5 Tips for Beginner Dabbing

Dabbing, like vaping in general, has grown in popularity for a reason. Thanks to the emergence of advanced technologies like enails and wax concentrates, it’s become a quick and efficient way to get very medicated. 

So what is a dab exactly? 

Dabbing is a way to vape concentrates by pressing them against a heated nail--usually made of titanium, ceramic or quartz--that sits in a dab rig, which looks much like a bong or water pipe but functions slightly differently. The most traditional form of dabbing involves a dome-and-nail rig. The nail slides into your dab rig, just as a bowl sits in a bong or water pipe. The nail is then heated with a butane torch, usually until it turns red hot, after which a glass dome is placed over it. Using a dabber, a pen-shaped tool, a piece of concentrate is placed on the hot nail, which creates big, milky clouds of THC-rich vapor to inhale and enjoy.

Other types of dab rigs--domeless rigs, honey buckets, and more--give you different dabbing experiences, while portable enails and erigs make dabbing convenient. 

While the process of dabbing may be simple, the higher THC content of dabs can make them a little daunting for newbies. Here are a few beginner dabbing tips to help ease you into one of the dry herb community’s most exciting ways to vape concentrates.

Start Small

The old method of throwing someone into the deep end of the pool to teach them how to swim doesn’t really work for dabbing. Wax, concentrate, budder, butane hash oil (BHO)--whatever you call the concentrate used in dabbing, it’s going to pack a more potent experience than dry herb. 

Rather than brave the waters, dip your toe in with a tiny dose. 


Like most activities that involve blowtorches, dabbing gets hot. While vaporizer temperature generally does not exceed 450?, nails can reach around 900?.

The high heat produces thick, voluminous clouds, which is one reason why people love dabbing. But that vapor can be harsher than that of a vaporizer.

Making sure you’ve got water on hand will offset the dryness you might experience in your mouth and throat. 

Never Touch the Nail

Here’s a tip worth going over just in case. 

If you have any familiarity with a bong you know that you pull the slide out from the down stem before inhaling what’s in the smoke chamber. Your muscle memory might convince you to do the same thing on your first dab, especially if someone else is heating the nail for you. But grabbing that nail would introduce your fingers to three times the temperature required for cooking a chicken. 

Never touch the dab rig nail.

Set the Correct Ambiance

Being in a good place physically puts you in a good place mentally. If you’re preparing to dabble in concentrates, and feeling a little nervous, there are some steps you can take to create a relaxing environment.

First be in a spot where you feel at ease. If you’re landlord is right next door, maybe do your first dab at a good friend’s house. Next, consider ambiance. Research shows that dimming the lights gives you an increased feeling of freedom from constraints. As an added benefit, it also sparks creativity, itself a proven way to chill out. 

In addition to lighting, music has tremendous power in shaping your emotional state. Flutes and pianos are found to be some of the most relaxing instruments, while grunge music and death metal cause increased feelings of hostility and anxiety.

Find the Best eNail for Beginners

5 tips for beginner dabbingAn easy-to-use unit like the Source Nail portable enail is a good introduction to dabbing. Rather than heating the nail with a torch as you would with a dome-and-nail rig, a coilless wax atomizer does the work for you. You can choose between a titanium atomizer for a traditional dab experience, quartz for a purer flavor, or ceramic for smoother, low temperature dabbing. While an eNail like the Source Nail isn’t quite as portable and discreet as a wax vape pen, it certainly is easier to use and carry around than a traditional blowtorch dab rig. 

Following these simple steps, and going with a dab unit like the Source Nail that’s not too daunting, will make your first dab a breeze. 

VaporNation Content Writer

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