Chicago Cannabis Culture 101: Dabbing

Ever wonder how the world discovered cannabis extracts? Where did they come from, and why are they so popular these days? Here’s everything you need to know about the wonderful world of cannabis concentrates, including their history and how you can get started with them if you’re brand new to the concept.

How was dabbing discovered?

In short, dabbing was slowly discovered and adapted over the years. Our first known record of dabbing was back in 2003 when a stable dabbable product was introduced into a Canadian dispensary. However, records of vaporizable cannabis concentrates have been around since the 1940s. It took years to develop a stable, dabbable product, and it took a little bit longer to find a consistent, safe way to dab using a dab rig. You will learn more about all of that in the next section, where we’ve broken down the history of cannabis extracts into a convenient timeline.


The History of Concentrates

Cannabis and concentrated forms of it have existed since ancient times. However, modern concentrates are a different story. They evolved from oral medicines made with morphine and codeine using an alcohol-based extraction method back in the 1800s before cannabis prohibition to the vast spread we see today, though it took a long time to get there. Below is a timeline on the history of cannabis concentrates.

  • 1800s – Cannabis is used medicinally and prescribed by doctors. These extracts are mostly oral medicines made into tonics and extracted with alcohol.

  • 1937 – Cannabis prohibition begins and cannabis use becomes illegal.

  • 1940s – First documented notes outlining manufacturing a product intended for oral consumption through vaporization first appeared

  • 1950s and 60s – hash oil vapors are used in MK Ultra experiments alongside LSD, laced in tobacco cigarettes.

  • 1970s – 2 books are published on solvent-based alcohol extracts known as “honey oil”. The first covers the basics of the process, and the second expands on the chemistry.

  • 1990s – A book is published elaborating on the books from 70s. It offered the first detailed description of BHO (butane hash oil) extraction in a closed-loop system.

  • 2003 – First budder product made its debut on the shelves at Da Kine dispensary.

  • 2005 – Canadian Budderking discusses making shatter using BHO extraction (based on the book) in the 90s, though w aeration it turned into budder. Budderking Also unveiled his device for dabbing, now called a dab rig.

  • 2009 – The internet starts talking about dabs and high-quality solvent-based hash oils made using solvent-based extractions.

  • 2010 – Hash oil products make their debut at the High Times Cannabis Cup and then make it into many retail dispensaries

  • 2012 to present – Modern concentrate practices continue, advanced CLS systems and C02 supercritical extractors introduced.

How is dabbing different from smoking flower?

Dabbing is similar to smoking flower in only one way since they are both consumed via inhalation, but that’s about it. Dabbing is a majorly different experience from smoking flower. For one thing, many people take a slight aversion to dabbing because it involves a lot of different and expensive parts, creates a mess, and to the untrained eye looks like doing harder drugs.


However, many medical patients (and recreational users) have come to prefer dabbing for three reasons.

  1. Dabs are more potent than flower.

  2. Dab highs provide relief for longer than flower.

  3. Dabs provide a clearer-headed high than flower.

Dabs are naturally more potent than flower. Flower checks in around 12-25% THC while concentrates check-in around 70-99% THC. Since dabs contain more THC, they tend to last a lot longer than the high caused by flower.


Another difference is that dabs are concentrated. They’re made by stripping away plant materials to isolate cannabinoids, but in the process of extraction, many of the 100+ cannabinoids and terpenes found in the flower are removed or destroyed in the process. Since most other cannabinoids and some terpenes are removed, dabs tend to provide a more consistent and clear-headed high than flower since there isn’t a ton of other cannabinoids and terpenes involved affecting the high.


All in all, concentrates are like flower, but stronger. If you have a lot of treatment-resistant issues like chronic pain or depression, concentrates provide more powerful relief. If you’ve been afraid of concentrates due to stigma or appearance, they’re still very much worth a try, so try to explore them with that in mind.


What tools are required to dab?

These days, dabbing has become a huge hobby and there are so many ways to enjoy it. You will need a handful of tools to get started, though there are hundreds of other accessories that you can use to help elevate the experience.


To get started, you will need:


  • A dab rig. This is how you will consume your dabs.

  • A quartz or ceramic nail (also known as a banger). This is the part that you heat up to vaporize your dabs.

  • A carb cap. This allows for better airflow as you dab and improves hit quality and flavor. Dabbing without a cap is not recommended.

  • A dab tool. You will use this to scrape your dabs into your banger.

  • A torch. You will use this to heat your banger, allowing your to vaporize your dabs.

  • Concentrates. This is the material you will vaporize.

  • Rig hygiene items. You must keep your banger clean use after use using rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs.

However, if you wanted a few ways to elevate your experience, check these out:

  • Terp pearls. Terp Pearls work with your carb cap to distribute heat evenly throughout your concentrates within your banger.

  • Quartz inserts. Quartz inserts are like dishes you can toss into a hot banger. They keep the mess contained and can be soaked in alcohol to stay clean, but they also allow for more flavorful dabs and more even heat distribution.

  • Temperature gauges. These will tell you the exact temperature of your banger in real-time, allowing you to take a lot of the trial and error and guesswork out of heating and cooling your banger for dabs.

  • eNails. e-Nails heat up to the perfect temperature and stay hot, allowing you to take massive hits without having to reheat your banger.

  • All-in-one Vaporizers. These include products like the PAX III or the Puffco Peak. You can dab using these devices without the need to get a rig, banger, or torch. The trade-off is that they’re on the pricier side.

How can you get started with dabbing?

If you’re ready to join in on dab culture, you can get started today by gathering the necessary materials mentioned in the section above and just sendin’ it. Hit up your favorite dispensary for some high-quality concentrates and follow the steps below.


  1. Heat up your banger. Shoot for a cooling temperature between 325°F and 710°F. Hotter dabs will hit you harder, and cooler dabs will taste better. We like to shoot for somewhere in the middle, around 450°F.

  2. When your banger reaches the correct temperature, drop your dab inside. (You can also start cold by adding your concentrates to the banger and then heating it until it vaporizes).

  3. Cap your banger using your carb cap to trap the vapor.

  4. Inhale the vapor.

  5. When you are finished, use a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol to remove the leftover residue from your banger. If you heat that gunk up again without cleaning it, your next dab may taste pretty bad. You may also chaz your banger, which will leave it more susceptible to breaks and cause it to heat and cool at an unexpected rate.