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Dabbing CBD: The Complete Guide

Dabbing cannabis extracts is the newest and hottest thing in marijuana culture. As CBD concentrates become more widely available, dabbing has expanded beyond the marijuana realm and into the non-psychoactive cannabidiol realm.

This article is designed to lead someone with no previous knowledge through dabbing from a CBD user’s point of view. Below the article goes on to describe the act of dabbing, concentrates, and the equipment used.

What is Dabbing?

Dabbing is the act flash vaporizing a cannabis concentrate (in our case a high-cannabidiol hemp extract) through the use of a dab rig or wax pen. The vapor created is then inhaled. Dabbing became popular because it is highly potent and effective.

Why Dab CBD?

Traditional sublingual and oral CBD products like tinctures and capsules are very easy to use, yet suffer from low bioavailability. For example, when swallowing an oil-based CBD capsule, only 5-10% of the molecule has an active effect. The rest of the dose is flushed from your body as waste. These methods also have a slow onset time. When swallowed, it can take up to 90 minutes for the CBD to become active in the body.

Despite technical advances in the ingestible CBD space like nanoemulsification, inhaling cannabis has a long history of being highly effective. When inhaled, up to 50% of the cannabinoids and terpenes are absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. The effects come on quick and can be felt within minutes, giving the user nearly instant relief. For those with serious needs, this short onset time can be a real gamechanger.

When it comes to inhaling CBD, dabbing is a highly concentrated way to consume the compound. Compared to vaporizing, dabbing is simply a more potent, more direct way to get a dose.

While dabbing is efficient, that does not mean that it is free of downsides. Inhaling vaporized CBD is not nearly as accessible as other more conventional means like swallowing capsules, using a tincture, or eating edibles. Also, the effects of inhaling cannabidiol vapor may only last for 2-3 hours where swallowing the compound can last up to 7 hours.

For more information on bioavailability, onset time, and duration see our article outlining the various methods of taking CBD.

CBD Concentrates Explained

Now that you understand what dabbing is, let’s take a look at the CBD-specific products that are used when dabbing. This group of products is referred to as concentrates. As the name suggests, these forms of CBD are concentrated extracts derived from hemp. The various types of concentrates are differentiated by the extraction and processing methods used to create them:

  • CBD Isolate is a pure extract that contains only the CBD molecule in a crystalline form. Isolates can be made at up to 99% potency.
  • CBD Extract is an oily extract that contains a full spectrum of the molecules that were present in the plant. For dabbing, you’ll want to ensure this extract was winterized to remove the fats and other plant material from the concentrate to avoid inhaling them.
  • Terpsolate is the term used to define an isolate that has been combined with liquid-form terpenes.
  • Shatter comes in slab form that is created by adding terpenes to CBD isolate slabs.
  • Wax is a general term used to define a concentrate that takes on a sticky, waxy form. These concentrates range from full-spectrum to isolates.
  • Crumble is a moist concentrate created by purging the oils from a cannabis concentrate. The resulting substance is named after its crumbling consistency.

When considering the various types of concentrates available, these

  • Full or broad-spectrum takes advantage of the entourage effect while CBD isolate does not.
  • CBD isolate can be used as an additive to other types of dabs or combustibles.
  • Terpenes in a concentrate add flavor variety and additional effects.
  • The consistency and form of a concentrate can make it more convenient for dabbing.

CBD concentrates can be dabbed alone or combined with a high-THC marijuana extract. Many users find that CBD ‘smooths out’ and creates a more ‘complete’ high when combined with THC concentrates. Sometimes these concentrates are added to marijuana flower when it is vaporized, smoked, or rolled.

CBD Oil is Not for Dabbing

Products referred to as ‘CBD oil’ are tinctures made of a CBD extract and carrier oils. These products are not designed for dabbing because they contain many additional ingredients that are not designed to be heated. These products should be used sublingually as directed

Tools for Dabbing

Dabbing equipment varies widely in function, features, and price. You can find a simple, low-cost option or dive in as deep as you’d like. For the scope of this article, we are going to cover the basics of the two main options available to flash vaporize your concentrates: wax vaporizers and dab rigs.

Wax Vaporizers

You’ll find these electronic devices used for dabbing under many names including wax pens, dab pens, and dab vapes. The basic idea is that a battery powered coil is heated which is used to vaporize a concentrate that is then inhaled. The main components of every wax pen are similar:

  • A battery that is connected to the heating element.
  • The coil that is powered by the battery to create the heat. These coils come in various types including quartz with 1, 2, and even 4 coils and ceramic disks.
  • The mouthpiece which can range from a simple screw-on attachment to a large glass water pipe attachment.
  • The dabber which is usually a small metal wand used to place the concentrate into the coil cylinder.

These vaporizers come in a wide variety of forms, you’ll find everything from minimalist pens that take only concentrates up to full-sized electronic glass dab rigs that are capable of vaporizing concentrates and flower.

