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Why Low Temperatures Are So Important for Dabbing

This article is sponsored by Dr. Dabber and MiniNail. Created out of necessity but fueled by desire, Dr. Dabber is the originator of the low heat vaporizer pen for concentrates. The future of concentrate vaporization, MiniNail is the creator of the low power, palm-sized, connoisseur-quality e-nail and other products designed for the daily dabber.


Cannabis concentrates offer an amazing combination of potent effects and robust flavors. When concentrates are heated the cannabinoids and terpenes are released into vapor, creating the vast spectrum of effects and flavors that cannabis exhibits. Knowing which temperature to heat your concentrates to, however, is a crucial detail and can be the difference between experiencing delicious flavors and profound effects or tasting the burnt disappointment from temperatures too hot to vaporize effectively.

Compare Cannabis Concentrates

Why Temperature Matters When Dabbing

So, why is temperature control so important for dabbing? In a single word: terpenes. If you’re unfamiliar with terpenes, they’re the compounds in cannabis that give the plant its unique smell. Although cannabinoids are also extremely sensitive to temperatures, THC and other cannabinoids are odorless, so each strain’s compelling fragrance depends on which terpenes predominate.

Every terpene is unique in the therapeutic benefits it offers and the flavors it produces, and each individual terpene has its own sensitivity to heat, creating unique vaporization points as well. The extraction method used to achieve the oil, shatter, or wax forms of concentrate varieties, as well as the temperature at which you dab or vaporize concentrates, can greatly affect both the flavor profile and the synergy created between the concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes.

To give you an idea of the differences between terpenes, here’s a short list of boiling points for some common terpenes found in cannabis (check out the full infographic for the complete list).

  • Linalool: 388 degrees F
  • ß-Caryophyllene: 320 degrees F
  • ß-Myrcene: 334 degrees F
  • D-Limonene: 349 degrees F
  • Humulene: 388 degrees F
  • α-Pinene: 311 degrees F

 

Ditch the Torch, Capture the Tasty Terpenes

The MiniNail Electric Nail, or enail, for torchless dabbing

Unless you can monitor and control the temperatures at which you dab, chances are you’re heating your nail above the suitable temperature range. When using a torch to heat up your dabbing surface, typically a titanium nail or a quartz bucket (banger), most dabbers torch the surface for too long. The extended exposure to such high heat can quickly result in temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, far too hot to vaporize your concentrates effectively.

At such extreme temperatures the essential oils that combine to produce the psychoactive effects of cannabis are effectively destroyed. By combusting these compounds that are directly responsible for the flavor of marijuana and its concentrated forms, the result is a burnt, unpleasant taste to the vapor. Furthermore, any benefits from the individual terpenes are lost during this process.

Luckily, the emergence of electric nails, or enails, has given concentrate connoisseurs the opportunity to fine-tune their experience much more accurately. The rise of the electric nail is due in large part to the fact that they offer the ability to efficiently maintain the heat at a low temperature that allows you to capture the full flavor and benefits of the terpenes.

Electric nails, like the palm-sized MiniNail, make dabbing concentrates much easier and more precise. You’re able to optimize your experience to the temperature you prefer using MiniNail’s variable heat controller to stabilize the temperature of your dabbing surface. Its digital display in combination with proper calibration allows for consistent temperatures and thus consistent vapor. The stability and control that the MiniNail offers avoids the peaks and valleys of fluctuating temperatures from heating and cooling down your nail. It also maintains fixed to keep you from wasting your dabs as they puddle when your nail is too cold to vaporize.

 

Can Your Vape Pen Handle the Heat?

Dr. Dabber Ghost Vaporizer Pen for Cannabis Concentrates

When it comes to how well vaporizer pens can handle the various boiling points of different terpenes, not all devices are created equal. Like torch and nail setups, many vaporizer pens designed for oils and waxes shoot up to over 1000 degrees F within 2-3 seconds, effectively ruining the flavorful experience that concentrates offer.

Because most vaporizer pens hit such high temperatures so quickly, they do not actually vaporize at all. The smoke that is released is exactly that: smoke. When temperatures reach combustion range before the product is properly melted into the wick, any health benefits associated with vaporizing are all but lost.

The concept behind the standard “coil and wick” vaporizer pen is to heat the oil slowly, melting it into the wick which is situated in the middle of the coil. Once the wick is saturated – usually within 3-4 seconds – the coil should reach a reasonable temperature, typically just higher than the boiling point of the terpenes commonly found in marijuana.

As the coil heats up the fibers of the wick to a temperature within the range of boiling points for cannabinoids and terpenes, the oil vaporizes off of the fibers rather than burning it directly off the coil. The whole process should take approximately 7-10 seconds, with the heating source reaching a maximum temperature between 600-700 degrees F.

Essentially, high heat results in reduced efficacy and an unpleasant flavor. A proper heat source for vaporizing with a concentrate pen should reach approximately 700 degrees F at its highest point in order to appropriately heat the wick to the correct temperature.

