…or How I Learned to Love the Stopwatch
Tell me if this sounds like a situation you have been in.
You’ve just started dabbing and you’re sitting around with your friends, torch in hand, ready to have a sesh. You then heat up your tiny titanium until its red hot, throw your dome over it, and jump right in with a dab hotter than the fifth circle of hell.
While the seasoned dabbers who are reading this are cringing at the thought of the harsh taste and wasted terps that come hand in hand with a hot dab, chances are most of us have been there at one point or another. For me, this period lasted for the first 6 months of my dabbing life and only came to an end after a new friend of mine practically gave me a heart attack when he shouted, “Whoa! You’re going in hot there!” as my dabber hovered about an inch from the nail.
It was then that he explained to me the art of the Perfect Temp Dab (“PTD”), whose secrets lead to less harsh, better tasting dabs and will now be passed along to you dear reader. To do that though, we will need to start with a little bit of science.
When you open your new package of BOSM Labs Live Resin, you may notice that there are generally two textures in the container; there are the liquid terpenes that give the sauce its flavor and sauciness, and the crystalline THCA which will ultimately provide the high when combusted or vaporized.
Without the important step of heating, the process of decarboxylation cannot occur. It is through this process that the deactivated, and ultimately not psychoactive, THCA is converted into regular THC that produces the high we associate with cannabis. This process is the reason we need to smoke cannabis to get the psychoactive effects rather than just eating it.
The difficulty, comes in attempting to get the concentrate hot enough to turn the THCA into THC without having the nail be so hot that all of the terpenes combust and with them, the taste that we work so hard to preserve in the lab. For taking a dab the sweet spot for this fall right around 300 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to vaporize but not to burn.
At this point in his explanation I was skeptical. It seemed to me that while it was fine to know what temperature the nail was supposed to be, how could anyone without a thermometer for a hand know what temperature the nail actually is?
Lucky for me, there is the perfect tool for exactly this problem, a stopwatch like the one found on just about every smart phone. Since quartz will cool down consistently over the course its life, by timing how long you wait after heating your nail you can ensure that it is at the perfect temperature every time. Unfortunately, all nails are different and will require different wait times to get a PTD.
Luckily for us, this will require little bit of experimentation with your nail, which here means… taking dabs.
Once you get the nail nice and hot, you can try taking your dabs at different timings to figure out what the ideal wait time is. Here, you are looking for the concentrate to puddle up in the bottom of the nail and vaporize without burning thus leaving residue behind on your nail. Ultimately, a little concentrate will always be left behind.
While this may seem like a waste of oil, this is exactly where you want to be. Terpenes burn at a lower temperature than THCA does and so by taking your dabs at a lower temperature you are effectively sacrificing a little bit of the psychoactive for better flavor. In our humble opinion, and the opinions of those using the popular hashtag #wasteittotasteit, this trade-off is more than worth it.
After you have had your delicious PTD the only thing left is to clean up the puddle left in the nail, a task that we recommend a Q-tip for, another odd dabbing practice that we wrote about here.
And there you have it, the secrets behind perfect dabs as they were passed down through generations of smokers.