Dabbin’ Dames: A Lady’s Guide to BHO and Vaporizing Cannabis Concentrates

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PHOTO: OG Kush by Andy Haggis

Disclaimer: This article assumes that cannabis users enjoying BHO/concentrates are doing so safely. This means using concentrates made from high-quality, organic flower with no residual solvent or contaminant present. Vera recommends having at least one lab analysis available for any oil-maker whose product you are considering. The author, an oil-maker, has an obvious bias for concentrates, and wants to ensure the audience is aware of this bias.

I love oil like I love weed, but like weed, oil has its own culture. When I say oil, I’m not talking about petroleum; I’m talking about BHO (or errrl, glass, shatter, buddah, or whatever you want to call your concentrated cannabinoids). To many people, oil culture is confusing, elitist, and exclusionary. To others, the torches, the coughing, and the chemicals may be an instant turn-off. Ladybud has previously covered an individual’s negative experiences with BHO, and today they are allowing me to explore the other side of this debate.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, dabs, oil, wax, shatter, glass, or BHO are all terms that refer to the same product. BHO is an acronym for butane hash oil, and it’s one of the older terms for this awesome product. And what is it, exactly, since we’re defining things? Oil is a cannabis concentrate that is the product of dissolving cannabinoids in a solvent, thus removing them from the crude plant matter, and then purging out the solvent, leaving only pure active compounds behind. Not all oil is made with butane these days, but a lot of it still is. Whatever the solvent, the resulting oil, when properly produced, will be safer and more effective for cannabis users than inhalation of crude combustion smoke is.

Oil or wax comes in a variety of colors, from yellow to amber to brown to green. Its consistency and opacity will also vary,

Ogre Kush Photo: Andy Haggis

Ogre Kush
Photo: Andy Haggis

depending on elevation, temperatures, solvents, the strain(s) used, and many other factors in the production process. Because of this extreme variety, it is of utmost importance that any oil-maker you work with has laboratory results showing the cleanliness and purity of their product, as it is nearly impossible to estimate based solely on appearance or texture. The most important components of a lab report will be the parts per million of residual solvent reported and what, if any, chemical contaminants are found. Beyond that, oil-makers should be striving for nearly perfect activation levels and high percentages of cannabinoids within the oil itself.

If you’re still on the fence about the whole dabbing thing, let me break it down for you. There are some very compelling reasons why so many people are switching over to dabs instead of doobies.

Very Reasonable Reasons to Dab:

1. You’re not smoking. That means all the tar, the carcinogens, the nasty stuff that gives you smokers lung isn’t ending up inside your respiratory system, which is definitely good. Vaporizing your cannabinoids means that you can count on all the good stuff without any of the substances people say can cause cancer.

2. You won’t smell like weed. I can not emphasize how important this is. You don’t have to worry about your purse, your car, or your clothing smelling like some grade-A dank. Instead, you may have a slight floral scent hanging about you, certainly nothing skunky that would be “reasonable suspiscion” for a search of your person as you would if you had just smoked a blunt. Of course, you’ll probably be much more stoned than you would be if you’d just smoked a joint, so watch out for other tell-tale signs that you’re stoned.

3. It takes less to get you as high. Using oil, if you use cannabis regularly, can simply be more economical. Of course, depending on where you live, it might cost more to buy BHO than straight cannabis, but if you have a tolerance for THC, dabbing generally means you can get higher than you will for the same financial cost in flower.

4. It’s cool as hell to watch and do. I’ve heard people compare dabbing to smoking crack, usually shortly before they dismiss the practice and the people who dab. I’ve never smoked crack, so I don’t know if it really is anything like dabbing, but somehow I doubt it. Dabbing is about vaporizing. Smoking crack is about, well, smoking crack. Anyway, the dab pipes (or rigs) and torches are cool. The process of heating metal, crystal, or glass red-hot? Also very cool (in a figurative sense, not a literal one, obviously).

DabRig5. It provides an opportunity for awesome cannabis accessories. I used to use this industrial torch with a blue tank, but I’ve upgraded to a crème brulee torch, and I think it looks snazzy. I saw someone with a Storm Trooper dab torch the other week at a cannabis cup event. You wouldn’t bother with that level of investment for a lighter. And dabbing bongs or oil rigs, as people in these areas call them, come in some seriously awesome designs, from simple clear lab glass (my preference) to ornate honeycomb pieces with triple bubbler chambers. Some of the most of the most innovative glass designs these days are for dabbing.

6. It’s just super cool. It’s trendy. Everyone is talking about it. You can be one of the cool kids, getting into the #710 club. It’s even more exclusive than the 420 club.

I know that dabs aren’t for everyone, but for regular, heavy users of cannabis, they present a lower-risk option when compared with smoking a similar amount of cannabinoids. Don’t hate the dab, folks. Learn to love the oil.