Dabs are highly potent marijuana concentrates made through a process called extraction, whereby THC and other cannabinoids, the plant’s psychoactive components, are removed using solvents like butane, carbon dioxide, and isopropyl alcohol. A “dab” also refers to the dose of concentrate that you smoke. It’s the high concentrations of these compounds in a compressed form that make dabbing an ideal method for getting really, really high really, really fast. It also proves itself useful for medical marijuana patients who need to inhale a large amount of cannabis to achieve their desired medicinal effects like fighting off nausea.
Cannabis flower is typically anywhere between 10 to 25 percent THC, while dab concentrates clock in between 60 and 90 percent. But there’s a tradeoff with dabs: the aromatic oils that give cannabis its different flavors are missing.
There are various types of dab categories, each with their own properties and extraction processes. Common nomenclature includes “budder,” a creamy, wax-like substance; butane hash oil (BHO), a sticky liquid form; and “shatter,” a clear, glass-like concentrate.
Dabbing has had a few run-ins with the law, and the media portrayal of this new-ish smoking method isn’t the best. News reports on dabbing often center around amateurs attempting to extract their own dab concentrates, which in some cases, has resulted in explosions.
Dabbing can also come across as sketchy, partially because you have to use a butane torch lighter (the kind used for crème brûlée) to heat the dab concentrate, typically on a “nail,” that is then smoked through a dab rig; it’s all imagery that recalls harder drug usage.
Fortunately, professional extractors use what’s called a closed system, avoiding the potential of a dab blast. With increased interest and education of the masses in the cannabis culture, a fear of dabbing might become just as silly a thought as a fear of smoking a joint.