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How To Dab - Dabbing For Beginners Guide

How To Dab - Dabbing For Beginners Guide

How To Dab - Dabbing For Beginners Guide
Dabbing with Megen


Concentrates are a whole new ballgame when it comes to cannabis consumption. If you are someone who isn't new to cannabis but you are new to vaping concentrates, deciding where to start can be overwhelming. Taking a dab is a little more involved than, let’s say, using a lighter with RAW rolling papers, or just packing up a heady bowl to smoke it out of. There are many different ways to vape your concentrates and everyone has different preferences and techniques, which is what makes vaping concentrates so unique to the individual concentrate user. For instance; I love a nice mid-high temp dab out of my desktop e-nail, I set the temp to 575, and the coil and whip are connected to a 14mm banger that is placed into my recycler-style glass bong. I use a cyclone bubble cap with three terp pearls inside of my quartz banger attachment

Cannabis Concentrates

If that first paragraph was gibberish to you, remember, it took me three years of consuming dabs through a glass dab collector or various other methods that weren't quite right for me before I found the perfect setup that I now have, and use every day. At the beginning of my concentrate journey, much like you perhaps, I had no idea what any of the new terms were for cannabis oil accessories either. Through many hours of research and testing of different devices (a very hard and important job, I know), I finally understand what is so great about concentrates and I want to share this great knowledge with you. I hope you find this helpful :-)


First off, what is cannabis concentrate in the first place?

If you've ever used a grinder to break up your dried cannabis flower you might be familiar with the tiny hairs and sticky goo that will usually cover the cannabis plant and its flowers. High-quality cannabis will be covered in these trichomes (the 'sparkly' or crystal-like tiny hairs) that produce and hold the highest concentration of the plant's cannabinoids (the good stuff including TetraHydroCannabinol better known as THC ) and terpenes (the flavorful stuff). 


Cannabis concentrates have extracted these compounds from the plant's trichome glands through one of many processes that can be used to extract the concentrate from the flower material. In other words, concentrates are packed with everything to love about cannabis, and many can test as high as 90%+ THC per gram so it's guaranteed to be exponentially more potent than flower. 


In this guide, I'm going to be speaking on just a few of the most common ways of vaping concentrates and the things that you need to know to help get you started on your journey to being a dabbing pro. 


The first thing to consider is how in-depth you would like to get with your dabbing. Here are some questions you should consider before getting your first setup:


Do you want to use a butane torch? Or would you prefer an electronic heating/vaping device?


Do you want to use a glass piece/bong? Would you like water filtration like a water bong to help smooth and cool down your vapor?


Do you want it to stay stationary or would you like to take it on the go?


What is your budget for your setup?


Simple setups for beginner dabbing are always great to get your feet wet in the dabbing world, Nectar Collectors, glass dab collectors, and glass dab straws are great tools for dabbing and getting really great hits out of a not-so-expensive package. A dab collector generally looks like a thick glass "straw". Depending on the style of the collector it may accommodate for water filtration or not, again, preferences. 


Generally speaking, glass dab collectors will be made of either silicone or glass material with a removable quartz or titanium "beak". The beak is a long, narrow "tube" that connects to the body of the collector. This is the piece that you will heat using a torch. Using a nectar collector is pretty easy and enjoyable, here's what you will need:


-Dab Collector Style Glass Pipe


-Glass (or silicone) dish that will hold your concentrate (Please Note: Do not ever dab directly out of silicone that is not platinum cured (heat resistant).


-A small or medium-sized butane cigar torch (and butane refill)

Depending on if you're using quartz or titanium the heating time will vary. There are also other variables, how thick is the glass/titanium? In my experience, I have found that heating a quartz beak usually takes around 20-60 seconds and titanium may be slightly longer, however, it will obviously vary from collector to collector. You only need to heat the opening or the tip of the beak for the above time. Once you have reached the desired heat time, removed the heat source, and let the collector tip cool slightly (10-20 seconds) you are now ready to take a dab with your glass dab collector! You can place the heated tip of the glass dab straw collector into your glass dish gently touching your concentrate. If your dab collector is ready to go and hot enough it will instantly start to vaporize some concentrate. You will inhale the vapor when taking a pull from the collector. 


If you want something even easier or do not want to use a torch, there are also many types of portable electronic dab collectors, like the Phang 3, and other dab pens that might fit your bill. These devices do not use a torch and are much more portable. They use a battery to heat a coil which you can place into your concentrate just as you would with a glass collector.

Dab Pens

Dab pens are somewhat similar to electric nectar collectors. They will have some sort of "dish, or bucket coil" that you will directly place your concentrate into before heating. Generally speaking, they usually have a button that is pushed while inhaling and they look and function similar to most common vaping devices. Dab pens tend to be much more portable and discreet than a glass dab collector but generally won't give you as milky or large of a hit as a nectar collector will. However, remember, it might not take much to reach your desired feeling. Dab pens have become one of the most popular choices for people on the go because they are truly convenient and provide ease of use for many dab lovers.


Maybe a dab straw or dab collector isn't your thing, or maybe you love the smoothness of water filtration as much as I do and aren't worried as much about taking it on the go. If that's the case, you might be ready for a glass rig setup! 


What is a glass rig? 

