How To Smoke Dabs: Step By Step Guide

smoking dabs step by step

Smokers are finally recognizing the amazing potential and experiences that come with smoking cannabis concentrates. However, there still remain misconceptions and confusion as to what dabs are and how to smoke them properly.

For the uninitiated, dabs are various forms of THC concentrates that allow users to get the most out of their product. With potency levels of up to 90% in certain cases, it’s no wonder smokers who are after stronger hits are converting to the dab life. If you’re curious as to how you can enjoy a dab yourself, setting up and preparing your own dab is relatively simple, whether or not you have a dab rig.

Smoking Dabs

Smoking Dabs with a Dab Rig

1. Prepare your Rig and Dab

Before anything, make sure you’re seated in a safe environment before partaking in any festivities. Double check as well that you’re using clean and unused water. 

Once your set-up is complete, use your dabber (metal or glass stick) to collect a small amount of your chosen concentrate. Set the dabber with concentrate on it aside for the time being. 

2. Heat the Nail

Using a butane torch, carefully heat your nail (the part you put the dabs on) until it is glowing red. This might take a few minutes as each nail heats up differently according to material, size, and sitting room temperature.

If you’re using an electric rig, you’re in luck. You can automatically set your desired temperature and wait just a few seconds for the nail to heat up.

A quick note about heat and glass. Always use a quartz or titanium nail. Glass, when heated to high temperatures, can explode. Trust us, from experience, it’s not fun. You can easily test your nail by heating it a bit, and then putting it under cold water. If it’s glass, it will crack. Quartz is a crystal and can handle the high heat and temperature fluctuations. 

3. Cool Down Your Nail

Once the nail is a bright red, wait around 45 to 90 seconds for the nail to cool down.. Make sure to keep an eye on it, though. If it’s too hot, the dabbing won’t be very pleasant, but a cold nail won’t do the trick either! A good test is if you can hold your hand above the nail for 5 seconds without it burning, it is ready to go.

4. Vaporize your Dab

With your dabber, carefully add your concentrate of choice directly onto the nail to allow it to vaporize. Dabbing is often preferred by smokers since you’re only inhaling vapor, which is seen as a healthier alternative to inhaling smoke.

5. Inhale the Vapor

Just like how you would use a bong, place your mouth overyour mouthpiece and take a deep inhale. Wait a few moments between each inhale and rotate the dabber to get the most out of the concentrate on the nail.

Some even opt to use a carb cap over the dome to have better control over the flow of vapor. A carb cap is extremely effective at helping you reap the most benefits from your concentrate of choice.

6. Clean Your Nail

A dirty rig is no fun. If you let the leftover product and particles build up, you can expect unsavory flavors the next time you go to take a hit. You’re also putting yourself (and your friends) at risk ofcontracting respiratory infections.

It’d be best to clean out your nail after every few hits. Simply burn off any leftovers and scrape up the remaining residue. We also recommend submerging your nail in alcohol and wiping it down to be extra safe.

Smoking Dabs without A Dab Rig

Generally, smoking dabs requires the use of a rig set-up. But with resourcefulness and creativity, dabbers all over the world have figured how to smoke dabs without a rig.

1. T-Waxing Method

This method is a relatively simple solution if you have weed and rolling paper lying around. All you have to do is spread some dab (or concentrates) on the insides of your rolling paper and roll it up with, you guessed it, some of yourfavorite herbs

Make sure that you’re using a thicker and more solid concentrate, such as wax. Using a distillate, for instance, may be difficult to get a good hit.

2. Glass Straw

If you’re an environmental advocate who uses reusable straws, you’ll be happy to hear that you can use glass straws to smoke your dab! And not only that, you canmake dabbing a more eco-friendly experience by using biodegradable filters that are good for the environment and  make your hits cleaner and smoother. This way, you're contributing to  making cannabis use more sustainable

To use a glass straw, simply torch the tip of the straw while rotating it to distribute the heat. Make sure not to overheat the concentrate so you don't end up inhaling harsh smoke from burnt cannabinoids. Then, carefully touch the heated glass straw into the concentrate container and start inhaling the vapor through your Moose Labs mouthpiece. 

