So you wanna know how to make dabs, huh? You’ve come to the right place! We here at Honest Marijuana have been doing this so long (and so well, we might add), we’ve forgotten more about cannabis production (in all its forms) than most people will learn in a lifetime.
That makes us uniquely qualified to tell you everything you need to know about making dabs…even if we do say so ourselves. So that’s what we’re going to do.
But jumping right to the “how to” is a bit like going on Dancing With The Stars without any training: the end result isn’t going to be pretty. So before we tell you how to make dabs, we’re going to give you a bit of background on the subject (dabs, not Dancing With The Stars).
Along the way, we’ll answer such questions as:
- What is dabbing?
- What exactly are dabs?
- What is wax?
- What equipment will you need to dab?
- Why choose wax over other concentrates?
After that, we’ll explain how dabs are usually made and then give you a DIY recipe for how to make dabs at home (safely, and without exploding). Sound good? Let’s get started.
What Is Dabbing?
Dabbing is the process of heating a special form of cannabis and then inhaling the vapor. Dabbing gets its name from the tiny dabs of wax that are used with a special rig (a dab rig) to get high (THC dabs) or get your medicine (CBD dabs).
Let’s take a moment to clarify those two sentences by talking about dabs, wax, and equipment specifically.
What Are Dabs?
Think of dabs as “bite-sized,” single-serving hits that are usually no bigger than your pinky nail (though that’s actually a lot!). You scoop a dab onto the nail using a dabbing tool and then apply a flame to turn the solid into vapor. Finally, you inhale as much of the vapor as possible. That’s dabbing in a nutshell.
What Is Wax?
Wax is a type of dab (the other being shatter). And if you’re wondering why wax is called wax, the answer is really very simple: the stuff looks like earwax. Sounds gross, we know, but you’ll get over it after you’ve tried your first hit.
What Equipment Will You Need To Dab?
Dabbing requires some specialized equipment, so you can’t just decide one morning that you’re going to try it without first going shopping. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Dab rig — A specialized bong used with dabs.
- Nail — This isn’t the type of nail you buy at the hardware store.
- Dome — Fits over the nail and helps contain the vaporized wax.
- Carb cap — Creates a mini oven that helps vaporize the wax at lower temperatures.
And then, of course, you need your dabs.
So What’s The Big Deal?
Dabbing is a big deal because the wax or shatter that you use is a concentrated form of the buds you buy at your local dispensary. And by concentrated, we mean really high in THC or CBD. How high exactly? Anywhere from two to four times over regular bud.
Depending on the strain used to start, wax can clock in at 50-90% THC (or CBD). Even the strongest strain only hits around 25%. So you can see why dabbing is such a big deal: You can get seriously high with just one or two hits.
Why Choose Wax Over Other Concentrates?
We’ve mentioned that there are several types of concentrates you can use when dabbing. We like wax over shatter for several reasons:
- Wax is easier to produce.
- Wax is easier to handle.
- Wax is easier to measure.
- Wax is easier to use.
We’re not saying we wouldn’t dab with shatter. We’re just saying that if we had the choice, we’d go with wax first because of the reasons mentioned above.
So now that you know everything there is to know about dabbing, dabs, and wax, let’s talk a bit about how wax is made. Then we’ll show you a simple recipe for how to make dabs in your own kitchen.
How Is Wax Usually Made?
If you were a weed wax pro, you’d make your product through butane extraction. “What is butane extraction?” you ask. Here’s the skinny.
Butane extraction involves forcing butane (duh!) through a container full of marijuana bud. The butane acts as a solvent and separates the essential oils (made up of cannabinoids, terpenes, trichomes, and flavonoids) from the cannabis plant.
Those oils held in solution along with the butane are called butane hash oil (or BHO for short). But you wouldn’t want to dab with this stuff because butane is toxic. That’s why the next step is so important.
Once you’ve soaked your plants in butane and dissolved all the canna-goodness, you allow the butane to evaporate out of the solution. That leaves behind a highly-concentrated oil that, when it dries, hardens into either shatter or wax.
Sounds simple enough, right? It’s not. Butane is highly flammable and can explode (yes, explode!) with the smallest spark. That’s why we don’t recommend using butane extraction at home to make your own wax.
There are much safer ways to produce some dab goo than to risk life, limb, and residence trying to emulate the pros and their fancy equipment. Don’t do it! Instead, try this non-toxic, non-explosive method for making your own wax.
How To Make Dabs At Home
Below, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide for how to make dabs on your own…without the risk of death or loss of property.
Those in the know (like you are now) call this the QWISO process. QWISO stands for “Quick Wash Of Isopropyl Alcohol.” So, as you can probably guess, we’re going to use alcohol to make this work. But we’re not going to use just any alcohol. We’re going to 99-100% pure alcohol.
That’s a lot different than the vodka you may have stashed in your cupboard. It’s even different than the Everclear you’ve seen at the liquor store. Isopropyl alcohol is not meant for human consumption, so don’t, by any means, put it in your mouth.
It’s also important to understand that 99-100% alcohol is flammable. It’s nowhere near as bad as butane, but you don’t want to handle it around an open flame. Needless to say, it’s not a good idea to try this recipe if all you have is a gas stove.
Okay, so enough with the warnings. Here’s what you’ll need to make dabs at home.
- 2.5 grams of your favorite ganja
- Containers that pour well and are freezer- and heat-safe
- 99-100% isopropyl alcohol
- Metal mesh screen
- Unbleached coffee filters
- Hot water
1) Break up your bud just a bit (not too small).
2) Put it in an oven-safe container and dry the cannabis at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Please note, this is not decarboxylation.
3) Once the cannabis is sufficiently dry, put it and the bottle of alcohol in the freezer for three to five hours.
4) Wait (we know this is the hardest part).
5) Pour enough cold alcohol over the cannabis to cover it by at least one inch.
6) Gently swish the mix for 20 seconds.
7) Separate the bud from the alcohol by pouring through a mesh screen.
8) Set the plant matter aside for now (from here on out, we’re going to focus on the alcohol).
9) Pour the alcohol through an unbleached coffee filter into another container.
10) Squeeze the coffee filter to get as much of the alcohol out as possible.
11) Allow the alcohol to evaporate. You can do this in one of three ways:
- Place a coffee filter over the top of the container and just give it time.
- You can also use a warm water bath to speed the process.
- If you’re really impatient (like we are), you can put the water bath on the stove at low to medium heat until you see liquid start to evaporate. Be sure not to boil the alcohol.
12) When all the alcohol is gone, scrape the wax out of the container and store in a glass container or on some parchment paper.
13) Enjoy your dabs! (See, 13 isn’t always an unlucky number.)
You can also run the original buds through a second wash (this time for one minute), to get every single drop of the remaining good stuff. Then proceed from step seven as outlined above. That’s all there is to it!
Start Small And Take It Slow
As with any new marijuana endeavor, it’s always a good idea to start small and take it slow. If you’re dabbing for the first time, try one hit and wait a few minutes to see how your body reacts. You can always hit the rig again if you need more, but you can’t return those hits if you take one too many.
The same goes for making your own wax to dab. Start with a small batch, get the hang of the process, and then increase your production when you’ve got a bit of experience. If nothing else, you won’t waste any of your precious bud in a failed attempt to try something new.