A bong (or water pipe) and a rig are very similar. A bong is used for smoking dried cannabis flower whereas, a glass rig is used for cannabis concentrates. The difference is the design and attachments they come with. Some can be used with both given you have the proper attachments. In order to use your bong as a rig you will need:


A quartz (or titanium) banger or nail

You may have heard of a quartz banger or quartz bucket before. These are attachments for your glass pipe, usually made from quartz, that are used with a torch in order to vaporize concentrate. They come in several different sizes, depths, and styles. The most important thing when looking into buying one of these attachments is to know what size you will need in order to fit the size and angle of your bong or pipe. The opening where you will be placing this piece is either going to be female or male (female will be an opening that the "male" banger will fit into. A male attachment will be a tapered cylindrical post sticking up from your bong that a "female" banger would fit on top of) The most common sizes for these pieces will be 10 millimeters, 14mm, and 18/19mm. Generally, bangers, or nails, whichever you prefer to call them, will either be at a 90-degree angle or a 45-degree angle, and depending on how your pipe is set up will determine which you will need.


A Torch

 You will use your torch to heat the bottom and sides of your banger, this can take anywhere from 20-60 seconds or more of heating to get it to optimum temperatures (generally 500-650F). If you are using the torch method, it can be tricky to find the sweet spot and amount of time to get the perfect hit for you. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun journey, and no matter what, you will come out on the other end, stoned. So take your time, try different techniques, and find what works best for you! Every rig and every banger is different so keep that in mind when looking for your perfect setup. 



If you're still confused and don't want to guess the temperatures don't fret! There are many thermometers out now that are specifically made for quartz bangers, The oculus, for instance, is a thermometer device you place directly under your banger that reads the temperature so you will not ever have to guess if it's too hot or too cool again. Monochromatic bangers are also a good option; they will change color when your banger reaches the desired temp making it easy to tell when you're ready to go.  

In my opinion, the only cons of a portable e-rig are the fact that you have to charge the device, so it could possibly die in the middle of a session if it is not charged (bummer). Also, you have to occasionally change the atomizer (usually about every 6 months or so) which can be costly over time, and if it's late at night and you find yourself suddenly with a dead coil, or your favorite shop is out of your coil it can be a real buzz kill. I recommend always keeping spare coils on hand for these reasons which is why I chose to use an e-nail setup. 

What is an E-Nail?

Enail Setups

An electronic nail or e-nail is a device that uses a PID (proportional–integral–derivative) controller, a whip (cable) with a heating coil element end to heat a quartz or titanium banger up to the selected temperature and continuously keep the banger at the set temperature for the entire duration that the controller is turned on. This allows you the ease of access to dab at any time while the e-nail is turned on. E-nail kits will usually include everything you need to get started except for the glass water pipe you plan to use with it, which allows you the freedom to choose any glass water pipe you would like as long as the banger is adaptable to your glass piece. The same rules apply here as they applied earlier when we discussed choosing a banger for your glass bong. However, if you do choose a setup that isn't exactly the right size, most reputable head shops will carry glass adapters to change your piece from the size/style it is into anything you need it to be. The only con in my opinion is that it's very easy to burn yourself if you aren't paying attention to where the coil is in relation to your hands and body. Never touch the heating coil, as it will always be heated to a high temp and will burn you (trust me, I learned the hard way).


Now that you've selected your perfect glass rig, and you're either heating it with a torch or using an e-nail of some kind, there are a couple of things you can also get to make your life a little easier and allow for a smoother, less messy, more enjoyable experience.

Dab Tools

A good dab tool will be your best friend! Usually, a titanium or silicone "stick or shovel" tool is used to scoop, scrape, break apart and transfer your concentrate from your container to your heated banger. This allows you to choose the amount of concentrate you would like to take at one time as well. Very handy tools to have when you enjoy dabs out of any style device or banger!


Dab Caps

After you have heated your banger and are ready to use your e-nail, you will place your concentrate into your heated banger and inhale the vapor through your glass pipe at the same time. If you do not cap your banger to restrict airflow you will notice your hits are very thin and wispy, and when you stop inhaling, you'll notice that the vapor will escape the banger. In order to maximize your vapor intake, you will need a dab cap or bubble cap. These glass or titanium dab caps sit on top of your banger to cut the airflow down and will keep the vapor from escaping. They come in many different styles and sizes so you can be sure to find one that best suits your needs and your personal style. 

Terp Pearls

Terp Pearls are small (between 3-6 millimeters usually) quartz or borosilicate balls or "pearls" that are placed inside of your banger to help maximize the efficiency of vaporization by creating a vortex of sorts with the help of a directional airflow cap. They work by spreading the concentrate around evenly on the bottom of your heated banger without the need to remove your cap to stir the concentrates halfway through your hit. This increases the size of your hit while decreasing the amount of concentrate that you have to use in order to get a decent-sized hit. (pro tip: Cyclone caps work best with terp pearls to really get them spinning; they're what I use and swear by!)



Hopefully, you now have a little better understanding of some of the most frequently used terms in the dabbing world, as well as a little more knowledge on how to dab and what some of the most common setups are. You can now get started on your own Dabbing journey! Do your research, and don't be afraid to ask questions. I know here at Upper Limits Midwest we are always around to answer any questions you may have about dabbing, or anything else cannabis-related.


Happy Dabbing!

Get a hold of the dabbing experts at Upper Limits for any more questions you may have! Live chat with our sales team at upperlimitsinc.com/customer-service or call us 217-679-4315 option for the sales floor. 

Happy Dabbing!

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