“Taking a dab” refers to the process of touching, or “dabbing”, this small amount of extract against a heat source, a titanium nail in most cases (sometimes glass or quartz), in order to vaporize the extract. The typical “dab” set-up involves a bong or bubbler with a twist. Each “dab rig” will need a heating element that allows it to vaporize cannabis concentrates. One common type of heating element is a skillet or pad. They are usually made from quartz or titanium, which allows them to retain high temperatures.
The first step of dabbing is to heat the skillet — usually with the help of a handheld torch. Once hot enough, use the “swing” to put the skillet in place. Now, you may dab your cannabis concentrate, which is on a “dab tool,” in the center of the skillet. It is important that you inhale air at the same time that your concentrate touches the pad. Otherwise, you will lose a great deal of vapor.
Another more common heating element is the nail. Like skillets, quality nails are usually made from titanium or quartz. However, glass nails are easier to find and are sold much cheaper as well. The only problem is that glass nails tend to break after prolonged use. Most dab nails require the use of another piece, called a ‘dome’, which fits over the nail and has a small opening in the top that helps capture & direct the vapor back down through the pipe when it comes off the nail; so you don’t lose any. Domes are typically made of glass and can often times be very intricate pieces of art. Having said that, there are many new “dome-less nails” currently on the market from innovative businesses like Highly Educated.
With that said, domes & nails can also be a difficult concept for new “dabbers” to grasp, as many people still feel like they have to pull the nail or dome out of the slide after their draw (like they are clearing a bong… which could lead to a burnt hand). In light of that, a number of companies have developed “domeless nails” which eliminate most of the confusion, but still leave an exposed piece of titanium that is somewhat of a hazard to the more clumsy type. As with skillets, the first step to taking a dab with a nail is to heat it up with the torch. Once hot, slide the dome in place (unless it is a domeless nail, of course) and simply dab the concentrate on the nail while inhaling.