Updated: May 1
Solventless Dabbing: 101
When perfect genetics, a flawless garden, and meticulous solventless extraction produces six-star hash and rosin, there inevitably comes a point when satisfaction depends upon the technique of consumption. Proper dab temperatures are key and have been an ongoing conversation in the dabbing world; A conversation that needs revisiting for solventless concentrates. Thanks to a reliable group of hash enthusiasts, followers, and friends, about one hundred hash-heads were polled to find some working averages that will allow you to get the most out of those precious-solventless dabs.
Just as important as refrigeration and cold storage for solventless hash products, is the reduced temperatures at which solventless concentrates are properly dabbed. After taking extreme measures to deliver small-batch, handcrafted, solventless extracts to retail markets, the ultimate experience and level of enjoyment falls back into the consumers hands. Too hot, and many of the valuable terpenes that set solventless extractions apart are scorched, burnt, and wasted. Dabbing at temperatures too low prevents burning, but may be insufficient in vaporizing all the desired terpenes and cannabinoids. While it isn't ideal, you can re-torch for a second or two if it isn't quite hot enough, but there's no going back after burning your terps.
Low-Temp. Dabs Compared to What?
"Low-temp." dabs have long needed the rebranding away from "low-temp," replaced by adequate or properly temped dabs. When stated as “low-temp,” there's room for "high-temp" or "mid-temp" dabs to appear functional, despite science and experience telling us otherwise. All the desirable cannabinoids and terpenes vaporize at temperatures equal to or less than the boiling point of THC-V. Aside from tasting terrible, dabs that exceed the boiling point of THC-V by too much will burn and ruin most of the dab. So, while there can be some variance in your preferred dabbing temps, it's a small range that should be relative to the science.
This is the reason cold-start tech makes so much sense, as you prevent the terpenes from being immediately fried on a hot banger or nail. Rather than each dab hitting a searing hot nail and then cooling, cold-start technique puts the dab in the banger first, and then heats the nail. This ensures that everything will vaporize independently as temperatures increase, but a slow and consistent heating method is yet to surface, leading many of us away from cold start dabbing.
The hash should never exceed "428ºF (220ºC), since this is the temperature that the two cannabinoids with the highest boiling points, CBC and THC-V vaporize," says longtime cannabis scholar Michael Backes. In his updated version of Cannabis Pharmacy, Backes states that "vaporization works in stages, in that the lighter mono-terpenes boil off first, then the sesquiterpenes, then the cannabinoids" that include alpha-pinene and THC. Next to vaporize as temperatures increase are limonene and myrcene. Then the "cannabinoids CBC and CBN, and finally the cannabinoids THC-V and CBC," which vaporize at the high temperature mark of 428ºF. Therefore, everything desirable vaporizes at temperatures around 428ºF and below, but these numbers do not translate directly to proficient dabbing temps. Some of this has to do with inaccurate measurements, but it's mostly the amount of heat absorbed from the quartz into the dab. The heat that is lost from the transfer is why average dabbing temperatures lie around 500ºF.
Average Temps and Recommendations
To find some average dab temperatures, each person responded with two temperatures: one for dabbing ice-water hash and the second temperature for dabbing rosin. There’s basically two different systems to measure temperature, one from the bottom of the quartz banger like @temptechusa or other infrared thermometers. The second type measures the actual dabbing surface from the top or inside of the banger with a @Terpometer. Having recently been blown away by the accuracy and consistency of the Terpometer, I'll begin there.
Before blurting out numbers we need to talk technique. It was apparent from the first use that the Terpometer can produce varied results unless used accordingly. About ten to twenty seconds after I finish torching my quartz banger I turn on and insert the terpometer into my banger where it sits hands-free like the photo below on the left. This crooked alignment of the Terpometer, leaning against the sides is inaccurate, but serves as a reference. Once my Terpometer hits about 650ºF hands-free, I center the tip of the terpometer in my banger, holding it perfectly upright and allowing the full weight of the device to do its thing. DO NOT press down hard into your banger as the metal coils at the tip can bend. Just hold it loosely so that the full weight of the Terpometer is applied and supported by the tip.
My Preferred Temperatures
Holding the Terpometer upright, I take it out and immediately drop in my dab once it reaches a temperature of 535ºF for hash-rosin or rosin badder. I'd stay just under 550ºF for Solventless Rosin Sauce, Jam, or Persy Sauce. For Ice-water Hash, temperatures must be reduced by about 50ºF to avoid a burnt taste. Dabbing ice-water hash at 490ºF is perfect and will result to look like the photo below:
For the Terpometer, temperatures reported were fairly close together with an average of 520ºF for dabbing Rosins and Rosin Badder. For Ice-water hash using the Terpometer, the average was a well dialed 477.5ºF. I stand by both these numbers and support them as accurate and reliable temps to work off.
Skipping to the TempTech and laser guns, the numbers had quite a bit of variation, compared to the Terpometer. Like I did for the Terpometer averages, I threw away the highest and the lowest number before calculating an average of 554ºF for Rosins and 536ºF for Ice-water hash dabs. For this one, you are on your own as I didn't get a chance to personally use and discover the ins and outs of measurement the way I did with the Terpometer. I believe that many people are dabbing their water hash much too hot, so I'd recommend lowering the water hash temps some, but the average temperature for rosin looks just about right.
What should always be taken into consideration when determining dab temperature, is the size and shape of your quartz banger and its level of heat retention. A good banger that holds its temperature well might be better served at slightly lower starting temps, while a cheap, old, or thin banger may need increased starting temps to make up for the lack of heat retention. The size of the dab will also affect the ideal temperature ranges, requiring higher temperatures for bigger dabs. These are things you can dial in after going off some of the averages reported, as you get a feel for solventless hash. Temperature for dabs is admittedly a tricky subject and a set answer cannot be formulated that will work for every set-up. By narrowing down some of the variables, I think these reported averages, when gauged consistently, will provide an effective jumping off point to dial in your set-up. There's nothing low-temp. about dabbing in the most effective temperature range.
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