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WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

A Beginners Guide to Dabbing & Dab Pens

You may have heard of concentrates, dabbing, and dab pens in recent years—but what do these words mean?  The dabbing scene has exploded in recent years from its former niche self. Millions of people are now flocking to dabbing devices for their various benefits. 

If you’re considering dabbing or just started, this is the right article for you. We will break down the question of what is dabbing throughout this article.

You can also check out our recommended wax and dab pens here.

What Are Concentrates? 

Many people describe concentrates, otherwise known as dabs, as a form of dry herb. However, concentrates—unlike more conventional forms of dry herb—contain as little plant material as possible. Instead, concentrates are a pure distillation of what makes the herb what it is. 

Manufacturers create concentrates through a complicated process. For example, the manufacturer removes all the active ingredients—including cannabinoids—from the plant with a chemical solvent (such as butane.) As you’d expect, this process requires expertise; it could be dangerous if not done with specialist equipment. 

After that, the manufacturer needs to boil off the solvent. They perform this with a vacuum oven to lower the air pressure surrounding the concentrate. Once they’ve removed all the solvent, there’s only concentrate left. Subsequently, the herb is far more potent. 

Here are the most common types of concentrates: 

1. Oil

The most common type of concentrate is oil, but it’s also the weakest form of concentrate. The oil concentrates provide a golden appearance. You can use oil in most dab rigs—including dry herb vapes, specialized pocket dab pens, and all dab rigs. 

2. Wax

Wax is the second most popular concentrate. Wax has a sticky consistency, so you need to store it in specialized non-stick containers. You can use wax with some dry herb vapes, most concentrate vaporizers, and dab rigs. 

3. Crumble 

During the purification process, concentrates will sometimes form into a dry or crumbly substance. It’s the second most potent form of concentrate and easy to handle. You can easily break it down into small chunks that are ideal for vaping. 

4. Shatter

Shatter is the purest form of concentration on the market. Although it’s possible to use shatter in dab rigs, you should use non-stick tools because it’s very sticky. 

Why Are Concentrates So Popular?

Now you understand how to make concentrates, but what is the appeal? Here’s the truth: a gram of concentrate is incredibly potent. It’s numerous times more potent than the equivalent weight in dry herb. Therefore, a gram of concentrate can go way further than a gram of dry herb.  

It’s also why many people believe concentrates are suitable for experienced smokers. Beginners should always be wary when using concentrates because of their potency. However, dab pens can be excellent if you’re cautious and start slowly. 

Another excellent feature of dabs is their flavor. Manufacturers often place flavonoids into concentrates. As a result, a hit from a dab pen is stronger and more distinct than one from a standard vape pen

Many users love dabbing because of its medicinal benefits. They have several advantages over normal dry herbs. For example, concentrates offer longer effects, meaning you don’t need to consume them as often for anxiety and chronic pain. Concentrates also have more predictable amounts of active ingredients, which makes it straightforward to measure your doses

The Best Way to Consume Concentrates

There are many popular ways to consume dry herbs—including bongs, pipes, and blunts. Nonetheless, these aren’t compatible with concentrates because concentrates only vaporize at very high temperatures.

Traditional forms of consumption can’t reach these temperatures, but that’s where dabbing devices can help you. 

Here are some of the most popular methods:

1. Dab Rigs 

When you first look at dab rigs, you might mistake them for traditional bongs. Dab rigs are typically glass water pipes that require an external heat source to work. The major difference between dab rings and traditional bongs is how you apply materials to them. 

Instead of using a bowl, dab rigs use a bucket or nail—which is a shallow, heat-resistant dish made from ceramic, titanium, or quartz materials. All of these materials have excellent qualities. For example, titanium material is incredibly conductive whereas quartz are superb for their non-reactive nature.

The user will then heat the nail to a very high temperature with a butane torch. Once the rail reaches the correct temperature, you can apply the concentrate to the nail with a dab tool. It instantly creates a potent vapor that’s cooled by the water pipe.

2. Dual-Use Vapes

You’ll find many dry herb vapes advertised as ‘dual use.’ Therefore, you can use dual-use vapes with concentrates and botanicals. Typically, you can vape dabs with the assistance of a concentrate pad (a disc that splits into the heating chamber.) 

After that, you can set the vape to the highest temperature or a bespoke concentrate setting. The biggest downside of using dual vape pens is that the hits are less prominent than from a dedicated device. In addition, you can only use it with oils and wax concentrates. 

3. Disposable Vape Pen 

A disposable vape pen is a relatively new mode of consumption, but it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular. A disposable vape pen comes pre-loaded with a specific amount of concentrate. It’s simple to use, affordable, and accessible. 

However, a disposable vape pen doesn’t offer flexibility and often provides low-potency forms of concentrate. Also, it’s not the best option if you like to dab regularly.

The Advantages of Dab Pens

Dab pens have become one of the most popular ways of consuming concentrates. However, until recent years, they were a niche corner of the vape market. Yet, they still languish behind dry herb vapes in popularity. 

The primary appeal of dab pens is similar to dry herb vaporizers: they make consuming concentrates more simple, more reliable, and more convenient. In addition, dab pens are also sleek and more approachable for the average person.

If you’re looking for discreet vaping, dab pens are excellent because they don’t leave a lingering smell. The compactness of a dab pen is also fantastic; they’re portable and easy to handle. They’re also excellent for precise dosing. 

The Downsides of Dab Pens 

Although dab pens are altogether an excellent tool, as with anything, there are downsides. For example, because dab pens are specialized for concentrates, you can’t use any other form of material in them, making them slightly one-dimensional. If you enjoy using dry herbs, you won’t be able to use them with dab pens. Although you can find dual pens, they often focus on dry herbs instead of concentrates.

