How to Smoke Dabs: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

by Matt Hampton

Many people are curious about smoking dabs but don't know where to start. Dabbing involves vaporizing cannabis concentrates for a potent experience. This guide will walk beginners through every step of how to smoke dabs safely and enjoyably.

Key Takeaways

  • Dabs are concentrated forms of cannabis that provide a potent and fast-acting high due to their high THC content. They come in various types like oils, waxes, shatter, distillate, and rosin.
  • When smoking dabs, using the correct equipment such as dab rigs or a vape pen is key. Heating your nail correctly and cleaning your rig after use will guarantee an enjoyable experience.
  • Vaporizing concentrates at lower temperatures preserves terpenes and flavor compounds found in the plant material, offering a better taste compared to smoking traditional flower.
  • Dabbing produces fewer carcinogens than smoking cannabis flower because it involves inhaling vapor rather than combusted plant material.
  • For beginners, it's important to start with small doses of dabs due to their increased potency over traditional marijuana products.

What are Dabs?

Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids using solvents like butane or CO2, resulting in oils, waxes, shatter, distillate, or rosin. They provide a potent and fast-acting high due to their high THC content.


Oils stand out as a fluid choice among cannabis concentrates for dabbing. Extracted from the plant through methods that preserve potent THC and CBD, these oils retain a rich profile of flavors and effects.

Beginners find them appealing due to their versatility. You can easily use them in vape pens or rigs, making your dabbing experience smooth and enjoyable.

Heating oils correctly is key to unlocking their full potential. Use a torch to heat your nail or banger until it's just right, then apply the oil with a dabber tool. As you inhale, you'll notice an immediate burst of flavor and potency that sets oils apart from other forms of concentrates. Keep your equipment clean to ensure every session is as good as the first.


Waxes are a type of cannabis concentrate that boast a consistency similar to candle wax, hence the name. They are created by agitating the marijuana plant material with butane or another solvent, resulting in a sticky substance rich in cannabinoids and terpenes.

This process yields an extract with THC levels that can reach up to 90%, making waxes one of the most potent forms of marijuana available. The high potency and versatile nature of waxes make them a popular choice among experienced users seeking intense effects.

For those new to dabbing, it's important to note that using waxes requires precision and care due to their strength. Dabbing waxes involves heating a "dab rig" (a specific type of water pipe) before placing a small amount of wax on its heated surface, causing it to vaporize and be inhaled through the mouthpiece.

A close-up photo of cannabis shatter concentrate surrounded by marijuana leaves.


Shatter is a type of cannabis concentrate known for its glass-like consistency. It is created by extracting THC and other cannabinoids using solvents like butane or CO2. The result is a translucent, amber-colored substance that can reach high levels of potency, making it popular among experienced dabbers.

To use shatter, simply break off a small piece and place it on the heated nail of your rig to vaporize it. Many users appreciate shatter for its strong effects and smooth vapor when dabbed properly.


Distillate is a highly potent form of cannabis concentrate known for its purity and versatility. It has a clear appearance and can contain exceptionally high levels of THC, making it a favorite among experienced users seeking strong effects.

Distillate is commonly used in vape cartridges due to its liquid consistency, allowing for convenient and discreet consumption. Its potency also makes it an ideal choice for those looking to consume cannabis in smaller amounts while still achieving the desired effects.

To create distillate, manufacturers use a process called short-path distillation to remove impurities and isolate specific cannabinoids, resulting in a product that is almost entirely pure THC or CBD.


Rosin is a popular type of THC concentrate that is made by using heat and pressure to extract resin from cannabis flower. This solventless extraction method results in a sticky, sap-like substance that is rich in cannabinoids and terpenes. Rosin can be smoked using a dab rig, vaporized, or added to flower when rolling a joint for an extra kick of potency.

To make rosin at home, one can use a hair straightener or rosin press to apply heat and pressure to the cannabis plant material. The result is a potent concentrate with a strong flavor profile that captures the essence of the original strain. For those looking for an easy-to-make THC concentrate without the need for solvents, rosin provides an attractive option.

The Benefits of Dabbing

Dabbing offers a better taste and increased potency compared to traditional smoking methods. It also produces fewer carcinogens, providing a cleaner and smoother experience for users.

Better taste

When smoking dabs, the concentrates often provide a better taste compared to traditional cannabis flower. This is due to the extraction process that preserves the terpenes and flavor compounds found in the original plant material.

