How to Smoke a Dab of Cannabis Concentrates


While we like to promote responsible cannabis consumption of all types, smoking cannabis isn’t the delivery method for everyone, especially those who are newcomers entirely.  Add in tools like a blow torch and something called a “rig” and you’ll easily overwhelm a newbie, heck, there are some cannabis super stoners out there that are still intimidated by the idea of dabbing.

Yes, there are different tools and supplies, and the dosing process is more delicate, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, dabbing cannabis concentrates can offer you new heights of physical relief and unique cerebral effects. Plus, who isn’t interested in a cleaner, “healthier” high? One of the reasons dabbing has become so popular with the kids these days (referring to kids 21+ of course) is that extracts contain a lot fewer plant content particles than flower, so you’re inhaling more cannabinoids and less combusted resin.

To better understand how to add dabbing to your methods of cannabis consumption, we put together a quick vocab lesson and step-by-step of the basic mechanics.

picture of dabbing tools and accessories

Dab Vocab (aka tools):

Dab rig:

This water pipe is like a bong except it will have a fitting for a nail or banger…if you don’t know what a bong is…giddy up, this knowledge is not for slackers, but perhaps you’ll hear from us on that soon as well.


Use a nail like you would the bowl for your bong. The nail is where you can place the cannabis concentrate. The norm today is a quartz banger, which has round a bucket-like shape with a flat bottom. Ceramic and titanium are other choices, and there are also metal e-nails that use electricity to heat instead of a torch flame. Be sure to get the right joint size, where the nail attaches into the dab rig: For example, if your rig has a 14mm stem, you need a 14mm nail. Nails may be male and female as well—you need a male nail for a female rig, and vice versa.


Use a dabber tool to apply your selected cannabis concentrate to the nail once hot. Dabbers can be made of metal, glass, or ceramic and have many forms: ballpoint, needlepoint, scoop, spoon, paddle, etc. Choose different dabber tools depending on the texture and quality of the cannabis you’re dabbing.

Carb Cap:

Use a carb cap to assist with airflow control the same way you use a carb on a pipe.  Using a cap is highly recommend, although not required, and can be a way to personalize your cannabis arsenal as different novelty dabber/carb cap combos are wildly common.


Use a torch to heat the surface of the nail or banger before applying the dab. Mini-torches (like the ones used for crème brulee) do the trick just fine, but a large array of torches can be found at most smoke shops.  Just make sure you don’t forget to stock up on propane or butane for them, it runs out quick! Another popular option for frequent dabbers are e-nails. Even though they can be considered costly e-nails have become increasingly prevalent.

Extract of Cannabis:

Cannabis extraction continues to evolve allowing cannabis to come in several ways: wax, shatter, rosin, resin, hash, BHO, are all examples of some common nomenclature that identifies its’ extraction process.  And the game for solventless extracts such as rosin (the most common ones used for dabbing) are becoming highly competitive.

Dab Mat (Optional):

Use a dab mat to keep the surface clean where you are dabbing. It also provides a great cushion for the rig when you set it down too fast because you are coughing your face off.

Timer (Optional):

Use a timer to ensure that you heat your dab consistently and to allow time for your nail to cool if you tend to overheat it up.


Melted cannabis oil concentrate aka shatter with smoke isolated over dark background

How to Dab:


Now that you can speak the language of the dab, your rig is set up and your dabber is ready to grab you that first dab, let’s walk through the steps on how to do a dab.

Step 1: Gather your necessary supplies: Rig with a nail, dabber with cap, concentrates, torch, and cotton swabs to mop up the mess you leave behind.

Step 2: Turn your torch on and aim the flame directly at the nail. The majority of individuals will tell you to heat the nail until it starts to turn red hot. Whether you rely on visuals, count, or use a timer, it is really up to personal preference and ease.

Many have asked us for more of a tip on the heating, so we pulled a suggestion of temperature from the 710mphto420 article to provide you with it here:

“Ideally, you want to get the banger to higher than you want to actually melt your dab, the banger cools a little right after you stop heating it. For maximum flavor, try to get banger to 320-450 degrees, for mix of flavor and intensity 450-550, and stay under 710 as the higher temperature it gets the harsher and more likely to burn your extracts.” –710MPHTO420

Step 3: Turn off your torch once the nail is hot. It is recommended to allow quartz nails to cool for about 45-115 seconds. Depending on how powerful your torch is, the surface temperature can be too hot for your oil. A timer can be useful in not only finding, but keeping that temperature sweet spot you seek.

Step 4: Apply the dab directly to the nail with the dabber and slowly start inhaling. Rotating the tip of the dabber on the nail will help stop any oil stuck to the dabber from being wasted.

Step 5: Add a dab cap to help control the airflow by covering the dab with the cap and removing it to finishing inhaling the dab.

Step 6: NO waiting to exhale here…Exhale immediately and often!  The most common mistake experienced smokers make when they begin to dabble with dabbing is that it requires a slight change of style.  Inhaling a dab then holding it in the lungs the same way so-called stoners have been portrayed for years with joint and bong rips isn’t what we are going for here. Holding in the smoke or vapor is not recommended and most often results in unwanted coughing attacks, watering eyes, and an extremely heady high. This is why we recommend taking numerous Lil “sips” off the rig as you inhale and exhale your dab. This slight change in consumption style can also help prevent overconsumption.

Step 7: Clean up after yourself! Since a dab can leave behind build up from carbon, reclaimed oil, and other particulates. A true dabber can always be found with amply cotton swabs. Most recommend cleaning the nail after each hit. It should be cleaned at the end of each session at the least. Use the swabs to clean the nail or banger once the dab is finished and after torching any residues away.


Safety note: When dabbing, the nails become extremely hot creating a risk for serious burns. Always take care and ALWAYS wait until all the pieces cool down before you even think of touching them. And, of course, when not in use, store all of your dabbing apparatus somewhere safe and secure. Out of reach of any kids, pets, or mooches.
** Updated June 30, 2021 to reflect temperature suggestions for dabbing that were on the 710mph to 420 article “710 Culture Explained” provided above between step 2 and 3 of how to Dab.**