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What is a Dab? Legal Cannabis and What you Need to Know

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

The term dab is a relatively new one in the long history of human cannabis use - but you will be hard pressed to make it through a modern dispensary without hearing the term. Without knowing what they are, they can seem daunting, especially given that the high price, small amount and strange consistency may lead to some initial in those who have not used dabs before.

What are "dabs"? "How are they made"? "How do you use them"? "Are they safe"? - these are some of the questions we aim to answer for you.

What are "Dabs"?

Simply put, a dab (aka oil, concentrate, wax, resin, rosin), is a highly concentrated form of cannabis flower. To create dabs, an experienced technician extracts a concentrated oil from the cannabis flowers through one of the methods we outline below. This oil is then "dabbed" by an end customer. We will go more into extraction methods and how the oil is used.

Banana Cheesecake Live Rosin Batter by Kaizen Extracts
Banana Cheesecake Live Rosin Batter by Kaizen Extracts

How are Dabs made?

Dabs are generally made using one of the below methods. NOTE - These methods can be dangerous when tried at home and we do not reccomend trying to create concentrates outside of a licensed lab.

Butane Hash Oil (BHO)

Butane Hash oil may be the most common kind of oil that we see in the market today. The basic steps to create it start with packing a sealed tube with a hole in each end full of cannabis buds. Next the extractor runs pressurized butane through the tube, which forces the oil out of the plant, through the tube, and into a tray. Finally, the oil is vacuum purged, to remove excess butane.

CO2 Extraction

This is made using a similar process to BHO, but using Pressurized CO2 instead of Butane. It is commonly considered to be safer and generally produces a cleaner end product

Solventless Extraction (Rosin)

If you see an extract marked as a Rosin in the dispensary, it is safe to assume that it was created using a solventless method. Rosin is created by pressing cannabis flower which is placed in fine mesh bags between two heated plates, typically using a specialty made hydraulic press. This method presses the oil directly out of the flower, while the mesh is intended to decrease the amount of plant material in the end product. Rosins are typically considered to be the most potent and highest quality concentrates.

How do You Use Dabs?

Following extraction and proper purging, we are left with a clean, potent cannabis concentrate that contains the majority of the cannabinoids that were present in the plant initially.

Now, how the heck do you use it?

Typically, concentrate is consumed in one of a few ways. Perhaps the most common of which is a vape pen - which uses a small coil attached to a battery to heat up cannabis oil contained in a manufacturer made cartridge. The upside to this is that the concentrates are easy to dose, portable, discreet, and last a long time. The downside is that the potency is less than one consumed per the second method, and you have to rely on a battery.

The second most common method would be to use a dab rig, which is a specialty waterpipe (bong) designed for concentrate smoking. The user heats up a "nail"- typically made of quarts, titanium, or ceramic - then places the concentrate into the heated bucket and inhales through the dab rig. This is the most effective way to consume the concentrates for immediate, potent relief, but does require some setup.

There are other methods as well, which we will not go to into depth on. These include nectar collectors (heated straws that you place in the concentrate jar to vaporize the product), and placing the concentrate on top of flower bowls.

Is Dabbing Safe?

Many first-time dab consumers are concerned about the safety of cannabis oils. Rest assured, properly produced and handled oils are safe, and effective methods of consuming your cannabis. Many users report that their lungs are less negatively affected by dabs, given the fact that you are not burning as much plant matter (which inevitably leads to tar).

That said, improper production of dabs can lead to injury or death (butane is highly flammable, for example). There have also been cases of vape cartridges with substitutes for cannabis oil being sold as cannabis oil, though you will not have to worry about this in any legal, licensed cannabis business.

Final Thoughts

Dabs are a potent, fast acting, and effective way to consume cannabis. Many users prefer oil to flower, as the smoke is cleaner and has a strong flavor. That being said, each user has their preferences, and we encourage your to experiment (SLOWLY AT FIRST) with concentrate so that you can make your own decisions.

Any feedback is welcome! Hit us up @westcoastcanna.io_ on Instagram!

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