Concentrates like budder, crumble, and shatter offer a more pronounced and complex flavor profile, enhancing the overall dabbing experience for enthusiasts seeking a rich and flavorful consumption method.

Furthermore, by vaporizing concentrates at lower temperatures than combustion of flower, users can enjoy smoother inhalation without the harshness commonly associated with smoking.

Fewer carcinogens

Dabbing involves inhaling the vapor of a concentrated form of cannabis, which is believed to contain fewer carcinogens than smoking traditional flower. This means that dabbing may offer a potentially less harmful method of consuming cannabis compared to smoking it in its plant form.

By minimizing the combustion process and eliminating the need for rolling papers or tobacco leaf wraps, dabbing can lower the exposure to harmful by-products associated with burning plant material.

Increased potency

Dabs are known for their increased potency compared to traditional cannabis flower. This means that a smaller amount of concentrate can deliver a more intense high. The concentrated form of THC found in dabs allows for quicker and stronger effects, making it important for beginners to start with small doses and gradually increase as needed.

Understanding the increased potency of dabs is essential for ensuring a positive experience when consuming cannabis concentrates.

The higher potency of dabs makes them popular among seasoned users seeking powerful effects, but it also requires caution and moderation, especially for those new to dabbing.

Types of THC Concentrates

THC concentrates come in various forms, such as budder and crumble. Each type offers a unique texture and potency that appeals to different preferences in dabbing.

A close-up of budder with a background of cannabis plants in nature.


Budder is a type of THC concentrate known for its creamy texture and high potency. It is produced through a process that involves whipping the cannabis extract during the purging phase, resulting in a smooth, butter-like consistency.

This form of concentrate contains high levels of THC and terpenes, offering users a flavorful and potent dabbing experience. To enjoy budder, simply scoop out a small amount with your dab tool and vaporize it using your preferred method.


Crumble is a type of cannabis concentrate known for its dry, crumbly texture. It is created through a process that involves whipping the concentrate during the extraction process, resulting in a product with a unique consistency.

To use crumble, simply break off a small piece and place it on your dabbing tool. Then, apply heat to your nail or vaporizer and let the crumble melt into an inhalable vapor. Due to its easy handling and versatility, crumble has become popular among stoners who enjoy experimenting with different types of concentrates.

One advantage of crumble is its potency — it typically contains high levels of THC due to the extraction process used to create it. This makes it an attractive option for those seeking powerful effects from their cannabis consumption.

How to Dab: A Step-by-Step Guide

Prepare your rig and concentrate. Heat your nail or set the temperature. Vaporize your concentrate. Clean your rig after use.

Preparing your rig and concentrate

To prepare your rig, gather a dab rig, torch, carb cap, dab tool, and concentrate. Clean the rig to remove any residue that could affect the flavor of the concentrate. Place water in the rig if necessary.

To prepare your concentrate, use a dab tool to measure a small amount onto it. Keep the container closed when not in use to avoid exposure to air and moisture.

Ensure that your setup is on a stable surface before heating your nail or setting temperature. Maintain caution when using a torch; heat the nail evenly until it's red hot for traditional rigs or set it at an optimal temperature for electronic nails.

Heating your nail or setting temperature

To heat your nail, use a butane torch. Aim the flame directly at the nail and steadily move it around to ensure even heating. Wait for about 30-45 seconds for the nail to reach the optimal temperature.

For e-nails, adjust the temperature to around 350-400°F for concentrates such as shatter or wax and 500-700°F for oils or distillates. It's crucial to avoid overheating as this can destroy terpenes and cannabinoids, affecting flavor and potency.

After heating your nail, let it cool down slightly before adding the concentrate. This ensures that you don't burn your concentrate and preserves its flavor profile. Once cooled, apply your dab directly onto the nail while gently inhaling through the mouthpiece of your rig.

Vaporizing your concentrate

To vaporize your concentrate, place it onto a heated nail or banger using a dab tool. Apply the right amount to avoid wastage and ensure even distribution. Once the concentrate is on the nail, inhale slowly and steadily as it vaporizes, then exhale the vapor smoothly for an optimal experience.

Remember to control the temperature to avoid burning your concentrate. Quality equipment and tools are crucial for a successful and enjoyable dabbing experience.

Moving on from vaporizing your concentrate, let's explore alternative ways to smoke dabs for different preferences and situations.

