The legalization of cannabis in parts of the United States has sparked many legal and social questions from sea to shining sea. Perhaps the most enjoyable query is the one we’re here to answer today: how to consume cannabis.
For a long time, consumption was relegated to basements and private, outdoor spaces. Now that it’s a public, multibillion-dollar industry, new products that facilitate consumption are popping up everywhere.
People who have been partaking for years want to try the new tech but don’t know where to start. On the other end of the spectrum, newbies are totally lost in a sea of conflicting information and unfamiliar terms.
In this post, we’re going to review some important consumption-related words, explain new devices, and (most importantly) help you determine the products you need for every step of the THC activation, consumption, and storage process.
The main questions we’ll be answering are:
- How do I grind and smoke flower?
- How do I make cannabis-infused food, balms, and ointments?
- What are concentrates and how do I make them?
- How do I consume concentrates and where do I store the extra product?
- Can I turn my dab rig or bong into an e-rig?
How do I grind and smoke flower?
Let’s start simple, shall we?
At the most basic level, you need three things to take a hit of cannabis: flower, a grinder, and a vape pen/bowl. In this example, we use a vape pen. You can find these items (except the flower, of course) here.
Step 1: Grind up your flower.
Why do we often have to grind up cannabis before consuming it? First, and perhaps most practically, it makes it easier to distribute it in paper, a bowl, or (in this case) a vape pen. Second, breaking it down into smaller pieces facilitates an even burn so you can get the most out of your material. Grinders are an inexpensive, effective, and easy way to shred flower.
Step 2: Load up your vape.
We chose the DynaVap VapCap M 2019 for this example because it’s so absurdly easy to use and understand. Plus, it’s made from medical-grade stainless steel, making it nearly impossible to damage or break.
Remove the cap from the vaporizer, fill it with your freshly ground material, and then put the cap back on. The VapCap M 2019 is a manual, butane, dry herb vaporizer, which means you have to heat it yourself before you vape.
Using a butane or torch-style lighter, heat up the metal cap that covers the cannabis chamber, rotating it so there’s even heat distribution. Keep going until you hear or feel the device click not once, but twice; the second click indicates the VapCap is ready to be smoked. There will also be a cool down click indicating you are ready for another cycle.
If you’re already familiar with this kind of vaporizer, we recommend you check out the video below that shows all of the VapCaps 2019 upgrades.
Step 3: Store the extra ground cannabis.
One of the great things about the VapCap M 2019 is that it doesn’t require a lot of cannabis to work effectively. Be sure to secure all of your extra material in a storage tube. You get bonus points if that container is child-proof.
You can find a grinder, the VapCap M 2019, and child-proof storage tubes together here in a handy kit.
How do I make cannabis-infused food, balms, and ointments?
Let’s say you have raw cannabis flower and you want to use it to make brownies, lip balm, essential oils, and so on. How do you do it? Step away from the oven and put down the saucepan—you’re going to need two things: a decarboxylator and an infuser.
You can buy them both here.
Step 1: Decarboxylate your cannabis
A decarboxylator (or “decarb”) is a device that heats up your cannabis and activates the THC. If you skip the “decarbing” process, you will not experience the desired effects of your material. It would be like crushing up leaves from the dead plant on your windowsill and adding them to your baked goods—totally useless and probably gross.
For many years, there was no scientific standard for the decarbing (or heating) process. A quick search will pull up dozens of decarbing methods people swear by, from baking raw flower in a traditional oven to the newer, slower method of crockpots.
However, none of those methods are precise. You can lose a lot of THC by either over or under decarbing your material; the difference of even a few degrees can make a huge difference.
In their infinite wisdom, tech entrepreneurs now make devices specifically for this purpose. They heat the cannabis for the perfect amount of time and at the correct, consistent temperature so you can always get the most out of your material.
The Ardent Nova Decarboxylator is currently the only product on the market made specifically for the decarbing process. Yes, there are other machines that claim to do something similar. However, in reality, those devices only feature decarbing as a side feature and (sadly) their effectiveness doesn’t even come close to the Nova.
