure out your dabs effectively. This is especially important when dealing with different types of dabs, as they can have totally different THC and potency levels. 

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The best advice to follow is to start as small as you can and build up from there. Begin with a dose that is no bigger than a crumb, and remember that even tiny doses of concentrates can have really big, bold effects on the body and mind.


A good tip for dosing cannabis concentrates correctly is to portion them beforehand. Don’t set up your dab rig and get a full chunk of budder or wax ready to dab. Take the time to find out how potent your concentrates are and then divide them into equal portions so you know roughly how much THC you’re getting in each one.

Always Start Small

As stated above, the golden rule for starting dabbing is to start off as small as possible. Even if you can barely see the dab on your dabber tool, that’s fine, as it’s a good starting point and you can build up from there as you go.

Steps to Dabbing 

Here’s how to dab in a few simple steps: 

  1. Set up your dab rig and prepare your dabs accordingly before you start. It’s also best to find a comfortable seated position before you begin, with all the necessary items within reach. 
  2. To start, turn on the torch and aim it at the nail unless you’re using an electronic nail that will be able to heat automatically. 
  3. When the nail is red hot, turn off the torch and wait up to 45 seconds for it to cool off (you might want to use a timer for this). 
  4. Using your dabber tool, apply your dab onto the nail and start to inhale slowly. Rotate the tool around the nail to make sure you use the full dab, without any needless waste. 
  5. Place the carb cap over the dab and continue to inhale and enjoy the process. Repeat as desired.
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What Are the Benefits of Dabbing? 

There are several benefits associated with dabbing when compared to consuming cannabis in other ways:

  • Reduces the risk of lung damage – Dabbing can be better for your lungs than smoking, because high-quality cannabis concentrates and extracts are very pure, without any extra ingredients or toxins to worry about. Dab rigs also don’t involve any burning of paper or other items, so there are potentially fewer risks to your respiratory system when inhaling dabs.
  • Efficient means of delivering relief for pain – Dabbing is immensely efficient, and you can start to feel the effects almost instantaneously, so if you are suffering from pain, inflammation or other symptoms that may be soothed and treated with cannabis, dabbing is a good way to get fast-acting relief.
  • Dabbing does not emit a marijuana odor – Dabs do smell, but they don’t give off a very strong or intense marijuana smell when compared to joints and other methods. Any scents associated with dabs tend to fade quite quickly, so you can dab in discretion without alerting those around you.

How Long Do Dabs Stay in Your System?

This really depends on several different factors, including the concentration of THC, your own body’s tolerance and metabolism, the size and nature of your dabs, and so on. THC can remain in the system for several weeks or even longer than a month after dabbing, so this is something to keep in mind if you are at risk of potentially having to take drug tests and worried about THC showing up in your test results.

Alison White

Alison White

Alison is a free spirit who is most passionate about writing. She has been working for the vaping industry as a freelance copywriter for quite some time. Alison White can dabble writing while traveling because she is just simply super.

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