Are Dabs Bad For You? Complete Guide On Use And Side Effects

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Are dabs bad for you?
December 09, 2021
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Are dabs bad for you? How could they be, considering the intensely enjoyable experience they deliver? Stoners are jumping on the bandwagon, and they’re interested in the potential risks.

This technique for getting sky-high has gained a lot of traction in recent years. However intense and powerful, it brings about potential side effects that you’d avoid with traditional inhalation and ingestion of marijuana

Today, we’re weighing the risk vs. reward of cannabis dabs. We’re providing the ultimate guide on this consumption method, discussing the dangers you might encounter on the way, and providing actionable tips. This way, you can have the time of your life while staying happy, healthy, and safe.

Dabbing cannabis
THC wax for dabs

What is a dab?

Before going into the nitty-gritty of our subject matter, we need to answer one essential question—what is a dab? After all, not every stoner is familiar with the term, and we wish to take care of every member of our large community. 

Dabbing marijuana is the act of inhaling burnt weed concentrates through a specific heating method. You can use a dab ring or vaporizer for this purpose. 

When it comes to the substance you’re using, there are plenty of options at your disposal. Popular choices include:

  • Cannabis wax
  • Budders (concentrated THC)
  • Crumbles and shatters (honeycomb structures of pure cannabinoids)

What is a dab of weed, then? It’s a super-concentrated inhale that sends intoxication to your brain immediately. It doesn’t take several puffs to get high. Only a single inhale of the burnt cannabis product is enough.

How strong are dabs? Much stronger than your blunt, joint, or bong. They take hold instantly and last for longer (some novices report an all-day high). 

Why does this happen? Because of the products you’re using. With weed flowers, you get some amounts of THC, together with many other non-psychoactive compounds. Dabbing concentrates are 80%+ THC. It’s no wonder that the effects are powerful.

THC wax concentrate rosin isolated
THC wax concentrate rosin isolated

How are dabs made?

Curious stoners won’t stop at learning that they can get high out of their minds with this consumption method. They’ll also wonder—how are dabs made? Maybe it’s a simple desire to understand, and maybe they wish to make their own at home. It’s not on us to question but to educate.

All those concentrated canna products we mentioned are simply different iterations of butane hash oil. This product is a resinous oil structure from the cannabis plant, combined with butane as a solvent. It contains highly concentrated THC levels. 

Now that you know what dabs are made of, let’s discuss potency. Your traditional marijuana plant contains 30% THC tops, and that’s with hybridization. BHO dabs, on the other hand, average at 80% THC.

What you get is a gummy product reminiscent of beeswax. Light it up to experience a high in a whole new concept.

How is consuming cannabis dabs different from smoking flowers?

If we’re letting this guide revolve around the question of ‘are dabs bad for you,’ a reasonable stoner might ask themselves—why do it in the first place, then?

Cannabis dabs have several inherent benefits. The sky-high THC levels attract recreational users looking for something a bit (or a lot) more potent than their traditional smoking session

The experience with the high changes, too. Instead of gradually mounting, the entire effect profile hits you at once. This type of intoxication is always fun, especially for stoners looking for a profound sensation with their favorite weed strain. 

The high could last for longer with cannabis dabs, too. The high amounts of THC circulating your bloodstream keep inducing effects long after your traditional joint would, leaving you clear-headed and sleepy. 

The reason why medical marijuana users sometimes ignore the dangers of dabbing is its potency. Those struggling with intense pain and mental anguish sometimes need IMMEDIATE relief, and nothing beats dabs in that department. 

Dabbing weed
Dabbing weed with a dab rig

Is dabbing dangerous? Three possible dangers of dabbing marijuana

Whether you’re extracting THC yourself or trying your hand at a store-bought product, a sensible stoner should keep in mind the potential dabbing dangers they might encounter.

Note: This first section deals with the most common issues you could face with this cannabis consumption method. Apart from them, like with all ganja, more mellow dabbing side effects do exist. We’ll go into them and ways to stay safe later in this guide. 

Risk of injury during extraction

If you cultivate your own weed and prefer your cannabis dabs from homegrown products, the first dabbing danger to keep in mind is the extraction process.

Using butane for extraction is the most prominent, tried-and-tested method, but it’s also volatile and flammable. As such, it can quickly overheat the metal or glass you’re using for the process. If you’re not careful, you could end up with burnt palms.

Another less prominent but more threatening issue is an explosion. Always handle your solvents with extreme care and use thick gloves for tackling the dishes to stay safe. Invite a friend over to have two pairs of hands in case anything goes awry. 

Health effects of dabs 

The side effects of dabbing are many, but none are very dangerous or long-lasting. 

We’ll discuss them below, but first, let’s consider how dabs can negatively affect your system, especially low-quality ones. These issues usually don’t stem from cannabis itself but from the butane solvent.

