A recent study found that low-temp dabs — in addition to providing a more flavorful and pleasant cannabis experience — do not include the same potentially lethal chemicals as hot dabs.


First of all, most people can intuitively tell that hot dabs aren’t healthy because of how massively unpleasant and painful it is to take one — I’ve heard the phrase “chemical burns” used to describe the sensation in your throat and lungs after dabbing off a too-hot nail or banger.

But, while most informed dabbers have long since embraced the use of timers and other tools to ensure they’re dabbing at optimal temperatures for flavor and efficacy, there are undoubtedly still thousands across the country who insist “red means go” when it comes to dabbing. Dabbing at such a high temperature isn’t the equivalent of putting ketchup on a charred steak (where merely flavor is sacrificed), it’s more like pouring gasoline over the meat and chowing down.

A recent study conducted by Portland State University’s chemistry department — one of the first to explore the effects of “terpenoid degradation” in the context of cannabis concentrate consumption — found that dabs over 750 degrees can contribute to the formation of carcinogen-filled smoke, and that even hotter dabs present an even greater risk.

From The Oregonian:

The study, led by PSU chemistry professor Robert Strongin, showed that oils present in the extract release potentially cancer-causing chemicals when heated to temperatures above 750 degrees. When heated above 932 degrees, the oils released benzene, a known carcinogen.

“The higher temperatures go, the more risk that (users) will be inhaling things that could be harmful,” Strongin said.

Thankfully, it’s very easy to ensure your dab is well under 750 degrees.

Here’s how to make sure your dab occurs at a safe temperature:

If you’re using an e-nail, it’s as simple as setting your temperature in the safe zone — my personal “sweet spot” is usually 505, but it also depends on the brand and the material used in the heating element.

If you’re using a torch, you can dial in the target time for a quartz banger using a watch or digital timer. Heat up the surface of the banger evenly until the bottom of it just starts to glow orange, but do not let the entire thing get glowing hot. Wait for 60 seconds and then take a test dab. Chances are it will be a little too cold, unless the heating element is very thick. Now you can dial down the cooling time to 45 seconds, then 30, and maybe even 15 seconds for smaller ones — whatever gets you a full, flavorful dab without leaving burn marks on the glass is just about right.

And if you happen to have a “heat gun” laying around, feel free to use that for extra precision, but it’s not strictly necessary.

Even the study mentions the availability of technology and techniques — e-nails and low temp timers — but insists most people are still taking hot dabs.

From the study:

Use of an electrically controlled nail (“e-nail”) allows temperature control; but, more commonly, users heat the nail (made of titanium, ceramic, or quartz) with a crème brulee torch and have no temperature control. A minority of dabbers use lower temperatures to preserve flavor, whereas a majority use higher temperatures to assure complete vaporization with no wasted material. E-nail users posting online cite a preferred temperature around 710 degrees. 

Bottom line? You should embrace low temp dabs and the philosophy of “waste it to taste it,” a philosophy which will subsequently protect you from exposure to toxic fumes. It’s not just good taste — it’s science.

TELL US, do you take hot dabs? Will this study make you stop?

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