Put up to 1 ounce of flower or 5 ounces of kief into the machine, press the “On” button, and wait for about an hour and a half to two hours. Open the canister to find your activated material ready for consumption or cannabis-infused baking.
Step 2: Infuse your cannabis with (almost) anything you want
At this point, you have your perfectly activated cannabis with tons of THC. Now, you want to mix it with something. This is where you use an infuser to combine your material with:
- Cooking oil
- Alcohol tinctures
- Vape juice (aka e-juice or VG tincture)
- Lip balm
- Anything else you’re creative enough to come up with that fits in an infuser
We’re fans of the Mighty Fast Herbal Infuser. As the name implies, it quickly combines cannabis with your infusion of choice.
This infuser looks like a standard kitchen appliance (we’d compare it to an electric soup maker). It heats, stirs, and blends the ingredients together in its double-walled, stainless steel body. Like the Ardent Nova, it guarantees perfect results every time.
There are various infusion settings depending on your time constraints. The options are:
- Mighty Fast 1 – infuses in 45 minutes
- Mighty Fast 2 – infuses in 90 minutes (for better taste and quality)
- Mighty Long – infuses in 4 hours (for even better taste and quality, great for herbal tinctures)
- Mighty Clean – sanitizes the inner workings of the unit between uses (does not infuse)
Buy both the decarboxylator and infuser in our kit here.
Interested in learning more about infusions? We have a whole post about how to make cannabis-infused everything.
What are concentrates and how do I make them?
What are concentrates?
Next on our ‘how to consume cannabis’ list are concentrates, also known as dabs. Let’s take a moment to discuss what dabs are before we talk about how to make them.
A “dab” is concentrated TCH and terpenes. The substance often resembles raw honey or wax. Due to its appearance, you’ll often see dabs referred to as rosin, extracts, wax, budder, and shatter.
There are two kinds: solvent and solventless dabs. The big difference between the two is how they’re made.
Solvent dabs are extracted using chemicals like ethanol, butane, and CO2. It’s a complicated process that is infamous for being unsafe when done outside of a lab setting. Recently, people have been avoiding solvent-based material because of the chemicals, in favor of solventless dabs.
Solventless dabs are extracted using a combination of high heat and pressure. No unsafe chemicals are added to make solventless dabs. This new method is safer, faster, easier, and makes dab creation accessible to the general public.
Be advised, there is no notable difference in potency between solvent-based and solventless dabs.
Why would I consume concentrates over another form of cannabis?
Concentrates are a distilled form of THC. It doesn’t take a lot of time or product for you to feel the desired effects. It also requires virtually no setup or cleanup if you already have pre-made concentrates.
How do I make concentrates?
The things you need to make dabs include a:
- Scale: to measure how much flower you start with/rosin you make
- Rosin press: a device that uses extreme pressure and heat to extract rosin for solventless dabs
- Silicone mat: a reusable, nonstick surface to place your pressed rosin, remove particulates, and divide it with a cutting tool (more on this in a moment)
- Scraper / Dab tool: a long, thin, often metal device used to move dabs, remove particulates, and scrape newly-pressed rosin off of parchment paper
- Secure container: the vessel you use to keep your dabs fresh and secure*
*Note about storage: use glass containers instead of silicone for long-term concentrate storage. During the creation process, it’s OK to temporarily transfer concentrates onto silicone mats or containers. However, over longer periods of time, silicone degrades terpenes which is what gives weed its flavor, taste, and effects. So, less terpenes = less flavor and potency.
For years, cannabis enthusiasts relied on heat sources like hair straighteners and clothing irons to create solventless dabs. On the other hand, people also tried creating solvent dabs in their homes using ethanol, butane, and CO2 with explosive results.
Now, we can use what is essentially a glorified waffle maker to do the same thing—no chemicals or fire extinguishers required.
