"A Dab Will Do Ya"
I took my first dab on Halloween of 2013, after a rap concert; I was so high I couldn’t open my eyes and I relied on the kindness of my friends to guide me back home. When Redwood Dave came down from Humboldt to lend us his collection for the Glass Gala (read this post if you’re confused!), I asked him about his first dab. It was in 2003, shortly after he’d started learning how to make hash and whole plant extract oils. He said he’d take the oil and roll kief into it to make a “jelly hash.” The jelly hash was then placed over a hookah coal or charcoal and the resulting smoke inhaled. In the 14 years since then, both Dave and the rest of the world have come a long way as far as understanding how concentrates can be made and used for medicinal and soon-to-be recreational purposes.
Since our lounge opened here at Barbary Coast, I have met a many number of patients who had their misperceptions about dabbing and concentrates shattered or debunked. I’ve helped some who didn’t even know dabbing was possible! If you’re a patient who has stopped by and seen the lounge but not actively used it, or just a cannabis enthusiast wanting to try something new and expand their knowledge, you’ve come to the right place.
Where the magic happens
Working in the lounge, I am constantly educating and re-educating patients on how to tell a good dab from a bad one. Mostly they want to know why there’s so many freaking names for them nowadays: wax, crumble, shatter, live resin, sauce, terp slerp, budder, batter, and many more that haven’t been invented yet. I find that consistency isn’t a huge indicator of quality: I find color, taste and reputation of the material matter much more than the minute details of batter and budder (side note: batter is more “whipped”-like and less viscous and budder is thicker). The individual dab aspect of the lounge is something I let every patient know about, because it could be their first step towards exploring the vast concentrate world, or just a way for them to get a high-potency cost-effective dose of medicine.
Dabs are intense. It is not botanically possible to grow, engineer or cultivate cannabis flowers that are over 35% THC, (or THCa) give or take a point or two. When smoking flower, the effects of THC may be felt immediately but the high is buildable and the carcinogens in the smoke go hand in hand with the therapeutic effects of the cannabinoid. A concentrate, by contrast is usually at least 40-60% THCa, sometimes as high as 99%, and due to the lack of or reduced amount of plant material like leaves, stems and lipids, it penetrates the bloodstream much better. It also reduces your exposure to carcinogens. If you have never dabbed before or weren’t paying attention to your concentrates, here’s a little rundown to help get your feet wet.
Hashish and whole plant extract oils were the first concentrates, invented long before the glass-blowing industry came along. You might not associate Fire King's cold water hash with the lemon-colored globs you see people loading onto their bangers on Instagram, but without techniques like this, “live resin sauce” would be a mere figment of the imagination. A high quality, finely filtered hash with a 90 or 120 micron can easily be pressed out to make “rosin” which resembles shatter and other BHO concentrates somewhat in consistency, but lacks the solvents used to extract it. We carry both so patients have the freedom of choice, and we try to keep them accessible. Check out Frenchy Cannoli's VSOP hashes and Raw Garden’s flower rosins: both are excellent examples of solventless extracts.
BHO concentrates are the most popular and visible concentrates in the industry because they produce the best yield with the best flavor and the best consistency--if done right. All of our concentrates are lab-tested by Pure Analytics to ensure there is no mold or pesticides or residual solvents like butane or propane that hasn’t been purged. I have dipped my dabber into just about every jar and envelope in our fridges, so just ask! Right now I’m polishing off the last of my Nature’s Lab C-4 crumble and RumpWax’s Grape Breath shatter. Most of our regulars are very well acquainted with award-winning brands like Beezle or Gold Drop, but we also carry the cannasseuir brands like Terp Preservation Society and Dabbenport Extracts, but more on them later!
CO2 is another popular solvent used in extraction, but it is more commonly used for vapor cartridges. In the extraction process, CO2 tends to flush out some of the cannabis terpenes present in the plant, which will impact taste. As dabbing becomes more and more popular and acceptable, more people focus on the flavor profiles, so we do not currently carry CO2 derived dabs.
The last category I like to group concentrates into are the isolates and crystallines, or the stuff that doesn’t quite fit. Guild Extracts take a very chemistry-driven approach and have perfect their means of extracting the pure THCa and CBDa molecules from cannabis plants, which is where their crystallines come from. Both are 99% of their respective molecule, which make them ideal for patients dealing with severe nausea, nerve pain and anxiety (among other things). Crystallines and isolates are free of solvents and terpenes, so they are ideal for patients with sensitivities who need a high cannabinoid content. They can be dabbed, but they can also be ingested with food for non-psychoactive benefits, and that will be covered in an upcoming post.
Not so scary right? Dabs like any other cannabis-derived product are personal, and no two patients have the same experience with them. Don’t be afraid to ask our staff anything; we actually really enjoy blowing people’s minds. Til next time, happy dabbing!