How to smoke wax
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- What is wax?
- What are the different ways to smoke wax?
- Consistency matters: Choosing the right tool
- Step-by-step: How to smoke wax
- Step-by-step: How to take a knife dab
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.
“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 more liquid, runny wax to more solid, brittle wax. The runny end of the wax spectrum includes products like “budder,” which is known for being very malleable and squishy, almost to the point of being a very thick oil. The solid end of the wax spectrum includes things like “crumble” and “honeycomb,” which are starting to approach 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—not so fragile that you run the risk of breaking it into tons of small and hard to use pieces while also not being 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.
You can smoke wax by using a dab rig. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
- Using a nectar collector.
- In a wax vape pen or another concentrate vaporizer.
- Added to a joint, spliff, or blunt.
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.
Consistency matters: 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 whatever consumption method makes it easy to vaporize.
Step-by-step: How to smoke wax
Use your blow torch to heat the nail to the desired temperature. Remember, hotter temperatures produce harder-hitting vapors that also tend to be a bit harsh on the flavor, while lower temperatures tend to give you gentler clouds of vapor with much purer flavors.
Spread the wax around the hot nail and start drawing in through the mouthpiece. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Once you’ve got the nail heated to the right temperature, use a dabber to scoop up a small blob of wax. Spread the wax around the hot nail and start drawing in through the mouthpiece. If you’re using a carb cap, place it over the top of the nail while continuing to draw in with your lungs. When you’re ready to take your hit, lift the carb cap and clear the vapor from the rig.
To consume wax with a nectar collector, be sure you’ve got a clean surface on which to spread the wax. Since you’ll be dealing with high temperatures, be sure it’s also a heat resistant surface. 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 other 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 pulling in with your lungs the entire time so you inhale all the vapor without letting any escape.
The process of dabbing with an e-nail is almost the same as consuming wax with a regular dab rig. The key difference is, instead of manually heating your nail with a blow torch, you’ll use an e-nail to electronically heat your nail.
Once your rig is set up and ready to go, use your e-nail’s interface to input the temperature you want. As soon as the nail is hot enough, scoop up a dab of wax and spread it onto the nail as you begin to inhale. If you’re using a carb cap, place it over the nail. When you’re ready to take a hit, remove the carb cap and clear the chamber.
There are numerous different concentrate vaporizers currently on the market, and the specific steps for using them varies slightly depending on the vaporizer you’re using. So be sure you familiarize yourself with your vaporizer before using it.
The process of smoking wax with a vaporizer involves dropping a dab 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 dab of wax into a heating chamber or spreading it onto heating coils. From there, you’ll turn the vaporizer on, input the temperature you want, let the device heat up, and then use the mouthpiece to inhale the vapor being produced inside the device.
Step-by-step: How to take a knife dab
What are knife dabs?
Knife dabs are a rudimentary method for consuming concentrates. In general, this should be considered a last ditch effort if 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:
- Two metal knives.
- Stove or blow torch.
- Plastic bottle.
- Scissors or knife for cutting the plastic bottle.
Step 1: Make your mouthpiece
Before doing anything else, you need to make a mouthpiece. The simplest way to do this is to cut a 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 your knives.
Step 3: Heat your 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.
How to smoke wax Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is wax? What are the different ways to smoke wax? Consistency matters: Choosing
How to dab cannabis concentrates: oil, shatter, wax, and more
L earning how to smoke dabs may seem daunting at first, but it’ll comes easily once you read about it. To help ensure your first time goes smoothly, this resource will teach you how to take a dab.
Essentially, dabbing is the flash vaporization of cannabis concentrates, once they are applied to a hot surface and inhaled. These concentrates (you’ve maybe heard of shatter, wax, BHO, oil, etc.) are a lot more potent than flower, so a little bit goes a long way.
While bud tends to test between 15-25% THC, concentrates typically range between 50-80% THC, depending on the extract type and quality. You can even dab non-intoxicating CBD extracts for quick therapeutic effects with little to no cerebral euphoria, but in some regions these oils can be difficult to find.
Dabbing isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re new to cannabis entirely. The dosing process is more delicate, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, concentrates can offer you new heights of physical relief and unique cerebral effects. Extracts also contain a lot less plant material than flower, so you’re inhaling more cannabinoids (e.g. THC, CBD) and less combusted resin. Check out our tips for dabbing.
What dab tools are needed?
When learning how to use a dab rig, keep in mind that dabbing technology is evolving. The traditional setup includes the following items:
- Dab rig. This water pipe is like a bong except it will have a fitting for a nail.
- Nail. This is like the bowl for your bong and where you will put the concentrate. The standard today is a quartz banger, which has a bucket shape. Ceramic and titanium are other options, and e-nails are becoming more common. Be sure to get the correct joint size, where the nail slides into the dab rig: If your rig has a 14mm stem, you need a 14mm nail. Nails can be male and female as well—you need a male nail for a female rig, and vice versa.
- Dabber. Use this tool to apply the concentrate to the nail. They can be metal, glass, or ceramic, and have many shapes: ballpoint, needlepoint, scoop, spoon, paddle, etc. Pick a shape depending on the texture and consistency of the concentrate you’re dabbing.
