Why Low Temperatures are So Important for Dabbing
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.
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
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?
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.
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 cru
Are High Temp Dabs Bad for Your Health?
Tuesday September 25, 2018
W hile scant evidence supports the claim, early findings suggest that there are, indeed, harmful ways of consuming cannabis. Now, this evidence does not confirm the risks associated with smoking flower, but rather in dabbing – namely high-temperature hits. The potential risks are not scaring off consumers from taking high-temp dabs, however. Despite the possible health concerns it may bring, groups of dabbing enthusiasts like scorching their concentrate for one reason or another. With further research required, the cannabis industry continues to evolve rapidly. With cannabis concentrates and dabbing at the forefront of recreational usage, the health concerns around high-temperature dabs are only heating up.
Are High-Temperature Dabs Harmful to Your Health?
Initial studies indicate that dabbing at high temperatures could lead to health concerns later on. A 2017 Portland State University studied toxicant formation in dabbing. The study found that high temperatures could expose users to potentially dangerous cancer-causing chemicals such as methacrolein and benzene. More so, the study found that the difficulty consumers face with controlling their nail temperatures only heightened the risk.
The study pointed back to terpenes and their rapid introduction to products across the market. The researchers noted an oxidative liability when terpenes are heated. However, most of the attention was focused on e-cigarettes using terpenes.
While many circles of consumers seem to understand that higher temperatures result in additional carcinogens, the study does confirm such assumptions. And though one study is far from conclusive, it does give the first bit of confirmation of the troubling trend. The findings in the study should serve as the foundation for future studies and one such suggested analysis in the reports should center on the degradation of cannabis extracts in both dabs and vaping.
We may not know the outcome of such studies yet. However, with cannabis technology rapidly changing, the emergence of some dangerous technology could be an outcome. Certainly, this provides a pause for concern. Like any other evolving industry over time though, this concern can be corrected with proper regulation, oversight and studies. That day may come with Canada legalizing cannabis and Israel stepping up its research. Conversely, until the United States opens its laws for further research, the cannabis community could remain behind in its critical findings on topics such as this.
Why Consumers Go High Temperature? What is an Alternative?
Despite the potential health warnings, some cannabis consumers continue to insist on high temperature dabbing for a series of reasons. In some corners, they still hold on to the notion that concentrates are void of plant matter and therefore safe to consume at any levels. In other cases, they do not want to “waste” their concentrates and have them pool up in their bangers. In the case of the latter, changing that opinion shouldn’t be so difficult with a proper lower temperature dab.
Unfortunately, a lot of people often give up on perfecting a lower temperature dab because of the variability in nails from quartz to glass and beyond. This outcome is unfortunate as most are much closer to perfecting the dab than they may have thought. With a bit of trial and error, you can discover your dabbing temperature judging largely off the heating times of your nail or banger and the color of your concentrate once your dab is complete.
In our low-temp dabbing primer, we broke down how heating your nail to about 800°F before cooling down to 350°F to 400°F is the most effective way to vaporize cannabinoids and terpenes for a clean hit. If the puddle left behind turns black rather than a golden brown, it means that you need to go back to the drawing board, er, dabbing rig for a cooler hit.
The introduction of e-nails has also changed trial and error in dabbing. Instead of going off color and torch times, an e-nail will heat your nail to approximately th exact temperature needed for a proper dab. Purists in dabbing have voiced their displeasure with the changing tide. However, like the introduction of technology to sports, we’ve learned that upgrading for modern times often cuts down on costly mistakes despite the few new complaints it introduces.
The Benefits of Low-Temperature Dabbing
Beyond the health benefits, low-temperature dabs provide consumers with fulfilling, flavorful hits that simply can’t be replicated through high-temp dabbing. Plus, the combustion of your concentrate through high-temp dabbing not only can result in harmful toxicants but also the loss of flavor and smoothness.
Remember that while dabbing is supposed to give you effective highs you otherwise may not reach, they should also live up to the legacy of an aromatic experience as well. When torching your concentrates to extreme temperatures, you are cutting down on a small cleaning window while sacrificing the flavors and effects cannabis is supposed to give you.
At the risk of sounding like Ol’ Man Pot Smoker over here, hold on to the spirit of cannabis consumption and enjoy the flavor profile of a strain. You’re likely to enjoy the effects much more without putting yourself at any risk of exposure to toxicants and carcinogens. Happy dabbing!
What are your thoughts on high-temperature dabbing? Share them in the comments below!
Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, “Cannabis Jobs,” was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.
Recent research on high-temp dabbing has shown that there may be adverse effects when consuming concentrate at high temperatures. Learn more about the health effects of high-temp dabbing and why low-temp dabbing is the most health-conscious way to consume cannabis concentrates.