Dabbing culture and the rise of concentrate consumption


The culture of dabbing is something that is quite unique to the United States. Sure, pockets of the culture are scattered across the globe, but the one place you will see people walking around with Puffcos is in America. 

But where did the culture of dabbing come from, and why is it the largest in America? 

The reason for this prominence is the large-scale exposure cannabis consumers in the U.S. had to the world of extracts. The roots of this can be traced back to the early High Times Cannabis Cups, starting first in Amsterdam and then moving to the States. 

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The early days of dabbing

One of the earliest public showcases of dabbing was the 2012 Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. That’s where the titanium dab nail made its first appearance. At that time, oil was still in its nascent phase, which meant the dangers of open blasting were still present. 

In order to make the concentrates, extract artists (a moniker they were known by) would fill either a glass or PVC tube with cannabis, and then they would unload several cans of chilled butane. As the butane accumulated in the tube, a yellowish oil would drip out of the bottom of the tube and collect in a Pyrex cooking dish. There would be a very fine gauge filter attached to the bottom of the tube, ensuring that no plant material would escape along with the oil. 

 Once the oil was collected in the Pyrex dish, it was then heated to a low temperature, usually by placing it on a hot plate outside or in a well-vented area. These two steps meant that a highly explosive volatile solvent would fill the air. Unfortunately, this caused many explosions and injuries to the brave extractors using this process in the early days of oil. 

Concentration consumption today

The culture that formed behind the oil would eventually move through two periods in its history: 2012-2018 (the torch and glass rig era) and 2018- present (the Puffco/e-rig era). At the beginning, dabs or hits of oil would typically be consumed off of a titanium nail that was heated with a torch and attached to a glass bong or other type of smoking device. This would gradually change as consumers flocked to this new category of combustibles, and the glass makers realized there was a new untapped market for their products—especially once these oilheads started making money. 

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As a result, the glass market went through a resurgence and found an entirely new customer base. The rig or glass dabbing device, would become a massive category for head shops and produce lots of ancillary products, such as dab tools, dab mats, torches, and nails. All these new products would be eagerly scooped up by these new consumers. 

The rigs could cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands. This is the period where a company called Mothership and Scott Deppe, the glass blower behind it, would become the Chihuly to the 420 crowd. These glass pieces and the heady boy collectors that scooped them up would eventually form the backbone of the dab culture. 

Once consuming in public became the norm at these American cannabis cups, regular consumers would interact with their favorite extractors and glass blowers. This is where the consumer would be exposed to these super rare pieces and, in some cases, get to take a hit off one. 

This grew the culture as some famous extractors and strains became the rockstars of the cannabis world, carrying Pelli cases filled with thousands of dollars in glass and huge baller jars filled with oil. These extractors like Delicious, Cannabiotix, Vader Extracts, and Gold Coast Extracts made up the elite of the elite, with their concentrates being the most coveted and the dab-tasting lines at their Cannabis Cup booths the deepest.

This dab culture is expanding and has some pockets spread out around the world. For example, in Barcelona, there is a big group of rosin heads, and every year, they have a big extract competition. The culture is also big in Vancouver, Canada, with a group called Boro & Beyond that set up dab bars to educate new consumers about dabbing and the different tools that go along with it. They even have their own line of quartz bangers, which are the little bowls you heat and then place your extract into when dabbing. 

As regulated markets slowly begin to open consumption lounges, it’s likely concentrates will become even more prevalent. These spaces will greatly help grow the dab culture across the globe, and oil may soon rival flower as a dominant method of getting high.

This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The author is solely responsible for the content.

Harry Resin Harry Resin is a long-time cannabis cultivator, breeder, and writer who spent two decades in Amsterdam honing his craft. He has been featured in High Times, GQ, and several other publications.