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What Are Cannabis Dabs: Your Ultimate Guide

by Hemper Co 5 min read

What Are Cannabis Dabs: Your Ultimate Guide

What are Cannabis Dabs & How Do You Smoke Them?

Cannabis dabs are a concentrated form of marijuana that is extremely potent and robust, two attributes that have contributed to the growing popularity of “dabbing” among both novices and regular smokers alike. 

When it comes to dabs, no two are created equal, with a wide range of cannabis dabs available, each with varying levels of potency. For example, depending on which dab you choose, they could contain between 40-80% THC; much more than standard flower marijuana has. This concentration of THC results in a high that is about four times as strong or intense. As such, those new to dabs are encouraged to start slow and proceed with caution until they understand how their body will respond.

Cannabis dabs are often a preferred favorite among experienced smokers looking for a more intense and hard-hitting high. Whether it’s because they have built a higher level of tolerance or because they are looking for a welcome change from their regular flower bud, those who smoke dabs generally speak fondly of the experience.

Benefits of Cannabis Dabs

Because of the higher levels of THC associated with dabbing, there is a certain stigma around using them from those who don’t necessarily know what they are or why people enjoy them. The fact is, dabs may even end up being a healthier way to consume cannabis than smoking bud and flower (although the official jury is still out on this).

Although additional tools and setup are necessary to smoke dabs, the experience in flavor, aroma, and potency is something special that simply cannot be replicated by any other method of consuming the world’s favorite herb.

Benefits of Cannabis Dabs Include:

  • Dabs require the use of less cannabis and result in a smooth, fast and intense high
  • Saves experienced smokers a lot of money on marijuana as dab concentrates last longer, even when they’re not being used
  • It is a good option for those needing higher potency and quick onset of effects for the treatment of medical conditions or to alleviate symptoms such as nausea, chronic pain, and more.
  • Often the favored method of cannabis use to treat psychological issues and help with mental health symptoms such as depression, epilepsy, PTSD, Alzheimer’s Disease, ADHD, and can also act as a mood stabilizer. 

Required Tools and How To Smoke a Dab

Cannabis dabs are inhaled in a unique and different way than you may be accustomed to when smoking flower cannabis. They also require specific tools in order to do so correctly.

After you’ve chosen your preferred concentrate, you’ll next need to familiarize yourself with the tools necessary to get the job done, as well as the process of preparing your dab for use. Learn more about How To Take the Perfect Dab

First Up, the Tools


A water pipe, also known as a dab rig, is a glass bong or pipe that is filled halfway with water. This is essentially your smoking device. Water pipes are often preferred for their ability to filter out impurities and create a smoother, cooler pull that is easier on the lungs. View Our Collection

  1. A NAIL

Your water pipe will have a gauge that is specifically sized to fit that particular device. As such, you’ll need a properly sized and fitted nail that fits the pipe’s gauge. Check Some Out 

  1. A DOME

A dome is a piece of glass that goes over the nail and holds in the vapor smoke before you inhale it. 

  1. A TORCH

For dabs, proper heat is necessary. You need high temperatures concentrated to a small area in order to correctly heat up the nail without having to sit there waiting forever for it to reach an ideal temperature. A regular lighter simply won’t cut it here. Butane torches are often a preferred source of heat - find one.


A dabber is simply a metal, ceramic, or glass tool that is used for applying the actual dab of concentrate. 

How to Smoke your Dab

Check out this guide on What Is Dabbing

The amount of THC in each individual extract differs, so it is important to know the percentage of THC your concentrate has as well as how much you can tolerate or handle. Beginners and novices alike should be particularly cautious until they assess their tolerance. Being high is fun, being “too high” is usually not.

It is important to remember that dabs have a very different effect when smoked than does the flower or bud you may be used to.


Step 1:Place a very small amount of cannabis extract, about the size of a cookie crumb, at the end of your dabber. 

Step 2:Turn your torch on and hold it directly over the nail until it gets extremely hot. You will know if the nail is hot enough when it turns a reddish color. 

Step 3:Once it’s hot, turn your torch off and place the dome over the nail for about 10 to 20 seconds 

Step 4:With your dabber, place the small ball of extract directly on top of the nail from the inside of the dome and begin to slowly inhale. Rotate your dabber while inhaling to prevent yourself from wasting any of the concentrate. 

Step 5:Exhale slowly, and enjoy the ride! 

Types of Dabs

Depending on how marijuana is extracted, there are five main types of cannabis dabs. Each of these extracts has its own color, texture,and concentration. 

Wondering if it'll break the bank? Learn more on How to Dab On a Budget


Oil dabs are also known as Butane Hash Oil or Honey Oil. It has a yellowish honey color to it and depending on how long it’s sitting, oils can also form crystals which may give it a chunkier appearance. Oils are usually found in vape pens and resemble the flowy texture of honey. If you happen to be a fan of fruit flavors, oil dabs are the extract that you want. 


Shatter is the most popular form of cannabis extract. Shatter has a consistency that is much like glass; shatter is solid, shiny, and quite frankly, pretty to look at. The name shatter comes from the fact that it is brittle and can break easily, like glass. 


Budder, as the name suggests, has a consistency of soft butter if butter could stretch like a melted taffy. Budder is also a form of Butane Hash Oil, and is known for having a very potent but flavorful smoke. 


Wax dabs have the consistency of sticky wax, which is why you commonly find it in a glass jar. Wax extract is generally used by more advanced smokers as wax dabs can be a bit messy and extremely complicated to use without the proper equipment. 


Live resin is a type of cannabis extract that is extracted using living plants. This type of extraction is popular as it has the aroma of live plants and results in a zesty, flowerlike taste and smell. Live resin is usually appreciated most by those who enjoy the flavor of cannabis over an intense high, just like craft beer drinkers enjoy the flavor of beer over the buzz. 

Closing Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed this introductory guide to the world of dabs and dabbing.  Dabs offer a potent and powerful way to enjoy your herb, and are especially useful for those needing cannabis for medical purposes such as pain relief. Remember to start slow to assess tolerance and always enjoy responsibly. If Dabbing isn't your forte, try finding a Bong For Under $100.