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Dab Nation Myth Busters: Is Dabbing Healthier Than Smoking?

Modern lifestyles are changing. From growing awareness of what we put into our bodies, to the benefits of regular exercise, health and wellbeing are now at the center of how people live their lives.

The dangers of smoking cigarettes, for example, are now widely known. This has led to a huge shift in attitudes because of the damage tobacco has on health. Similarly, with the food we eat, increasing awareness of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has led to a demand for organic, environmentally friendly produced food.

It’s fitting then that we should apply the same scrutiny to the cannabis products that we use because what and how we are consuming has health implications of their own.

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Vaporization vs Combustion: Which is Healthier?

First, let’s take a look at why smoking is actually the unhealthiest way to consume cannabis. Smoking a joint, or hitting a bong or pipe, relies on combustion to produce an inhalable smoke. Unfortunately, combustion – or burning – is a chemical reaction that produces a number of harmful byproducts.

Popular consensus has it that smoking cannabis is safer than smoking tobacco. However, we’re sorry to be the ones to break it to you, but there’s not a great deal of difference with regards to health. According to an analysis of both tobacco and marijuana smoke, both produce comparable levels of harmful gases and particulates. Amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, benzine and ammonia, to name but a few, are found at virtually the same levels in cannabis and tobacco smoke. And as that study concluded, this is almost entirely down to the combustion of plant material.

Dabbing, on the other hand, utilizes vaporization as the delivery method. Instead of a chemical reaction, vaporization refers to a simple change of state from liquid to a gas. Just like when water reaches its boiling point it vaporizes into steam, cannabis concentrates do the same at higher temperatures. This means that no harmful byproducts are produced by vaporization. In fact, you can read all about the history of vaping, and why it’s the healthiest way to consume cannabis here.

Dabbing Temperature Safety

Ok, dabbing is safer than smoking, end of story right? Well, not quite.

While yes, vaporizing concentrates is vastly safer than smoking flower, there are still aspects to dabbing that can be potentially harmful to your health.

Chief among them is dabbing temperature. For a long time, ideal dabbing temp was thought to be around the 700°F plus mark. But a recent study that analyzed the vapor produced from a number of commercially sourced BHO concentrates made some startling findings. What they discovered was that at these temperature ranges, the vaporization of certain terpenes found in cannabis concentrates produced some of the same harmful byproducts as combustion. Myrcene for example, a common terpene found in cannabis, vaporized into small amounts of benzine in this experiment.

Health risks associated with high temperature dabbing, coupled with the discovery of THC’s boiling point of 314°F, has ultimately led to a shift in dabbing culture towards lower temperatures. Not only is this safer, but it also preserves more of the cannabinoid and terpene content. So, stick to a dabbing temp between 300 and 450°F, and use a carb-cap to allow for full vaporization at lower temps.

Are Concentrates Safe?

So you’ve decided to only vape concentrates for health reasons, but what are you actually dabbing? What’s in that shatter you bought from your local dispensary?

The very same study into dabbing temperatures mentioned above, accidentally discovered something more alarming than the potential health risks of high temp dabbing. They found that many of their commercially sourced BHO samples contained unnaturally high levels of terpenes. This sheds a light on a worrying trend within the cannabis industry: the addition of artificial terpenes to enhance the flavor and aroma of cannabis concentrates.

The pressure to produce a product that stands out from the crowd has forced some concentrate producers to add food grade terpenes to their product. These added terpenes are often not sourced from cannabis, and while considered safe for ingesting, whether they’re safe to vape at high temperatures is completely unknown.

That’s why we always recommend you consume solventless rosin that has been pressed from either dry sift, bubble hash, or flower itself. It’s the only way to ensure your concentrate is clean, safe, and free of any artificial additives with unknown health risks.

Is Dabbing Healthier Than Smoking?

Yes, unequivocally. However, there are still a number of things to consider in order to ensure your dabbing is as safe as possible. Let’s recap.

Dabbing at low temps will ensure the healthiest hit. Remember, the boiling point of THC is 314°F, so there’s really no need to go much higher than that, especially with the use of a carb-cap. For consistent safe dabbing temps, we highly recommend the use of e-nail systems Best E Nails 2019. (UPDATED 2021 BEST E-RIGS AND E-NAIL) Their fine temperature controls will ensure you hit the perfect temp every time.

Finally, we can’t stress enough the importance of sourcing safe, quality concentrate, free of any added terpenes. If you are serious about what you put into your body, then you should consider making solventless rosin yourself.
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