Manufacturers rarely disclose the other chemicals added to their butane solution. Depending on the elements used, they could contaminate your cannabis dab with hazardous toxins. A recent study showed that some of those chemicals, especially under heat, can be cancerogenic. 

Make sure that you only purchase butane from distributors whom you can trust. For the same reason, extraction at home beats buying cannabis dabs from dispensaries. This cannabis product is much less regulated, even in states with cannabis laws.

Dabbing effects on the brain

We already know that THC interacts with brain receptors, boosting dopamine production and getting your adrenaline pumping. Dabbing effects on the brain operate under the same principle, only much more powerfully.

Without going into too many scientific details, think about it this way. Psychoactive weed sometimes causes paranoia and anxiety through a mix of physical symptoms, perception changes, and hormonal alterations.

Well, going for a concentrated version of the same thing takes these negative effects one step further. Trippiness increases with concentrates. Those prone to psychotic incidents, paranoid thoughts, and panic attacks run a greater risk of experiencing episodes with cannabis dabs. 

Marijuana buds next to THC concentrate wax
Marijuana buds next to THC concentrate wax

7 dab side effects you should be aware of

Cottonmouth, dry eyes, redness, and sweating—we’re all aware of what happens after a puff too many. What is the dab side effect scope, though? Is it the same, or can you anticipate something completely different?

When it comes to this marijuana consumption method, it’s pretty much what you would expect with cannabis, only amplified. Let’s discuss the most common issues dabbers face and how to mitigate them if they happen to you.

1. Dizziness and blackouts

THC lowers blood pressure, which is excellent for people with high BP issues, but it can be harmful to everybody else. The reduced inflow of blood to the brain makes people feel dizzy, and in extreme circumstances, it can cause a short-term blackout.

These adverse reactions to smoking ganja aren’t that common. The situation is a bit more problematic with the effects of dabbing and their sheer potency.

What you can do: If you already have low BP, avoid dabbing altogether. If you sense dizziness, have a high-fat snack as soon as possible and sit somewhere safe and comfortable.

2. Chest pain and coughing

Cannabis dabs are a bit safer on your respiratory system than smoking or vaping. The amount of smoke you inhale is much lower, reducing the risk of lung damage. 

The chest pain you experience as a dabbing side effect is similar to that after bongs. Big inhales of smoke affect the lungs, which might make the chest feel sore the next day. 

Regarding the coughing fits, remember that the concentrated THC smoke can be pretty harsh, even with sweet, gentle strains. It’s not strange to experience a burning sensation in your throat after ripping a hit.

What you can do: Like with all cannabis consumption, keep your cannabis dabbing habits to a minimum. Edibles, topicals, and sublingual drops are great replacements to keep your lungs happy while giving yourself an occasional inhaled treat. 

3. Nausea and vomiting

The dizzy dabbing effects might cause your insides to twist and turn, making you nauseous and all-around iffy. 

The perception changes also might make you feel out of your depth, which is a surefire way to get your stomach in a whirl. That’s a lesser problem in this regard, though, and one easy to solve by focusing on resolving other symptoms.

Vomiting is more problematic. Anecdotal evidence shows that sudden bouts of vomiting are one of the dangers of dabbing. The reasons are yet unclear, but it might happen, especially if you overdo it.

What you can do: Take it low and slow. Have a light meal around an hour before dabbing, and sip on water or mint tea while you’re high.

4. Confusion

This side effect of dabbing can be scary, but it’s not strange when you think about it. 

A high dose of THC entering your system all at once can change how you feel both physically and mentally. You might find yourself confused about your surroundings, other people, and the things you’re coming in contact with. 

What you can do: The most important factor here is taking it slow. Your tolerance is the determiner of your confusion levels. Try not to overstep that boundary. Other than that, anxiety-reducing practices such as deep breaths and grounding techniques can help.

5. Hallucinations and perception changes

Cannabis, especially those trippy strains that induce cerebral and cognitive effects, can change how you perceive the world around you.

Apart from making you see in high definition and taste every ingredient of your snack, it can cause sensations bordering on synesthesia, which overwhelms the average brain. By logical extension, dabbing induces similar effects. 

What are weed dabs? Stronger, more concentrated versions of the THC-bearing flower. For that reason, they take the psychotropic properties to the next level, sometimes causing powerful visual and auditory hallucinations.

What you can do: Stay somewhere safe and without too many external stimuli that could overwhelm your mind. Have a sober buddy near you in case the hallucinations get bad. They can reassure you and help you enjoy, not fear, the altered perception.

6. Paranoia and anxiety

Between the rapid heartbeat, dizziness, low blood pressure, and perception changes, it’s no wonder that cannabis dabs can get you a bit anxious. These physical symptoms combine with the rushing thoughts in your head, sometimes taking you places you don’t wish to go.

