It may seem intimidating to dose dabs correctly, but it’s actually not as difficult as it seems. Dabbing is basically using a hot surface to flash vaporize cannabis extracts and other concentrates. These concentrates include BHO, shatter, oil, wax, and others, and each type is significantly more potent than cannabis flower.
This means that when it comes to dabbing, a little bit goes a long way. Don’t be fooled by the diminutive size of a dab: it’s chock full of cannabinoids and terpenes. If you want to enjoy the experience, it’s critical to understand how often and how much to dab.
Fortunately, identifying the dab size that’s right for your specific situation is simpler than ever. Better regulation and the clear packaging and product labels it brings, improved technologies, and more precise, versatile dabbing tools all make dabbing more accessible, even for beginners.
In this post, we’ll show you how to dose cannabis dabs, including how to microdose, and how to get more from your dabs.
What Dab Tools Do I Need?
To figure out how to use a dab rig, you can either start on the high tech side or keep it simple to start with. Of course, dabbing technology is changing quickly, and there are new electronic dab rigs on the market all of the time, but these components make up the old school dabbing kit:
Dab Rig. This is basically a bong or water pipe for concentrates that has a place for a banger or nail.
Banger or Nail. This is a bowl designed for concentrates, and the piece that will be heated. The basic bucket shaped quartz banger is the standard now, but other possibilities include ceramic bangers and titanium nails, as well as e-nails. Nails have a joint size and gender, based on the size of the place and where the nail and rig connect and the direction they join, so be sure you’re looking for the correct piece.
Dabber or Dab Tool. These tools are what you use to get sticky concentrates onto your banger or nail. They can be ceramic, glass, or metal, and shaped in any number of ways, such as paddle, ballpoint, scoop, needlepoint, spoon, or spatula. The consistency and texture of the concentrate should guide your choice of shape.
Torch or Other Heat Source. Many people use the little propane mini-torches found in kitchens (like the kind you use for crème brulee), but keep extra propane on hand if you go this route. If fire scares you or you just don’t want the hassle, use an e-nail.
Cannabis Concentrate. The most common cannabis concentrates for dabbing are BHO, shatter, rosin, and wax.
(Optional) Carb Cap. Used to regulate air flow, these are optional, but highly desirable. Combination carb caps and dab tools are becoming more popular.
(Optional) Dab Mat. To avoid a sticky mess where you’re dabbing, use one of these.
(Optional) Timer. A timer helps you dose consistently by heating your nail the same each time.
How To Dab
Have a seat! You’re about to have an incredible experience.
- Set up your rig.
- Get the dab ready on your tool.
- Turn on the torch and point the flame directly at the banger. Heat until it turns red hot. Follow your e-nail instructions, if that’s what you’re using.
- Turn off the torch when the nail is hot, and let the nail cool just a bit—for quartz nails about 45 seconds, for metal about 10 seconds, and ceramic is usually somewhere in the middle. Use the timer if you have one.
- Use the dabber to apply the dab directly to the nail and slowly inhale. Prevent wasting concentrate as it sticks to the nail as you inhale by rotating the dabber tip.
- Place the carb cap over the dab and finish inhaling.
How to Dose Dabs
We’ve all been there: one minute you’re feeling amazing and coming up with fun ideas and the next you’re certain the cops are at the door or the world is ending. Most cannabis users have definitely been too high, in other words.
Usually, excessive amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC are behind this feeling, whether it’s vaporized, smoked, or ingested orally. Dabbing ups the risk, in a sense, by exposing users to even higher levels of THC.
However, you can usually avoid this awful experience. Follow our cannabis dabs dosage guide to stop it from happening.
Cannabis has a host of specific effects that depend generally on three things:
- Dosage: How much you use. What kinds of cannabinoids are you using, and how much of each kind?
- Genetics: The brain and endocannabinoid system (ECS) of each person has unique physiological characteristics.
- Context: The user’s emotional, mental, and recent physical state (such as what was eaten and any current or recent infections) as they consume cannabis impacts its effects.
There are few ways to control context (although some, such as being well-hydrated or well-fed, are in your control. And of course you can’t control genetics at all. But dosage is in your hands—and that’s why we focus on it here.
The Perfect Dab Size
Makers create cannabis concentrates of many consistencies, potencies, and textures, and these products come in various sizes. This means that dab potency varies a lot; dabs generally range between 60 to 90 percent THC or CBD. In some cases, extracts and isolates contain over 90 percent cannabinoid concentration.
Furthermore, a user’s weight, health, body chemistry, mood and desired effects all heavily influence how they respond to a cannabis compound. For all of these reasons, there is no universal dose that can guide cannabis consumption habits for everyone.
For example, some users who have trouble falling asleep may be happy with one bigger dose each night. One user who might experience social anxiety and microdose from time to time to treat acute symptoms will have much different goals than someone who might need more frequent, larger doses such as a medical user coping with chronic pain.