Another downside of dab pens is their lack of accessories. There’s little opportunity for expansion and growth with these devices as the manufacturers want to keep them as simple as possible. Dab pens also offer a single-minded design; you can’t customize your vaping experience. Although there are pre-programmed heat settings, that’s as far as they go.

Moreover, dabs can get messy and sticky. Therefore, you must consider how and where to store them. Many people will use specialized containers and tools because of the messiness. 

How Do Dab Pens Work?

Manufacturers make dab pens portable and electronic to ensure they’re easy to use. They also use different heat settings depending on the material you use. Some wax pens will use special heating coil systems made from metal and ceramic. As a result, they can reach super high temperatures quickly, thus proving an excellent experience for the user.

Some dab pens are also small compared to many vaping devices in the industry, which means they can deliver many sessions on a single charge. Having this type of heating system has significant advantages over traditional dab rigs because it allows users to pre-load their devices. 

What Are The Benefits of Dabbing? 

Dabbing offers users many benefits, especially if you’re new to vaping cannabis products. However, dabbing is efficient and delivers an incredible buzz if you do it properly. 

Here are some of the main benefits of dabbing:

1. High Potency 

If you’re looking for high potency, you’ll struggle to beat dab pens. Most people dab because dabs are so potent; they’re superb if you have a high tolerance for cannabis. Even if you don’t have a high tolerance, dabbing is ideal for a wonderful high. 

2. Excellent Flavor 

One of the primary benefits of dabbing is its excellent flavor. Many people describe the dabbing flavor as being ‘full of terpenes.’ An excellent concentrate will maintain its aroma and flavor from the original plant. However, the producer must ensure they complete the extraction process properly to keep the best flavor. 

3. Quick Effects

Many dabbers love how dab pens can offer immediate effects. If you suffer from chronic pain or anxiety, you’ll adore the quick effects. It’s far quicker than consuming cannabis through gummies, and you can often feel the side effects within seconds. 

4. Dabbing Is Clean 

Another massive benefit of dabbing is cleanliness. If the producer has made the extract properly, it will be cleaner, easier, and purer for the lungs. In turn, this is far safer for the user. 

How Safe Is Dabbing?

Safety is one of the main concerns people have before they start dabbing. After all, dabbing is different from smoking, edibles, and vaping. First, you should know that the long-term effects of dabbing cannabis concentrates remain largely unknown. Simply, researchers haven’t conducted enough research yet.

However, here are some things to consider before you start dabbing:

1. Overdosing 

Let’s start with some good news: nobody has overdosed on cannabis. However, dabs are highly potent. If you’re not careful, dabs can catch you off guard. For example, cannabis flower often has a potency between 15-25% THC, but concentrates have a potency between 60-90%. Therefore, it’s easier to understand why you must be careful. 

So what happens if you consume too many dabs? Not a lot. You may feel some common unwanted side effects—such as nausea, headaches, fatigue, and overall body weakness. These side effects won’t kill you, so don’t worry. It’s always a wise idea to start small when you’re dabbing. 

2. High Temperatures

One possible danger of using dab pens is the extreme heat they produce. For example, e-nails and nails can reach temperatures of around 600 Fahrenheit. If you touch one, it will hurt. So you should always keep your dab pens away from children and wait until they’ve completely cooled down before touching the nails. 

3. Solvents 

You should ensure your cannabis products have been lab-tasted. You can ensure this happens by buying from a legal market. Unfortunately, some producers make dabs with solvent or chemicals; these are usually producers in the illegal market who don’t conform to strict regulations. 

Using dabs that contain small traces of solvents can damage your lungs and body. You must prevent this at all costs by using reputable manufacturers. 

How To Use a Dab Pen

One of the main benefits of purchasing a dab pen is how easy it is to use. However, if you’re new to dabbing, you may feel unsure about using them. 

Here’s how you should operate dab pens:

  • Carefully load your concentrate into the oven 
  • Put on the mouthpiece 
  • Enable your dab pen to heat up 
  • If you have a button, click it and inhale one to two times 
  • Wait around 10 to 15 minutes to feel the effects of the high 

Every dab pen is different. Therefore, you should refer to the dab pen manual before loading the pen and adjusting the temperature. The manual should detail information about the pens’ temperatures and how to achieve the maximum heat. 

Are Dabs Legal?

There’s a tonne of speculation around whether dabs are legal, but it depends on where you live. In some U.S. states, you can be prosecuted if you have more than the lawful amount of THC. However, one of the main benefits of dabbing is how discreet it is. 

For example, the concentrated form of THC doesn’t smell as strong as the cannabis from a joint. Therefore, you’re unlikely to attract the same attention. If you’re traveling out of your state, ensure you understand the local laws on THC.

Final Thoughts 

Dab pens are stylish, portable, and easy to use. If you’re new to the dabbing scene, you can’t go wrong with a dab pen. In addition, dab pens are excellent for everyday use, sharing with friends, and occasional use. There’s also a vast choice of dab pens on the market and the industry is booming.

Here is another article if you want to understand a little more about the differences between vape pens, wax pans & dab pens.

Whether you’re a vaping veteran or a beginner looking to start vaping—an excellent dab pen is a robust investment.


Danny Blanton
Danny Blanton
Danny Blanton, a seasoned writer with a decade of industry experience, offers expert reviews on vaping products and cannabis topics, ensuring our readers receive accurate, up-to-date, and valuable insights.
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