Let's talk about Dabs. Not everyone knows about this subject and unless you're super into the cannabis scene, or live in a medical/legal state, you may likely be missing out on the hottest thing since "vaporizing" became popular.
By way of a history lesson, what is a "Dab" anyway? Without getting all english teacher on you, it's more of an active noun. "Want to do a dab?" or "Let's dab" are common phrases you may hear.
The act of dabbing, however, cannot occur without having possession of a concentrate of cannabis in the form of wax, oil, "budder," shatter, or other form. Concentrates are extracted from the flowers and often times by using a solvent. A solvent sounds scary, but it's a chemistry norm - essentially different solvents dissolve different substances, while leaving others mostly untouched. A solvent can be Ethanol (everclear), CO2, Butane, Hexane, etc. The issue usually with using a solvent is the need to remove the solvent once it's job is complete. Therein lies potential issues with health and risk if the concentrate artist doesn't know what they're doing.
Different solvents also have varying degrees of potentially ill effects if not stripped completely. CO2 is popular because it's fairly benign. Ethanol same. Most people cannot obtain Hexane or other industrial solvents, nor do they have access to the proper equipment to use it - same for CO2. So most "home" artists usually use an open-loop Butane and/or Ethanol method. The safety concerns here should be obvious and have already been addressed. In all instances except Ethanol, the solvent must be stripped. This usually involves heated vacuum chambers and yet more specialized equipment.
If the solvent is not stripped then when you take a "hit" you'll also be vaporizing solvent, and nobody should inhale Butane. If your concentrates spark or "pop" when you hit them... not normal.
Concentrates themselves have been around since the 60's, and likely for thousands of years before that, however, 2005 seems to be the year bubble hash made its debut and it's been a booming field of study ever since! Extraction is a more modern take and doesn't seem to have been perfected or mainstream until 2009 with the advent of Budder. Since then waxes, oils, and shatter have appeared. These all exhibit varying degrees of shelf stability, but generally similar potency can be achieved.
Quality can also vary. Garbage in, garbage out. If the extraction is made with trim or other leaf matter it will likely be less pure than one made from flowers only. The solvent used can also affect quality. Generally, the best extracts are made from the best and most crystally of your nuggets. That's right - no more smoking your headies, time to extract them!
While concentrates themselves are not a new phenomenon as we have had access to hash and kief for ages, modern concentrates are extremely potent, and are difficult to heat usually requiring a "dab rig" or other method of achieving vaporizing temperatures which often exceed 600*F. The most simple and often used rig is a bubbler or bong adapted with a quartz, ceramic, or Ti nail and dish. Recently eNails have become a popular option for the Dabber. These units utilize PID Temperature Controllers, Solid-State Relays, and a variety of other technologies to heat an element that's attached to your nail of choice. This allows faster heating and a more consistent and regulated temperature vs simply using a torch. The other advantage is flavor -- the lower temperatures allow more flavor to come through than the >900*F temps often achieved with a torch. Examples include:
As with 4:20 Dabbers have adopted their own designation of 710 which spells OIL upside down. Clever. ...and yes there is just as much contention with its origins as any other name.
eCigarettes- eCigs - Mini-Vaporizors
The newest thing on the scene is eCigs. These are handy little vaporizers that take cartridges which are often filled with different concentrations of nicotine and flavor additives. These gadgets have been a boom for the failing cigarettes industry, and have helped many actually quit smoking by way of weening. The technology that led to and is used in these devices is simple - send power through a resistive wire to generate heat. This heat then can vaporize the incoming liquid nicotine/flavor mixture. The obvious correlation here is that temperature cannot be controlled precisely and only by arbitrarily modulating the power button.
As all things, the next evolution is already here - temperature control. This technology utilizes a different metal for the wire and is able to read and correct for temperature variances.
The biggest component to eCigs isn't the technology, though, but the mixture. The nicotine is suspended in a mixture often containing Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG), and sometimes PEG (polyethylene glycol). These inert ingredients are in just about every consumer product you use, but some people may have a reaction and should discontinue or moderate their use. The FDA views these as GRASS (Generally Recognized As Safe). The majority of people clearly do not have any issue, but the long term affects of "vaping" are yet to be discovered.
