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Cannabis 101

The Beginner’s Guide to Buying Dabs and Cannabis Extracts

December 16, 2015

The Beginner’s Guide to Buying Dabs and Cannabis Extracts

Once upon a time, buying cannabis oils for dabbing came down to choosing from a small selection, but today’s display cases are often loaded with dabs of all varieties as shops cater to increasing demand. If you’re new to dabbing, your head is probably spinning with questions about extract types, costs, and so on. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know, and by the end of it, you should have a much better idea of what things to look out for when buying dabs. Keep in mind, this article focuses only on “dabbable” oils – you can read up on other extract options here.

Find Your Favorite Cannabis Concentrates

If you’re brand new to dabbing altogether, don’t forget to also check out our articles on what dabbing is and how to dab.

Glossary of Dabbing Terms

Having a grasp on some commonly used dabbing terms will go a long way as you deliberate over the glass dabbing case at your local dispensary or rec shop. This list of jargon may look long, but don’t worry – a lot of these are just different names for the same thing.

Budder – Refers to extracts that take on a creamy, butter-like consistency.

Butane Hash Oil (BHO) – The most commonly used extract for dabbing, BHO uses butane to strip essential compounds like THC, CBD, and terpenes from the cannabis plant, concentrating them in an oil of varying consistencies (see also: shatter, wax, budder, crumble, pull-and-snap).

Concentrate – Broadly refers to any cannabis product that concentrates cannabis compounds from raw plant material.

CO2 Oil – A type of cannabis oil that uses pressure and CO2 to extract essential compounds like THC, CBD, and terpenes from the plant. This oil tends to be soft or runny, and often takes on an amber hue.

Crumble – Refers to extracts that take on a soft, crumbly texture.

Dab(bing) – “Dabbing” refers to the method of flash vaporization in which oils are applied to a hot surface and inhaled (see also: dab rig, nail). “Dabs” can refer to any extract used for dabbing.

Dab Rig – Also called an oil rig, a dab rig refers to a water pipe with dabbing attachments (see also: nail).

Honeycomb – Refers to extracts that take on a soft, honeycomb-like texture.

Nail – A nail refers to the metal, glass, or ceramic spike attached to a water pipe. Dabs are applied to the nail once it’s been heated by a torch or electronically.

Oil – A broad term that refers to many different cannabis concentrates. It implies a runny, oil-like consistency, but cannabis oil has become a ubiquitous term that describes extracts of many forms and consistencies.

Pull-and-Snap – Refers to extracts that take on a taffy-like consistency that may “snap” when bent.

Purge – Refers to the process of removing solvents during extraction. (Note: high levels of residual solvents can be unsafe for consumption, so make sure the product you’re purchasing has been lab tested).

Rosin – A solvent-less extract that uses heat and pressure to concentrate essential cannabis compounds.

Shatter – Refers to extracts that take on a transparent glass-like consistency.

Solvent – A solvent refers to the chemical compounds (e.g. butane, alcohol, propane, etc.) that strip cannabinoids and terpenes from plants. Some concentrates (e.g. rosin, ice hash) can be produced through heat, pressure, and water — these are called “solventless” extracts.

Wax – Refers to extracts that take on a soft, waxy consistency.


How to Dab Cannabis Concentrates

Dabbing FAQs

Have a question about dabbing? Check out these frequently asked questions!

What equipment do I need to dab?

Before you buy dabs, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need to deliver one. Traditional dabbing setups include a water pipe, a nail, a dome, and a torch. Check out this article for more information on the equipment you’ll need to get started.

Explore Dabbing Products

How does the price of extracts compare to the price of flower?

A gram of flower costs a lot less than a gram of oil, but keep in mind the difference in potencies: while bud tends to test between 10-25% THC, a concentrate can reach heights of 50-90%. The initial investment will be steeper, but keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way with dabs. Concentrates can be more cost-effective than flower, but it all depends on the product’s potency-to-price ratio.

Because flower and oil prices can vary significantly in different markets and across different brands, it’s always best to check your local dispensary’s menu. For example, I’ve bought a half gram of BHO in Seattle for as little as $25 and as much as $70 for high-potency oils; it all depends on the brand, potency, and regional market.

How long will a gram of oil last me?

This is another question that has to be answered with, “it depends.” A half gram of oil can tide the occasional dabber over for a couple weeks, whereas a heavy, high-tolerance consumer might blow through that much in a day or two. Depending on the size and potency of your oil, a half gram can typically provide up to 20 dabs.

How do I determine an extracts purity and potency?

