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I Dabbed for the First Time. Here’s What Happened

June 7, 2018
(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)
Working in the cannabis industry has revealed a whole new world of pot-centric opportunity. From discovering unique edibles to wading through a vast pool of cannabis terpene science, I’ve seen close to everything when it comes to cannabis experiences, products, and technology. But the one subject that’s continually escaped me? Dabbing.

I’m a flower girl through and through. Vape pens leave my throat less-than-pleased and infused treats aren’t my usual preference. Grinding flower, packing a bowl, and lighting up, however, is a ritual I will hold onto until the day I die. Nothing beats a hit of fresh herb—well, nothing did until I tried my first dab.

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Curious about dabs and what to expect as a first-timer? Here’s what I can tell you.

Kick Those Apprehensions to the Curb

On more than one occasion, I’ve heard dabs referred to as the “crack of weed” with a few close friends recounting the times they got “way too high” the last time they dabbed. The set-up doesn’t help: a blow torch is needed to get the concentrates heated, and the extra tools make the process seem like a chemistry experiment. So I get it, and those who prefer to dab get it too, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid giving it a shot due to sheer intimidation. There’s no passing out in the front lawn, seeing random hallucinations, or falling into a mind-numbing pit of despair when you go about dabbing with a couple of boundaries in mind (we’ll get into those later).

Despite the unfamiliarity of a dabbing rig, concentrates themselves offer a purer and cleaner source of cannabis since—unlike flower—you’re not inhaling ash or plant matter with every hit. As long as your strain was extracted in a safe and hygienic environment with honest testing and no pesticides—which is becoming the norm in the concentrates world—then you should be set for that first inhale. We even offer a step-by-step guide on how to dab to take out a bit of the initial confusion.

When it comes down to it, the addition of a blow torch as a heat source isn’t such a big deal when the payoff is healthier lungs.

Surround Yourself With Trusted Friends

Now that you’ve gotten through the trepidation, the next step is to set yourself up for success. Your first time dabbing should be a welcome experience that won’t forever tarnish your views on the method. As long as you don’t let an overzealous buddy talk you into taking an enormous dab, you probably won’t end up on that front lawn or in that pit of despair.

Remember: you don’t have to prove yourself. Experienced dabbers who have your back will walk you through the process with a small dose. They won’t toss you into the middle of the ocean when you’ve only conquered the shallow end of the pool.

Related

How to Shop for Your First Dab Rig

I truly lucked out with the people who joined me on my first dabbing excursion. They were all trusted friends who had either dabbed before or knew more than me about concentrates. Having faith in the knowledgeable people by my side meant I wasn’t afraid to go all in.

Start Low, Go Slow

(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

While I was gearing up for my first pull, I expected the vapor to tear up my throat since I had viewed it as stronger than flower in all aspects. The opposite happened; I barely coughed at all. On the exhale, my lungs felt as if they had a little more room to breathe. The vapor was light and the fresh terpenes emanating from the hit tasted sweet and potent. 

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Are Dabs Bad for You? Side Effects of Dabbing Cannabis Concentrates

Bonus? I wasn’t too lifted. I could enjoy the flavors, scents, and effects of my fist dab since the concentrate I ended up choosing wasn’t extremely high in THC (and my dab glob wasn’t the size of a mini-basketball). It’s cliché, but the mantra, “start low and go slow” is absolutely necessary when trying out new methods of cannabis consumption. Always start a lower THC level, then slow down the process by either waiting or relaxing until you get the best feel of what dose and method works for you. And yes, this still rings true when you’re adept at other modes of toking up.

Our very own Avid Dabber heated up the rig and portioned out my dab size. It was about the size of half a grain of rice and it was perfect: I wasn’t blasted into space and I felt as though I could take on the day after the high had fizzled. Any more would have been irresponsible and possibly led to a bad time and an out-of-control high. My more accomplished companions held out for the full rice-sized dab and we were on the same level when it came to the post-dab elevation.

Give It Time

Having gone through the motions, I recommend taking one hit and sitting on it for the remainder of the day. As noted above, dabs can be a lot stronger than traditional flower, and their effects are intense at the first pull.

Related

The Avid Dabber: Remembering That First Magical Dab

I felt suitably elevated the 20 minutes following a breath of Honey Bananas—content with my head in the clouds—before slowly sinking into relaxed body bliss. If I had taken a second hit, my anxiety may have shot up from the intensity, and I wouldn’t have had a truly enjoyable time.

Additional tip: keep in mind the surroundings you’re in and what kind of vibe you want from your experience. After our dabs had been smoked, the group headed outside where we picked vegetables and shot the shit. Don’t overthink it—try a calming activity to fill the space or simply unwind on the couch.   

Will I Try It Again? Should You Try It, Too?

When I was gearing up for my first dab, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt that tinge of uneasiness which comes with every new experience; yet, at the same time, I was open to it. In the end, I’m happy to report that old worries were put to rest.

Bottom line? Dabbing concentrates is not a big deal, and if you’re curious about it and have access to a rig, then give it a try. Truthfully, I won’t be shopping for my own dab rig anytime soon, but I won’t say no if the opportunity to dab rises again. Those who love dabbing, love it for it’s clean vapor, intense body high, and smooth hit. I can attest to those experiences and can see why the process is so appealing.

Keep in mind the tips from above, don’t take it too seriously, and who knows? You may become an avid dabber yourself.  

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Hannah Meadows's Bio Image

Hannah Meadows

Hannah Meadows is an associate editor at Leafly, where she contributes to lifestyle content.

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  • Dharma Bratz

    No real warnings? Are you just trying to sell this stuff or are you actually trying to be helpful? You know, you can still be positive about something and talk about the problem areas in a real way. With dab, for example it’s easy to inhale too much. That could result in unpleasant puking. That could also result in going home with some stranger and not using your best judgment..Yet this important information was glossed over. Even the author says she would not rush out to buy equipment. What made her say that? True reporting involves telling both sides of a story!

    • Natalie Gonzalezhouse

      it’s not alcohol.. what are you talking about people going home with a stranger xD if anything you’d probably avoid people if anything at all

  • Highway 69

    Excellent article Hannah. I’ve not tried dabs either, but I would if it were available to me.
    I must address your statement, however:

    “…concentrates themselves offer a purer and cleaner source of cannabis since—unlike flower—you’re not inhaling ash or plant matter with every hit.”

    Like yourself, I prefer flower as well. But I use a convection vaporizer instead of lighting up. As you know, with this type of device, there is no combustion — therefore there is no “ash or plant matter with every hit.”