My first dab: A novice has his first date with a nail.

I am an old-fashioned grump who has never understood why you youngsters use all these oils, waxes, and complicated contraptions just to get high.
An old standy like a joint, pipe, or bong rip was always good enough for me.

Nonetheless, I put my fussy, curmudgeonly bias to the test by trying this new newfangled process called dabbing. And boy, was I amazed.

First, I was amazed by the endless variety of methods people have invented for dabbing. Some are crude methods that remind me of jailhouse techniques. Others are elaborate, fancy designer drug techniques right at home at the backstage parties of the rich and famous.

But one factor always remains constant through all these processes. It’s true: A little dab will do you.

They’re not called “concentrates” by accident — dabs are concentrated THC, and they will mess you up. Just like with edibles when you are told you shouldn’t eat the whole brownie in one sitting, dabs can taste delicious but contain deceptively potent levels of cannabinoids — up to 80
percent THC.

Despite butane torches immolating high-octane cannabis at high temperatures, dabbing can ironically be the more responsible way to smoke. With some methods, you’re not even smoking. You’re inhaling a vapor, which has clear benefits for patients with lung and respiratory issues. On top of that, dabbing a high CBD strain is like popping a pain pill — only with immediate relief and no side effects.

Step 1: Familiarly high with a heat wand
The simplest way to dab concentrates is also the one that requires the least amount of new and specialized hardware: the heated wand method. An affordable glass or stainless steel wand is available at any finer head shop, and you can use your trusty, regular bowl or pipe for smoking.
Place a tiny amount of the concentrate in your bowl or pipe, then heat up the wand using a heat source like a torch lighter or even your stove’s gas burner. Once the wand is hot, you just place it against the little speck of concentrate in your bowl, inhale the smoke and just like that, you’re dabbing.

Step 2: Heating up with a vaporizer
But many dabbers do use highly specialized hardware and devices for dabbing. The guys from Steam Labs showed me their impressive charcoal vaporizer that resembled a small furnace with a chimney. They placed a tiny pindrop of their Skywalker OG wax on a purified charcoal heating element, then placed the element inside the vaporizer and allowed me to inhale the vape through a connected tube.
I took the biggest huff I could possibly take, then exhaled it all. “It’s still going,” the guy operating the vaporizer said, smiling.
Moments later, I’ve got a super potent head high and I need to sit down. It’s not a bad “need to sit down,” it’s just that my muscles all feel suddenly so relaxed. The buzz is powerful, but very comfortable and without paranoia. Within about 10 minutes, I am able to stand up, walk and deal with reality again.

Step 3: Assumptions are shattered
Making shatter — the solid, brown, brittle material with the lovely floral smell — is “a pain in the ass,” says Jeff, who is known as the “Mad Scientist” of concentrate-makers Terpenstein.

He let me try Terpenstein’s shatter called Purple Cadillac, a fancy and classy concentrate of Granddaddy Purple. It takes me five full rips to smoke all of the vapor from just one itty-bitty speck of shatter. Yet I do not cough, my lungs aren’t irritated
at all and the vapor is clean and has no taste at all. It’s basically feels like inhaling very warm air.

One of the finest highs that I have ever enjoyed hits me within two minutes. I’m able to be social and articulate, I’m not slow or impaired in any way, and there is almost euphoric feeling to this brain buzz that lasts for about 45 minutes. I feel cleanliness and purity — I feel a flawless high. In all my years of smoking joints, glass pipes, and bong rips, I have never enjoyed a high that I described as “flawless.” But that shatter high was indeed flawless, and certainly justifies buying new gear and learning new processes to properly consume it.

I had always thought that smoking joints and bowls of marijuana was as good a way as any of getting high, but that assumption has now been shattered.

Photo by Gabrielle Lurie