What's All The DAB About? The Evolution of Concentrates and Dabbing

Curious about the brave new world of cannabis concentrates and dabbing? Here’s everything you need to know about cannabis concentrates, including where they came from, why they’re so popular today, and how you can get started with them if you’re just hearing about them for the first time and interested in learning more.

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What is dabbing?

Dabbing is the act of consuming concentrated forms of cannabis that typically check in around 75-95% THC. It involves heating up a quartz nail or banger and applying cannabis concentrates to the pre-heated surface to vaporize the cannabinoids for a more potent and flavorful experience than smoking flower alone.

It was discovered early and refined many times over the years. Our very first record of the dabbing we know and love today was back in 2003 when budder was first introduced into a canadian dispensary. However, vaporizable cannabis concentrates have existed since the 1940s. While it took over 50 years to make a stable, traditional dabbable product, it took even longer to come up with the set up of today known as the dab rig. In the section below, we’re breaking all of that down in a convenient timeline.

The History of Dabbing

Cannabis has been used since ancient times in a variety of different forms, though modern concentrates are very different from the concentrates of days past. They evolved from oral medicines made into tinctures mixed with morphine and codeine using an alcohol-based extraction method in the early 1800s into the concentrates we know and love today. However, it took us a long time to get there thanks to prohibition. Below is a timeline surrounding the history of cannabis concentrates.

Early 1800s — Cannabis is used freely and made into tinctures which are prescribed by doctors. These extracts are made into oral medicines and tonics after extracting the THC using alcohol.

1937 — Cannabis becomes prohibited in the US and using it becomes illegal. Doctors are still technically allowed to prescribe it, but it’s nearly impossible and cannabis tonics begin to cease.

1940s — The first notes outlining how to make concentrated cannabis appears. These concentrates are intended for oral consumption and vaporization.

1950s & 1960s — MK Ultra mind control experiments begin. Cannabis hash oil vapors are used alongside LSD and laced into tobacco cigarettes.

1970s — Solvent-based alcohol extract methods are tested on cannabis. Two books are published, and the term “honey oil” is coined. The first covers the basics of the process, and the second expands on the chemistry.

1990s — Using the chemistry and process from the books published in the 70s, another book is published to elaborate and pose new methods. This book offers the very first detailed description of solvent-based extracts made with butane, also known as BHO or butane hash oil, in a closed-loop system.

2003 — Using the process from the 90s, the first dabbable concentrate makes its way into a Canadian dispensary called Da Kine. It’s known as “budder”, a soft opaque wax.

2005 — Budderking, the man responsible for the first budder back in 2003, unveils his device for dabbing, which is now known as a dab rig. He also discusses how to make shatter using the same BHO method except instead of whipping it and turning it into wax, you pour it over a flat surface and let the solvents evaporate out.

2009 — The internet begins taking an interest in dabbing and high-quality solvent-based hash oils become increasingly popular.

2010 — Concentrates make their way to the High Times Cannabis Cup. Later, they become a standard in most retail dispensaries.

2012 to present — The cannabis industry continues to modernize and innovate cannabis. Advanced CLS systems and C02 supercritical extractors are introduced, making way for more modern concentrates including vape cartridges and resins. Dabbing is a standard when it comes to cannabis and many smart rigs have hit the scene to make the process less time consuming and more efficient.

Why do people choose dabbing over smoking flower?

Dabbing is becoming increasingly popular over flower for a handful of reasons. For starters, dabs typically provide more cannabinoids and longer-lasting effects. The high also tends to feel a little bit cleaner and the presence of concentrated terpenes makes for more flavorful hits.

Ultimately though, they’re not all that different. They’re both consumed via inhalation and they’re both cannabis. However, some people have a slight aversion to dabbing because it involves a variety of different tools to enjoy properly. To the untrained eye, it may also look like partaking in a much harder drug than cannabis. But even with that said, medical patients and recreational cannabis users prefer dabbing for a few 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.

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.

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What do you need to start dabbing?

Dabbing has quickly become a huge hobby so there are lots of ways to do it now. In fact, some devices, like the Puffco Peak Pro, offer an all-in-one dabbing solution at the press of a button. If you’re looking to go with a more traditional setup though, you’ll need a few different essentials to get started. From there, you can use all sorts of additional accessories to elevate your 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.

And if you’re looking for some helpful accessories to amplify your experience or simplify the process, try some of these:

  • 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 To Dab

If you’re ready to try dabbing on your own, simply gather the necessary supplies we mentioned in the previous section and grab a gram of hash from your favorite dispensary. From there, simply follow these steps:

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  • 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.

  • 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).

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

  • Inhale the vapor.

  • When you’re 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.

  • If your dab burns, reheat the banger with a torch until the residue disappears. For stubborn residue, you may soak your banger in alcohol overnight. We recommend using 91-99% isopropyl alcohol for best results.

All in all, dabbing is constantly evolving and changing. If you’re interested in staying up to date on the latest information in cannabis history or simply trying some concentrates for yourself, be sure to check out an educational cannabis tour. We’re looking forward to meeting you.

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