Learn How to Dab Concentrates

Posted by Tom Richardson on

Let's learn how to dab concentrates! Dabbing is not as difficult as it may seem.

In fact:

Many people find that simple guides like this one make their dabbing experience safer and more enjoyable. 

how to dab tools

So, whether you've been taking dabs for years or are just discovering the power of concentrates, we want you to get a better understanding of dabs from this post.

How to take a dab

Once your rig, tools, and concentrate are in place, take a seat and get ready to dab. We recommend dabbing while seated - just in case the first hit is too hard.


Step 1 Start by turning on your torch and pointing the flame straight at the dab nail. Heat the nail until it starts to turn red hot. This is how most people know when their nail is heated enough.
Step 2 When your nail is hot and ready, turn your torch off. For quartz nails, let the piece cool down for about a minute. If you’re using a titanium nail, you only need to wait about 10 seconds. This cool down period ensures your nail is at the right temperature and not too hot. A timer is helpful when tracking cooldown times.
Step 3 Place your dab onto the nail using your dabber tool, then inhale slowly. To avoid wasting oil stuck on your dabber, rotate the tip of your dabber on the nail. 
Step 4 Place a carb cap over your dab to keep the airflow regulated and finish inhaling.
Step 5 Exhale and enjoy your first dab!


For your safety: Use caution when handling your nail. They become very hot when taking a dab. Allow all pieces to cool down completely before touching them.

how to dab infographic

Dabs explained

Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids from the plant. They can range from 70% to 99% THC. T

he production of dabs is through the use of solvents such as carbon dioxide or butane to take out cannabinoids from the flower.

Depending on their consistency, dabs can be called different names, including shatter, wax, and Butane Hash Oil (BHO).

These extracts are smoked by heating them on a nail, then inhaling the vapors produced using a dab rig.

In my own experience:

It’s very similar to ripping a bong. 

Dabbing is usually too strong for new or casual cannabis smokers, but experienced smokers and medical users find dabbing to be a great way to consume cannabis if your tolerance for THC is high enough.

More experienced dabbers will enjoy our complete guide on how to take a dab the right way.

Different types of dabs

Dabs come in many different forms, but they all share the same effect despite the differences in texture or appearance.

Variations between different types of dabs is usually more about the strain than the consistency of the dab itself.

Here are the most common types of dabs:

Wax - It’s easy to work with and looks a lot like butter at first glance.

Shatter - More brittle than other forms so it will be harder to use, but it provides the longest high compared to other dabs.

You’ll notice a creamy, amber tone when looking at shatter.

Crumble - There are two types of crumble: sugar crumble and wax crumble. Sugar crumble is brittle with a crystalline texture.

Wax crumble is smooth and creamy rather than sticky like sugar crumble.

Budder - Budder has a lot of fans due to its smooth and creamy texture.

It’s similar to wax, but has a thicker consistency due to the moisture and whipping involved in the manufacturing process.

Oil - Usually sticky and thicker than a liquid. The consistency of oils is a lot more loose than other BHOs. 

Honeycomb - Looks like a honeycomb and is very similar to wax.

Live Resin - Live resin is very different from the other forms mainly because of the material it’s extracted from.

It’s made from fresh nugs or trims that are frozen throughout the extraction process.

How strong are dabs?

Your average marijuana flower usually has 15% - 25% THC.

When consumed by smoking or vaping, you’ll experience a mild high that lasts up to 180 minutes most times. 

Now this is crazy:

Dabs are generally 70% to 90% THC. We don’t recommend dabs for new smokers. The high from dabs comes quick and hits heavy.

Your high will hit various peaks over the 30 - 45 minutes after your first hit.

It’s common to fall asleep or feel locked in your couch when taking your first dab. 

What is a dab tool and what tools are needed?

While dabbing technology is continually evolving with products like the Puffco Peak, these are the tools needed for a traditional dab setup.

  • Nail
  • Dab Rig
  • Dab Torch
  • Dabber
  • Carb Cap
  • Cannabis Extract
  • Dab Mat
  • Timer

Nail - The dab nail is where you place your concentrate. It’s like a bowl for your water bong. Quartz bangers with a bucket shape are the most popular nails today.

Nails come in different materials like titanium and ceramic as well. When shopping for dab nails, make sure to get the correct joint size and gender.

The joint is where the nail slides into your dab rig. For example, if a dab rig has a 16mm stem, you need a 16mm dab nail.

