Dabs vs Herb- What’s the Difference?
As dabbing becomes more popular, dry herb smokers become more curious about the differences between dry herbs and concentrates. We answer your most burning questions in this Dabs vs Herbs comparison. Keep reading to find out the major differences and similarities between the two products, and which is best for you.
Dabs vs Legal Dry Herb (tobacco): Form
Let’s start with legal herb or tobacco. Dry flower is the start of any product, originating on the stalks of plants. Once picked and dried, the dry herb is ready to smoke. It comes in a variety of colors, densities, and textures, and even in two subspecies. Consuming dry flower is easy – all you need is a simple cigarette lighter and a pipe or rolling papers. Dry flower can also be vaped.
We all know what dry herb looks like, but what are dabs made from? In the simplest terms, people take dabs using concentrates. Concentrates can take on many forms, including shatter, wax, crumble, and oil. The name of a concentrate not only refers to its consistency, but may also refer to the way it was made. For example, BHO wax is a concentrate made with butane as a solvent, then through post processing is made into a waxy consistency.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s worth knowing that many of the oils or concentrates you dab with are made through a process using solvents like butane, CO2, or isopropyl alcohol. Although these solvents are left to evaporate off of the finished product, health-conscious dabbers have driven the demand for solventless concentrates. It’s becoming easier every day to find hash oil made using water extraction, static electricity, and other solventless methods.
At the end of the day, concentrates come from dry flower through one of many forms of extraction which produces a purer, denser product. Though they look very different, dabs and herb both are simply forms of the same plant.
Dabs vs Herb: Function
The differences between dabs and herb extend beyond how they look. The methods of smoking concentrates and flower differ, as well as the effects.
Generally speaking, dabs are a lot more potent than hits of herb. That’s because dabs consist of concentrate that range anywhere from 70% to 99% psychoactive purity. That’s compared to herb, which only has 15% to 30% content. That means you need much less concentrate than flower (in some cases, a fifth of the amount) to achieve the same feeling.
Purity isn’t the only reason dabs are more potent than bowl hits. To take dabs, you need special tools to heat the concentrate to a high, steady temperature that effectively vaporizes the material. Dabbers typically use butane torches or enails to reach prime vaporizing temperatures. This method of combustion is much more efficient than smoking from a bowl, bong, or spliff. In fact, you may lose over HALF of the psychoactive ingredients in your product through traditional herb smoking methods.
What does this all mean for you? If you’re a flower smoker who wants to start dabbing, it means you first need to get a nail and a torch or enail to heat it. A nail is the equivalent to a bowl piece for dabbing. Next, remember that you need just a small amount of concentrate to achieve the same effect as you would from a quarter-gram bowl. Dabbing has a reputation for getting you really buzzed, but it’s still possible to have a mellow experience if you take it slow.
Dabs vs Herb: Price
Lastly, let’s look at how herb and dabs compare in price. Earlier we stated that flower is typically
20% by weight, and concentrates average out to
80% by weight. The average price per gram of herb is $15, so a gram of concentrate at $60 would be comparable when considering the amount of you actually get. In fact, many concentrates fall around or below this $60 mark, though prices vary by brand and potency.
Right away, it seems like concentrates are a bit more cost-effective, but there’s more to the story. Remember when we said that traditional herb smoking methods like joints and bowls actually burn away up to 60% of the psychoactive ingredients ? Since concentrates are vaporized, they only lose about 20% of their. In the long run, that 40% adds up! Of course, you can mitigate this discrepancy by vaporizing your herb instead.
Overall, concentrates tend to save smokers money over time not just through the initial price per gram of, but because vaporization inherently preserves more of the product.
The Bottom Line
Dabbing may seem like a new trend, but in fact, concentrate, was more popular than flower for a long time in human history. Consider concentrates to be the resurgence of a tradition, and a complement to the wide variety of consumables on the market. If you’re an herb smoker who’s curious about dabbing, be sure to take it easy and expect a stronger effect. Also remember that you may need special tools, including a nail, torch, and rig, before dabbing.
Just because concentrate is generally cheaper and more potent than plain herb doesn’t mean that flower is obsolete. Plenty of people still like the way legal herbs tastes, and appreciate its mellow, easily controllable high. At the end of the day, you should smoke what you feel comfort.
Dabbing has become very popular among smokers and is quickly becoming the preferred method of smoking over herb. But what is this new smoking craze and whats so special about? Why is it so different from herb? Find out here
Vaping vs. Dabbing: Why You Should Care About Heat
Walk around any hemp festival or Cannabis Cup in the United States and you’ll notice two products popping up all over the place: vaporizers and dab rigs. In many ways, these trends represent two competing directions for the cannabis industry.
On one hand, vaporization has blown up as a health trend for cannabis lovers. Most forms of cannabis consumption have some type downside: smoking cannabis still subjects the consumer to charred plant matter, and many edible companies still rely on sugary desserts as a vehicle for infused products. Vaporizing your cannabis is the only surefire way to avoid the most common cons to cannabis consumption since the process doesn’t create smoke and is 100% calorie and sugar-free.