Dab Rig

The dab rig is constantly evolving, yet even today there are a standardized set of tools used in a dab setup:

  • A glass water pipe that functions in much the same way that a bong does.
  • The nail is a chamber made of ceramic, quartz, or titanium. This is the piece that is heated and vaporizes your concentrate.
  • A dome is placed on top of the nail after the concentrate is vaporized to trap the vapor to keep it from escaping. Not all rigs require a dome and some rigs may use an e-nail instead, though they require a larger upfront investment.
  • A blow torch is used to heat the nail. A standard lighter will not cut it.
  • The dabber is a glass, metal, or ceramic wand used to place the concentrate into the heated nail.

How to Dab CBD

The act of dabbing CBD is fairly straightforward in theory, yet it requires some practice to get the process down. The most important factor is controlling the temperature at which the concentrate is vaporized. Too little heat and the concentrate won’t vaporize. Too much and it combusts, defeating the purpose of vaporizing altogether.

The ideal temperature for dabbing is somewhere between 300 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. At the higher end of this temperature range, you’ll begin boiling the terpenes found in the plant (if your concentrate contains terpenes).

The first step to dabbing is to get your concentrate out. You’ll want to divide your dose out, most CBD concentrate users find that 1-2 rice grain sized pieces of concentrate is the average size for a dose.

Using a Wax Pan

Once you have your dose divided, you’ll simply add the concentrate to the chamber, assemble, and turn on the device. Simple pens often use a push button to heat the element, you’ll want to tap the button to heat the concentrate as you inhale, start slow and try to work your way up to larger hits without burning the concentrate. For larger vaporizers, you may be able to set the temperatures and wait for it to heat much like a traditional dab rig. As your concentrate vaporizes, inhale, hold for a few seconds and then exhale the vapor.

Using a Dab Rig

A dab rig is often a more complicated process than a wax pen. The first step is to make sure you have all the equipment you’ll use set out. You’ll be working with open flames and hot materials, so keep your space clear.

Have your concentrate ready, and use the torch or e-nail to heat the nail to proper dabbing temps. As a general rule of thumb, heat the nail for 20 seconds then wait for a minute before adding your concentrate. It is not necessary to heat the nail until it is red hot.

After heating the nail, use your dabber to get the concentrate ready to be added. Once ready, drop the concentrate into the nail or run the dabber around the nail as you inhale to vaporize the complete contents of the concentrate. Experienced dabbers may be able to inhale the entire hit at once. If that’s not you, once you’ve finished adding the concentrate, you may want to cover the nail with the dome to keep the vapor from escaping. This way, you can come back and inhale the rest of the hit.

Once you get the hang of it, this entire process is quick and easy. It will take some time to find the perfect concentrate and dosage for your needs. Once you do, you’ll join the ranks of many happy dabbers out there enjoying this unique way to use CBD. Hopefully, this guide was helpful in discovering the world of dabbing! Please leave any questions or comments below.

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This article introduces dabbing, concentrates, and the equipment used to make it all happen – all from a cannabidiol (CBD) user's point of view.

Guide: How To Dab CBD

By WeedMaps News’ Tyler Koslow, provided exclusively to Benzinga Cannabis.

As a cannabis concentrate enthusiast, I’ll be honest with you: The first time I took a dab of cannabidiol (CBD) it felt strange, almost sacrilegious in light of the potent THC-heavy sauces, badders, waxes, and shatters that I typically consume.

As any seasoned dabber knows, a fat dab is typically followed by immense anticipation for the oncoming high. But after I took my first-ever CBD dab, the resulting effect felt more akin to a lazy river than a THC-infused roller coaster, sending me down a strangely relaxing and fuzzy stream void of any intoxication.

On the flip side, the process of holding a torch and inhaling super-potent concentrates might seem intimidating to the cannabis newbie, and the stigma that dabbing is needlessly intense may prevent some from harnessing the full potential that concentrated CBD has to offer.

You might think dabbing is strictly for hardcore stoners seeking the highest of highs, but some medical patients and consumers could actually benefit from dabbing CBD concentrates to obtain therapeutic relief. The medical and adult-use market are flush with diverse CBD concentrate products, which can be consumed using the same type of dab rig you’d use for THC extracts.

What Are CBD Concentrates?

CBD concentrates are hemp-derived or marijuana-derived cannabis products made using an extraction process that retains cannabinoids and terpenes while removing undesirable plant matter. Many extraction processes used to extract CBD are similar to those utilized to produce high-THC concentrates. This means that CBD concentrates can come in many textures, some of which may be better-suited for your needs than others.