- Carb cap. Although not necessary, we highly recommend one of these to help regulate airflow. Combination dabber/carb caps are increasingly popular.
- Torch. Mini-torches used for crème brulee are commonly used, but you’ll have to stock up on propane for them. Again, e-nails are increasingly common (but expensive) and cut out the need for a torch.
- Cannabis extract. These come in a variety of forms, but the most common ones used for dabbing are shatter, wax, BHO, and solventless extracts like rosin.
- (Optional):Dab mat. To keep your dabbing surface clean and not sticky.
- (Optional): Timer. To ensure you heat your nail up consistently dab after dab.
How to dose cannabis oils and concentrates
Measuring a dab can be daunting as well. Different extracts have different THC concentrations, so it’s helpful to know how potent your concentrate is before dabbing it. It’s generally recommended to start small and increase the dose if you feel comfortable doing so.
A small dose is no bigger than a crumb. It may not look like much, but that’s a lot of THC going straight to the dome at once. Dabbing can feel a lot more intense to those accustomed to flower, but as your tolerance adjusts, the effects become less jarring.
Legal markets are required to add cannabinoid information on their concentrate packaging. Potency is broken down into a percentage. Most solvent-based hash oils will land in the range of 60-90% total cannabinoids, with a few special examples exceeding 90%. The potency of some solventless concentrates may fall below 50% total cannabinoids.
For example, if you have one gram of hash that contains 80% total THC, that one gram will contain 800mg of total cannabinoids. For reference, the recommended starting dosage for an edible is between 5-10mg. This should be an indicator that dabbing is generally for more experience cannabis consumers. Obtaining a 5mg dab from a piece of hash is difficult.
If you split that gram of hash into eight equal portions, each portion will have 100mg of cannabinoids. It’s easier for the naked eye to split the concentrate into eight pieces than pulling a 25mg dab off of an 800mg slab. For reference, a 25mg dab at the ratio of 80% total THC typically comes in about the size of a couple grains of couscous. This will change depending on the potency of your sample, which is why reading the label is important.
Always start small
Don’t be afraid to take the smallest dab that your tool will allow and use that as a reference point. Micro-dabbing offers many benefits, and you can always take another dab. Find a dab size that works for you.
It’s important to understand that different sizes of dabs—and different ratios of cannabinoids—will affect everyone uniquely. A 25mg dab of THC is not guaranteed to give you the same psychoactive effects as your friend; our endocannabinoid systems all operate differently. The best way to find out what dose works for you is to start small and work your way up.
How do you dab?
Once the rig is set up and your dab is prepared on the dabber, you’re ready to get started. We advise sitting down while taking a dab, since it might be intense.
- Step 1: Turn on your torch and aim the flame directly at the nail. Most people will heat the nail until it begins turning red hot. If you’re using an electronic nail, refer to the section below for more information on heating.
- Step 2: Once the nail is hot, turn off your torch. It’s recommended to let quartz nails cool for about 45 seconds (and about 10 seconds for titanium) so the surface temperature isn’t too hot—this is where a timer can come in handy. Check out this article for more tips on how to get the right temperature.
- Step 3: Apply the dab directly onto the nail with your dabber and begin inhaling slowly. Rotating the dabber tip on the nail can help prevent wasting any oil stuck to the dabber.
- Step 4: Cover the dab with a carb cap and finish inhaling—a cap will help regulate the airflow. Always cap your dabs.
- Step 5: Exhale and enjoy!
Safety note: Nails become extremely hot when dabbing. Take caution when handling them, and always wait for all pieces to cool down before you even think of touching them.
How to clean your nail
After a dab, carbon, reclaimed oil, and particulates can build up in the nail. A lot of people will clean their nail after each hit, but you should at least do it at the end of each session. Here are some ways to clean your nail:
- Torch. The easiest way to clean your dab nail is to heat it with your torch to burn off any residual carbon or reclaim on your nail. When applying this method to ceramic and quartz nails, be careful not to expose your red hot nail to a rapid change in temperature or you may risk a stress fracture. After your nail becomes red hot and the residue dissipates, let it cool down completely before finishing off with a final scrape.
- Scrape. For minor buildup, use a sharp dabber tool to lightly scrape your nail. Be careful not to chip any glass.
- Wash. Try soaking your nail in 91% isopropyl alcohol for 10 minutes.
What are e-nails?
The above explains how you take a dab using the common torch-and-nail method, but e-nails are becoming increasing popular.
E-nails, or electronic nails, are significantly more expensive than standard nails, but the investment is often worth it for serious dabbers. They cut out the need for a nail and a torch, which is easily the most dangerous element of dabbing. Furthermore, you will have full control over your nail’s temperature. This is a fantastic feature if you care about making the most out of flavors and terpenes when you dab.
Dabbing technology is constantly improving and expanding, so watch out for the latest trends and products if you’re interested in leveling up your dabbing game!
Patrick Bennett also contributed to this article.
This post was originally published on December 9, 2015. It was most recently updated on June 30, 2020.
First time dabbing? Learn how to safely smoke wax, shatter, and other cannabis concentrates with this step by step guide.