One basic place to start is with a dab that is as small as possible. A small dose is a tiny crumb, no larger. Once you have acclimated to this, you can increase your dose if you need or want to. Just remember that dabbing can be a far more intense experience than smoking flower, and it’s a lot of THC in one dose.
Micro-dabbing: Micro-dosing With Dabs
To get started micro-dabbing, take the tiniest dab possible with your tool. You can always have another one, and micro-dosing with dabs offers many benefits.
Dabs of different sizes affect everyone uniquely because they have unique cannabinoid and terpene ratios. A 25mg THC dab of one generation of a particular plant will affect you in a specific way and produce specific psychoactive effects—and they will be different from the effects and experiences anyone else has. Each person’s neurological and endocannabinoid systems (ECS) work in their own ways.
Know Your Concentrate
Concentrates typically come in either 0.5 or 1 gram sizes. On average, a 1 gram container of concentrate contains about 800 mg of cannabinoids; this means that around 80 percent of the product is cannabinoids—often THC—or other cannabis compounds.
Licensed dispensaries and other legal retailers must only carry and sell concentrate products that clearly label the cannabinoid content. Labels on full-spectrum cannabis concentrate products also typically indicate the breakdown of cannabinoids, including the amount of THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, CBC, and other cannabinoids included. Certain dispensaries and brands may also label the terpene concentration and breakdown, which affects the taste, smell, and overall experience.
Most solventless concentrates hover around 50 percent THC or other cannabinoids, with solvent-based concentrates coming in even higher—around 60 to 90 percent. Some types of solvent-based concentrates exceed 90 percent potency. Compared to flower cannabinoid concentrations that really never get higher than 30 percent THC, this is a real difference.
But how does this break down in terms of dosing individual dabs? Here is how it works.
80 percent THC is a pretty common potency for a concentrate, so let’s say you have one gram of wax at that level. That one gram of wax contains 800mg of total cannabinoids, because for every 1 gram there 1,000 grams total, and of that, 80 percent or 800mg is THC.
To put this in context, most people would recommend starting with a beginning dosage of 5 to 10mg if you were trying an edible. But from a single gram of wax, good luck getting just this much! (This is one reason why more experienced cannabis consumers often love dabbing.)
However, it’s pretty easy to divide the wax up several times. If you divide portions in half until you have eight pieces of about the same size, they each should have about 100mg of THC in them. If you get 4 or 5 dabs off of each of those pieces, you know where you stand. Dabs like that from a standard 1 gram wax product are pretty tiny!
The Right Dab Tool for the Job
Use the right tool for the job for the best results, right? Cannabis concentrates can be a whole range of textures and consistencies, including dry and crumbly or sticky and runny. This is why there are so many kinds of dab tools with tips in so many shapes, including flat, paddle, hook, scoop, spoon, and more. Depending on the variety of concentrate you prefer, one kind of dabber or another might make handling the product much easier.
For example, crumbly or runny concentrates are best with a spoon-style or scoop dabbing tool, or dabber. Hard shatter demands a pointy, sharp dabber to break it up. Choosing the best dab tool can help you avoid waste as you portion out dabs evenly.
For discreet on-the-go dabbing or even just more convenient dabbing at home, vape cartridges are a portable, easy way to dab. These cartridges come pre-filled with full-spectrum cannabis oil, live resin oil, or distillate.
Some vape pens deliver a more consistent experience via a pre-set dose. Other vape manufacturers may explain how many pulls or hits each 0.5 or 1 gram vape pen or cartridge contains (and how many seconds they should be, although 3 to 5 seconds is the standard). To estimate this yourself, calculate the dosage amount (like we did with the 1 gram of 80 percent THC above) based on potency and available hits. Each 3 to 5 second hit will offer about the same amount of cannabinoids.
Cannabis delivery methods affect the onset and duration of effects. Dabbing is a form of inhalation, meaning it is among the quickest ways to experience the benefits of cannabis. You will feel the effects anywhere from instantly after a dab, to within one to three minutes. The effects can last up to three hours, but should stick around for at least one to two hours.
Help, I Dabbed Too Much!
Dabs are typically much stronger than what most users have experienced, compared to other cannabis consumption methods such as smoking and vaping. Even one hit from a dab can give you incredibly powerful effects, since cannabis concentrates contain huge cannabinoid levels.
If you accidentally dab too much and end up getting uncomfortably high, first remember that you will absolutely be okay. Get to a comfortable place and relax. Drink plenty of water and eat things that settle your nerves and stomach. Sleep if you can, and remember not to panic. If you have plain CBD on hand this may moderate the effects of THC.
Final Thoughts on Dosing Dabs
It can take some trial and error to identify the right dab dose for you, but it’s very worthwhile. And thanks to more transparency and better regulation, you can stick to reading labels and portioning like we talk about here. As long as you do, you’ll find the best dose for your dabs and the ideal dabbing experience.