Blah blah blah. The thing is, ALL of the above is monumentally safer than straight up combustion of "analog" cigarettes. It has been tested and proven that vaporization of these elements produces nothing more than water vapor. Whereas combustion produces tar, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, and a whole host of other shit you really don't want to breath in.
So save a shitty concentrate artist, having leftover butane or other solvents present, raw vaping is the healthiest way to consume; and "adulterated" vaping with PG and VG is the second healthiest way to consume.
Cost, Availability, and Ease of Access
So time to get real -- not everyone lives in a medical/legal state, not everyone has available access to concentrates let alone anything of quality, and even still, many can't afford concentrates despite being more economical in the greater picture. I think it's fairly safe to say that most cannabis consumers have access to cannabis and can afford *some* amount of decent flowers.
What about equipment costs? I believe that to be a null point. If you're a cannabis consumer whom only smokes joints or blunts and have zero access to a bong or other small bubbler then you might be in trouble. I feel the majority of the people that consume have or can obtain at least a cheap version. Assuming access to a bubbler all you need is an adapter nail and a torch. Yes, even a MAP or Propane torch will work if it came down to it.
Now, if you're making an investment then that's a different story. Get yourself a small quality dab rig. Maybe an eNail. If you need extreme portability and/or a need for public consumption masking then by all means get yourself an eCig unit. The recommended unit is an eLeaf 30W and a Kanger SubTank Mini. That rig should run you about 50-60$. You can step up to the 50W LiPo model but it's about 80$.
Another method is to buy or build an eNail rig. Purchasing one will set you back 300-400$ pretty easily, building your own DIY will be about 1/3-1/2 less. This is the Cadillac option so don't be discouraged by price alone.
Converting your concentrates to an "eJuice" is a simple process IF you use the right tools. A separate writeup will be done on this method and centered around vaping.
The Juicy Stuff
So all this is to say that there is a method for making a safe, casual home user friendly, solvent-free dab. This will provide the purest, tastiest, and most terpene rich concentrate available today. The best part is you can hold your hits in because you know there aren't any solvents present!
This method isn't new, but it's certainly gaining a resurgence. It's also difficult to scale, although, if done with the proper "shop grade" equipment it can yield as much or more than the traditional solvent based methods.
The only downside is that this method appears to produce a possibly less stable version of the shatter produced by supercritical methods and solvents. Nothing else changes but it's form as it has a tendency to auto-budder if not kept in the freezer. It's not really a negative though. Really.
So let's get on with it. How to press your own Rosin with a 30$ straight iron and a 30$ force multiplying hand vise...
- Select a "thumb" sized well trimmed flower and gently ball it up. This helps keep the wispier parts stuck to itself and out of your oil.
- Place into a precut and folded piece of parchment paper found at any local grocer. White (bleached) helps see the oil. Then pre-press (flatten) with a flat heavy object.
- Set your iron to low, or 250-280*F if you can set. When the iron reaches the correct temp...
- Place the folded parchment between the hot plates of the iron and quickly press the vise tightly.
- Leave for 20-30 seconds as you hear the oil bubbling out.
- As the bubbling slows release the vise and quickly open the folded paper to dump the "puck" out.
- Repeat. Save your pucks. Collect them and do a 2nd and 3rd run. Repeat.
- Scrape all your oil into a ball and have fun dabbing out!
[Edit]: The components here are temperature, time, and pressure. Modifying these will give different yields, and results, as well the starting material quality.
Pressing at 200*F for a bit longer produces a more terpy extract that's akin to "white" bubble hash. VERY tasty. VERY heady. Pressing at 250-275*F gives a bigger yield, more shattery less buddery, but less terpy and less flavor.
The point being is that it depends on what you want to extract, what taste, quality, etc; what you're looking to do with it and how much yield you're looking to get. Also take into consideration that while this tek uses a hair straightening appliance and a 600lb hand-vise, you could get different results and yields if the pressure is increased. A recent press was a graduation from 190-230*F while pressing at ~17.5 tons. This took 7g and turned it into 1.5g shatter - Solventless. Activated. - about a 20% yield, and it only took 2 minutes to produce a usable product.
Edited by Zen_, 14 January 2016 - 10:35 AM.
Added additional temperature details.