Is Dabbing Cannabinoids Safe for Consumers?

There are many different ways to take cannabidiol — but none is so new or rapidly evolving as something called dabbing.  

For those unaware, dabbing refers to smoking or vaping a cannabinoid-rich dab. What’s a dab, you might ask? It’s a type of cannabinoid-concentrate with a thick, sticky, sludgelike consistency. 

Perhaps you’re new to dabbing and are here to learn more. Or maybe your room is already full of ornate dab rigs and exotic cannabinoid concentrates. Either way, we have some good news:

Dabbing is completely safe. It may even be beneficial to one’s health, in fact — if your dabs are vaped. 

Dabbing 101

All you need for dabbing are three things: a small torch, a dab rig, and (obviously) a dab. Just take your torch, heat your dab rig’s nail, and apply a cannabinoid-rich dab while inhaling through the rig’s mouthpiece. If you’ve never dabbed before, this is simpler than it may sound. 

Quality is everything

Just as with cannabidiol oil, not all types of cannabidiol-rich dabs are created equal. 

Common types of dabs include BHO, budder, live resin, and distillate. BHO is probably the most common type of them all, but buyer beware — it’s the least preferable. That’s because it uses butane gas, a highly volatile solvent, to pull the cannabinoids out of hemp flower forcibly. This butane tends to linger around in the final product, sometimes in far higher quantities than those considered safe. 

The solution? Steer clear of BHO and butane and find a dab product that’s made with CO2 instead. CO2 can dissolve cannabinoids and terpenes without leaving any harmful residue behind. 

There’s an even better choice. According to this 2015 study, CO2 extractions don’t always ‘capture’ every terpene found in premium hemp. What’s more, only one type of dab does, the rosin-pressed variety. Rosin-pressed dabs are produced by pressure and heat, not chemical solvents, which means they contain a balanced spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes. 

How to vape dabs

In the past, dab rigs and dabs went together almost by default: you needed one to partake of the other. 

But in recent years, that’s all changed. With the advent of the handheld vaporizer has come the opportunity to dab without smoke or fire or flames. Today’s consumers can vape cannabidiol concentrates safely and discretely (and legally, of course) from virtually anywhere. 

Today’s version of vaping began with a shoutout from High Times Magazine. The year was 1989, and a mysterious contributor calling himself “Dr. Lunglife” was among the first to describe vaping’s superiority over smoking in great detail: 

“Why vaporize [cannabinoid-rich] oil?” asked Dr. Lunglife. “Chemical analysis has shown that a cigarette made of [the] raw [plant] contains at least as much tar as an equal-sized cigarette made of tobacco. […] ” 

Dr. Lunglife proceeded to describe the difference seen with vaporization, where “[cannabinoid-rich oil] is heated just enough to melt the active ingredients and transform them into smokeless vapor.” If there’s no combustion, he concluded, then there’s no cancer-causing gases or tars.  

Dr. Lunglife’s argument resonated, because before too long tabletop vapes simply took off in popularity. Portable, handheld vapes would be next, and to this day, they just keep getting better and better. 

As safe as vaping normally is, there are still some crucial things to keep in mind. We’d advise against buying cheap, disposable vape pens. For example, according to this source, they have a “hidden downside” in additives like PEG and vitamin E acetate. PEG can produce known carcinogens when it overheats, and vitamin E acetate is arguably even worse. Many experts suspect it was responsible for last year’s “vape lung disease.”

The best way to dab 

We don’t say this to turn you away from vaping entirely — after all, virtually every outbreak of VLD occurred in areas where black market vape pens are rampant. 

Instead, look for a vape product that’s produced responsibly. Cannabinoid-rich dabs should be lab tested and state-approved; dab rigs and vape pens should be durably made. If these two elements are there, dabbing is completely safe for consumers. 

Not to mention completely effective. Dabs kick in amazingly fast, which makes them the perfect cannabidiol product for those with anxiety and other challenges that need to be dealt with on the go. Dabs can also be used to take high doses of cannabidiol cheaply and effectively. Some people even cook with cannabinoid-infused dabs by putting them into favorite recipes! 

Hey, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, there’s no reason not to — they’ll still activate your body’s endocannabinoid system en route to providing some serious health benefits.