Cleaning your rig

After vaporizing your concentrate, it's essential to clean your rig regularly to maintain its functionality and preserve the quality of your dabs. To keep your rig in top condition, soak it in isopropyl alcohol for a few hours or overnight, then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Use cotton swabs or pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol to scrub hard-to-reach areas like the downstem and percolator. Ensure you dry the rig completely before using it again to avoid diluting or altering the flavor of your next dab session.

Alternative Ways to Smoke Dabs

If you don't have a dab rig, dabs can be smoked in a bowl or rolled in a joint. Vape pens and healthstones are also popular methods for smoking dabs.

In a bowl

Place a small amount of dab concentrate in a heat-resistant bowl. Use a butane torch to evenly heat the surface of the concentrate until it starts to vaporize. Inhale slowly and steadily while applying the flame, ensuring proper combustion and an even burn.

For best results, use a glass or quartz bowl as they can withstand high temperatures without affecting flavor. Avoid using metal or other materials that may taint the taste of your dabs.

Rolled in a joint 

When smoking dabs, one alternative way is to use a joint. To do this, start with rolling a regular joint with ground cannabis flower. Once you have your joint ready, apply a small amount of concentrate along the inside or outside of the paper before sealing it closed.

This method allows for the combined effects of both flower and concentrate in one session, providing an enhanced experience.

Vape pens

Vape pens offer a convenient and discreet way to enjoy dabs on the go. They come in various styles and sizes, making them easy to carry in a pocket or purse. With a simple push of a button, vape pens heat up your concentrate, producing smooth vapor for inhalation.

Many users appreciate vape pens for their portability and minimal odor, making them ideal for those looking for a more discreet dabbing experience.

Using vape pens is straightforward; they usually consist of a battery, heating element, and cartridge filled with THC concentrate. To use it, simply attach the cartridge to the battery, turn it on, and inhale from the mouthpiece.


Transitioning from vape pens, another alternative method for smoking dabs is using healthstones. Healthstones are porous glass or ceramic stones that are heated with a torch and placed inside a bowl.

The concentrate is then applied to the hot stone, allowing for vaporization without direct contact with the heating element. This method offers efficient vaporization of concentrates and can be used with various types of rigs, making it a versatile option for dabbing enthusiasts.

Healthstones provide an easy and effective way to enjoy the benefits of concentrates while minimizing potential risks associated with traditional dabbing methods.

Using a Bong as a rig

To use a bong as a rig for smoking dabs, start by filling the bong with enough water to cover the downstem. Next, heat up your nail until it's red hot using a butane torch. Once the nail is hot, wait about 30 seconds for it to cool slightly before placing a small dab of concentrate on it.

Inhale gently while touching the dab to the heated nail and watch as vapor forms and travels through the bong's chamber. Clear the chamber by inhaling all the vapor and enjoy.

A bong can serve as an effective rig for smoking dabs if used correctly. It provides a smooth hit and allows you to experience all of your concentrates' flavor profiles without compromising potency or wasting product.


Dabbing offers an intense and flavorful experience for beginners. With proper equipment and technique, it can be enjoyed safely. Discovering the most suitable method to smoke dabs is essential for a satisfying experience.


What is dabbing and how do beginners start?

Dabbing is a method for consuming cannabis concentrates, using specific techniques and equipment. Beginners can start by learning the basic steps in a guide to dabbing, including choosing the right tools and understanding heating methods.

What tools do I need to smoke dabs?

To smoke dabs, you will need dabbing tools and equipment like a dab rig, torch for heating, dabber tool for handling concentrates, and a nail or banger where you'll apply the concentrate.

How do I heat my dabs properly?

Properly heating your dabs involves using a torch to heat up the nail of your dab rig until it's hot enough, then letting it cool down to the right dabbing temperature before applying your concentrate. This ensures maximum flavor and safety.

Are there any tips for inhaling concentrates correctly?

Yes! When smoking dabs, begin with slow inhalation techniques to manage the potent effects of cannabis concentrates better. It's important not only for enjoying your experience but also for practicing safe consumption habits.

Can you tell me about dabbing culture and etiquette?

Dabbing culture includes a community that shares tips on how to smoke concentrates effectively while respecting others' experiences with these potent substances. Learning about proper etiquette such as cleanliness of tools and sharing knowledge respectfully enhances one's belonging in this community.

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