Want to make your own dabs? Follow our guide to dabbing and find step-by-step instructions on how to make your own weed wax at home — without blowing anything up.
What are dabs?
A “dab" is any form of cannabis concentrate, usually about one hit's worth. Cannabis concentrates refer to substances in which sought-after parts of the cannabis plant — including cannabinoids and terpenes — have been isolated, extracted, and concentrated into an oil or wax.
Since “dabbing" is most commonly associated with cannabis concentrates, we refer to them as dabs when being dosed in this way.
What is dabbing?
Dabbing is the process of heating and inhaling vaporized cannabis concentrates or extracts.
Dabbing is done using a heating tool such as a dab rig, e-rig, or vaporizer. The most common form of dabbing involves applying high heat directly to the “nail" or “banger" of a dab rig using a blow torch and then inhaling. Some dab wax, depending on its consistency, can also be sprinkled into a bowl full of flower or inside a joint to be smoked. However, dabbing wax delivers the most potent, hard-hitting experience.
Dabbing is hands down one of the most potent methods of dosing cannabis; the cannabinoids in weed wax are highly concentrated, and you can feel its effects within seconds of inhalation. Dabs can contain up to 80-90% of the plant's major psychoactive cannabinoid, THC. Comparatively, raw cannabis flower contains up to about 30% THC at most. For this reason, always remember to start low and go slow when consuming dabs.
With concentrates especially, it can be easy to accidentally consume more than you intended to, which can lead to unpleasant side effects.
What are the different types of dabs?
Dabs are an extremely versatile method of consuming cannabis, boasting a variety of textures, colors, flavors, and purposes. Fortunately, there are lots of options to choose from at the dispensary. Some of the most popular forms of cannabis concentrates include:
Weed wax refers to a potent cannabis concentrate that has been agitated during the extraction process, causing the oil to crystallize and solidify. Named for its appearance and waxy texture, the consistency of wax can range from gooey or creamy to hard and flaky. Higher-quality waxes tend to be softer and amber-toned, and wax is a type of butane hash oil (BHO).
Shatter is one of the most commonly dabbed cannabis extracts on the market. Shatter is a brittle, glass-like cannabis extract named for its breakability and characterized by its translucent and often golden or amber appearance. Shatter gets its name from the way it breaks apart — or shatters — when it's handled.
Sometimes referred to as “liquid gold" or even “pure" THC, distillate is an extraordinarily potent, refined cannabinoid oil that is free of taste, smell, and flavor. Distillate is formed when a specific cannabinoid, such as THC or CBD, is separated from all the plant materials and compounds in cannabis, including its terpenes.
Distillate is the base of most cannabis edibles and vape cartridges. It usually maintains a translucent, runny texture, and is often golden in color. The term "distillate" refers to the purification process that removes and separates these cannabinoids into unique products. Distillate is made from cannabis extracts that have been winterized, decarboxylated, and then distilled.
Hash, or hashish, is a cannabis concentrate produced by pressing or rubbing together the resin glands of a cannabis plant to form a brick, slab, or rolled pieces. Hash can be chocolate brown, greenish khaki, or sandy brown in color. Hash can be made a few different ways, but physical manipulation can produce hash at home.
Bubble hash is a cannabis concentrate made using ice water, agitation, and a sieve to separate whole trichomes, or resinous glands, into a paste-like consistency. Bubble hash can be made at home using ice water as a solvent and bags also known as “bubble bags".
Crystalline — also referred to as crystals, THC crystals, or diamonds — resembles coarse sugar, and is a pure, solid cannabis concentrate consisting of a single type of cannabinoid that holds a crystalline structure, usually THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), or CBD.
Rosin is the sticky end product of cannabis flower being squeezed under heat and pressure. Rosin maintains a sometimes shatter-like consistency and is made without the use of any solvents. Rosin is popular among medical cannabis DIY-ers for this reason, as it can be made using a rosin press or easily made from home using whole cannabis flower or another concentrate called kief, also known as dry sift.
Live resin is a form of cannabis concentrate produced using fresh flower as opposed to dried and cured buds. Fresh flower is frozen upon harvest in order to preserve and extract the plant's potent cannabinoids as well as flavorful terpenes.
Since the terpenes remain intact, live resin is considered a high-quality, connoisseur-level product. Inhaling live resin is described by cannabis consumers as tasting and feeling the most like smoking actual flower.
