Dabbing is a new way of ingesting cannabis that involves highly concentrated preparations, known as dabs or butane hash oil (BHO).
These hard, wax-like concentrates are made by extracting THC — marijuana’s active ingredient — from cannabis through a process that uses butane gas as the solvent. Dabs can also be made with extraction methods that involve CO2 or ice-water instead.
Dabs are popular because they often contain up to 70-90% THC, which is much more than the typical cannabis flower. Dabs are sometimes called butane honey oil, budder, shatter or wax.
How Does It Work?
Dabs are usually smoked using a water pipe (bong) or vaporizer pen.
When using a water pipe, a blowtorch is used to preheat the heating surface, which is referred to as a “nail”. The nail is usually made of titanium or glass. After the nail is heated, the concentrate is “dabbed” on the surface, resulting in a vapor that can be inhaled.
What Are The Effects?
Dabbing is popularly known as the most efficient way to get high. Due to the high concentration of THC, just a small amount of BHO is needed to achieve the desired effects. Because of this, some have referred to dabs as the “crack” of marijuana.
Some say dabbing provides a different, more powerful high. Most dabbers are experienced marijuana users who have developed a tolerance to the effects of THC. Likewise, dabbing is believed to pose risks to novice users and is not recommended for those who smoke cannabis infrequently.
Risks and Precautions
The most well known risks of dabbing involve the process of making BHO. A number of accidents have occurred when people have tried making BHO at home. Because butane is highly flammable, improper production practices can lead to explosions and fires.
On the other hand, the health effects of dabbing are not well documented. Since dabbing is so new, no study has investigated the health impact of dabbing. Still, a 2014 paper published by University of Albany researchers highlights a number of possible risks of dabbing, including a higher possibility of developing marijuana tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.
Dabs are also at risk of being contaminated due to the largely unregulated industry of producing dabs. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, ingesting trace amounts of butane is not harmful to one’s health.