Dabbing 101: What Should I Look For In My Dabs?

Dabbing 101: What Should I Look For In My Dabs?

What should I look for in my dabs?

By: @MedicalAndy

Just like you can’t tell a piece of organic fruit from a regular one, it can be difficult to pick out safe and effective medicine by sight alone—but there are some guidelines you can follow to help pick out a good concentrate.

Your first question is going to be, what do you want to do with your concentrate?  Dab it, make edibles, or add it to a bowl or joint are the most popular options—but each would use a different type of concentrate.  For dabs, you’d want a higher grade of any of the oils or hashes we’ve discussed over the last 2 weeks (BHO, CO2, rosin, ice wax, dry sift, FECO), for edibles FECO or CO2 will work best, and for a bowl or joint, any of the forms would work.

For our discussion today, we’ll be focusing on picking out BHO, CO2, or rosin, which are the most common forms to dab, and also the easiest to identify.  Refer to last week’s post for more info on dry sift and rosin.

CO2 is probably the easiest to pick out because the process is so homogenized.  Many long-time cannabis consumers, myself included, are not big advocates of the CO2 process because it produces a product which does not contain the same rich terpene profile of the original material.  I have even tried more advanced CO2 processes which have the terpenes “reintroduced,” but have simply not found the same desirable flavors that result from a hydrocarbon process, particularly for dabbing.

Of note, distilled cannabis oil, often called “Clear,” sometimes has terpenes reintroduced which are not from the cannabis plant.  There is simply not enough research on direct vaporization of these compounds to be able to recommend those flavor blends.  “Raw” (non-flavored) distillate however is a very safe method of consuming cannabinoids.  There are also some companies which add cannabis-derived terpenes back into distillate, rosin, or dry sift.

Rosin can be selected based almost entirely on color and smell.  Because rosin is so minimally processed, the quality (freshness) of the resin is reflected in the color of the oil.  Lighter colors are more desirable—hash rosin will often produce darker colored oil but this will be reflected in the price.  Dry sift rosin is becoming more common as it produces a lighter more flavorful rosin than that produced from no-melt bubble hash.  The best way to be sure of the quality of your rosin is to make it yourself or see the “before” material.


Selecting BHO is the most difficult, as there are a few factors which can affect the quality of the oil—including the material used and the specific extractor’s process.  As I mentioned last week, the only way to be sure your concentrate is safe is with lab results.  But there are some things you can look for if that’s not available, including stability and color.  Unfortunately, both of these can be thrown off by factors other than quality.  Terpenes will cause an extract to be less stable, even “buddering” or “sugaring” very quickly out of refrigeration.  Dark color can simply be a result of oxidized material, which can still have good flavor and effect.  But BHO should NEVER be black or green, even old material should only come out a dark amber.

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