Types and Textures of CBD Concentrate

Cannabidiol (CBD) is also available in concentrated forms such as wax, shatter, and crumble. They can be vaped as virtually pure isolate, extracts featuring the full complement of cannabis’s terpenes and cannabinoids including THC, and terpsolate — an isolate fortified with liquid terpenes. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

The process for making THC and CBD concentrates isn’t all that different. Many of the textures available for THC concentrates are also available for CBD concentrates. Here are a few examples you might see on a dispensary menu:

  • CBD Isolate:CBD isolate comes in the form of a crystalline solid or powder, and typically contains 99% pure CBD. Following the use of an extraction process to remove all the active compounds from the cannabis plant, the remaining extract undergoes a refinement process that eliminates THC and all other phytocannabinoids, resulting in the purest available form of CBD.
  • CBD Extract: Unlike CBD isolate, this oily CBD extract contains a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes present in the cannabis plant. CBD extract should first be winterized to remove fats and other plant matter from the concentrate before it can be dabbed.
  • Terpsolate: Terpsolate is commonly used to describe CBD isolate that is combined with liquid terpenes after the extraction process.
  • Shatter: CBD concentrates can also come in the shatter form, extracted in the slab form and infused with terpenes.
  • Crumble:CBD crumble comes in a malleable texture that tends to break apart when handled. To make this concentrate, the oils are purged after the extraction process, creating a substance that has a crumbly consistency.
  • Wax: This term is used to describe concentrates that have a sticky, waxy form. For both CBD and THC, wax concentrates can be produced from full-spectrum and isolate extraction methods.

Cannabidiol (CBD) isolate, in which all other cannabinoids and terpenes have been removed to leave an end product that is at least 99% pure CBD, is one form of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid that can be dabbed. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

How to Dab CBD

The actual process of dabbing CBD concentrate isn’t much different than the way you’d consume THC-heavy concentrates. Dabbing both CBD and THC requires the same tools, including the dab rig, butane torch, and dab tool to drop the concentrate into the nail or banger.

Where the real difference lies is in the effects of CBD dabs. Dabbing THC-heavy concentrates will bring on a stoned feeling almost immediately after consumption, but CBD does not cause any intoxicating effects. Instead, when my colleagues and I dabbed CBD, we felt a sense of calmness and relaxation.

Here’s a step-by-step process on how to effectively dab CBD:

  1. Once situated with your dab rig and CBD concentrate, heat up the nail with a butane torch until the surface is glowing red.
  2. Similar to the process of dabbing THC, the amount of time you need to wait to dab CBD is dependent on the thickness and material of your banger or nail. The optimal temperature for dabbing CBD lies somewhere around 320-356 degrees Fahrenheit, or 160-180 degrees Celsius, as higher temperature will destroy the terpenes if they are present in the concentrate. As a general rule, it usually takes 20 seconds to heat the nail and 60 seconds for it to cool, but this can vary depending on the material and thickness of the nail. You can use either a stopwatch or you can download a specialized app for your mobile device to keep track of time and ensure you take your dab at the right time.
  3. Using the dab tool, place the CBD concentrate on the surface of the nail and slowly inhale the vapor. Continue to inhale to ensure that you consume a majority of the vaporized concentrate. If available, place a carb cap over the nail to trap the heat and better vaporize the concentrate.
  4. Exhale the vapor immediately.
  5. After finishing the dab, clean the nail to remove all leftover residue. Let the nail cool down and wipe up the inside of the nail with a cotton swab. You can dip the cotton swab in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and rub it along the interior of the nail.

Dabbing is often a choice of seasoned cannabis consumers because of the expense of dab rigs and the additional implements required, such as torches and dab tools. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

Why Would You Want to Dab CBD?

The preparation and process of dabbing CBD takes a fair amount of effort, not to mention the need for a dab rig, butane torch, and other accessories such as caps and dab tools. You might be wondering why someone would go out of their way to dab CBD. Are there certain benefits to this uncommon method of consumption?

On a Reddit subreddit called DailyDabbers, a forum posted on August 2017 about dabbing yielded some interesting responses from the social media platform’s vast community. Reddit users who dab CBD reported positive effects, including a calming and relaxing effect, along with less anxiety.

“So far I’m really liking it. When I dab pure CBD I notice relaxation, and my anxiety lessens. When I mix dabs and CBD I notice that the high feels way chiller, and the come down is less exhausting,” one user reported.

Consumers who have dabbed cannabidiol (CBD) have described their experiences as calming and relaxing. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

One of the primary benefits of dabbing CBD is that the therapeutic, calming effects can be felt within minutes of consumption. This makes dabbing an effective option for those seeking immediate relief, especially when compared with oral application, the most common method of CBD consumption.

Although dropping CBD oil in your mouth or eating an edible are among the easiest and quickest way to consume CBD, ingestion prevents CBD from immediately entering the bloodstream, sending it instead through the digestive tract and eventually onto the liver, where it is broken down before finally reaching the bloodstream.

Certain CBD concentrates also give consumers and patients that ability to directly experience and taste the flavorful terpenes and other plant compounds that may not be present in CBD oil.

Keep in mind that some high-CBD concentrates may also contain intoxicating levels of THC. If you wish to avoid THC, dabbing pure CBD isolate is an ideal alternative. On the contrary, evidence also suggests that cannabinoids and terpenes also have a combined entourage effect, working together to produce a greater effect than if used separately. Therefore, dabbing CBD extracts retaining other cannabis compounds may be more beneficial.

Feature image: Dab rigs are more than just for vaporizing heavy-THC concentrates. They can achieve the same vaping experiences for concentrates high in cannabidiol (CBD), too. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

By WeedMaps News