The RosinBomb Rocket rosin press melts THC crystals off the surface of cannabis flowers into a wax-like substance (aka rosin). Yes, you can achieve a similar effect with a hair straightener or iron. However, using those methods significantly reduces the amount of THC you can render from flower.
Step 1: Press your flower.
Take your desired amount of flower and fold it in a piece of parchment paper. There is much debate about what kind of paper is best for pressing dabs. When it comes down to it, you don’t need anything fancy—Costco brand parchment paper will do the trick. Place the folded paper on the RosinBomb Rocket and press away.
Step 2: Scrape the rosin and remove particulates.
You now have parchment paper covered in fresh rosin. Open up the paper and let the new material solidify for 2-3 minutes. Then, take your scraper, gather the rosin, and drop it onto your nonstick mat. Finally, use your dab tool to remove any remaining flower from the rosin. These remnants are also referred to as particulates.
Step 3: Divide and store the rosin.
So, you have a big glob of pure wax and want to divide it into smaller containers for storage. That is when the Dr. D Budder Cutter heated pen comes into play. This clever little hand tool cleanly cuts through dabs like a hot knife through butter. We recommend you watch the incredibly satisfying video below for a demonstration. Finally, place the rosin into storage containers and keep them in a cool, dark place.
Everything mentioned above (except the parchment paper) can be found in this handy bundle.
How do I consume concentrates and where do I store my extra product?
How do I consume concentrates (aka dabs)?
One way to take dabs is in a “dab rig” (shocker). The extremely simplified version of old school dabbing is as follows: first, add water to the rig. Next, heat the small container—called a “nail”—that holds the rosin. Finally, you smoke the dab. We recommend checking out the video below for a full rundown if you’re interested in the intricacies.
Traditional dab rigs are heated with the “torch and nail” method in which you use an actual handheld torch to heat the area that holds the rosin. Call us alarmists, but handling a torch when you’re consuming sounds a bit risky.
If you’re into expediency and efficiency, e-rigs are the way to go.
E-rigs are a streamlined reimagination of the dab rig described above. In terms of time, it cuts the process of using a dab rig in half and eliminates the need for an open flame. We’re currently using the Focus V Carta E-Rig for all of our dabbing needs (find our full favorites list here). Keep in mind you can also use this little guy for dry flower as well.
Here’s the need-to-know e-rig vocab. The Carta comes with everything below:
- E-rig: a device that allows the user to heat and consume dabs using electricity rather than a torch or nail
- Base: the body of the Carta that includes a glass basin and a socket to attach the atomizer/bucket
- Atomizer: the heating element of the e-rig that turns rosin into inhalable vapor; this is where the bucket is stored
- Bucket: the small, cup-like container that holds your material
- Carb cap: the glass element that you place on top of your atomizer that controls airflow through the rig
- Dab tool: a long, thin, often metal device used to take dabs out of their container and place them into the bucket
There’s a lot of confusion across the Internet about e-rig and old-school dab rig terminology. We listed a few dab rig-specific terms below:
- Dab rig: the original, hands-on way to smoke dabs; requires a hand torch to heat material and a stopwatch to calculate the best time to take a hit (uses no electricity)
- Nail: the container that holds your material (this is the “bucket” in an e-rig); the old school method where dab hits really started
- E-nail: replaces the torch with an electronic heating coil; allows you to choose your desired temperature and does not have to be continuously reheated
How do I use an e-rig?
Step 1: Add water to the base.
Fill the glass base about 1/5th of the way with water.
Step 2: Grab your atomizer.
If your atomizer is screwed into the base of your e-rig, unscrew it and remove it from the base.
Step 3: Take apart the atomizer.
The atomizer is made up of two pieces, the silver element that screws into the e-rig’s base and the black ring that sits on top of the atomizer. Unscrew the black ring off the top of the atomizer.
We recommend unscrewing it upside down—with the silver element on top, ring on the bottom—or over a soft surface in case there’s already a bucket inside the atomizer. Which brings us to step #4…
Step 4: Place a bucket inside the atomizer’s black ring.