High resistance, titanium atomizers like that found in Dr. Dabber’s line of portable vape products achieve a lower, more stable temperature for vaporizing cannabis concentrates. They heat up slowly and avoid the burnt, electric taste in your vapor that many atomizers emit.

Now that you’re armed with a deeper understanding of the delicacy of terpenes, their sensitivity to varying temperatures, and the tools available to hone your dabbing experience, you can look forward to maximizing every dab. Devices like the MiniNail when dabbing at home, or Dr. Dabber’s portable concentrate pens when you’re on the go, produce a flavorful combination of cannabinoids and terpenes that offer consumers the ability to get the full benefits of these precious compounds.

Learn more about cannabis terpenes and how they affect you:

Infographic: What are Cannabis Terpenes and How Do They Affect You?

  • David Schneider

    A low temp hit with a torch isn’t rocket science.

  • John Woods

    good article

  • Glen Finn

    Cool article, but as a noob what does that all mean? “Below 700F” leaves a lot of room to make expensive mistakes and increase frustration. Especially for the new medical cannabis users who are unfamiliar with both concentrates and the myriad of assorted vaporizers, and rigs available.

    • Lisa Olken

      I can help you if you have some basic questions!

      • istayhi

        would 400-420f be to low for concentrate? I was looking at the Pax3 and its for both, but some people argue that it doesn’t get hot enough. I understand 420f is its max output and that’s not ideal, but given the info above in the article would my temperature range still work effectively

        • Tobias Barton

          I like the Mini-Nail I bought. full range

  • Frantic

    My mighty only goes up to 410 degrees F and I’ve tried using the liquid pad that comes with it and it created a mess inside that I didn’t like and I didn’t get a good taste of my Indica Crumble ..Is 410F hot enough? And am I ruining my mighty? I tried twice using Crumble with it and wasn’t as impressed as I was with vaping flower

    • Hiresh Moradi

      did you season the nail? very important. especially if barely used as stated. Also, with a lower temp you should be able to tatse the most terps especially around that temp with most concentrates.. if anything you might be over doing it? but not under unless its got alot of contaminant. My 2cents.

      • Frantic

        I don’t own a nail I vape flower (sometimes Crumble ) using my Mighty portable vape or Orb 4 vape for my Crumble

        • Hiresh Moradi

          Ohhh I believe the flower and crumble are two forms which can differ for the coil and can clog it if the design isn’t intended for multi use. Look into those details or have separate pens for each flower and concentrate

          • Frantic

            My Orb 4 IS A vape pen made for wax or Crumble etc and the Mighty has a separate “ liquid pad” to use for concentrates like Crumble or shatter etc

    • Piper Sandoval

      You are definitely not ruining your Mighty if you are using the pad with concentrates as you stated, then you’re using it as the manufacturer intended. Storz & Bickel just dominates the informed vape market because they understand that higher temperatures will only char & destroy most your bioavailable components before you can actually benefit from them. Convection is the preferred method of vapor both for health and taste & your mighty is 50% convection which is better than most other portable vapes that rely on conduction. This is why you’ll find the serious vape studies done for the last decade plus have been done using the Volcano (convection). Those are the only studies so far to show the lack of harm in cannabis vaping.
      The idea of removing the plant material in my opinion is pointless, but for those who see that as a potential benefit are still waiting for their research to prove that. The idea that you cannot produce smoke from the oil alone is a complete misconception, that is where temperature still matters completely. Don’t ever forget that the oils of this plant is what you are vaporizing off the plant, these boiling points where the cannabinoids/terpenes/flavonoids are reaching their gaseous form is the temperature that you want. That does not change whether you remove the plant matter or not, so any idea of needing temps that are achieved from a lot of these pens or nails 600-1,000 degrees are not necessary. The only possible benefit that I have ever come across working in this industry is that the higher temps will leave your pens, nails etc cleaner from residual build up because they are not vaporizing they are usually BURNING the oil away thus leaving you a cleaner surface in the end. One final thought to leave you with the peace of mind that you may be making a wiser choice with your Mighty is that many concentrate consumers are searching out these high concentrations and don’t realize they are not actually getting what they think they are, because they are often burning it and some are also smoking through water. So they destroy some components of the oil before it can be a benefit & then they filter those components through water which is proven to filter both carcinogens AND cannabinoids!
      Anyone who wishes to dispute any statements which I have made I only hope that they do so because they can provide us all with links to research if there is new research I have yet to see please enlighten me.

      • Randy Cooper

        Piper thank you, are you familiar with the DaVinci? I have one, and want to experiment with CBD oils. It sounds a lot like his Mighty.

  • Uberdankness

    Heat your nail until 25% of it is red hot, wait until the red goes away (3-5 sec) and take your hit. Simple as that.

  • Jace Baker

    Im just trying to get as blazed as i want to get as fast as possible and dont care about taste at all what do *map gas torching continues* If its red hot i know its ready

    Now call me a heretic.