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Lowdown on the Highs: A History of Dabbing

By V Syndicate December 20, 2019 0 comments

Elevating the Experience

Every cannaisseur knows there are a variety of ways to consume cannabis. Some of these methods include the classics, such as inhalation and edibles, to more recently popular alternatives, like topicals, and concentrates. As the name implies, concentrates are concentrated forms of the active compounds (i.e. all the active ingredients, like THC, CBD, terpenes and other cannabinoids) found in the plant’s buds. There are a few methods of processing flower to make concentrates, but the end result is fairly similar: a highly potent form of resinous cannabis that is free of contaminants, usually very sticky, and ready to be consumed either by itself, added to flower, or made into edibles. 

A 900 A.D. Smoke Sesh 

Concentrates have been around since approximately 900 AD, where people in central and southeast Asia would develop hashish concentrates to consume medicinally. Unfortunately, because of the variability of the product’s potency, other medicinal breakthroughs (like the invention of aspirin) became more popular in European countries and other parts of the world. During the World War II era, even the United States’ government became involved in cannabis concentrates, but unlike its ancestors’ reputation of social and medicinal uses, the C.I.A. would use concentrates mixed with tobacco (and occasionally LSD) to interrogate enemies for information. Today, concentrates are again becoming more widely acceptable, and even have their own annual celebration day, July 10th (the numerical date, 7/10 represents the number 710, which can be interpreted as “oil” if read upside down).

Wax? Oil? Concentrates?

Despite concentrates’ odd but intriguing historical rollercoaster, modern concentrates are increasingly becoming more and more popular and refined due to their now consistent potency, ease of discretion, and economical perks. One gram of concentrate will last much longer, act faster, and will be stronger than a gram of flower. One of the most common ways to use them today is by dabbing. Not to be confused with the viral dance move, dabbing with concentrates refers to placing a “dab” of concentrate on a rig, and inhaling it. Over the years, dabbing has matured and developed from the somewhat sketchy method of heating up concentrate and inhaling it off of a knife (properly dubbed a “hot knife” in the Seventies) to unique, artsy, custom set-ups and tools for inhalation, involving equipment such as a dab rig and nail, a torch lighter, and small metal tools that help keep all the sticky concentrate in one place. Additionally, other products can be beneficial as well, such as silicone mats or trays that create a non-stick surface.

Let’s Begin

A traditional dab rig is similar to a bong in its setup. (There’s also the option of a “nectar collector” but we’ll keep it simple for now.) First, water is placed in the bottom of the piece to cool the product vapor that will rise through the system. Next, instead of a bowl that a bong would use for flower, a small container called a nail is placed onto the rig for concentrates to be placed in. The rig’s nail can be made of a variety of materials, the most common being titanium, quartz, glass or ceramic. Any of the types listed should work well, and the choice among consumers is typically from preference. Finally, the nail is heated with a butane torch (when blazing with a dab rig, you’ll want blazing, red-hot temperatures to do so!), allowed to cool for thirty seconds to a minute, and then the concentrate is placed into the nail to decarboxylate and vaporize. The last and easiest step in the dabbing process is then to inhale your product’s vapor.

The Tools for the Job

Having the proper tools can make all the difference, and save you time and money in the long run. Due to the dab nail’s small, compact size, having equally tiny, durable, stainless steel tools to help maneuver your product can prove to be helpful and cost-efficient. If discretion is also a large factor in your pathway to begin dabbing, the Dabit Card is a great way to collect a variety of rust-free tools in one compact container for dabbing on the go, or in whatever situation you require...

To increase its versatility, the Dabit Card is roughly the size of a standard credit card, and encases four double-sided magnetic tools with a silicone cover, which keeps debris away from other belongings, and could even be repurposed as a small mat to prepare concentrate on! As with all other card-style grinders, the Dabit Card also has a fine grinding area on the front of the product for grinding up your herb (making it easy to set up a combo). Additionally, all four included tools have unique end shapes for cleaning and any type of maneuvering you might need to do!

If you’re looking for something even smaller, the Dabit Card also comes in a mini version that features two double-sided, versatile tools, and all the same features the original Dabit Card comes with. In addition to the Dabit Cards, singular dab tools are available in magnetic enclosed necklace and pin forms as well. These are suited for both beginners or experienced users, who prefer minimalism while traveling—especially at festivals.

Don’t Slow Your Roll—Stay Stick-Free

As previously mentioned, sometimes having a silicone mat or rolling tray can prove to be useful when preparing your concentrate for dabbing. Concentrates are typically very sticky, because of all the resin they contain, and as a result, placing it on a typical surface or even just manipulating it with your fingers can cause a huge mess, and result in you wasting your product by letting your furniture or fingers wear the concentrate instead.

A good way to solve this issue is to use a more non-stick surface, such as a food-grade silicone mat, container, or rolling tray. Silicone is a great material for dabbing due to a variety of reasons. It can withstand extremely high temperatures, is durable, flexible, microbe-resistant, and most importantly: non-stick, meaning you won’t have a hard time transferring your concentrate from a silicone rolling tray to your dab rig. 

If versatility is one of your priorities, reviewing the Dabit Card’s function of having a built-in silicone encasement would be suitable, but when possible, it’s always a good idea to have more of a surface area to work with, and a designated rolling tray to use would provide the most help in the long run. Hybrid Rollin’ Trays are an easy choice for both dabbing and traditional cannabis uses, and since they come with a removable silicone mat, you could use the area for both grinding flower, and preparing concentrate to go with it, for an out of this world dual sesh experience.


Dabbing can be an exciting new way of exploring cannabis strains and their effects. Although there seems to be a vast amount of equipment available, it’s always best to plan ahead and obtain versatile, multi-purpose products that you can grow with and add on to if needed in the future. Additionally, there are many options to explore that offer discretion in your dabbing as well. From full toolsets, to small pendants and pins, and from mini silicone surfaces to Hybrid Rollin’ Trays, there is sure to be the right equipment for your needs! As always, know your limits, dab at your own pace, and enjoy!

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