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CBD Dabs: A Beginner’s Guide to Vaping and Dabbing CBD Concentrates

And to think, “A little dab’ll do ya!” used to be a catchphrase for a men’s hair styling cream…

It’s been a long time since the 1950s, when Brylcreem’s chipper slogan used the term “dab” to describe a small scoop of their balm. Nowadays the term dab is used in a broader, radically different context: to describe the act of vaporizing a concentrated extract derived from cannabis or hemp, or any quantity of any such concentrate.

That’s right: in the world of cannabis and hemp use, the word dab is a verb and a noun these days! In either case, there is so much to know. Facing this new paradigm and taking those first dabs can be quite daunting for beginners.

So let’s break it down for the first-timers! In this introduction to dabs and dabbing, our rhetoric might sound ambiguous and broad, but this article will be specifically referring to hemp-derived CBD concentrates.

The History of Dabbing

Dabbing as a term and a trend originated in the cannabis community, which was learning about the plant at an exponential rate in the early to mid 2010s and finding new ways to create extracts that were much cleaner, purer and, ultimately, healthier to consume than its beloved butane hash oil (also known as BHO, Honey Oil and Honey Hash). With smaller hits leading to greater results, the community adopted the term after deriving it from that 50s era cosmetic company’s slogan, “A little dab’ll do ya!”- which now seemed more relevant than ever before.

Since the signing of the Farm Act into law in 2018 and the resulting paradigm shift in public perception, CBD manufacturers have been racing to catch up to the innovation and variety of their sister industry. As a result, CBD dabs have become popular nationwide.

Dab (v): To ingest or “take a hit” from the vapor of a concentrate.

That’s right: dabbing and vaporizing, or vaping, are one in the same. To dab inherently means to vaporize- unlike with smoking, there is no direct contact with an open heat source and no combustion, which can release carcinogens and other harmful compounds into a hit.

In this plant’s world, the two terms are just as frequently used interchangeably as they are in different contexts. This can be confusing; but when the terms are associated with different approaches, this is what’s likely being described:

  • Vaping is often used to describe vaporizing a concentrate in a suitable electronic device, such as a pen, portable or tabletop vaporizer.
  • Dabbing is the most commonly-used colloquial term used for vaping a concentrate through a surface heated by a blowtorch or a heat regulating device, such as an e-nail. Dabbing is usually done through a glass, quartz, ceramic or titanium “dab straw”, which may or may not hold water; or a nail or “banger” made from those materials, attached to a dry piece or a water pipe. When a water pipe is being used to dab, this is usually called a dab rig. The tool used to introduce a dab to any vaporizer or heated surface is called a dab tool or a dabber- which is also used to describe a person taking a dab or one who likes dabbing.

Dab (n): a chosen quantity or “hit” of extract from a variety of types of concentrate.

Containing much higher potency than the raw flower they were extracted from, the size of a dab should vary by the user and their needs at the time of dabbing. The word itself is a blanket term for a variety of forms of concentrate, which differ by their consistencies and methods of extract. Some of the nation’s more popular dabs include:

  • Wax: an extract derived with the use of solvents, such as butane or propane, which extracts cannabinoids from raw flower and is purged out of the resulting concentrate for a clean, pure end result. This form of dab is the least processed of its variants and resembles its namesake: a piece of beeswax.
  • Shatter: another extract derived with the use of solvents, shatter undergoes further processing to create its iconic appearance. When it’s stored at a cool enough temperature, shatter’s consistency closely resembles a piece of glass and its appearance should be transparent with a yellow or golden hue.
  • Butter/Batter: like the previous two concentrates, butter- synonymously called batter by some- is extracted through similar means. It is then whipped, with a whisk or similar device, while heat is indirectly applied to create a consistency that looks like warm cake batter.
  • Crumble: the main difference in this dab is its striking appearance. Crumble looks like yellow, golden or dark-gold cookie crumbs. This makes it slightly harder to use with straws and
  • Bubble Hash: a popular solventless alternative to the other dabs, bubble hash is extracted through a method involving cold water baths and precise straining. This leads to a tastier product with a visually striking appearance of bubbling while melting and vaporizing.
  • Rosin/Live Rosin: another popular solventless option, rosin is extracted by applying heat and pressure to the raw flower, pushing out cannabinoids, terpenes and other useful compounds into a full spectrum oil that closely resembles melted wax. Live rosin is extracted from flash frozen material for greater results.
  • Live Resin Diamonds/Crystals/Crystallite/Ambrosia: Arguably the most popular and elite form of concentrate on the market, live resin diamonds start as an oil extracted from flash frozen raw flower with the use of solvents, pulling out the highest degree of cannabinoids, terpenes and other useful compounds.

Through distillation and isolation processes, the selected cannabinoid is refined into its purest form, which appears crystalline in structure and color- like a diamond or quartz crystal. The extracted terpenes and other compounds are often further refined too, then added back to the final product for flavor- either in a phytocannabinoid rich terp sauce or through a more direct method of infusion into the crystals themselves. 