Extract quality is determined by multiple factors, many of which cannot be determined by the eye. Light, gold-colored oils is often a mark of quality, but contrary to popular misconception, texture and consistency don’t signify purity or potency. The most important thing in determining oil quality is lab testing; there’s no other surefire way of measuring residual solvents, contaminants, or cannabinoid content.


Cannabinoids 101: What Makes Cannabis Medicine?

What’s the difference between shatter, honeycomb, crumble, and wax?

When talking about BHO, there isn’t a lot of difference between shatter, wax, crumble, honeycomb, budder, etc. beyond their consistency and texture.

An oil’s consistency is essentially determined by the amount of moisture the oil held onto and molecular disturbance. In other words, if an oil is agitated during the extraction process, it may lose its transparency and become a softer, waxier texture. Some strains also have a tendency to “sugar up” when processed into extracts due to their lipid contents. Changes in temperature, humidity, and oxygen exposure may also affect the texture. Some dabbers actually prefer the sugary oils because they often taste better due to terpene preservation – but beyond that, you don’t need to place too much importance on consistency.


What Are Cannabis Oil, Shatter, and Wax Extracts?

How do I store dabs?

Although most dabs are purchased in plastic containers, dabbers typically prefer to store their product in silicone dab containers afterwards. Dabs won’t stick to silicone, so it’s a great way to both prevent wasting oil and keep your container free of annoying stickiness.

What kinds of oils are safe to dab?

Your local dispensary or rec shop might have a number of cannabis extracts on the shelf, but keep in mind that not all are meant for dabbing. For example, alcohol-based extracts like RSO, ISO wax, and tinctures are meant for oral ingestion and should never be smoked or dabbed. When in doubt, check with your budtender to see if an oil is safe for dabbing.

Will all dabs get me high?

A lot of people avoid dabbing because cannabis extracts have a reputation of getting you pretty ripped. For sure, most dabs are made to contain high levels of THC – but you may not be aware that some extract producers use high-CBD, low-THC strains to create oils with little to no psychoactive effects. One of my favorite oils right now is an ACDC wax that induces almost no cerebral euphoria – just a hefty dose of relief for pain and muscle tension. A product like this is ideal for the patient who needs a potent and fast-acting medicine without getting totally donked.


Which cannabis strains are high in CBD?

Can dabs be medicinal?

Absolutely. Patients needing a swift dose of THC to ease nausea, stress, appetite loss, pain, insomnia, and other symptoms may actually find dabbing to be an efficient way to deliver relief. As mentioned above, there are also high-CBD dabs with a myriad of other therapeutic benefits. Clean, pure concentrates are also commonly preferred by health-conscious consumers because they strip out resin-producing plant material.

Got additional questions or advice? Leave them in the comments section below! Otherwise, test your newfound dabbing knowledge with this quiz about the dabbing basics.

Bailey Rahn's Bio Image

Bailey Rahn

Bailey is a senior content manager at Leafly, specializing in strains and health. She's spent 7+ years researching cannabis products, spreading patients’ stories, and exploring healthy ways of integrating cannabis into daily life.

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8 part series

  • Raul Tsi

    do dabs smell like burning cannabis?

    • Eloy

      Not at all, all dabs I’ve used are relatively odorless when smoked and the little odor that it may give off when taking multiple hits will be very faint and will quickly dissapate under nearly any other scent.

    • noloveinfear

      They’re supposed to in a way – and don’t use silicone. Butane and terpenes merge with extract and cause bad things to happen.

  • Lisa Motts

    How do the prices range on dab? ??? Say for one ounce???

    • Ryan Blackhawke

      An ounce is gonna cost you considering a gram typically goes for $25-50 in Washington state.

      • JAM661

        A oz of the dab stuff would be a lot of product considering the article says on average you get 20 dabs out of a 1/2 gram. However I have heard of people on the MMJ programs paying as much as $1000.00 a month and of course not one dime is paid from insurance. Leaving many people who do not have the funds without. I was able to cut down on my opiates by half for my very messed up back after four failed back surgeries just by adding marijuana once or twice a day to my routine. Luckly I have a young doctor who is open to me trying what is out there to help with my pain even if it is not legal for me to be on it or grow it.

    • Proud Stoner.

      WhatsApp me via : +1(646) 481-4076

  • Marlene

    I am new to this so please be patient. When looking at a plants qualities and it say hunger or appetite, which one means it controls your hunger so that i can lose weight?

    • Anja Miles
    • Erik Bailey

      You would want a Sativa dominant strain. They are the strains that get you ‘up’, social, euphoric, focused, and, on the flip side, paranoid. Anytime you hear a strain described as a ‘daytime smoke’, you might want to look into it. Indica’s tend to relax you. These strains are great painkillers. Since these strains are prone to giving one a ‘body high’, this will lead to paying extra attention to things like hunger. Also, since indica produce the infamous/glorious(Depends on who you ask.) ‘couch-lock’ effect. When you are sitting on the sofa, glued to the television, you are more likely to veg out. Ummmmmmmmmmmmm, what was the question again? Haha.

