In the last decade, dabbing has become a trend in the use of cannabis. It involves heating up the concentrated oil using a nail and then inhaling it through a dab rig. Compared to traditional methods of smoking or vaping, the experience it delivers is incredibly intense. Unfortunately, it also comes with potential dangers.
A Primer On Dabs
Dabs come in different consistencies depending on the process of extraction. Some of the most recognizable ones are: shatter, wax, budder, crumble, and butane hash oil (BHO). Regardless of which one, they share one fundamental similarity. All dabs are insanely potent. Compared to traditional weeds that come with 10-20% THC, these extracts contain 60-90%.
The traditional method of extraction often uses solvents such as butane or carbon dioxide. In recent years, though, new methodologies and tools found its way into the market. As a result, it contributed not only to awareness but getting people started on dabbing as well.
By and large, the most popular method is the BHO method. In essence, this process involves running butane through the cannabis plant matter to extract the oil. It is then heated up to let the solvent evaporate and not leaving a residue.
Like extraction methods, the apparatus used for dabbing has also evolved. A typical rig will have a nail and requires a glass dome as well as a torch. As an option, there are also dome-less rigs. Although costing more, the best tool to date is e-nail (electronic nail) that no longer require the use of a dome and torch.
Potential Dangers Of Dabbing
Dabbing has inherent benefits. For one, its high THC levels is a magnet for many recreational users. Because it acts fast, medical users could find a reprieve from severe pains and aches quicker than smoking joints. Also, its smoke does not contain other plant materials other than the cannabinoids.
On the other hand, there are also potential dangers associated with dabs and its extraction.
1. Risk Of Injury During Extraction
The biggest concern when it comes to dabbing is the extraction process. Although there are numerous methods as earlier stated, using butane as the solvent is the most prevalent.
A volatile and flammable hydrocarbon gas, butane can quickly heat up glass and metal. In case of accidental contact, it could potentially cause a severe burn. In fact, these incidents continue to rise as more people try to extract cannabis concentrates at home.
A study published in 2015 states: “Although considered to be safer than previous methods, multiple casualties with extensive burn injuries have resulted from this process.”
Besides burn injuries, an explosion is far more worrisome. It has happened before, and it will happen again. In worst case scenario, it could lead to a fire that spreads to neighboring homes and putting lives in danger.
2. THC Becomes Overbearing
Dabs are at least four times more potent than regular joints. It is one of the reasons why it has attracted people who are in for a thrilling experience. In fairness, it is also seen as useful by people who need a quick reprieve from severe pains.
To date, there is no conclusive evidence that a high dosage of THC could lead to death. It is the overbearing psychoactive properties could cause impairments that lead to accidents.
Some of the symptoms associated include anxiety, dizziness, and vomiting. In extreme cases, it could also alter the behavior of an individual.
In 2014, a 19 years old male exhibited hostile behavior after consuming an edible. Some 3-1/2 hours later, tragedy struck when the young man jumped off a balcony and died. Dabs are far more potent than a typical cannabis-infused treat.
It also appears that a high amount of THC might cause psychosis. In 2016, two individuals had to stay in the hospital for two weeks and undergo psychiatric medication.
3. Increase Tolerance To THC
Simply put, it is impossible to die from the use of cannabis. In fact, an individual has to consume some 40,000 times the average dosage for it to be lethal.
However, as the dosage increases, the more THC is absorbed by the body. In turn, this also intensifies the psychoactive properties. Such is the dilemma presented by dabbing. Already, it is incredibly potent. And, with regular use, the body get accustomed to the high concentration and needs more for an individual to attain a satisfactory high.
In relation to the previous section, it becomes conducive to the possibility of psychosis. For the most part, its when the psychedelic effects become overbearing that poses a hazard to the health and the life of a dabber.
4. Harmful Chemicals
Butane sold in stores are not exactly with other chemicals added. Compounding the problem is that brands do not disclose complete information. Using it as a solvent, it presents one potential problem.
Butanes sold for use with lighters typically contain 80% of the fuel itself. As for the remaining 20%, these are the other chemicals that could end up in concentrated form during the evaporation process. In other words, as dabbers eliminate butane from the dab during the heating process, it could also contaminate the concentrate with potentially harmful chemicals.
Furthermore, there is a more troubling concern that recently came to light. A study published in the American Chemical Societ’s ACS Omega shows an elevated level of toxins as a result of chemicals breaking down under heat. According to the researchers, these compounds are carcinogenic.
In essence, the method of extraction plays a crucial role in the potential dangers of toxins. And, even among people who purchase dabs from dispensaries, there is no assurance that these were from processes that virtually eliminates any contamination.
Lessen Dabbing Risks
The best way to eliminate the risks or dangers associated with dabbing is to avoid extracting and using. Other than that, it is best to buy concentrates from a reputable dispensary.
Although it is not a complicated process, extracting from home can potentially cause an injury or burning. Furthermore, there is no assurance of a toxin-free dab oil. It comes down to a matter of weighing the pros and cons.
Are the risks worth it?