With the cannabis industry taking off like a bottle rocket in the night sky, weed lovers everywhere are finding no shortage of ways to get themselves stoned. And out of the relatively newfound phenomenons that have popped up in terms of cannabinoid inhalation, none are currently more popular than dabbing and vaping.
In this article, we take a comprehensive look at dabbing vs. vaping to determine which method is healthier, more potent, and overall more efficient. Enjoy!
*(To clarify, we will be talking about vaping cannabis e-liquids with a vape pen – not traditional “OG” vaporizing with regular flower).
First Things First: What is Dabbing? And What is Vaping?
You certainly don’t have to feel bad or out of the loop if you can’t keep up with the difference between dabbing and vaping – it’s a confusing “field” with a lot to remember, and even we tend to get mixed up like a milkshake sometimes. (Also, it doesn’t really help that dabbing actually is a “type” of vaporizing in itself).
The biggest differences between dabbing and vaping are in the “products” that you inhale – while dabbing is almost exclusively used for marijuana concentrates like shatter, wax, crumble, etc, vaping can only be done with specifically-produced e-liquids or “e-juices.”
Also, the heating mechanisms themselves produce another radical difference between dabbing and vaping; with a dab rig (which is essentially a bong with a nail instead of a bowl), the user simply heats the hell out of a titanium (or quartz or ceramic) “nail,” and then touches (or “dabs”) the wax onto it, inhaling the subsequent vapor through the mouthpiece of the rig.
With vaping, an electric heating coil actually heats the air in the vape pen chamber instead of heating the actual oil. When the air is hot enough, the active cannabinoids and terpenes (THC, CBD, etc) are “pulled” out of the oil and into the air of the chamber, producing a nice, clean, inhalable vapor.
Is Dabbing Healthier Than Vaping?
Another thing that people are ultra concerned about these days (and with good reason), is which method of marijuana consumption is healthiest. You will get people swearing up and down that vaping is healthier than dabbing, and then on the flip side you will have the opposite crowd that’ll bet their mother’s finest hen that dabbing is safer than vaping. (And of course, you’ll always have the immovable crowd that says nothing is better or “healthier” than good old fashioned smoking).
In reality, the actual technique of vaping is probably healthier than dabbing, simply because it presents less of a chance of inhaling charred substance. The process of dabbing uses incredibly high temperatures, so even if you’re extremely careful, you’re likely to combust some of the concentrate and inhale it along with the vapor.
When you vape, on the other hand, all you’re (supposedly) inhaling is the active cannabinoids that are extracted from the carrier oil.
However, this fact ought to be taken with a big grain of salt because even though the actual act of vaping is healthier than dabbing, the e-liquids that are vaped are likely to be MUCH more dangerous than pure dabbing concentrate (like waxes or shatter), given the methods with which they’re produced.
For example, in order to be vaporized in a vape pen, cannabis e-liquids and vape juices have to have the perfect viscosity. That is to say, they have to be a lot more “liquidy” than pure cannabis concentrates (if you’ve ever made a concentrate like BHO wax, you know that they are thick, nasty, sticky messes – not a nice clean oil like vape juice).
In any regard, in order to turn the natural concentrate into a “vapable” liquid, manufacturers have to cut them with carrier oils and sometimes even toxic thinning agents (such as propylene glycol and ethylene oxide, which are known carcinogens). We don’t know about you, but we’d way rather inhale a little bit of charred plant matter from time to time, rather than vaporized carcinogens every time we light up our electronic vape pens.
Is Dabbing More Potent than Vaping?
In terms of potency, it makes sense that the only thing that really matters is the potency of the product you’re inhaling. Traditionally, though, both dab concentrates and marijuana e-liquids are much more potent than raw flower buds.
For example, most quality dab concentrates will have a THC content of anywhere between 60-90%, which is much more potent than “regular” marijuana strains, which pretty much top out at about 25-30% THC.
Similarly, you can buy e-liquids that have a THC concentration of anywhere between 15-90%. It is probably a lot easier to control your high with vape liquids, though, as you can “choose” to take tiny little hits at a time with your vape pen. With dabbing, on the other hand, the whole idea is to inhale an entire “dab” at one time – that is, you dab the concentrate onto the red hot nail and you don’t stop inhaling until the whole piece is vaporized.
With that in mind, dabbing is traditionally much more potent than vaping, at least when done in “normal amounts.” (However if you vape an entire cartridge full of 90% THC e-liquid, you’ll get just as stoned as any dab rig could ever get you). In any case, be careful – hospitalizations from both dabbing and vaping super potent weed concentrates are vastly on the rise, and you don’t want to experience the spooky side-effects of a THC “overdose.”
Final Thoughts on Dabbing vs. Vaping E-Liquids
In short, it’s looking more and more like dabbing and vaping are the future of cannabis consumption. As more and more people have access to incredibly high-quality weed, tolerance levels will rise, and thus individuals will increasingly favor and seek out the enhanced potency of both dabbing and vaping.
Also, both methods are becoming popular because of their perceived health benefits – without the need to inhale large volumes of smoke (as you do with firing up a joint or lighting a bowl), we assume that we’re doing our lungs a favor in the grand scheme of things.
However, if you do choose to vape, take every measure you can to ensure that your e-liquid is safe and manufactured responsibly. A lot of companies are cutting their products with super harmful thinning agents, and we, for one, would much prefer to inhale a cloud of weed smoke than a cloud of toxic vape juice chemicals.