Extracts and concentrates are ever rising in popularity within the cannabis community, but what exactly are they?
Cannabis concentrates go by many different names, like crumble, shatter, budder, and wax to name a few.
Though these terms are used to characterize traits of the concentrated substances, they’re thrown around relatively loosely.
They generally refer to cannabis oil extracts. Extraction takes cannabis plant matter and removes the desired oils through a process using solvents.
The most common solvents being used are butane and carbon dioxide.
The end product is a refined oil, highly concentrated in sought after chemical compounds like THC and CBD.
These refined extracts are perfect for vaping or dabbing (more on this in a minute).
It’s important to note that potency and consistency can vary greatly between these products.
Oils are sticky, thick liquids that are difficult to handle. They can also vary greatly in color from almost black to light honey.
Oils are used best in self-contained vape pens or on a suitable dab rig.
Concentrates described as “shatter” are generally firm in consistency and resemble a shard of amber.
As the name suggests, when broken up, the substance shatters. This can make handling a little tricky.
Lastly, there are concentrates labeled as wax. Also appropriately called budder, it has the consistency of soft, sandy butter. Wax generally has a rich golden appearance, though the hue can range from pale yellow to deep amber.
Wax is crumbly, which makes it much easier to handle than shatter.
While some concentrates are easier to handle than others, all extracts are mainly consumed in one of two ways: vaping or dabbing.
What is Vaping Wax Concentrates?
Probably the most popular way to consume wax and other concentrates is by vaping.
First, it’s easy. While the different types of vaporizers on the market vary greatly, they all function basically the same – just load and go.
They also don’t require a bunch of additional tools to use; you can get away with just a reasonably sized container to store your wax.
Second, it’s less messy than dabbing since the concentrate is fully contained within the vaping apparatus.
Vaping has also been reported to be healthier than smoking or dabbing for you and those around you.
Vaporizers come in hundreds of varieties!
You’ll be able to find the exact specifications and attributes you’re looking for. Be sure to check what substance the vape is designed for (dried herb, concentrates, oil cartridges, etc) as many only work with one substance.
However, many portable vape pens are popping up on the market that can handle dry herbs and concentrates.
Most vaporizers heat one of two ways, via heating chamber or coils. High-quality coil vapes use quartz rods or ceramic donuts.
Many vapes that utilize a heating chamber feature a variable temperature setting allowing for optimal vapor production.
Top of the line vapes can even sync to your phone, allowing you to control your device from an app.
What is Dabbing Wax Concentrates
While many consumers say they are “dabbing” when using a vape, actual dabbing is a totally different way to consume wax and other concentrates.
Dabbing requires a dab rig, which come in almost as many different styles as there are dry herb pipes.
Most rigs are similar to a bong, but instead of a bowl it’s got a domeless nail.
This nail is different from one you’d find in a toolbox. Rather than a flat head, a domeless nail has a small divot and hole.
Dab nails are generally made of ceramic, titanium or quartz.
The nail is heated using a torch.
Once hot, a dabber tool is used to apply a dab of wax to the nail. The wax will vaporize almost instantly upon contact with the heated nail.
There are electric nails available too. Electric nails are more efficient, safer, and last much longer than a nail that requires a torch, but they are quite costly in comparison.
Dabbing wax is more potent than vaping it. One dab hit is like smoking a full joint of really dank herb. A great dab has immediately noticeable effects. Plus, the full flavor profile of the concentrate is not lost while dabbing.
Not that vaping won’t do the trick, it just doesn’t compare to dabbing.
Another benefit of a dab rig is that it can generally handle slick oils, shatter, and wax type extracts – no need to buy a different cartridge or tool for adaptation, just heat and dab.
Dab rigs also don’t need to charge. That means no cables or adapters to lose and no electricity is required to operate.
Dabbing is arguably the most reliable way to consume your concentrates.
What are the Differences between Dabbing and Vaping Wax?
The biggest difference between vaping and dabbing is at a scientific level – the type of heat used to combust the cannabis concentrate.
True vaporizers use convective heating while dabbing is conductive.
Convective heat vaporizes materials using hot air.
Conductive heat means the material is combusted by applying it to a heated surface.
Convective vaporization is better for your health as it avoids the carbonization associated with other methods of consumption.
Vapes are also simple and easy to use, especially compared to the full set-up required for a dabbing rig. You just load it and start vaping! Using a vape is as easy as pressing a button.
While you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use a dab rig, you will need a little know-how and an array of equipment, including a blowtorch (this will be a show stopper for many consumers), dabber, and smoking apparatus.
Portability is another key difference.
Although there are mini dab rigs and many other products available for dabbing on the go, you’ll still need a blowtorch, dabber tool, and domeless nail.
In contrast, nothing is more portable than a small wax vape pen. Many vapes include a carrying case to store the device and accessories.
A vape is a great solo option. Most vape pens or dab pens are small and only hold personal amounts, which is great for just you.
If you’re with a group of friends and looking to share the experience, dabbing is the way to go.
A dab rig is easy to share amongst experienced users. Each person does a dab that’s the right size for them.
Vapes may seem like the better option as they are more portable and easier to use, but there’s another key difference when compared to dabbing.
Vaporizers get the job done quickly and efficiently, but the experience is nothing like dabbing from a rig, which is on a whole different level.
The flavor and the buzz are both enhanced when enjoying a concentrate from a dab rig. Rigs are also designed for any consistency concentrate while many pens specialize in only one variety.
Which is right for you?
So which is better, dab rig or wax vape pen?
The truth is there’s no right or wrong answer! It’s really just a matter of preference, desire and necessity.
There are different factors you’ll want to consider when choosing between the two.
Vaping is a great place to start as a beginner. It is a no mess, no fuss option for consuming wax and other concentrates.
It is also the top choice for minimalists as vapes are simple to use and easy to store.
The simplicity and easy storage capabilities of a vape make them the best choice for people on the go. Carrying around a torch and a dab rig in public is more than just an unsightly hassle. Many uninformed non-consumers confuse dab rigs as devices for illicit substances.
Vapes are discreet. Even the largest hand-held models can fit in your pocket or be tucked away in a purse.
Dab rigs meanwhile require an open flame to operate, making it difficult to enjoy a dab outside on a windy or rainy day.
Vapes work in all weather, indoors and out!
Dabbing with a dab rig is recommend for more seasoned wax consumers as the set-up and usage of tools requires a bit of know-how to enjoy properly.
Dab rigs and the many different tools needed to use it are best left at home, making this option less than portable.
However, you can’t beat a true dab when it comes to taste and potency.
On average, dab rigs and their components are cheaper than their electronic counterparts. Most pieces for rigs are made from glass, titanium or ceramic, making replacement or upgrading inexpensive.
Vaporizers have many small pieces, usually exclusive to the brand or manufacturer, making them harder to find and more expensive. The technology behind vapes are continuously evolving and advancing, making older models obsolete.
Keeping up with these advances can be very costly and cause a clutter of vape components. With proper care, dab rigs and their components hold their value over time.
As you can see, there are benefits and drawback for each option. Some people have a very strong preference towards one or the other, and that’s ok.
However, a lot of concentrate lovers don’t choose, they utilize both methods!
These people want the ease and portability of a vape when they need it and the full flavor and potency that comes with dabbing when the right moment arises.
The choice to vape or dab (or both) is up to you!