How to Dab: The Only Guide You Need

Francis Cassidy March 5, 2020 1 comment

When patients know how to dab, they can better take charge of pain management.

Temperature is of critical importance when dabbing. How you dab affects flavor, harshness, and intensity, and if it’s too high, it results in the formation of toxins.

Many people assume that dabbing is unpleasant. They forego the coughing in return for the powerful medicated effect that typically follows the administration of a high-quality concentrate. The good news is that dabbing need not be unpleasant. By selecting the right temperature, consumers can preserve flavor and hone the right intensity while also ensuring a potent medicated effect.

Low-temperature Dabbing

315 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit constitutes low-temperature dabbing. Such temperatures provide the best flavor. It also allows for smoother, longer hits. The associated downside is a milder medicated effect.

Mid-temperature Dabbing

450 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit is the mid zone. Most experienced dabbers consume their concentrates in the upper region of this zone. It provides a balanced flavor, and a high-intensity medicated effect.

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High-temperature Dabbing

600 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit is the extreme end of dabbing. A concentrate heated above 900 degrees will likely combust, so dabbers should never exceed the upper range. Dabbing at these higher temperatures leads to a rushed feeling, and a high intensity medicated effect that is often harsh on the throat.

how to dab depicted showing dab rig

Dabbing Nails

A nail serves a similar purpose as a bowl might in a bong. Consumers place the concentrate on the heated nail where it sublimates before inhalation. Various types of nails exist, and the material used greatly impacts the dabbing experience.

Glass Nails

Although cheap and easily heated, glass nails have poor heat retention and are prone to breakage.

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Quartz Nails

Quartz nails are a great option with no real drawbacks. They are affordable, easily heated and have great heat retention. Furthermore these nails are durable and preserve the flavor amazingly well.

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Ceramic Nails

Durable with excellent heat retention, ceramic nails have the associated drawback of being difficult to keep clean as well as imparting a ceramic taste during use.

Titanium Nails

Titanium is extremely durable and offers exceptional heat retention. However, the downside is that it can stress the glass joints in many dabbing rigs and also impart a metallic flavor that many may prefer to avoid.

Hybrid Nails

Comprised of titanium and ceramic, hybrid nails accentuate the benefits of both materials and provide the best flavor available along with excellent heat retention.


While many still use nails, bangers have become increasingly popular in recent times. Bangers are a flat-bottomed dish used to vaporize cannabis concentrates. They vary in design, and like standard nails, come available in glass, quartz, titanium, or ceramic.

They come in many forms such as thick, opaque, thermal, angled, flat top, and buckets. It is something that allows consumers to tailor the dabbing experience to their liking.

Carb Caps

Every good nail requires a good carb cap. They cover the top of the nail or banger while the concentrate heats within. They trap the heat and help enhance both the flavor and purity of the vaporized concentrate.

Carb caps modify airflow through the nail or banger and thus increase flavor and efficiency. They allow for dabbing at lower temperatures by trapping the heat within and ensure the concentrates stay within the preferred temperature range throughout the experience.

Carb caps also decrease the air pressure throughout your rig. This affects the boiling point and ensures that concentrates require less heat to vaporize. Carb caps come in many shapes and sizes, and the common types include UFO, spinner, riptide, and crank caps.

how to dab depicted showing dab rig in use

Selecting a Dabber

A dabber is what consumers use to dab the extract and place it on the heated surface. Made from stainless steel, titanium, quartz, glass, or silicon, this pointed tool helps ensure precision dosing and allows patients an easy-to-use way to neatly apply the concentrate.

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How to Dab: What Size of Dab is Appropriate?

Those new to dabbing should know that dose size is critical. The average potency of many concentrates often contains THC levels between sixty and ninety percent.

Such high THC levels go well beyond what patients consume in smoked flower where THC levels range between fifteen and twenty-five percent.

It’s no fun to be curled up in an anxious ball for four hours after dabbing too much. As a rule of thumb, new consumers should choose a dab equivalent in size to the tip of a ballpoint pen. It’s always best to start slow and work up. Taking another dab is always an option.

How to Dab

Heat the banger or nail as evenly as possible. Many consumers use a butane burner for this as it is one of the cleanest burning forms.

A study published in the American Chemical Society Omega (2017), investigated the formation of toxicants in dabbing. Researchers noted that the difficulty in controlling nail temperature, “put users at risk of exposing themselves to not only methacrolein but also benzene.” Levels of methacrolein increased substantially above 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once heated, allow it to cool to the desired temperature; this may involve a wait for between twenty and sixty seconds. Infrared sensors are a beneficial addition to any dabbing rig. By simply pointing the beam toward the heated area, consumers can obtain a precise temperature measurement and thus a tailored dabbing experience. So, without a sensor, trial and error is the only way hone the optimal dabbing experience.

Place the concentrate inside and begin inhaling the vapor. Use the carb cap to ensure minimal wastage. Once complete, it’s a good idea to clean out the banger or nail with a cotton q-tip. This helps remove any leftover residue to ensure optimal flavor and potency next time around. Using small amounts of alcohol to remove the residue may be helpful for some forms of concentrates.

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Dabbing and Tolerance

With the higher amounts of THC present, tolerance can quickly become an issue for avid dabbers.

While often abused in some recreational circles, dabbing plays an important role for many medicinal patients, such as those medicating for crippling pain. The higher quantities of THC and existing tolerances require a potent form of administration.

However, for those who don’t require high doses, excessive dabbing will inevitably bring about a higher tolerance. In many cases, this means that patients have trouble getting sufficiently medicated when consuming cannabis in other forms. Although dabbing is a fun and effective way to medicate, higher tolerances often lead to more expense.

Author avatar

Francis Cassidy
Francis Cassidy is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics. With a particular focus on the cannabis industry, he aims to help ensure the smooth reintegration of cannabis back into global culture. When not writing, he's to be found exploring his new base in British Columbia, Canada. You can follow his other works including his photography on his blog

1 comment

  1. Thanks for posting this article we believe its important for everyone to know how to dab safely! We want to educate everyone so they have a good experience and continue to dab.