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As a cannabis concentrate enthusiast, I'll be honest with you: The first time I took a dab of cannabidiol (CBD) it felt strange, almost sacrilegious in light of the potent THC-heavy sauces, badders, waxes, and shatters that I typically consume.

As any seasoned dabber knows, a fat dab is typically followed by immense anticipation for the oncoming high. But after I took my first-ever CBD dab, the resulting effect felt more akin to a lazy river than a THC-infused roller coaster, sending me down a strangely relaxing and fuzzy stream void of any intoxication

On the flip side, the process of holding a torch and inhaling super-potent concentrates might seem intimidating to the cannabis newbie, and the stigma that dabbing is needlessly intense may prevent some from harnessing the full potential that concentrated CBD has to offer. 

You might think dabbing is strictly for hardcore stoners seeking the highest of highs, but some medical patients and consumers could actually benefit from dabbing CBD concentrates to obtain therapeutic relief. The medical and adult-use market are flush with diverse CBD concentrate products, which can be consumed using the same type of dab rig you'd use for THC extracts.  

What Are CBD Concentrates?

CBD concentrates are hemp-derived or marijuana-derived cannabis products made using an extraction process that retains cannabinoids and terpenes while removing undesirable plant matter. Many extraction processes used to extract CBD are similar to those utilized to produce high-THC concentrates. This means that CBD concentrates can come in many textures, some of which may be better-suited for your needs than others. 

Types and Textures of CBD Concentrate

Cannabidiol (CBD) is also available in concentrated forms such as wax, shatter, and crumble. They can be vaped as virtually pure isolate, extracts featuring the full complement of cannabis's terpenes and cannabinoids including THC, and terpsolate — an isolate fortified with liquid terpenes. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

The process for making THC and CBD concentrates isn't all that different. Many of the textures available for THC concentrates are also available for CBD concentrates. Here are a few examples you might see on a dispensary menu:

  • CBD Isolate: CBD isolate comes in the form of a crystalline solid or powder, and typically contains 99% pure CBD. Following the use of an extraction process to remove all the active compounds from the cannabis plant, the remaining extract undergoes a refinement process that eliminates THC and all other phytocannabinoids, resulting in the purest available form of CBD.
  • CBD Extract: Unlike CBD isolate, this oily CBD extract contains a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes present in the cannabis plant. CBD extract should first be winterized to remove fats and other plant matter from the concentrate before it can be dabbed. 
  • Terpsolate: Terpsolate is commonly used to describe CBD isolate that is combined with liquid terpenes after the extraction process. 
  • Shatter: CBD concentrates can also come in the shatter form, extracted in the slab form and infused with terpenes. 
  • Crumble: CBD crumble comes in a malleable texture that tends to break apart when handled. To make this concentrate, the oils are purged after the extraction process, creating a substance that has a crumbly consistency. 
  • Wax: This term is used to describe concentrates that have a sticky, waxy form. For both CBD and THC, wax concentrates can be produced from full-spectrum and isolate extraction methods.
Cannabidiol (CBD) isolate, in which all other cannabinoids and terpenes have been removed to leave an end product that is at least 99% pure CBD, is one form of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid that can be dabbed. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

How to Dab CBD

The actual process of dabbing CBD concentrate isn't much different than the way you'd consume THC-heavy concentrates. Dabbing both CBD and THC requires the same tools, including the dab rig, butane torch, and dab tool to drop the concentrate into the nail or banger. 

Where the real difference lies is in the effects of CBD dabs. Dabbing THC-heavy concentrates will bring on a stoned feeling almost immediately after consumption, but CBD does not cause any intoxicating effects. Instead, when my colleagues and I dabbed CBD, we felt a sense of calmness and relaxation. 

Here's a step-by-step process on how to effectively dab CBD:

  1. Once situated with your dab rig and CBD concentrate, heat up the nail with a butane torch until the surface is glowing red. 
  2. Similar to the process of dabbing THC, the amount of time you need to wait to dab CBD is dependent on the thickness and material of your banger or nail. The optimal temperature for dabbing CBD lies somewhere around 320-356 degrees Fahrenheit, or 160-180 degrees Celsius, as higher temperature will destroy the terpenes if they are present in the concentrate. As a general rule, it usually takes 20 seconds to heat the nail and 60 seconds for it to cool, but this can vary depending on the material and thickness of the nail. You can use either a stopwatch or you can download a specialized app for your mobile device to keep track of time and ensure you take your dab at the right time. 
  3. Using the dab tool, place the CBD concentrate on the surface of the nail and slowly inhale the vapor. Continue to inhale to ensure that you consume a majority of the vaporized concentrate. If available, place a carb cap over the nail to trap the heat and better vaporize the concentrate. 
  4. Exhale the vapor immediately.
  5. After finishing the dab, clean the nail to remove all leftover residue. Let the nail cool down and wipe up the inside of the nail with a cotton swab. You can dip the cotton swab in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and rub it along the interior of the nail. 
Dabbing is often a choice of seasoned cannabis consumers because of the expense of dab rigs and the additional implements required, such as torches and dab tools. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

Why Would You Want to Dab CBD?

The preparation and process of dabbing CBD takes a fair amount of effort, not to mention the need for a dab rig, butane torch, and other accessories such as caps and dab tools. You might be wondering why someone would go out of their way to dab CBD. Are there certain benefits to this uncommon method of consumption?    

On a Reddit subreddit called DailyDabbers, a forum posted on August 2017 about dabbing yielded some interesting responses from the social media platform's vast community. Reddit users who dab CBD reported positive effects, including a calming and relaxing effect, along with less anxiety. 

“So far I'm really liking it. When I dab pure CBD I notice relaxation, and my anxiety lessens. When I mix dabs and CBD I notice that the high feels way chiller, and the come down is less exhausting,” one user reported.

Consumers who have dabbed cannabidiol (CBD) have described their experiences as calming and relaxing. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

One of the primary benefits of dabbing CBD is that the therapeutic, calming effects can be felt within minutes of consumption. This makes dabbing an effective option for those seeking immediate relief, especially when compared with oral application, the most common method of CBD consumption.

Although dropping CBD oil in your mouth or eating an edible are among the easiest and quickest way to consume CBD, ingestion prevents CBD from immediately entering the bloodstream, sending it instead through the digestive tract and eventually onto the liver, where it is broken down before finally reaching the bloodstream. 

Certain CBD concentrates also give consumers and patients that ability to directly experience and taste the flavorful terpenes and other plant compounds that may not be present in CBD oil

Keep in mind that some high-CBD concentrates may also contain intoxicating levels of THC. If you wish to avoid THC, dabbing pure CBD isolate is an ideal alternative. On the contrary, evidence also suggests that cannabinoids and terpenes also have a combined entourage effect, working together to produce a greater effect than if used separately. Therefore, dabbing CBD extracts retaining other cannabis compounds may be more beneficial. 

Feature image: Dab rigs are more than just for vaporizing heavy-THC concentrates. They can achieve the same vaping experiences for concentrates high in cannabidiol (CBD), too. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

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