Unless you’re a medical marijuana patient who doesn’t get out and about all that much, you’ve heard about dabbing.
It’s the way many experienced users choose to consume their weed. Since dabbing is done with a concentrated cannabis extract (usually wax or oil) instead of the flower, it usually produces an incredibly strong high and kicks in incredibly fast. That’s because the vapor created by dabs can contain as much as 90% THC content, compared to the 15-30% that smokers are familiar with. Dabbing preserves more of weed’s terpenes, too.
There’s a lesser-known benefit as well. Dabbing is actually healthier than smoking because most of what the user inhales is the “good stuff,” rather than bountiful amounts of the chemicals and residual plant matter that’s in marijuana smoke.
Sounds perfect, right? Not so fast; there are concerns to be aware of. A major issue involves the way that you make the concentrate; it’s often created with the use of potentially-explosive butane, which is why some types of dabs are called BHO (butane hash oil).
There are safer alternatives, though. We’ll look at the best and worst options after a brief dip into the subject of dabbing.
What You Need To Know About Dabbing
When weed is concentrated properly and then dabbed, the user is best able to enjoy the effects of its THC content, as well as the bud’s flavor. In simpler terms, you can get wasted in a flash.
However, as is the case with most enjoyable pursuits, there are downsides to dabbing.
One is that the process itself can be dangerous. The traditional way to dab is to put the cannabis concentrate on a hot “nail” (not an actual nail; most are made from quartz), heat it with a blowtorch, and inhale the vapor.
Carelessness with a blowtorch can be catastrophic, of course, but one study found that dabbing didn’t lead to any more accidents than pot smoking. And in reality, most people use a commercially-made “dab rig” that’s completely safe. The real issue is keeping the dab rig’s temperature in check; high temperatures produce higher levels of toxins in the vapor. (Some people use vape pens instead.)
Another potential downside is that the potency of weed concentrate increases the possibility of experiencing serious and potentially dangerous side effects like rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, and blackouts. It’s also been found that users are more likely to develop a higher tolerance to cannabis when they dab, making withdrawal symptoms worse.
Those concerns are far eclipsed, though, by the possible dangers of making the BHO or concentrate that’s going to be dabbed. Let’s start by looking at the most-hazardous way to make dabs — so you understand why other methods are vastly preferable.
Making Butane Hash Oil
BHO is one of the most potent forms of cannabis you can dab, but the process of making it isn’t for amateurs. (Most concentration processes turn it into wax; don’t be fooled by the word “oil” in its name.)
You start by putting a finely-ground flower into a Pyrex extraction tube, with a mesh screen at the bottom. (You should purchase this equipment and not MacGyver it.) You then take a can of Grade N-butane (other types of butane won’t make the best quality BHO) and inject the gas into the tube. It will turn into liquid and drip through the screen and into a Pyrex dish you’ve placed underneath.
Next, place the Pyrex dish into a larger one that’s filled with hot water, and let the butane liquid evaporate to create wax; that may take all night. Then put the dish onto a heating pad (the temperature must stay low, 100-125°) and heat the wax until it’s clear. It can then be scraped and stored for use.
So, what’s the danger? Butane gas can explode. Especially when the gas is turning into liquid, any spark could set it off — even the spark from a gas stove or another appliance. Less dangerous but just as crucial: if the whole process isn’t done exactly right, you’ll either ruin your wax, or hazardous solvent will be left inside.
Hopefully, we’ve convinced you to forego any attempt to make BHO at home — buy it at a dispensary. If you’re the DIY type, you should make rosin instead.
Making Rosin Hash Oil
(Don’t worry: rosin will get you just as high as BHO will.)
Making your own rosin for dabbing doesn’t require any of the specialized equipment or gas that’s needed to produce butane hash oil; you’ll be using a hair straightener instead. Assuming you have one at home, all you might have to do before starting is run out to the store to buy some unbleached parchment paper. You should find it in the baking section of any good supermarket.
Take a 4”x4” square of the parchment paper, fold it in half, and gently press about a gram of flower inside. You can use kief or bubble hash instead if you prefer. Now set the heat on the straightening iron to medium-low (it shouldn’t go any higher than 300°, or you’ll destroy the weed’s terpenes). Squeeze the parchment paper with the iron for 5-7 seconds until it sizzles, then open the paper and remove the flower. What will be left is oily resin — the stuff you want.
Use a dab tool to remove any plant bits from the resin and store it. You can press the same bud once or twice more, using the same procedure, and it will usually produce more resin. Once you’ve made as much as you want, you’re ready to dab and enjoy. Even better, you didn’t have a heart attack worrying that you were going to blow up your kitchen!
It may sound too simple to be a commonly-used process, but there’s even a name for it: rosin tech. And High Times reports that when it became popular in stoner circles, there was a surge of demand for hair straighteners at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and similar stores.
How to Make Dabs FAQ
Q: Can’t you make wax just by using ice?
A: Yes, although it’s a pain in the ass. It involves continuously mixing weed with ice for 20 minutes, letting it settle for another half-hour, draining it, and then repeating the process multiple times while you scrape small amounts of wax out of the mess. Believe us, and the hair straightener is much easier.
Q: My friend uses alcohol to make wax.
A: You can do that too. You freeze weed and alcohol separately for hours, mix them, filter several times, and let the alcohol evaporate in a warm water bath. Eventually, you’ll be left with wax. Again, save time and work; use the hair straightener.
Q: Can you make other concentrates like crumble at home?
A: Yes, but they’re a lot more work. And making crumbles also requires the use of gas and equipment like a vacuum pump and roller tubes. Leave the fancy stuff to the pros. You’ll get an amazing high from rosin hash without the hassles.