Why Low-Temp Dab?

Dabbing is an art which often takes time to refine, but when done so correctly, can be extremely medicinally effective. It is a common misconception that a dab nail must be glowing red in order to vaporize cannabis concentrates.

Honing in your low-temp dabbing technique is the best way to get the most out of cannabis extracts. Controlling the temperature of a dab nail is vital for medicinal optimization because cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, and terpenes will burn off if the temperature is too high.

Terpenes are naturally occurring organic hydrocarbons that are found in a large variety of plant life. They provide the plants, including cannabis, with their diverse flavor profiles, aromas and therapeutic properties. Every terpene has unique therapeutic benefits and flavors it produces, thus each individual terpene has its own sensitivity to heat.

Because terpenes are the source of flavor in cannabis, dabbing at the correct temperature makes for a tastier dab. Dabbing at too hot a temperature can make for a burnt taste. The type of cannabis extract also makes for the flavor of a dab; Live Resin is a particularly tasty type of extract, because the cannabis flower is flash frozen before extraction, locking in all the delicious terpene flavors.

Follow these steps to medicinally optimize your dabs:

Step 1

Heat your nail until it glows red, which will burn off any previous residue. A red hot nail can be 1000+ degrees, and is too hot too dab right away.
It is important to use the right part of the flame to heat the nail, to avoid coating it with butane residue. The torch flame will emit a bright blue cone at the base, called the primary combustion zone, and a bigger, lighter blue tip surrounding the bright blue cone, called the secondary combustion zone. The hottest part of the flame, and optimal zone to heat a nail, is in between the primary and secondary combustion zones, about a quarter inch in front of the tip of the bright blue cone, called the interzonal region.

Step 2

Let your nail cool. The optimal temperature for dabbing is between 300-400 degrees, as this is the temperature terpenes and cannabinoids vaporize at. The type of nail used alters the time it takes for the nail to cool. Ceramic retains heat the longest, followed by glass, then titanium. Wait between 15-30 seconds for the nail to stop glowing and cool.
For measuring the heat of a nail to extreme precision, patients can purchase an infrared thermometer to measure the heat, or even an electronic dab nail which you can dial in the heat to a specific degree.

Step 3

Once the low temp target is achieved, touch the concentrate to the nail using a dab tool. If the nail is the right temperature, the concentrate will boil in a puddle and eventually turn slightly brown in color. Once this happens, cover the bowl with a carb cap – something to cover the bowl while still allowing for slight air flow – to vaporize all remaining terpenes and cannabinoids. If the concentrate completely vaporizes, the nail is too hot, so next time let the nail cool for a 3-5 more seconds. If concentrate is left behind, wait 2-3 seconds less.

It may take a few tries to refine, but once you discover your proper dab technique, you’ll find a night and day difference in flavor, and optimization of relief.

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Victoria Mendicino

As VP Community Outreach at Revolution Enterprises, Victoria applies her in-depth knowledge of Illinois’s medical cannabis pilot program to help inform health care professionals and medical cannabis patients. Prior to joining Revolution, Victoria served as Project Director for Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois. She is proud to continue her efforts advocating for patient rights and helping raise awareness about the Prairie State’s pilot program.

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