With the 2015 Smith ruling and the Allard decision that lead to the ACMPR, qualified Canadians can now legally grow their own bud and alter it to their purposes, include dabbing. And it’s increasing in popularity in legal states and other countries too. It’s not as simple as packing a bowl or rolling a joint, though — what’s the deal with doing it right?

Let’s start this off safely: if you’re dabbing and are not a chemist or someone with enough free time to properly study the subject, please do not make your own budder. Not only are organic solvents excluded for Canadian medical patients, but people blow up houses trying to make their own BHO. Get your extract from someone who knows how, or — because there should always be an ‘or’ — use a solventless method to obtain your concentrate. Perhaps bubble bags or even a hair-straightener.

Dabbing Dos and Don’ts

Okay, so you’ve got your dab rig, your torch, your extract, and dabber … and you’re in a place where both your use and dabbing are legal. (C’mon, we have to say it.) Next step?

Learn Your Rig

If you’re not familiar with dab rigs or even bongs — if you usually smoke or vape — take some time to get to know your rig without any extract at all. When you’re heating your nail you don’t want to be fumbling around for a good position. You don’t want to burn your hand on your very hot nail before you place your dabber. And you don’t want to waste your dab if you can’t see what you’re doing while inhaling. So get comfortable with it before you start; after all, it’s not gonna be easier to handle once you’ve done your first hit.

Read Your Torch’s Manual

A butane torch is an intense tool for marijuana use. Read the manual that comes with it, and start it once or twice to use on nothing before you use it for dabbing. It’s not a Zippo and it’s not a BIC. It’s easy to burn more than skin with these things, and cannabis acceptance isn’t helped by people being treated in the ER for something manuals warn about. Go read it now, I’ll wait.…

You are now familiar with both your torch and your rig, right?

Breathing Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Just knowing your torch and knowing your rig aren’t enough. Dabs aren’t big bong hits; flowers and concentrates impact differently, just like smokables and edibles differ. Dose is important. It’s really easy to take too big a hit, and dab highs last. Smaller to start is better, and especially don’t dab more extract than you’d smoke. That doesn’t improve anyone’s experience!

Betty Doesn’t Dab A Bitter Budder

There’s another benefit of buying, not making, solvent extracts or otherwise creating your own non-solvent ones: terpenes. Tasty, tasty terpenes. If you extract with solvents but don’t know (or worse don’t care) about washing, you end up inhaling more disgusting things than just the solvents, there are other chemical reactions going on.

Also, your optimal temperature is going to vary based on your concentrate and your nail, but below-smoking temperatures when vapourizing create better flavours. Extracts, unlike flowers, have already been decarboxylated so they don’t need to be cooked again. Vapour rather than smoke is the goal: burning your extract with too-hot tools isn’t going to make you higher, it’s going to make the hit taste bad. Not too cool though or no vapour is created while your extract melts and you waste your hit.

Breathe. Seriously, Breathe.

Pea-sized (and larger) dabs look awesome, and maybe you’ll feel hardcore and extravagant taking it, but when you can’t inhale it all, it all goes to waste. Don’t let your eyeballs be bigger than your lungs.

It’s better for both your body and your wallet to take a couple of smaller hits, not one huge one. Everything we inhale takes a little time to pass into the blood from our lung cavities — dabbing concentrates doesn’t bypass physiology. Cannabinoids need a few seconds to be absorbed and the vapour you’ve inhaled is going to make you want to cough in about that much time, too. Breathe it out before you cough it out and hurt yourself.

Made it!

You’ve set up your rig, gathered just enough extract on your dabber, and torched your nail to the right temperature. You know the rest: touch the extract to your nail, inhale the vapour, and hold it until you need to breathe again. Exhale.

Enjoy your dab.