Badder, batter, and budder
Badder, batter, and budder are terms used to describe the appearance, texture, and consistency of a similar set of cannabis concentrates that are whipped under high heat, creating a soft, cake batter-like texture.
As its name implies, cannabis budder is often characterized by a smooth, thick, butter-like consistency, with colors ranging from greens to golds. Badder is similar but may have a looser, saucier consistency, like cake batter or frosting.
Budders and badders can also be crumbly, depending on how they are extracted.
Crumble, sometimes called crumble wax or honeycomb wax, is a cannabis extract identified by its malleable texture that falls apart, or “crumbles," when handled. Crumble is one of the driest yet tastiest forms of cannabis concentrates available on the market and is made using a solvent. Crumble is made similarly to shatter but requires lower heat for a longer period of time.
Make your own homemade dabs
Cannabis concentrates have evolved since the days of hash — the original cannabis concentrate — and have taken a distinctly high-tech turn into the future. The setup and materials used to produce most concentrates require precision and accuracy, and many of the substances involved are volatile, highly flammable, and can quickly become dangerous.
Note: For health and safety reasons, producing most cannabis concentrates should be left to professionals who have access to proper equipment and can operate in safely controlled environments.
Fortunately for the dab DIY-er, there are a few ways to make your own weed wax at home. See below for some simple, straightforward methods of crafting your own dabs.
How to make homemade dabs: Alcohol extraction
You will need 99-100% pure isopropyl alcohol for this extraction method. This substance is highly flammable, so do not smoke or ignite a flame anywhere near it, and 99-100% pure isopropyl alcohol is simultaneously toxic for human consumption. Do not consume it. Handle it with extreme care.
- 2.5 grams of your favorite high-quality cannabis flower
- 4 oz of 99-100% pure isopropyl alcohol
- Metal mesh screen
- Unbleached coffee filters
- Oven and freezer-safe container (pyrex or glass can be used)
- Rubber gloves
- A mesh, micron, or wire strainer
- Knife, spoon, or razor blade
- Non-stick parchment paper
- Optional: Pan + hot water for heat bath
Time needed: 1 day, 5 hours and 10 minutes.
The first method of making your own dabs is through alcohol extraction. Be mindful that while this is an at-home tutorial, some risks are still involved.
- Break up the flower
Break up 2.5 grams of cannabis flower.
- Dehydrate your flower
Heat your weed in an oven-safe container for about 20-30 minutes at 200°F to remove moisture. Note that this step is not decarboxylation.
- Freeze your weed and rubbing alcohol
Place your now dried weed and the bottle of 99-100% isopropyl alcohol in the freezer. Let freeze for 3 - 5 hours. Be mindful of consolidating your cannabis into containers that are both oven and freezer-safe. After a few hours, remove the cannabis and alcohol from the freezer.
- Cover your frozen flower in rubbing alcohol
Pour the cold isopropyl alcohol over your container of cannabis, enough to generously cover it. Swish around the mixture for about 30 seconds. Use rubber gloves as needed.
- Strain the flower
Separate the mixture by straining it through a mesh screen into another container, ideally as quickly as possible. Set the remaining plant material to the side.
- Strain the flower again
Using rubber gloves, strain the mixture again by pouring it carefully through an unbleached coffee filter into a new container.
- Cover and let sit
Cover the container lightly with a coffee filter or other breathable covering and let it sit for 24 hours, or when the alcohol is completely evaporated.
- Collect your dabs
Once the isopropyl alcohol has totally evaporated, using a knife, spoon, or razor blade, scrape the dabs that have formed at the bottom of your container. Dabs made using alcohol extraction will likely maintain a shatter-like consistency, although results may vary.
- Store your dabs
Store your dabs using non-stick parchment paper and an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
- Repeat for more extraction
Repeat steps 1 - 9 with the same batch of cannabis flower to extract even more dabs.
How to make homemade dabs: Ice water extraction
Another fairly easy DIY method for making weed wax at home is known as ice water extraction, which freezes and separates trichome heads from whole flower. Ice water extraction is similar to alcohol extraction, but utilizes ice as a solvent, and the dabs require a bit more time and elbow grease to produce.
Dabs formed from ice water extraction are known as bubble hash and are well worth the effort. For the absolute best results, try to ensure the water you use, and even the air around you during the process, are as cold as possible. If time allows, you can pre-freeze your weed in the freezer before getting started.
