Learn With Wikileaf: A Guide To Dabbing

Everything A Beginner Dabber Needs To Know

dabbing graphic

While somehow still a popular dance move among the youth (thanks a lot, Fortnite), dabbing has a much more powerful connotation when it comes to cannabis. To those who have never seen or used dabs, the whole process may feel intimidating (what with the open flames and all.) You need to have the right equipment, a list of supplies that includes a torch, a nail, a dab rig, concentrates, and more. It takes more setting up than other methods of consumption, but the payout is a more intense high with less product needed.

What You Need to Dab

Dab Rig

Rigs are essentially just water pipes with extra features that allow for the use of concentrates. They work in conjunction with the dab nail and torch.


These are wand-like tools used to apply oils and waxes to the dab nail. They come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, usually made up of glass, quartz, titanium or ceramic.


There are many varieties available for dab nails, and the differences are notable even to beginners. Titanium nails are a popular choice because they are durable and able to heat up quickly. We’ll discuss the different types of nails later on.


You can use butane or propane torches for this purpose, though butane is usually recommended because it burns cleaner and at lower temperatures. Propane-fueled torches can be used, and they heat up the nail faster in exchange for the risk of melting non-titanium nails. Some companies sell torches specifically for dabbing, while many other users choose to use whatever is easiest.

Cannabis Extract

There are different varieties of marijuana concentrates available for dabbing, and if you aren’t certain about what you’re looking at, ask the budtender for advice. Butane Hash Oil (BHO) is one of the most popular concentrates used for dabbing, and it is wildly potent.

THC concentrated rosin dripping on wax paper

Carb Cap (Optional but Recommended for Domeless Nails)

Domeless nails are great because they allow you to do bigger dabs than domed nails. The trade-off, however, is efficiency. You run the risk of burning off more concentrates than you can inhale in your first hit, and without a dome, that vapor just escapes into thin air. However, if you have a carb cap, you can trap in that vapor and get multiple hits off of one dab. If you’re dabbing at low temps, then a carb cap is a must.

How To Do a Dab

We’re almost to the fun part, but we must emphasize the importance of starting small if you have never dabbed before. You may end up in the midst of a panic attack if you don’t go into it prepared for the effects of THC that typically falls in the 60 to 90 percent range. For comparison, flower typically falls between 10 and 25 percent.

It’s probably best to make sure you’re seated and comfortable before you start.

Step 1: Heat the nail

Aim the torch directly at the nail and begin heating it until it becomes red. Once hot, let the nail cool off so it is not too hot to take a hit from. The time it takes to cool off depends on the type of nail, though titanium typically needs 10-20 seconds while glass and quartz nails typically need 30-45 seconds.

Step 2: Prepare the dab

While the nail is cooling is a perfect time to prepare the dab. Use the dabber to get your preferred dose, which is generally done by eyeballing. If you don’t know what’s going to happen when you take your first puff, no one is going to look down on you for taking the least amount possible with your tool. (And if they do look down on you, it might be time for better friends.)

Step 3: The inhale

Using the dabber, apply the dab to the nail and begin inhaling slowly. If it feels too harsh, the nail may not have cooled off enough, the amount may have been too much, or it could be the harsh nature of taking a dab. You can cover the nail and save some vapor to pass around or hit again after a break if your first hit was too much.

Types of Dab Nails

shatter on a domed nail, dabbing

Cannabis oil concentrate with glass rig bowl and nail

Beginners will probably want to start with domed nails, as they are typically less expensive and safer than their domeless counterparts. The dab nail takes longer to heat up with domed nails, which is why many experienced dabbers choose to move up to domeless nails.

Domeless nails do not have sides on them, which allows them to heat up faster and facilitates bigger dab hits. Domeless nails have less chance of burning the oil as well.

Nails are typically available in titanium, glass, quartz, and ceramic. Titanium is popular because it is durable and heats up consistently and quickly, though it can interfere with the flavor. Glass is easy to clean and does not interfere with flavor, though it is more fragile and likely to break. Quartz is similar to glass but more durable and able to withstand high heats. The material cools off quickly though, so you need to work fast. Much like glass, ceramic is easy to clean and don’t interfere with flavor. And while they are less affected by heat, they are still quite fragile and easy to drop and shatter.

Side note: Dabbing With E-nails

Rather than using a torch to heat up a nail, some prefer to use e-nails for their dabbing purposes. These are electronic nails that heat up to a pre-set temperature at the touch of a button. These little things get ridiculously hot, so they should not be left in a place where the wrong person could get ahold of them.

Why Dab?

Dabbing has gained popularity over the last decade, while also gaining a bit of stigma due to the complex nature of the process and a lack of understanding about the health risks. The clickbait-y coverage demonizing dabbing has subsided for the most part, though there are plenty of reputable studies that potential users could use to see if dabbing is a good choice for them.

It isn’t the most practical way to get high, as you have to be prepared with all of your equipment. It also isn’t a mild way to get high, and the powerful effects are what keep many coming back. In cases of severe pain, smoking marijuana or consuming edibles is not always a strong enough remedy. Dabbing is a good pain relief alternative that offers immediate and powerful results.

Learn With Wikileaf: A Guide To Dabbing was last modified: by