On the other hand, much to the horror of the typical cannabis naysayer, dabbing has also risen dramatically in popularity. Yet, the biggest opposition to dabbing doesn’t have as much to do with health as the general appearance of the activity–when you begin to take a blow torch to a metal nail and pack the oil down, consuming marijuana suddenly looks almost entirely like consuming something else.
To get an expert opinion on these two subjects, the Leafly team had the chance to talk Seibo Shen of VapeXhale. Recently, Shen has been battling with one particular question: how do you give consumers the experience of dabbing without all the stigma?
In an attempt make the process healthier, Shen and his team have designed a concentrate attachment that lets consumers vaporize cannabis concentrates rather than dab them, which uses a mixture of vaporization and combustion to transform concentrate into a smokeable form.
To better understand what role heating technologies play in your cannabis consumption, we put together a quick lesson in basic mechanics. Here’s all you’ve ever wanted to know about heat:
Vaporization vs. Dabbing (or Conductive vs. Convective Heating)
Though dabbing has developed a scary reputation, in many ways the activity is actually much healthier than smoking. Yet, when enthusiasts are trying to consume cannabis in the safest way possible, there are a few things you need to understand about what’s happening to the cannabis when it’s heated in particular ways. Namely, you’ll need to understand what the difference is between conductive versus convective heating.
Vaporizers and other tools that rely on conduction to transform cannabis product into smoke or vapor typically use flower or concentrate directly applied to a hot plate to change a product into a useable form. When dabbing, the “hot plate” is an ultra-hot metal nail that is heated to extremely high temperatures using a small blowtorch.
“Dabbing may be less harmful than smoking,” explained Shen, “but it’s still not vaporizing. When you’re heating the TI nail 900 to 1000 degrees and you’re dropping some oils onto it and watching it sizzle, that pad is getting hotter than a frying pan when you’re frying your food. Those char marks that are created, that’s combustion. That is also what happens when you use combustion to heat concentrates for dabbing.”
Rather than heating the cannabis matter directly with a heating element, convective vaporization uses an electronic mechanism to heat air. Once the air reaches a certain temperature, the hot air actually heats the cannabis flower and/or concentrate, extracting the THC and turning the material into a vapor without charring the substance.
Of the two types, convective vaporization is the best for your body. The convective method avoids the charring associated with nearly every other method, meaning that convective vaporization creates the purest form of activated, consumable cannabis.
What to Look for in a Quality Vaporizer
Though vaporization is one of the healthiest ways to consume cannabis, not all vaporizers are the same. Depending on the model, different vaporizers can rely on the same methods for activating and extracting cannabinoids as other activities, like dabbing. Yet, as vaporizer technology becomes better each year, consumers need to begin understanding what to look for in a quality machine.
“When we began looking at vape after vape, we noticed a common trend: the heater is sitting in the same chamber as the electronics,” Shen explained. “As in many electrical devices, most of the individual components are held together by solder. This is concerning because when that heating element begins to warm up the solder, that metal can begin off-gassing. The last thing someone who is conscious of their health wants to be concerned about is inhaling anything other than cannabis vapor.”
Not only that, but vaporizers that rely on adding water to the machine may face an additional problem: “Many vaporizers use aluminum heaters, which are perfectly fine, but if any sort of moisture happens to get down into the heating chamber, that metal will begin to oxidize and it can rust. Obviously you don’t want to inhale something that’s rusted.”
Why Vape Temperature Matters
The final thing that you need to be concerned about when vaping, dabbing, or relying on heat to consume your herb is temperature. Often times, avid cannabis consumers turn up the heat on their vaporizers (or try to make their dab rigs boiling-lava hot) to produce an extra thick vapor or smoke.
This creates one major problem: benzene.
Benzene is a common carcinogen that can be found in everything from car exhaust to soft drinks and tobacco. While cannabis tends to produce low benzene levels (a 1986 study found that benzene levels in cannabis consumers are lower than those of tobacco consumers, but higher than non-smokers), the chemical can still be released when consumers heat their product over 365 degrees.
“If you’re vaporizing for health reasons,” Shen said, “you want to stay below 365 degrees. One of our major goals was to create a vaporizer that would give consumers that thick, tasty vapor without having to crank the temperature above 365 degrees.”
The cannabis industry is becoming more high-tech each year. As more research and information about individual products comes out of the woodwork, more entrepreneurs are focusing on creating products that both work well and also give consumers the safest cannabis experience possible. Though people have been vaping and smoking for over a decade now without any major complications, finding new ways to ensure that cannabis maintains its newfound good reputation is always a positive for anyone hoping to make the cannabis industry their future.
Having problems understanding the basic science of dabbing and vaporization? Here's the lowdown on how temperature affects your health.