    • Dustin Fisher

      So you want to control your appetite because you appetite is what makes you hungry. So the more you feel like you need to eat the more hungry you get. But if you practice controlling your appetite you will in turn eat less and take in less caliries or junk food.

  • ChristinePSI

    I find it interesting that a comment comprised of clarifying information about the glossary terms – provided by an industry professional – is removed and marked as spam when it contained no reference to the professional’s company nor products. No negativity was included either. Simply additional information with regard to the terms.

  • Erik Bailey

    What about Fresh Frozen or Live Resin solventless shatter/wax? I have some GSC live resin wax and Chemdawg orangish clear(95% clear) solventless shatter and they murder regular dabs. The smell and taste are amazing. This type is frozen right after its harvested to preserve taste and THC content. I believe Live Resin is straight harvest to concentrate… or it’s another term for fresh frozen.
    Dabbing for the mcGiver type
    a pinch, grab your cars cig lighter and coke bottle(bottom cut out). When the lighter pops out, quickly drop your dab and cover with bottle to gather smoke. Another idea is get one of those wind proof USB lighters. It’s essentially a car lighter.

    Also, I like a concentrate “vape” tank I recently purchased it has a quartz coil and a small dome. Best part is it fits any battery with 510 thread

    • max’s pad

      too much to say, I so need neighbors like you.

      • Erik Bailey

        Yea, I can be quite verbose. Haha. Especially since I had just finished a cone of 🦍 Glue #4. I couldn’t lift my phone about 15 minutes later. Haha. I wrote another before this one with all kinds of tips and it was rejected. No idea why.

        And I’ve been told I am the BEST neighbor. Haha. It’s probably related to my 77″ Sony A1E OLED 4k tv, and various other toys, and the fact I’m out of town most of the time and allow them to use my place. Don’t worry, I have indoor cameras. Haha. Not to mention I’m very liberal with my dope. Love it when the hardest gangsta turns to a giggling kid right before my eyes. Haha.

        Damn. That paragraph makes me look like a braggadocios prick.🤣 Without saying too much, ANYONE could get what I get, no matter where they are.

        • David Ringler

          Hello, I like reading your stuff!. I am a Cancer Patient that has spread 3 times so far i have done Raidation and i am on my 7th round of chemo and live in Pennsylvania and just waiting to get my Medical MJ card. I have been on Marinol for 3 years it helps alot also a ton of opiates that i hate but can not live without. I am hoping that medical MJ WILL GET ME OFF ALOT IF NOT ALL PAINKILLERS. When it gets to the point that your hair hurts this is just no way to live but i talked too so many who shatter and dabs have been a lifesaver and to even get a little relief it will be worth it.

  • iralarry

    Can this dap wax be load d into a vape pen? Or Dap Pen?


    • Barb Carroll


  • JoAnna Redman-Smith

    I just want to say thank you SO MUCH for this article. SUPER useful for a new dabber trying to figure things out.

  • Randy Cooper

    I have a DaVinci device. It sounds like a perfect tool for consuming oil? Anyone know?

    • JAM661

      You can use it for oils depending on the device you own. I a Da Vinci vaporizer that looks like a small radio or walkie talkie thing that comes with canisters that come for oils. Check with them first to make sure your model is OK for that since they make several differ vaporizers.

  • Davin Robitaille

    Please Stop Storing High Terpenes Products (concentrates) In Silicone Containers!!!

    As the cannabis industry continues to innovate with new products, services, and discoveries, one area that is often overlooked is packaging. What your medicine is stored in is a big deal. Not only is it important in maintaining quality and freshness, but also in preventing contamination.

    Most packaging options that are used in the industry today consist of silicone in various grades. Terpenes are considered a natural solvent, they are reactive compounds which can adversely interact with silicone and other materials. Higher concentrations and purities of terpenes can dissolve even the highest grades of silicone.

    It has been known for a long time in other industries such as the cleaning and cosmetic industries that some terpenes are not compatible with silicone.

    Common uses of d-Limonene(one of the most common terpenes in cannabis):

    General Purpose Cleaner
    Uncured Silicone Remover
    Resin Remover
    Adhesive and label remover
    Silicone Thinner
    Ink Thinner

    We are a new industry but that does not excuse our ignorance when the information is widely available to us. It is our responsibility to take every possible step to ensure the quality and safety of our products.