Nails and dab rigs come in two genders - male and female. Your nail should be the opposite gender of your dab rig. 

Dab Rig - Most dab rigs look similar to water bongs, but the key difference is that dab rigs are able to fit a nail.

Unfamiliar with dab rigs? Learn how to use a dab rig before you finish this guide.

Dab Torch - Most dab enthusiasts use mini-torches, but you will need to purchase propane for them when they run out.

Another option is to use an e-nail, which doesn’t require a torch or flame. E-nails are typically a bit expensive. 

Dabber - This tool is used to add your concentrate to the nail. Dabbers come in a variety of materials and shapes.

The shape and material you choose will depend on the type of concentrate you’re using.

Common shapes include a dab spoon, scoop, and needlepoint.

Carb Cap - Using a carb cap is not required, but it is recommended as it helps keep the airflow consistent.

It’s becoming more and more common to find a single tool that serves as both a dabber and carb cap. 

Cannabis Extract - Usually shatter, wax, or BHO.

Dab Mat - Helps keep a clean surface for dabbing and preventing stickiness. This is an optional tool.

Timer - A timer will help you remember to consistently heat your nail between dabs.

how to dab concentrates dabber

Dosing your dabs

Don’t be nervous about measuring out your dabs. Potency can vary between extracts, so it’s good to know the THC concentrations before taking any dabs.

It’s best to start with a small dose and gradually increase the amount as your tolerance increases.

You might be wondering:

What's considered small?

A small dose should be the size of a crumb. Even with its small size, there’s still a high concentration of THC that hits when you inhale.

If you’re used to smoking or vaping flower, your first few dabs may feel too heavy. Over time, your tolerance will increase and the effects of dabbing become more manageable.

I recommend taking the smallest dab you can to start. This will be your reference point from which you can determine how much to dab next.

A bonus to this method is that you’ll get the benefits of micro-dabbing.

Like any other method of consuming cannabis, different people will feel different effects - even if they dab the same dosage.

The effects that your friend experiences after dabbing 25mg of THC may not be the same effects you experience.

Every person’s endocannabinoid systems perform differently, so your best bet is to start small.

Cleaning your dab rig

Keeping your dab rig clean not only extends the life of your piece, but it also keeps your vapor's flavor in tact. 

A simple mix of isopropyl alcohol and salt is usually enough to get your rig looking new, but if you're in need of a deeper clean, check out our 6-step guide on how to clean a dab rig.

Cleaning your dab nail

After a dab, carbon, reclaimed oil, and particulates can build up in the nail. A lot of people will clean their nail after each hit, but you should at least do it at the end of each session.

All kinds of material can build up on your dab nail if not cleaned properly and regularly.

Most people clean their nail after each dab, but at a minimum you should clean your nail after each session.

Check out these tips for cleaning your nail:

Torch - Heating your dab rig nail with a torch is the easiest way to clean it. The heat will clear off any reclaim or carbon leftover on your nail.

For ceramic and quartz nails, let the nail cool down completely before moving to the next step. A rapid change in temperature can cause a fracture in a hot nail.

Scrape - A sharp dabber will scrape off minor residue from your nail. Be gentle with the dabber to avoid chipping your nail.

Wash - Soaking your nail is isopropyl alcohol is a great way to clean it. 91% iso for around ten minutes is recommended.

For a more in-depth guide on cleaning your dab nail, check out our how to clean your quartz banger article.

E-nails explained

E-nails (also known as electronic nails) are more expensive than standard nails, but their performance compared to traditional nails can’t go unnoticed.


Expert dabbers will tell you e-nails are worth the investment because they offer full control over the temperature of your nail while dabbing.


Want to know the best part?

This eliminates the need for a torch - which is what makes dabbing potentially dangerous.

Temperature control allows you to maximize the flavor and terpenes of your dab. 

How to dab without a torch

E-nail - Like we just discussed, electronic nails are great if you want to avoid using a torch when dabbing.

The process is similar to using a traditional nail, except that you don’t need a flame at all. Just turn on your device and adjust your temperature settings as the nail heats up.

E-nails help you vaporize your concentrates instead of combusting it like a torch would.

T-waxing - You don’t actually need a fancy rig to enjoy concentrates. Just mix in your concentrate with some dry herb and roll up a joint.

Be aware though that t-waxing doesn’t produce as potent of a high as traditional dabbing, and the hit itself won’t taste as smooth.

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