When it comes to consuming cannabis, there are seemingly endless methods. It can be eaten, smoked, applied to the skin, vaporized—the list goes on and on. Each technique has its benefits and downsides. Consumers of cannabis vary in their preferences. One method, though, that is quickly amassing popularity is dabbing.
What Is Dabbing?
At its core, dabbing is a form of vaporization. The goal is to heat up concentrated cannabis doses, or dabs, to roughly their boiling point. This type of heat allows the dab to turn into vapor that can be inhaled, instead of the smoke produced by combusting cannabis.
A dab is made by extracting specific cannabinoids, such as CBD, from either a marijuana or hemp plant. The resulting dab is then classified by how hard or soft it is. Some of the most popular types of CBD dabs include wax and crystalline.
The dab is then placed on a hot surface, which turns it into a vapor that can immediately be inhaled. The surfaces used for dabbing, as well as the various rigs that can be employed, vary from the more rudimentary form of using hot knives to the more technologically advanced enail.
What Is The History Of Dabbing?
Extracting cannabinoids is an old art—Centuries old, in fact. Medical professionals prescribed them as an oral and topical remedy for various ailments. The extractions were, however, never vaporized. It was only in the 1940s that this method of cannabis consumption was recorded to be used.
The U.S. Office of Strategic Services laced cigarettes with a cannabinoid acetate serum as an interrogation technique. They then continued this practice into the next two decades under the CIA program called ‘MK Ultra’. At this point, the only cannabinoid that was extracted for vaporization was THC because the government wanted to utilize the psychoactive aspects of the plant.
It was only in the 1970s that more was written about making high-potency cannabis extractions. The two that dive the deepest into the subject is Cannabis Alchemy, by D. Gold, and Marijuana Chemistry, by Michael Starks. Gold reports the end product of the extraction process as looking like ‘dark honey’. Both accounts used a variety of solvents to initiate the extraction process, including pure alcohol, ethanol, and isopropanol.
Around the same time, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a post-counterculture organization, developed their own methods for extracting cannabis concentrate. The group contracted a refinery to manufacture their newly developed butane honey oil. And while the production of the oil was suspended and the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was tipped off to the BEL’s activities by a tragic explosion at the refinery, demand for the concentrate would only grow over the next few decades.
At the time, the best way to vaporize these dabs was with the hot knife method. This method entailed heating up a knife with fire or on an electric stove. When hot enough, individuals could then take the knife off of the heat source, place a dab on the flat surface of the knife, and quickly inhale the vapors as the dab is vaporized by the heat.
Over the next few decades, though, better methods evolved, both for extracting cannabinoids and for vaporizing them. One of the reasons for this rapid advancement was the internet. Erowid, a website for all things psychoactive in the 90s, published a recipe for making BHO at home. This dangerous method was then perfected and made safer by the eventual development of closed loop systems. The CLS helped to contain butane so that the highly flammable solvent was not exposed during the extraction process.
Paired with this new method for extracting cannabinoids from cannabis came a new method for vaporizing them. The swing skillet method transformed the hot knife method by adding a control to the process. This control then allowed individuals to capture more of the vapor. The swing skillet was a flat metal surface that was attached to a downstem, which catches the vapor. A blowtorch would be used to heat up the flat metal surface, then a dab of the extract would be placed on the ‘skillet’, and thus the birth of the term ‘dab’.
For the majority of the twentieth century, dabbing and vaporization of dabs mainly centered around THC concentrate. However, after the isolation of CBD in the 1960s and research into the cannabinoid in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, dabbing with CBD started to become much more mainstream.
And as popularity grew, better methods for dabbing started to evolve. Following the swing skillet was the nail and dome, which made the process of dabbing a little easier. Individuals no longer needed to clean off the skillet after every dab to ensure the residue would not burn and create a bad taste. Next came the domeless nail, which removed the need for taking the dome on and off after every dab. Finally, the latest addition to the dabbing family is the enail. This electronic nail removed the need for the blowtorch by allowing individuals to charge their nail, preset a precise temperature, and have the electric coil keep it at this temperature.
Dabbing Vs. Smoking
Historically, smoking has been the most popular method for consuming cannabis. Dabbing is changing this. Individuals are seeing that dabbing has several benefits to smoking the cannabis flower. The first benefit is that when the flower is dried and smoked it does not produce as much consumable substance as a dab. The second benefit is that dried cannabis flower is not nearly as potent. In other words, a little dab goes much further than twice as much smokeable cannabis. The third benefit is that with dabbing individuals can choose which part of cannabis they want to consume. If they only want CBD and no THC, that is possible. With smoking the flower, this is not an option. The fourth and final benefit is that dabbing removes smoke from the equation, which can be hard on the mouth, throat, and lungs.
Dabbing 99% Pure CBD Isolate Slabs
CBD isolate is often preferred by those dabbing CBD because the best versions of this CBD extraction are organic and made from non-GMO cannabis plants. The second benefit to 99% pure CBD isolate slabs is that individuals know exactly what they are getting—something very pure. They want CBD and that is essentially all they are getting. The third benefit is that these isolate slabs are versatile. Individuals can dab them or because they are decarboxylated, they can also be added to food and eaten.
Dabbing has a long history and, due to recent developments, is growing more and more popular. The options for dabbing are many, allowing individuals with all different preferences to find exactly what they are looking for.