Users enjoy dabbing because it offers a consistent experience and is less harsh than smoking a joint for example. Dabs are concentrated doses of marijuana made by extracting cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Typically, manufacturers will use carbon dioxide or a solvent such as butane to extract the cannabinoids. The result is a sticky oil known as shatter, wax, budder, concentrate, or Butane Hash Oil (BHO).
Perhaps the oldest method of creating dabs is cold water extraction using bubble bags. It involves the use of ice water and produces a dark brown crumbly substance. It is made by extracting trichomes; these are structures that contain most of weed’s active ingredients. You will recognize trichomes because they look similar to tiny hairs and are packed on marijuana buds. You can make your own ‘ bubble hash ’ by freezing flower buds laden with trichomes. They are soaked in ice water, manually agitated and filtered through plastic filtration bags known as ‘bubble bags’. When you freeze the flowers, you separate the trichomes which are loaded with THC. You continue filtering the material using bags with increasingly smaller holes to retain the trichomes and remove the ice water. Eventually, excess plant material is also removed so you are left with a pure form of weed.
Finally, you air dry the product to get rid of any excess water. Bubble hash is rare and expensive so most firms use butane extraction to make dabs. BHO involves extracting a marijuana plant’s terpenes and cannabinoids. Butane is a chemical solvent which washes over the material and dissolves the cannabis plant’s compounds. The final step involves removing the remaining solvent and leaving behind nothing but pure cannabis extract. Open Loop Extraction is the preferred DIY method which involves spraying the solvent through one end of a tube stuffed with marijuana. The solvent passes through a set of attached filters at the other end of the tube. It is a dangerous method because butane solvents are extremely flammable and most DIY dab creators fail to follow proper safety protocols. Also, there is no system of removing remaining contaminants from the BHO. As well as creating low-grade oil, the risk of an accident is high. Closed Loop Extraction is used by reputable firms because it is safe, reliable, and produces cleaner oil. It involves using two vessels; one on either side of the cannabis. The solvent is sealed and pressurized, and travels from Vessel #1 through the weed and into Vessel #2. The butane gets evaporated from the marijuana solution which is finally vacuum-purged to remove the last solvent remnants. Dabbing is a relatively new concept which means dab rigs have only been available for a few years. Marijuana’s history on the other hand, goes back tens of thousands of years. There is a suggestion that extracts have been used in Asian countries such as Nepal and India for over 2,000 years. In the modern era, there is evidence that concentrates have been used since at least the 1960s if not earlier. In the 1990s, a company called BudderKing created a small handheld butane device that heated up a small attached surface. Users placed the budder on the surface and inhaled. It was probably the first ‘modern’ dab rig so despite its crudeness, at least it led to an incredible new market for marijuana concentrate users. Before the advent of the advanced rig, there were various methods of consuming concentrates.
The hot knife technique got the job done but with a lot of pitfalls. The Swing Skillet was something of an upgrade but dabbers only got comfortable with the advent of the Nail and Dome. Today, we have domeless rigs and e-nails that heat up the nail automatically. If you are an experienced marijuana concentrate user, you’ll know the importance of butane in the smoking process. You need it to extract the potency of an herb before it becomes a concentrate, and to fully extract the potency of the concentrate while you are using it. Although you can use a typical pipe, it is unable to withstand the intense heat of a butane torch while normal lighters can’t vaporize wax. Basically, the only thing you’ll achieve is to clog up your bowl and dirty your pipe while wasting a ton of extract. Methods such as the Hot Knife were used to increase efficiency but they were dangerous and hard to master. Attempts at DIY rigs played a major role in creating today’s expertly crafted pieces. The conductive materials used to vaporize wax became the nail while the tube put over the heated concentrate to control vapor became the dome and carb cap.
The dab nail is central to the operation of any rig and there are several different options on the market which we review below. This is strong by the standards of glass and is also one of the least expensive nail options. However, it is still glass and its very nature makes it too fragile for nails. Glass nails are by far the easiest to break which means you have to replace them regularly. Also, glass doesn’t retain heat as well as the other options on the list.