As mentioned above, the atomizer is the thing that heats your dabs and lets you smoke them. However, you can’t drop your material into the atomizer. That would have messy and harmful results.
The solution? Add the bucket that holds your material.
Hold the black ring upside down; when you look inside it, you’ll be able to see four small prongs. Place the open side of the bucket into the ring. At this point, the rim of the bucket should be resting on the four prongs inside the black ring of the atomizer. The flat bottom of the bucket should be exposed and facing upward.
Step 5: Screw the atomizer back together.
Keeping the bucket in the position described in step 4, screw the silver part of the atomizer back onto the black ring. The atomizer should look exactly the same as it did when you started. The only difference is that it now contains the bucket where you put your material.
Step 6: Attach the atomizer to the base.
Screw your bucket-filled atomizer into the base of your e-rig.
Step 6: Put a dab of rosin in the bucket and cap it.
Use your dab tool to take a small dab from its storage container and drop it in the center of the bucket—the amount you put in is up to you and your tolerance level. Finally, put the carb cap on top of the atomizer to cover it up and expedite the heating process.
Step 7: Fire up the Focus V Carta.
Congratulations, you’ve completed the setup process and you can now enjoy your dab. This is where the e-rig really shines. Just turn on the device and choose your desired temperature. Your options are:
- 500 °F / 260 °C
- 630 °F / 332 °C
- 770 °F / 410 °C
- 842 °F / 450 °C
Choose a temperature by clicking the same button you used to turn on the device. You can also use Focus V’s app that automatically connects with the Carta. It lets you choose your temperature, see how many dabs you’ve done, and a few other handy functions.
There’s no right or wrong answer for which temperature is best. It’s up to you and your personal taste. That said, keep in mind that high-temp dabs quickly produce an intense effect while low-temp dabs last a bit longer and can be more flavorful.
Step 8: Clean your bucket.
Clean your bucket when you’re done with your e-rig. Get into this habit early and it will guarantee a good, long life for your accessories. Alternatively, if you don’t clean the bucket out after every use, it will develop a (gross) residue and start affecting the flavor of your rosin.
The kit we recommend comes with a free container of Glob Mops, which are specifically designed to clean rig elements without breaking, bending, or leaving behind cotton tufts. To make life even easier, dip one of these little guys in alcohol before wiping down a bucket.
How do I store dabs?
The most common (and effective) way to store dabs is in glass containers. Other substances, like plastic, can infuse your material with silicone. Make sure you keep your containers in a cool, dark place.
Similarly, we also strongly recommend investing in a storage bag or case for no other reason than you never know.
Our fave, the STASHLOGIX Silverton bag, is smell-proof, rubber gasket sealed, and has a customizable divider system to accommodate your gear. Arguably its best feature is an optional combination lock to keep out nosy housemates or greedy friends.
Again, you can get everything we mentioned above (from the Carta to the STASHLOGIX bag) here.
Can I turn my dab rig into an e-rig?
The short answer is yes, kind of. There is a slew of new devices that adapt your favorite dab rig or bong into a glassware/e-rig hybrid.
As mentioned above, the biggest appeal of the e-rig is ease-of-use; they remove the need for timers, hand torches, and thermometers. Add-ons like the G Pen Connect fit onto most glass elements and have basically the same functionality as an e-rig’s atomizer and timer.
The G Pen comes with a 14mm male glass attachment, a tank with the ceramic heating element, and a magnetic battery. Once you go through the (very simple) setup process, you can consume oils or dabs as you normally would using your glassware of choice.
Similar to the Focus V Carta, the G Pen Connect has several heat options denoted on the device by different colors: 375°F (blue), 400°F (green), and 428°F (red).
The one major difference worth pointing out is the G Pen’s lack of carb cap. Instead, it has a handy magnetic cap and a button on the side of the tank that increases airflow when needed.
You can get both the G Pen and some very… let’s say “festive” bongs here.