It’s worth noting that some glass straws may break when used to dab over long periods of time. After all, the straw was not built for the purposes of heating up and smoking. However, this is still a quick and easy solution if you don’t have a rig around at the moment.

3. Hot Knifing

This method of dabbing can be traced back to the 1970s when concentrates first started gaining traction. If you don’t own a dab rig, this is one way to still enjoy your concentrate. All you need is a standard butter knife, kitchen stove, dabber, and a plastic straw. 

Simply hold your knife over the stove and wait for it to turn hot. This should take about a minute or less. Once it is hot enough, carefully place a drop of the extract on the knife. As it vaporizes, take your straw and inhale the vapors emanating from the knife. If you don’t have a straw on hand, you can inhale straight from the blade.

Although some cannabis users prefer this method for its ease of use, it's not the safest way to dab. Remember, you'll be heating up a knife and placing it close to your face to take a hit, so there's the danger of burning your hands and your lips. Plus, there's less control of the temperature, which means a higher risk of the knife's material melting and producing potentially toxic fumes that you can end up inhaling. 

All we are saying here is: dab safely!

Types of Cannabis Concentrates To Smoke Dabs With

types of cannabis concentrates

If you’re a beginner interested in checking out dabs, then you might feel slightly overwhelmed by the wide array of choices. Each concentrate has its own benefits and challenges, but overall, you’ll soon learn that it is actually quite easy to distinguish and navigate thedifferent types of concentrates.


True to its name, budder is a concentrate that resembles the creamy texture of butter. This makes it a relatively easy product to manipulate for beginners. 

This consistency is achieved in the length of whipping done to the chosen extract. A short and sweet whip is enough to recreate the desired softness of budder, whereas waxes are normally whipped for much longer to achieve their dry texture.

Take note that the nature and stability of budder makes it easier to break down, which means it can’t stay in storage for too long. 


Shatter is one of the more widely popular concentrates since it can give you the most bang for your buck. With THC levels going up to 70%, shatter is extremely potent and at an affordable price. 

This glass-like substance takes on an almost golden hue, which makes it look almost like hardened honey. Generally, you can tell if the product isn’t made very well if it looks darker and almost opaque. 

With the crazy THC levels present in shatter, you’ll definitely want to take a shot at enjoying theotherworldly sensations of smoking shatter.


You may have heard of distillate due to its extremely high potencies. When compared to other concentrates, distillate beats the rest due to its 98% potency levels. 

It’s worth noting that distillate comes in liquid form, which requires some practice to place onto your rig. Distillates are also generally pricier since it is quite new to the market, but the extreme potency of the product justifies its steep cost.


Also known as crumble wax; this concentrate type is created through heat, pressure, and any available solvent. It’s an extremely dry extract, which is why it crumbles quite easily. 

However, due to the crumbly nature of the product, it can be a challenge even for the more experienced smoker to master. But once mastered, its flavors and potency well make up for the hassle that comes with using crumble.


Rosin is a handmade concentrate that doesn’t have any refining or distilling agents. Heat and pressure are combined to extract the concentrate from hash or flower. This creates a more exciting experience as the flavors are more evident and cleaner. A rule of thumb is that the lighter your rosin is, the more likely it is to be good quality.

Dab Tools You’ll Need

Standard Dab Rig or an Electronic Rig

Your rig is the centerpiece of your entire setup. It functions like a smaller bong, but with less water at its base. If you’re looking to find the cheapest option available, you can opt for a silicone option, but glass rigs are generally the norm. 

Rigs are also used exclusively for concentrates, which means you can’t use it for a bong and vice versa. Taking care of your rig is as important as smoking from your rig. They can be expensive, but a well-maintained rig can last you years with the proper care and attention.


