Over the years, we’ve spilled a lot of ink on the topic of dabbing. But many of our customers still want to know the difference between vaping vs dabbing. Are they the same thing? Will they have different effects on my body?
Rest assured, we’ve got answers. We’ll take you through the similarities and differences between these two popular methods of ingesting cannabis, and why you might want to gravitate towards one or the other.
Vaping vs Dabbing: A Quick Guide
Vaping and dabbing are both methods of ingesting cannabis extracts. Note that we didn’t say “smoking” cannabis, because technically neither of them involve actually burning cannabis flower as you would in a traditional pipe, a joint, or even a bong.
When you use a cannabis vape pen, the cannabis comes in a liquid extract form. (If you’re using a purpose-made vaporizer, you may be vaporizing flower, but these are typically more elaborate and involved than ordinary vape pens.)
What’s important is that this extract isn’t actually burned. Instead, it’s heated to a temperature at which its volatile oils—the compounds containing cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, as well as terpenes, a broad group of powerful aromatic hydrocarbons—are released as a fine vaporous mist. Compared with the smoke from a traditional pipe, this vapor is much less irritating to our throats and lungs.
By comparison, dabbing involves heating an implement—often called a nail—to a much higher temperature, then using it to combust a thick and potent cannabis extract and inhale it through a pipe of some kind. You’re still not burning plant matter, but because the temperature is so much higher than that used by a vape, what you inhale will naturally include some combustion artifacts. While objectively less irritating than burned flower, it will be harsher than what you inhale from a vape pen.
Vaping vs Dabbing: A Question of Potency
When comparing vaping vs dabbing, another major difference is the potency of that smoke. The vapor dispensed by a vape pen is roughly similar in potency to the smoke produced by smoking a joint or a pipe. Some fancier models even give you a carefully modulated dose so that you can regulate your intake more precisely.
By comparison, the thick and waxy extract used to dab is far more potent. In some, the THC content exceeds 90%. Considering that the most potent flower tops out around 30% THC, these extracts are an order of magnitude stronger, and demand caution.
Vaping vs Dabbing: Safety First
What does this mean for you? For one thing, if you’re new to dabbing, you’ll want to team up with an experienced dabber and use the smallest amount of extract possible at first. It’s not uncommon for first-timers to inadvertently inhale a much larger hit than they anticipated. And that’s not an outcome any of us wants.
For another, you should keep in mind that the nail—the specialized heating element we referenced earlier—needs to be heated by hand with a torch, and that it gets extremely hot. As with all new cannabis experiences: Go low, go slow, and exercise prudence and caution.
Of course, it’s also possible to vape too much too. But given the lower potency available from a vape, the chances of going overboard are much lower. So especially if you’re new to the world of cannabis, we recommend you start low and take it slow.
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