If we’re honest, weed day is little more than a typical holiday. Unlike 4/20, which has decades of history and lore behind it (and a story that most likely dates back to a number of high schoolers in neighboring Marin County), 7/10 is little more than an opportunity for cannabis companies to add their concentrates apply and dabbing aficionados to enjoy a day on the couch.
The occasion for the occasion? Well, 710 looks kind of “OIL” upside down, and if you’re stoned enough, you might think that’s really cool.
Why skip an opportunity to celebrate anyway? Dabbing is a significantly underrated segment of the cannabis market, despite being one of the most efficient and fun ways to get involved. Take into account that Northern California produces some of the best concentrates on the planet, and it just makes sense for local consumers to give it a try.
Dabbing is defined as the vaporizing of concentrated cannabis oils known as “concentrate”, “oil”, “extracts”, “wax” or “dabs”. Usually this is done using a tabletop device called a “dab rig”, but vape pens are often called “dab pens” because they do the same thing. The purpose is to deliver a high amount of cannabinoids and terpenes in one small shot while revealing new flavors and properties of a strain. Yes, dabs tend to get you high much faster than cannabis flowers or edibles – but people who love dabbing enjoy it because of the taste and aggressive cycle of innovation in this segment of the industry.
However, if you’re not a weed snob, all of this innovation and talk about terpenes and cannabinoids could be an intimidating prospect. The actual act of dabbing, especially the usual method with a flashlight, is likely intimidating too. In fact, you probably have a story about a person whose rampant cannabis use in college nearly terrified you, who fired your first (and perhaps only) dab and made you cough up half a lung.
Far too many of us have terrible first impressions of dabbing, mostly because we dab at temperatures that are too high (more on that later) or because our first attempts at shoddy, inferior products were yesterday’s. But if done right, Dabs 2021 can be the cheapest, cleanest, and most exciting option to have in your stash.
Looks and terminology don’t help either: After all, butane burners are most often associated with highly effective compounds such as crack (and Joe Rogan’s favorite DMT). The term “rig” has become synonymous with injections used by intravenous drug users.
But a dab rig isn’t a crystal ship, and cannabis – no matter how you ingest it – won’t keep you awake for days or put you into crippling withdrawal symptoms if you decide to quit. And while dabbing certainly delivers a very concentrated dose of THC, no one has reported communicating with fractal elves after a big rip.
The dab rig consists of a small glass vessel and a piece of crystal bowl called a “nail” that is heated with a high-powered lighter. A tiny drop of concentrate the size of an eraser or smaller is then placed in this bowl with a metal spatula, where the heat instantly evaporates it. The user then places a glass cap on the bowl, puts their lips on the mouthpiece, inhales, and feels the rush of a fast-acting, powerful dab hit. It sounds extreme – like freebasing weed – but it’s actually not much different than hitting a cannabis vape pen. Additionally, just like with vape pens, you can easily control your dose by taking smaller puffs or opting for concentrates with higher levels of CBD or Delta-8 than Delta-9-THC. Personally, I’m a fan of the Delta-8 dabs from Lifted Made.
Nowadays, however, you don’t have to risk burning the house down for a tasty blob. Electronic rigs are flameless and heat up to the perfect temperature with the push of a button. The Hydrology9 NX from Cloudious9 or the Puffco Peak Pro, which are both portable and super easy to use, are great choices. It’s worth noting, however, that electronic rigs are considerably more expensive than the traditional route – the Hydrology9 NX and Peak Pro are $ 300 and $ 400, respectively, while glass rigs can be as cheap as $ 40 – and e-rigs usually only small portions. The small spatulas used come in all shapes and sizes, from spoons to narrow cones, and are tailored to the absorption of soupy or solid concentrates.
Once you have all the supplies, it’s time to learn how to properly heat up a “nail” – something that is probably better explained in a YouTube video than text. However, it’s worth noting that the goal is to heat your concentrate to the lowest possible temperature at which it can still evaporate. It is a common misconception that concentrates should be heated to piping hot temperatures. This leads to a burn rather than vaporization and is the main reason many dabbers succumb to a coughing fit after each puff – sure, inhaling too much of anything that isn’t air can trigger a cough, but dabs really shouldn’t feel harder feel like a small receipt. When heated properly, a dab should be smooth and flavorful, leaving a small amount of oil behind so you don’t feel like your lungs are collapsing.
Much more fun than equipment, however, is concentrating shopping. Dedicated dabbers are the molecular restaurateurs of the weed world. Hence, the concentrate menu is the neriest part of the cannabis store. Here we ponder the chemical breakdown of our favorite cannabinoids, admire the shades of juicy, golden cannabis oils, and ponder the often detailed descriptions of terpenes and cannabinoids on the packaging. Really, deciphering all of the strange-sounding terminology and lab testing has to involve a little trial and error, but there are some basic categories worth studying before diving into.
Resin, and specifically a type of concentrate called “live resin”, is the most common type of concentrate sold on pharmacy shelves right now, and is probably the most popular. It has a sticky, sugary texture, similar to raw honey, which is easy to use, is consistently very strong, and usually comes at a reasonable price of around $ 35 per gram. This concentrate is made by blasting frozen cannabis flowers through a chemical solvent like butane, propane, or CO2. This solvent is not present in the final product, but it removes most of the organic matter and leaves behind the juicy substance. AbsoluteExtracts Live Resin Extracts are a solid place to start, and because of the popularity of this brand, they are easy to find in stores.
Most chemically processed extracts are made from resins or similar oils, with the main difference between these subcategories in texture and taste. Sugars with a texture just like the name suggests are fairly easy to scoop and tolerate fairly high temperatures for those who are new to their technique, so they’re a great choice for beginners – I recommend Cannabiotix’s terpene sugars. Crushed diamonds, like those from Raw Garden, are similar but have a little less flavor and a little more potency. Wonderbrett makes incredible badders, a concentrate with a uniform, cake-dough-like consistency that practically turns out stoner ASMR when you portion a serving. Terpene sauces, like those made by Blessed Extracts, maximize flavor and have a more soupy texture with small pieces of pure THC crystals scattered all over the place.
At the other end of the spectrum are the solvent-free extracts: rosin and fully melted hash. Rosin, for example, is usually made by squeezing cannabis flowers between heavy, heated plates until an oily juice oozes out. Melting hash, on the other hand, is made by repeatedly sifting cannabis flowers – often using freezing temperatures – until only the finest, juicy particles remain. This process, similar to the process of making traditional hashish, refines the substance into an incredibly pure form that can be completely vaporized and leaves no botanicals behind. Rosin can be whipped and molded into many different textures, similar to resin, while fully melted hash is almost always rolled into a sticky ball shape called a “temple ball”. These extracts are often considered to be top of the range and have prices to reflect that. However, Stiiizy makes comparatively inexpensive and high quality rosin that is whipped into a variety of different seductive consistencies. San Francisco-based social equity brand Sunset Connect also tells us that they have a fully melted hash on the shelves this month, and if it’s anything like the standard hash they make for sprinkling flowers, it is certainly first class.
However, a little trial and error is required to really learn the preferences between the different options. Half the fun of dabbing is being a geek about it and learning all about performing different extraction methods, the comparative advantages of different technologies, and the variable concentrate consumption rituals around the world on the internet rabbit hole.
Fortunately, if you’re looking for an excuse, the for-profit cannabis industry already has one for you: 7/10.