man dabbing cannabis concentrates

Dabbing THC Oil? Here’s Why You Should Think Twice

Dabbing THC oil is becoming more and more popular. After all, dabbing cannabis oil can give you a stronger effect than the raw plant. You also need less of it. Plus, there are fewer contaminants than you would find when smoking the raw marijuana plant.

But are there downsides of dabbing?

Well, as with almost any practice, there is certainly another side of the coin to consider…

What is dabbing marijuana?

“Dabbing” is a term which describes an increasingly popular method of taking marijuana. It involves vaporizing a small quantity of a cannabis concentrate to gain the same effects as smoking a larger amount of marijuana.

A cannabis concentrate is a cannabis extract which is made by passing a solvent (alcohol, CO2, propane and butane are popular options) through a closely-packed container full of cannabis plant material.

The goal is to create a concentrated substance which consists of only selected cannabinoids (a type of chemical compound of which there are 113 in cannabis). The most commonly selected cannabinoids are CBD and THC.

(We covered all this in more detail in part one of our series of articles on dabbing cannabis.)

Benefits of dabbing

So, why would you dab rather than smoke your cannabis?

Well, proponents of marijuana dabbing will usually put forward several arguments in its favour:

  • Speed and powerdabbing cannabis oil usually has a swift and powerful effect on the person taking it. This can be a benefit in some situations, such as for patients who experience sudden chronic pain or nausea.
  • Reduced quantity needed – because a dab is much more concentrated than the raw marijuana plant material, you don’t need to take as much of it to get the same effect.
  • Fewer contaminants – compared to the raw plant material, you will also find far fewer unwanted contaminants in a dab.
  • AromaDoes dabbing smell? Usually, dabs don’t smell. Perhaps a small amount – certainly not as much as smoking a joint or using a vaporizer. Larger dabs may have some scent.


Dabbing cannabis oil? Here’s what to do:

Strangely, some of the benefits of dabbing listed above can quickly become negatives in the wrong situation.

In fact, for all its potential advantages over other methods of cannabis, there are several reasons why you should think carefully whether this is the right method for you:

1) Don’t Make Your Own

The first thing to consider when you’re thinking about experimenting with dabbing is where you will source the cannabis concentrate you’re going to be using.

It’s always good to go to a licensed dispensary to get yours. Many people read an article on the subject or scour YouTube and find a how-to guide…

Only to confidently go off to make a batch of cannabis concentrate and blow themselves up.

Many of the compounds involved in the production process can be flammable or even explosive in confined spaces. Do not try this at home.

Poorly made concentrates also present another problem…

hands holding cannabis plant

2) Don’t choose a low-quality option

One of the many advantages of dabbing cannabis oil is that there are fewer contaminants than there are in the raw marijuana plant.

However, imperfectly-made concentrates don’t have this benefit.

You will want to make sure that any cannabis oil you try has been:

  • Tested for purity and strength in a laboratory
  • Made using high-quality solvents
  • Created by trained professionals

3) Don’t Use Cheap Equipment

While the process of making cannabis concentrates can be a dangerous one for someone without proper training, the actual process of dabbing is safe.

Well, it is when you use the right equipment…

It can be tempting to use the cheapest possible tools (dabbing does require a couple of pieces of equipment – a blow torch or heat source, nail, carb cap, bong and dab tool are usually called for). But, as with most things in life, it’s better and safer to source some proper gear.

These days, you can buy e-nails which make the heating process quicker, easier and more controllable.

4) Don’t Forget How Strong It Is

Another dabbing benefit which can actually be a negative in the wrong circumstances is the sheer strength of a dab.

Reasonably high-quality cannabis concentrates regularly clock in between 60% and 90% purity. Really high-quality concentrates can even reach 99% purity.

That’s some pretty strong stuff right there!

For some patients with chronic conditions, this can be a major plus.

On the other hand, if you don’t know your limits, it can be dangerous. You can’t die from a cannabis overdose. But you should always consider starting small and working your way up if necessary.

5) Don’t Ignore the Fact That Long-Term Effects Are Unknown

While increasing quantities of research are being done on cannabis extracts to see if they have any medical health benefits (such as the CBD oil medication which was approved by the US FDA in 2018 for two forms of medication-resistant epilepsy), there has not yet been any research done on the long-term effects of dabbing THC oil, or any cannabis concentrate.

One potential danger relates to the possible results of terpenes in concentrates which may be degraded by the heat of dabbing
Terpenes are chemical compounds found in plants which tend to have a strong odour. They are viewed by most of the cannabis concentrate and e-cigarette industries as a plus when they can be included in a product. That’s because they add to the aroma and flavour.

Unfortunately, terpenes can degrade into methacrolein and benzene when heated. The latter is a well-known carcinogen. The former, chemically close to a substance called acrolein which is a known pulmonary irritant.

Should I try a dab?

Most marijuana dabbers will loudly tout the benefits of their preferred method of taking cannabis over the other available options.

But, until more research is done, the answer is not quite so clear cut as it might appear.

There are certainly many benefits of dabbing. Yet there are also possible downsides which no one should ignore.

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