The King's Guide: Dabbing Explained

Temperatures Explained

High vs. Low Temperature:

While using a nail that’s not hot enough will waste concentrates by causing them to puddle and pool on its surface, a nail that’s too hot will cause the concentrates to burn too quickly, resulting in wastage and less flavorsome hits. Although some smoke may pass through the pipe after a concentrate combusts, the dab is essentially wasted. As well as destroying its flavor, overheating a concentrate will degenerate THCA into CBN. Not to mention inhaling hot air won’t feel good on the throat or lungs. 

THCA, or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a natural part of the cannabis plant that, upon the application of heat, changes into THC, the component responsible for getting you medicated. This process occurs when the concentrate is dabbed. It’s important to know, however, that if the nail is too hot when dabbing, the concentrate’s THCA can degrade into cannabinol (CBN) and wind up as reclaim. Although CBN has some psychoactive properties, it’s only 10% the strength of THC. Researchers believe CBN causes grogginess as well as dizziness and disorientation in users.

The Benefits of Lower Temps:

Low temperature dabbing optimally occur between 500 and 650°F, and you can find the best E-Nail or banger temp for you with a bit of trial and error. Dabbing at too low of a temperature than that can result in the nail not being hot enough to heat the concentrate, causing it to go to waste by pooling up on the nail, bubbling and dissipating. Dabbing at low-temperatures is beneficial for a variety of reasons. Aside from enhancing the flavor of the concentrate by not burning away the terpenes, low-temperature dabbing preserves every part of the oil — including the THC, meaning each hit will be powerful and savory. Use a carb cap when experimenting with low-temperature dabs to produce twice as much smoke and get the most out of every hit. The medium temperature for dabbing is around 700°F.

Don't let it get too hot!

Unfortunately, the most common mistake made by dabbers is to overheat the nail by waiting for it to glow red before hitting it. According to High Times, a blood-red glow indicates a dab temperature of 1075°F, while a faint-red glow indicates 930°F. High-temperature dabbing occurs at any temperature higher than 800°F and is just as wasteful as dabbing at too low a temperature. Aside from ruining the taste of the concentrate, which starts happening when nails are heated above 720°F, excessive heat will waste concentrates by causing it to splatter all over the place. Taking a hit off a red-hot nail can also damage the throat and lungs.

5 Tips For Enjoying Low-Temp, Terpene-Rich Dabs

Concentrate users are constantly trying to improve their dab setup to find the ideal temperature that’ll bring the most flavor out of their product. While some users prefer the big clouds they get with high-temperature dabs, other users prefer to revel in the aromatic mix of terpenes that feature fruity, earthy, spicy, and other herbal scents.

For terp-hunters looking to savor every nuance and undertone from their extract, these tips and tricks can make finding and maintaining the right temperature easier and more enjoyable.

1. E-Nail: 

When it comes to dabbing technology, there are two main setups: dab rig and torches or an electric heating nail or E-Nail. E-nails use electric coils to heat the surface (titanium, ceramic, quartz), typically between 0-900 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid the fluctuating temperatures when using a torch.

Keep in mind, there may be a slight difference between the digital e-nail temperature reading of the coil and the actual e-nail surface. Some e-nail rigs will account for the loss of heat, while others require experimentation to get the right temperatures, usually between 500 and 570 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Terp Pearls:

Dab pearls, also known as terp pearls, are another invaluable low-temp dabbing tool. These diminutive balls are made out of heat-resistant materials and distribute the heated extract more evenly for maximum vaporization. Users can place their terp pearls in the banger before or after heating and they’ll spin around and agitate oils, perfect for ensuring efficient vaporization at low temperatures.

3. Inserts/Oil Bombs:

Quartz inserts are an effective way to preload extracts into bangers, nails, or buckets before a low-temperature dab. Not only do inserts improve heat retention, but they also improve the lifespan of the nail to avoid the dreaded chazzing. Quartz inserts are small, bucket-like dishes that can be placed into the chamber after heating to slow down the vaporization process. The heat from the nail transfers slowly to the insert giving concentrate users an extremely flavorful first draw.

4. Cold Starting:

Cold start dabs or “reverse dabbing” may not be the go-to choice for most dabbers, but it’s a successful way to slowly heat an extract without overdoing it. Basically, an extract dab is pre-loaded onto a room-temperature chamber and topped off with a carb cap. Then, users direct the tip of the torch flame to the nail. Heating can take up to 10 seconds or until the oil begins to vaporize and bubble. Cold start dabs are a quick and easy way to take a low-temperature dab for cannabis users in a rush.

5. Knowing Your Nail:

For users without a fancy e-nail, torching requires trial-and-error to determine the best way to take low-temp dabs. Important factors include how long a nail is heated and how long a user waits for it to cool down. During this window, there can be a lot of room for error. Heat guns can be used to get a more accurate reading, but this also requires some finessing.

Many low-temp dabbers recommend heating the nail for at most 30 seconds and letting it cool for about 20 seconds before inhaling the vapor. Dab users can start with these recommended times and adjust as needed.

Getting the perfect low-temperature dab isn’t easy on the first try, but with practice, it can become second nature. Use these low temp tips to get the most out of your extract, avoid wasting your product, and protect your dab rig.

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- GK Team