Frequently Asked Questions
Concentrates are products made from the cannabis plant that have been processed to keep only the most desirable plant compounds (primarily the cannabinoids and terpenes), while removing excess plant material and other impurities. Ounce for ounce, marijuana concentrates have a greater proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes when compared to natural cannabis flowers.
Concentrates can also help increase the potency of your flower. The next time you pack a bowl with cannabis flower, try sprinkling kief on top, or add drops of concentrate oil to cannabis flower before rolling your joint. Cannabis concentrate products can also be consumed on their own. For example, concentrates can be vaporized using a portable vaporizer or dab rig (this activity is referred to as "dabbing"). Dabbing has quickly become one of the most popular consumption methods in the market.
Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis that are made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids using a solvent like butane or carbon dioxide, resulting in sticky oils. Depending on their consistency, these marijuana concentrates are also commonly referred to as wax, shatter, budder, and butane hash oil (BHO). Marijuana wax and other dabs are typically heated on a hot surface, usually a nail, and then inhaled through a dab rig. Smoking dabs as a method of consumption has been around for at least a decade, but the advent of more advanced extraction methods have led to a flood of cannabis concentrates that have boosted dabbing's popularity.
"Dabbing" is used as a catchall term to refer to the practice of melting a cannabis concentrate over a heat source and inhaling the subsequent vapor. The question of its safety can be broken down and answered by addressing five major misconceptions.
The first misconception is the most frustrating, because it confuses the dangers of illegal amateur extraction with the dangers of extracts themselves. Cannabis extracts that are manufactured with light hydrocarbons such as butane or propane require the use of closed-loop systems and extreme safety measures. Manufacturing concentrates illegally by resorting to the use of open-source extraction techniques (i.e. "open blasting") is highly dangerous and potentially lethal.
The fact that amateurs have attempted to undertake this process at home has resulted in explosions, serious injury, and occasionally death. This has led to news articles stigmatizing this entire culture, with headlines such as "Dabbing: A New Explosive Trend." Professionally made concentrates are neither explosive nor lethal, and there is never an excuse for extracts to be made otherwise.
The second misconception with dabbing is that the practice necessitates dangerous tools, most notably blow torches. There are numerous ways to heat a dab, including e-nails, which omit the necessity of using a torch and help prevent injury.
That said, when using a standard nail (one of the most popular surfaces to dab on), a torch is generally used to heat the nail. Torches do require a degree of mindfulness and can be mildly dangerous if used irresponsibly. However, any person who is capable of using a cooking stove should be able to use a torch without harming themselves. Hot nails can cause burns, but the same can be said of any stovetop burner in a kitchen. In this way, torches and nails are no more or less dangerous than cooking dinner.
The third misconception lies in the idea that all concentrates are created equal. "Dabs," an umbrella term for all cannabis concentrates, can refer to a number of cannabis-derived substances that have been mechanically separated (such as kief or dry sift, cold water hash, and rosin), as well as cannabis extracts, which use a chemical solvent (such as butane, propane, CO2, or even ethanol winterization) to strip active biomolecules and essential oils from cannabis.
In short, not all concentrates are extracts, and not all extracts contain meaningful amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals. To understand dabbing safety, it's essential to recognize that the only concentrates that pose a health threat are those that not only employ chemicals for the purpose of extraction, but that also retain high levels of those chemical compounds when the extraction process is complete. Generally speaking, the only concentrates that fall into this category are those that are made cheaply, improperly, or by amateur extractors.
The fourth misconception surrounding dabbing revolves around the safety of inhaling the vapor from the cannabis concentrates themselves. The question of whether or not dabs are harmful to one's health has been heavily scrutinized, yet it's still frustratingly difficult for newcomers to find accurate information.
In order to address concerns like "is dabbing bad for my lungs" or "is dabbing bad for my brain," a few things must be noted. First and foremost, all concentrates contain cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. These have never been proven to negatively impact brain or lung function in adult consumers.