- 3 - 4 oz of your favorite high-quality weed
- 10 - 15 pounds of ice
- 3 - 5 bubble bags of varying sizes (vinyl bags with silk/micron screen bottoms; bubble bags between 73 and 90 microns are assumed to produce the finest resin)
- 2 five-gallon buckets (one for mixing and one for wet bags/screens)
- Purified water
- Rubber gloves
- Wooden spoon or stir stick
- Optional: dry ice
Step 1: Break up 3 - 4 oz of your favorite high quality cannabis flower.
Step 2: Layer your first bucket with 3 - 5 bubble bags or micron filters, from smallest to largest. Your largest bag should be on top.
Step 3: Add your cannabis to the bucket, followed by as much ice as possible, about half a bag, and enough purified water to ensure your cannabis is submerged. The use of purified water helps to preserve the purity of your dabs. Tip: To help more evenly cool your mixture, you can opt for filling the bucket with a layer of ice, then weed, then ice, and so on until the top of the bucket is nearly filled. Ensure your top layer is ice. Fill with water and proceed to the next steps. Optional: Add in dry ice to make your mixture even colder. The colder, the better.
Step 4: Stir the weed and ice water using a wooden spoon for about 15 - 20 minutes, agitating it consistently. Add ice periodically to keep the water cold, and increase stirring speed as time passes. The ideal ice-to-water ratio throughout your stir is about 1:1. Let settle for another 20 - 30 minutes.
Step 5: Partially remove the first (largest) bubble bag or micron screen out of your bucket. Gently shake the bag and let the water drain into the bucket until only ice and flower are left in the bag. Avoid squeezing. Set the bubble bag or screen aside, or into your second bucket.
Step 6: Remove the next bubble bag. Scrape off the material that is left on the bottom of the screen using a spoon or knife. The dabs should appear darker in color, and likely sticky. Deposit dabs onto cheesecloth or non-stick parchment paper. This first layer of dabs is considered the least pure, as it contains the most plant residue. However, it's still good to use.
Step 7: Continue to remove each bubble bag and scrape out your dabs, until you've reached the last one. As each bag is removed, the dab material you collect will be purer and purer. The dabs should appear slightly lighter in color, accumulate more, and become easier to collect. Note that the smallest screen will produce the purest hash. To collect any remaining concentrate, turn each bag inside out after draining.
Step 8: Dry your dabs using cheesecloth or a micron screen to filter out any remaining water. You can also place your dabs in the freezer to further dry them out. The removal of moisture is one of the most important steps, so don't skip it.
Step 9: Repeat steps 1 - 8 with the same batch of cannabis to extract even more dabs. Note that agitation of the mixture gets easier over time.
Step 10: Dab your bubble hash. Remember that you will be left with a few different grades of dabs – feel free to separate them, or mix them together. Store your dabs using non-stick parchment paper in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
How to make homemade dabs: Flat iron extraction
Rosin or hash can safely be made at home using just heat and pressure. If you have a flat iron or hair straightener and a working outlet, you're ready to go.
Physical extraction is what will produce dabs in this case. You can press either whole cannabis flower or kief/dry sift into dabs.
- 2+ grams of your favorite high-quality weed
- Flat iron or hair straightener
- Oven mitts or protective gloves
- Razor blade, spoon, or knife
- Non-stick parchment paper
Step 1: Heat up your flat iron or hair straightener to around 250 - 300℉. Handle the tool with care as it heats up, and remember to place it on a clean, heat resistant surface when not in use.
Step 2: Break up 2 or more grams of weed into four smaller, even nugs. Flatten them by hand a little bit.
Step 3: Fold a piece of non-stick parchment paper in half. Place one of the nugs in the middle of the paper, and fold again.
Step 4: Put on your oven mitts for safety and grab your flat iron or hair straightener. Iron the parchment paper to press on the bud for a few seconds.
Step 5: Collect the concentrate that has formed on the non-stick parchment paper by scraping it off using a razor blade, spoon, or knife.
Step 6: Repeat Steps 1 - 5 will all nugs. Feel free to use leftover weed to make edibles or cannabis oil (without the need to decarboxylate).
Step 7: Dab away. When done, store your dabs using non-stick parchment paper and an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
Now you have all the info you need for DIY dabs. Keep in mind that dabs are not for the faint of heart, as the cannabinoid content in concentrates and extracts are very high. So it's important to start low and go slow when dosing —a little goes a long, long way. Note that while some dabs can easily be made at home, most types of extraction methods should absolutely be left to the professionals.