What is wax?

Wax is a type of cannabis concentrate named primarily for its appearance and texture. Somewhere between gooey, liquid concentrates like hash oil and solid, brittle concentrates like shatter, wax has an opaque appearance and a thick but malleable, wax-like texture.

marijuana contrates wax dabs
Wax is a type of cannabis concentrate named primarily for its appearance and texture.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Depending on variables such as extraction technique, moisture, and temperature, wax can take on a number of different forms ranging from the liquid, runny end of the spectrum to something more solid and brittle. The runny end includes products like budder, which has a butter or batter consistency. The solid end of the wax spectrum includes things like crumble and honeycomb, which are closer to the texture and consistency of something like shatter.

Regardless of these differences, all wax concentrates fall somewhere in between oil and shatter. For many consumers, this middle ground makes wax especially easy to work with. It's not so fragile that you run the risk of breaking it into tons of small and hard-to-use pieces but also not so runny that it's difficult to scoop up and maneuver onto a dab nail.

What are the different ways to smoke wax?

Wax's unique and easy-to-use consistency makes it a very versatile concentrate. You can smoke wax in numerous ways, including:

  • On a dab rig.
taking a dab
You can smoke wax by using a dab rig.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
  • Using a nectar collector
  • With a vaporizer
  • Added to a joint, spliff, or blunt
joint with wax concentrate
You can add wax to a joint, spliff, or blunt.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
  • Combined with flower in a bowl
  • Using a rudimentary knife dab

Choosing the right tool

Within the world of concentrates, there are numerous consumption methods, like taking a dab or vaping. While you can always find a way to make any of these methods work for virtually any type of concentrate, certain consumption methods tend to work better for certain types of concentrates. For example, hard and brittle concentrates like shatter can be easier to drop onto a hot nail than super runny oils, while oils can sometimes be much easier to use in a vape pen than a solid chunk of shatter. As much as possible, try to match your concentrate with the consumption method that makes it easiest to vaporize.

How to smoke cannabis wax

Dab rig

Use a blowtorch to heat the nail (or dial in the temp on an e-nail). Remember, lower is better because temps above 300 Fahrenheit (XXX Celsius) will obliterate a lot of the good stuff in cannabis — aka, terpenes and cannabinoids.

man taking a dab
Spread the wax around the hot nail and start inhaling through the mouthpiece.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Once the nail has reached the right temperature, use a dabber to scoop up a small blob of wax. Spread the wax around the hot nail and start inhaling through the mouthpiece. If you're using a carb cap, place it over the top of the nail while continuing to inhale. When you're ready to take your hit, lift the carb cap and clear the vapor from the rig.

Nectar collector

To consume wax with a nectar collector, be sure you've got a clean, heat-resistant surface on which to spread the wax. The best options are trays or dishes designed specifically for this type of dabbing. Typically, these products are made out of quartz, glass, silicone, or similar material.

Start by placing a small dab of wax onto the tray or dish. Now use a blowtorch to heat the nail of your nectar collector to the desired temperature. When it's hot, put your lips to the mouthpiece, begin to inhale, and drag the hot nail across the wax. As soon as the nail touches the wax, it will instantly vaporize. Be sure you're inhaling the entire time so you inhale all the vapor without letting any escape.

Vaporizer

There are numerous vaporizers on the market, and the specific steps for using them vary slightly depending on the vaporizer. So be sure you familiarize yourself with the vaporizer before using it.

concentrate wax dab pen vape
The process of smoking wax with a vaporizer involves dropping a bit of wax into a heating chamber or spreading it onto heating coils.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

In general, though, the process of smoking wax with a vaporizer involves dropping a bit of wax into a heating chamber or spreading it onto heating coils. Some vaporizers require concentrate pads or specific accessories to vape concentrate. Once you've loaded the wax according to your device's instructions, turn on the vaporizer, input the temperature you want, let the device heat up, and then use the mouthpiece to inhale the vapor being produced inside the device.

Joint or bowl

It's really easy to enjoy wax in a joint or bowl. For a joint or spliff, you can simply roll out a bit of wax into a long, thin line, like a snake. Then place it on top of the cannabis in your joint and roll like you normally do. You can also wind the wax around the outside of the joint like in the picture above. Adding wax to a joint is sometimes called “twaxing” the joint. 

For a bowl, it's even easier. Just drop a small bit of wax on top of the cannabis in your bong or pipe and smoke like you normally do.

When using either method remember that concentrates are just that — concentrated cannabis. As such, they will be more potent than flower alone. 

How to take a knife dab

Knife dabs are a rudimentary method for consuming concentrates. In general, this should be considered a last-ditch effort when you have no other way to dab. The process involves heating metal knives on a stove or with a blow torch until they're red hot, using those knives to vaporize wax, and then inhaling the vapor. 

What you need

Here's what you need to take a knife dab:

  • Wax
  • Two metal knives
  • Stove or blow torch
  • Plastic bottle
  • Scissors or knife for cutting the plastic bottle

Step 1: Make the mouthpiece

Before doing anything else, make a mouthpiece. The simplest way to do this is to cut a small plastic bottle in half. Discard the bottom half but keep the top half. This will serve as a funnel for capturing and inhaling the vapor as soon as it comes off the knives.

Step 2: Get your dab ready

Scoop up a small chunk of wax and place it on the end of one of the knives.

Step 3: Heat the knife

Heat the tip of the other knife by either placing it on a hot stovetop or by hitting it with a blow torch. Either way, heat it until it's glowing red. Once it's there, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly — you don't want it to be too hot or you'll scorch the wax.

Step 4: Vaporize the wax

Put the mouthpiece in your mouth and hold it there with your lips or teeth. Now, in one hand, hold the knife with the wax on it. In your other hand, hold the hot knife. With the mouthpiece hovering above the knives, carefully place the tip of the hot knife on top of the other knife, sandwiching the wax in between them. The hot knife will instantly vaporize the wax. As the vapor rises, use the mouthpiece to suck up all the vapor. Repeat the process as much as you like. If the hot knife cools down too much, simply reheat it and start over again.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on September 14, 2021.