Is dabbing bad for people with paranoid or anxious disorders? Unfortunately, it might be. While most users find it relatively easy to tackle these thoughts even under the influence, those susceptible to panic attacks are better off avoiding dabs altogether. 

What you can do: Similarly to the hallucinatory issue, you’re best off in a safe environment with a trusted loved one by your side. Anxiety-reducing techniques can also help, but avoid sedatives for the purpose.

7. Memory retention issues

Marijuana doesn’t cause amnesia or an absolute blackout, but it can mess with your working memory. That’s the part of your brain that momentarily retains information, letting you use it for the following minutes to hours. 

After that, the new knowledge either dissipates or sticks in your long-term memory. With the effects of dabbing, the former usually takes place, leading you to forget parts of your high.

What you can do: Not much, really. Be sure that you’re in an environment where you can’t do anything stupid. If you get an amazing idea for the next artistic endeavor, write it down before it leaves your mind

Cannabis concentrate held on a dabbing tool
Cannabis concentrate held on a dabbing tool

How to avoid the negative side effects of dabs & other concentrates

Is dabbing safe, then? It can be, especially with the right precautions in place. Even with the scary-sounding side effects of dabbing, it’s more than possible to give it a shot and have a ton of fun with it.

Let’s discuss ways to enjoy this wild marijuana rush without putting yourself at any risk.

The cannabis dabs you’re using are the first factor to make or break your experience. As a rule of thumb:

  • If shopping at dispensaries, look for lab certifications and talk to your budtender.
  • If extracting at home, use the highest quality weed and solvents and always read the fine print.

After all, most health risks happen when low-quality products join and enter your system. Once you’re only using first-rate products, it’s time to tackle the dabbing process itself. 

Other negative side effects of dabs could happen due to your lack of understanding of the tools used for the process.

Invest in a dab rig or vaporizer that makes sense to you, consists of quality materials, and has the reviews to back its quality. Learn how to use it before lighting up, and you’ll have a much better time.

Finally, dose responsibly and conservatively. Many dab side effects we discussed stem from overdoing it. Start very slowly and never take in another hit before giving the weed time to enter your bloodstream. You’re 99% going to feel it, and overindulgence is never fun.

Are dabs bad for you: FAQs

Having discussed the benefits and potentially negative health effects of dabbing, let’s finish by providing concrete answers to more specific questions we often hear in the community.

Can dabs cause psychosis?

No, at least if you’re not predisposed to psychotic episodes due to a mental illness. The following dab side effects might resemble a very short-lasting psychotic episode:

  • Strong emotional responses
  • Anxiety and unease
  • Trouble concentrating

These disappear as you sober up, though.

Note: Dabbing can trigger an episode in schizophrenic individuals.

Can dabs cause paranoia?

Yes, paranoia is one of the common dangers of dabbing. Increased heart rate and altered sensory perception can trigger paranoid thoughts in some individuals. There’s not much reason to worry, though. It’s much less likely if you don’t already struggle with this type of disorder. 

Are dabs bad for anxiety?

Cannabis dabs can trigger anxiety symptoms, especially for those with stress disorders. While marijuana, even high-THC cultivars, can help manage anxiety, dabs are bad for the job. Their powerful properties soothe some mental symptoms of the disorder, but they worsen the physical ones, doing more harm than good.

Can I be allergic to dabs?

Even if your body agrees with marijuana, you might develop an allergic reaction to a cannabis dab. That mostly occurs due to other ingredients.

Ask yourself—what is the dab wax I’m using? Does it contain contaminants? The purer the product, the less of an allergic reaction risk you’re running.

Can dabs cause rash?

Dab side effects could include rashes in individuals allergic to either marijuana or butane. Always check your reaction to both these compounds before trying a dab, and purchase pure products to keep yourself healthy and safe. 

Cannabis buds with concentrated weed extract to dab
Cannabis buds with concentrated weed extract

To dab or not to dab?

Are dabs bad for you, then? The answer is no, but with some provisions. Dabs can be dangerous, and they’re an amplified version of marijuana that not every stoner can handle. To make the most of this fun ingestion method, remember the following:

  • Quality is everything. You might be able to get away with mid-tier cured flower, but with these concentrates, ensuring excellence is a must. 
  • You can’t wing it. Knowing how to use all equipment is essential to taking a good hit without hurting yourself.
  • Self-control is a must. Even confident, high-tolerance veterans can find cannabis dabs a bit much. Take it super slow. 

Stay tuned to our blog for more guides on all things cannabis. Our educational resources help growers and stoners experience the wonders of weed and stay safe. Get your hands on quality high THC seeds from our store and extract a concentrate yourself.