Diamonds Vs. The Rest: Why We Made Our CBD Crystals

With the most purity, the highest potency and the tastiest, smoothest hits of all the different forms of extract, deciding to create Silver Owl’s CBD concentrate in the image of the cannabis industry’s top tier dabs was a no-brainer for us. And thus our Silver Owl CBD Diamonds were born: an homage to the elite carats of the cannabis community’s beloved live resin diamonds meant for people who want nothing to do with THC. With the CBD industry’s creations and trends following in the footsteps of our predecessors, it was only a matter of time before innovators introduced CBD diamonds to the market- and we wanted to be those innovators.

Anyone who has dabbed the full range of cannabis concentrates will likely sing praises for diamonds above all others. However, they’re also likely to tell you about this crystalline extract’s major downside: the price. Diamonds are probably the cannabis industry’s most beloved concentrate, but they’re definitely its most expensive. So just how is it that we’re able to match wits with our competition and keep our dabs more affordable than the other types of extracts they offer?

It’s simple. You don’t have to spend the “diamonds” kind of money on our CBD Crystals because we don’t have to go out of our way to refine our CBD into its pure, crystalline form- so we’re not passing the nonexistent buck onto you. Since the Silver Owl CBD Company’s entire catalog of CBD products is manufactured with our CBD isolate, we already have this crystalline concentrate on hand and in abundance. All we have to do is infuse our eleven distinct blends of terpenes into our isolate and you’re left with our line of delicious, smooth CBD Crystals.

Taking Your First Dab of CBD Crystals

When cannabinoids are ingested via vapor or smoke, their effects are introduced to the human body faster and have more noticeable effects. Up until recently, there has been a major stigma associating CBD with THC; as public perceptions change, more people are using CBD and wondering if inhalation might be the best method of delivery for them.

If you have never tried smoking or vaping CBD before but would like to see how it might help you, here are some recommendations we’ve put together to help you get started:

  • Get a pen vape featuring a single or double coil heating element. Pen vapes have gained a reputation amongst dabbers for delivering a smaller, lighter hit than dab rigs provide- and while this might not appeal to them, it’s a great reason to turn to a pen vape for your first hits. Plus you don’t have to use a blowtorch or an enail; and you won’t have to worry about taking a dab off a surface that’s far too hot for your throat and lungs to handle without “choking”. Not only that, if you’re not already a cannabis enthusiast, do you really want a fancy dab rig setup sitting around the house?
  • Start with a small dab; you can always take another. It’s really easy to underestimate the size of any type of dab, even for the seasoned vets. Taking too large of a dab will choke you out, leading to a fit of coughing, gagging and tearing up. If you want a good first experience, take a small dab; if it doesn’t do anything for you after 30 minutes, you can always take another hit. For a good visual representation of a first timer’s dab, put a single small drop of water onto a hard surface. Take a thin, solid edge and divide that drop into quarters. Your first dab should be no larger than one of those quarters.
  • Don’t get too adventurous on your first time- stick to a flavor you know you’ll like. A first experience can really set the tone for future use. If your first dab session isn’t a good experience, it might lead you to discount a method of delivery that could otherwise be a valuable part of your CBD regimen. Stick to a basic flavor or a profile you enjoy universally for your first time; we highly recommend the Blueberry Kush, Lemon Squeeze and Mango flavors of our CBD Crystals to first time dabbers.
  • Treat dabbing and vaping CBD like a marathon, not a race. With any form of CBD use, consistency and regularity will provide better results than taking larger doses erratically. Yes, a larger dose of CBD will work better than a smaller dose in a single instance, but you won’t know your dabbing limits at first; plus CBD’s most profound and positive effects come with your body’s endocannabinoid system enjoying regular upkeep from more doses of CBD. Think of this like an engine or motor: your endocannabinoid system will respond better to consistent lubrication than to a large amount of oil dumped in after long periods without having much to work with.
  • After you’ve tested the waters, don’t be afraid to experiment dipping in further. You’ll find it a lot easier to forgive a coughing fit after you’ve been enjoying CBD’s more immediate effects by dabbing our CBD Crystals for a while. Though there are no tolerance concerns with CBD- the molecule’s build up in effects is closer akin to the reverse tolerance effects of some antipsychotic pharmaceuticals than the constantly increasing demands of more narcotic substance use- it is certainly possible that larger dabs will work better for you. It’s also possible taking dabs more frequently might bring you longer lasting results. Whatever the case may be, you won’t know until you’ve tried- but definitely give yourself some time to acquaint yourself with CBD and its impacts on you before experimenting with your thresholds.


*These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA. Our products are not intended, nor are to be used, to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you or your loved ones have serious health concerns, please consult a physician,a trained medical or veterinary professional, or emergency medical services.

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