Updated: Jan 3
After being forced to refrain from "the plant" for years, I went through the re-learning process of dabbing and found very little help anywhere. I'll lay out some of my guiding indicators, you could say, to figuring out how to hit the perfect rosin dab without owning a temperature tool. But first, what is the perfect dab?
It's become evident many are dabbing at temperatures so low everything fails to vaporize. Is it delicious and an enjoyable dab at temperatures of 450 or less? Of course, but does it effectively vaporize everything? No, I do not believe so. In my article on Dab Temperatures, I laid out the science behind cannabis vaporization and the temperatures at which cannabinoids and terpenes are proven to vaporize. THC-a vaporizes at the high temperature mark of 430 degrees F., so while a beginning dab temperature of 450 gets close, it just doesn't provide the full effects I'm looking for.
Dabbing too hot causes THC to convert to CBN (cannabinol), which induces sleep and a heavier high. For nearly a decade, my dabs increase in temperature as the day goes on, knowing about this conversion. Those 450 temps work for my day-time dabs, but as the day grows old, slightly increased temperatures have always created a heavier high for me. Weedmaps says, "CBN is something of a “sleeper” cannabinoid" and that THC also turns to CBN over extended periods of time. Good enough for me.
I always look for sources and references for my facts, but I've become increasingly skeptical of who is writing and with what science. Our research and studies are decades old, performed on lab rats, and god only knows with what starting cannabis material. I trust my experience. We could always grab temps from the first Google search result, that says the following: "The medium temperature for dabbing is around 700°F." Yeah, if you like to scorch and ruin every single dab you take. Thanks Yo Dabba Dabba. While something around 450 is slightly too low, you never want to dab any type of concentrate over 600 degrees F, and even that is extremely hot.
Conflicting Methods Confuse
What has struck me currently is that temperatures are being discussed, and even argued, despite entirely different systems and set-ups. 450 may be too low for a quartz banger that will quickly decrease in temperature compared to an e-nail, that maintains a steady temperature of 450. Furthermore, the quality of quartz and the use of inserts or even terp pearls cause a banger to cool off much slower. With traditional dab tech, you could start at a lower temperature than someone else, if you are using inserts to help maintain heat. There are a ton of elements that alter beginning temps, but 450-550 is the correct range.
No temp device? Here ya go.....
You finally decided there was something to this and splurged on an 85 dollar gram of hash or rosin. You either decided you wanted to smoke big-fat, delicious melt-shots of clear gooey rosin-globs or make flags of six star, full-melt hash with the big-boys... eh? Or you just realized six star ice water hash and rosin is just too incredible not to try. Regardless, you made the correct decision and narrowed in on the pinnacle product of cannabis refinement. Grab your quartz and torch and let's go.
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While there's a ton of toys and different techniques, the usual method is as follows:
Torch the piss out of your quartz, until its glowing red or just about.
Wait until the quartz banger cools down to between 550 to 450 degrees F. (depending upon the type of concentrate).
Using some kind of tool, scoop a dab from the jar and place it inside the hot quartz banger.
Immediately place some sort of cap over the quartz banger.
Inhale- (While inhaling you can turn the bubble cap to push the oil around the quartz)
Grab a Q-Tip- While everyone tries to avoid the q-tip tech at first, it's not optional. Once you take a few dabs you will see why. The banger will turn black, smoke like crazy, and require several minutes of direct torching before burning off the prior dab. Q-tipping after each dab will prevent a ton of wasted butane, a lot of nasty black burning smoke, and allow you to taste your hash, while it vaporizes efficiently.
Wasted Dabs Defined
You might waste some hash. Let's get that out of the way so you don't get all crazy about things. Even a "wasted" dab will still get you high. My definition of a "wasted dab" is one that is far too hot, causing the dab to smoke briefly for a second or two, before burning into your quartz. If your dab only smokes for a second and no oil remains to q-tip, it's burnt. It's going to take a few dabs to dial things in, but if you aren't burning your hash into the quartz, we can work with that. You can always re-torch a cool dab for a few seconds here and there, but there's no coming back from a scorching hot dab.
Time your torch. It's as simple as that. Time how long you torch your quartz banger for, and time how long you wait before dabbing. If I always torch for thirty seconds, I know to wait 1:35-1:40 seconds before dabbing. This is the best way to find some consistency in your routine. A key to timing the dab is to fill your torch with butane before every use, so you are getting a consistent flame. I usually torch for 45 seconds and allow 1:45 to 1:55 before dabbing. This is by far the best way to find some consistency in your method. The key is to start low, where you are q-tipping a yellow oil after the dab. You want the leftover oil to be a dark shade of brown, but not black or combusted into the atmosphere.
Points of Reference
After a while you will be able to gauge how hot your dab was by the color of the oil remaining. Dabs that leave a light-yellow oil behind can be hit with the torch for a few more seconds and inhaled again. Re-torching a dab, there's a distinct line to cross when suddenly it loses all flavor and begins to taste noticeably burnt. This is how you know you got every bit from the dab, before it crosses over and begins to burn. By timing your torch and cool downs, you will be able to dial in your dabs as close as you can to this perfect level of full vaporization.
To define what the perfect dab is: The perfect dab is one that effectively vaporizes all terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids, without anything of a burnt taste. If you have the money to waste, you can sacrifice the efficiency of each dab in exchange for maximum flavor. This way it might take a few extra dabs to receive the full effects. For the rest of us, full-flavor and full effect is the idea behind every dab. It's one hit at the highest possible temperature (550 usually), without converting THC-a to CBN, or noticeably burning the terpenes. With experience, you will learn each variety of cannabis and variety of concentrate changes the desired temps slightly, but in theory, the objectives remain the same.
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