This tool also comes in a variety of materials, such as glass and metal. Dabbers vary differently in shape according to the kind of concentrate you’re working with. For instance, a dabber with a scoop will be your best choice for picking up concentrates that have a waxy consistency. 

Overall, the best dabber is the one that allows you to maneuver your concentrate onto the nail with ease and effortless precision.


The nail is where you will eventually place your concentrate when smoking a dab. Nails, which are also known as bangers, are often crafted from various distinct materials, such as glass, ceramic, and quartz. 

E-nails have also risen in popularity despite the heavier price tag. With an e-nail, you no longer have to purchase a butane torch to heat up your concentrate.


Your rig setup would be considered useless without a torch to heat up the nail. Using your butane or propane torch, the heat is what triggers the THC to vaporize into gas form. Torches also come in different sizes, and you can easily find a handheld torch for simpler storage and handling.


This is where you’ll place your mouth to inhale the vapor produced by the heating of the concentrate.A good mouthpiece should include a filter that protects your body from any unwanted particles and bacteria entering your body.

Carb Cap

While these are by no means required, it can help enhance your smoking experience. A carb cap is secured over the nail opening so that no vapor is lost when inhaling your dab. 

Carb caps are a worthwhile investment as they help you feel a euphoric high with relatively less product. They also ensure that less residue is left on your dab nail, which reduces the need for deep cleaning sessions.

Isopropyl Alcohol and Cotton

Don’t make the rookie mistake of leaving your rig dirty. Simply soak your nail for a few minutes and scrape off any residue before storing away your rig. Have this trusty duo on hand to make sure you leave your rig and nail squeaky clean before the next session. 

Are Dabs Safe & Healthy? 

Dabbing cannabis concentrates offers a number of advantages compared with other methods of weed consumption. For one, it is smokeless, so you're not inhaling cannabis smoke which contains irritants that pose respiratory risks. Plus, it doesn’t produce odor like smoking weed does. 

Let's take a look at some of the effects you can expect from dabbing: 

Side Effects of Smoking Dabs


One of the most common questions that come with smoking dabs are its side effects on the body. Dabs provide the same feelings that come with smoking marijuana, but the effects come at a stronger and quicker rate. 

Since dabs are far more concentrated than weed, you can expect to feel your stress and anxieties melt away, leaving you feeling calm and relaxed.

Pain Relief

If you experience any form of physical or chronic pain, then you’ll be delighted to know that dabs can alleviate your pain with its euphoric sensations. Since dabs also have higher concentrate levels, you can expect to feel the lingering soothing effects for much longer.

Healthier For You

Lucky for you, dabs are generally considered a cleaner method of smoking since the production of cannabis concentrate doesn’t include the addition of any harmful by-products. For instance, standard weed may include carcinogens that come about from the burning of the plant. 

Protects Your Lungs

Due to the smokeless nature of dabbing, you’ll actually be protecting your lungs from harmful substances more than you would if you were just smoking. When the concentrate is burned on a nail, you’re not inhaling smoke but rather the vapor that emanates from the rig. In fact, many dab purists resent the term “smoking dabs” as they are not smoking but rather vaping. They tend to call the act of vaporizing cannabis concentrates “dabbing”. As in, “Let’s go take some dabs.” or “We are dabbing, come on over!”

This smokeless method means you’re no longer putting yourself through the risks that come with the traditional form of smoking weed. If you only have weed available at the moment, though, you can still protect your lungs using joint filters.

Word of Caution

However, like any substance, it’s still possible to experience an overdose from dabbing. While it may not be life-threatening, you may experience intense symptoms such as anxiety and rapid heart rate. Hence, it’s important to always start with just a little concentrate before eventually increasing your dosage. If you have a friend with experience, you may also feel more comfortable bringing them along for the ride.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it’s clear that dabbing has succeeded in capturing the hearts of smokers and cannabis enthusiasts alike. Due to its higher concentrate levels and fast-acting effects, smoking a dab can be an extremely pleasurable and a mood-lifting experience.

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