In addition to these three components, some concentrates also contain a very low (below about 500 PPM) concentration of residual hydrocarbons (depending on the extraction method). Concentrate testing below this threshold for residual hydrocarbon content are deemed safe for consumption. While the number 500 might sound worrisome out of context, to put the safety concerns of 500 PPM into perspective, your lungs receive about that much butane when lighting a joint with a butane lighter.
Shatter concentrate is by far one of the most popular forms of cannabis extracts. It's glass like consistency makes it easy to smoke and handle. Shatter is often bought in parchment paper due to it's sometimes sticky form.
Wax is a sticky form of cannabis concentrate. You will mostly find wax sold in silicone containers or small glass jars. Extracts with decarboxylated THC usually ends up sappier. This means wax can be a bit messy to handle without the proper dabbing tools.
Crumble concentrate's form fits the name. The texture of crumble makes it an easy product to handle with your hands. We don't recommend storing crumble using parchment paper. Instead, use a silicone or glass jar to store crumble.
Rosin is a special type of cannabis concentrate. Rosin in made without using any solvents. The process of creating rosin involves sqeezing the dry cannabis buds using pressure and heat. It's a widely popular cannabis concentrate as it is the most natural extract available.
Cannabis oil can come in a few forms. You will find cannabis oil in vaporizer pens and also in needless syringes. Oil is often made using CO2 or Butane. This usually provides a runny texture. Hints the name: Oil.
Budder concentrate is similar to wax as it's a form of BHO (butane hash oil). However, Budder has an opque taffy like consistency. With it's higher terpene profile, budder delivers a tasty smoke that most enthusiasts look for in cannabis.
7. Live Resin
Extracted using live plants, live resin contains higher terpene profiles than any other concentrates. All other cannabis concentrates use dry plants, live resin takes advantage of the living plants aromas and extracts it into an unusually flavorful and pungent extract. There is more work that goes into the production process of live resin, this means you this product is usually reserved for consumers with more expensive taste buds.
You'll need a dab rig, a pipe designed for vaporizing cannabis concentrates that's sometimes also referred to as an oil rig, vapor rig, or concentrate pipe. Similarly to a bong, a dab rig filters concentrate vapor through water at the base. In addition to the central piece, dab rigs require a glass, quartz, ceramic, or titanium nail, or banger, to hold or "dab" concentrate, a dabber tool, and a torch lighter for proper heating.
A dab rig is the chamber of a glass pipe, connected to a nail or banger, used for dabbing, in the place of a traditional bowl typically found on a bong. New dabbers may be overwhelmed at the technique, upfront cost, and number of accessories required to use dab rigs and pipes. But they may also appreciate the strong, streamlined effects and heavy terpene flavors that concentrates and dab rigs provide.
Once you get the dabbing process down, using a dab rig can be easy and efficient. The key steps are simple: heating the nail with a torch, placing a dab of concentrate in the nail, and inhaling the resulting vapor.
The modern-day dab pipe typically includes the glass piece, a nail, a dabber, a torch, and a carb cap. Carb caps have become popular accessories because they allow the user to dab at lower temperatures and hold vapor in the nail for a longer time. If you want to find the perfect dab rig for your concentrate consumption needs, several considerations should be made before a purchase.
Solvent-less or non-solvent is a label applied to products that have been extracted mechanically, without the use of solvents. Now, here's where it can get a bit confusing? Solvent-free is a term used to describe products that were originally extracted with a solvent but later distilled in a laboratory to remove any trace of solvent residue. So they started as solvent extracts but now are 100% free of any residual solvents, as opposed to a well-purged BHO which will always contain a certain, however minuscule, amount of solvent.
In short, yes solvent-free concentrates are safe.
Properly made solvent-based extracts have all of the solvents removed before being sold. This means that they can be labeled as solvent-free despite solvents being used in their manufacture. Solventless extracts on the other hand contain no solvents, and neither were any used in its production. So be careful, because solvent-free isn’t the same as solventless.