To dab, or not to dab? That is the question. These days, dabbing is all the rage.
Dabbing—or dropping a bit of concentrate onto a heated nail, then using a rig or glass pipe to smoke it with—is one of the biggest new developments in the modern era of cannabis. These days, it is not uncommon to see kids with blowtorches heating up nails and dabbing.
However, one of the main issues surrounding dabbing are the health ramifications of using solvent-based extractants like BHO. This is important for the grower when choosing how to process his leftover trim material. These days there are many alternatives to BHO, products like ice wax or even CO2 extracted oils. These choices can be daunting. One of the biggest debates to arise over the past few months in the dabbing community is over solvent-based extractions versus solvent-less based extractions. The main argument surrounding this debate is the possible impurities that can be left residually in the product. As more and more states go recreational, and more protocols are put into place, testing will become paramount. And overall, the hash will be much cleaner — preventing these impurities from reaching the end-user.
One issue often overlooked in this debate is that the solvent-less hashes are still made using a solvent, i.e. water. This is the one thing that most bubble-hash makers forget: water is also a solvent. This is why drying is stressed so much by people like Bubbleman and NikkaT, it really is the most important part of making bubble hash. In fact, Bubbleman’s number one recommendations is to use a desiccant, like a cardboard pizza box, to wick moisture out of the hash—especially in a humid environment like the Pacific Northwest. The last thing you want is for your hash to white out or turn moldy.
Recent advances in bubble-making techniques are popping up with new extract artists making something called ice wax, which is a bubble hash made with constant low temperatures. I just got a tour of the Natural Dabs ice wax extraction facility, and it was amazing to see how they make it. This product is a step beyond your average bubble hashes. Natural dabs ice wax is never heated above 55 degrees; it’s even dried out at these low temperatures. The room they make their hash in is so cold, you really need a jacket and gloves.
Natural Dabs uses the full plant and they always run their material fresh-frozen; this technique preserves the full terpene profile. When you smoke the hash, this translates the product maintaining the full synergistic effect between cannabinoids and terpenes. Ice wax or bubble hash is easy to make and unless you are using a closed loop-system (like the BHOgart one) outdoors, then be very careful when making BHO. Too many people these days are blowing themselves up. Bubble hash is an easier alternative to make, but don’t forget to dry your product properly.
Keep it green and keep on growing!