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By Luke Sumpter


If you’re into dabbing, you’ve probably perfected the process to the point where it’s second nature. Your muscle memory makes swift and easy work of firing up your blowtorch and lowering your dabbing tool into a hot banger. This routine has served you well, and it provides a reliable and powerful high every single time. So why change it?

Well, by simply changing the order of events leading up to a hit (and going a little easier on the temperature you use), you’ll improve the flavours of your concentrates, reduce their harshness, and even preserve those valuable cannabinoids and terpenes. Find out everything you need to know about cold start dabbing below, including a step-by-step guide.

What Is Cold Start or Reverse Dabbing?

Cold start dabbing, also called reverse dabbing, refers to exposing cannabis extracts to lower temperatures than you would with conventional dabbing. Typically, dabbing involves first heating a banger or nail to an extremely high temperature before placing an extract onto the searing surface.

Cold start dabbing flips this order on its head—it's dabbing backwards. By placing the extract into the banger first, and then applying heat, users can take a hit just as the cannabinoids and terpenes start to vaporize, without using unnecessarily high temperatures to get the job done. Put simply: cold start dabbing uses lower temps to preserve terps and cannabinoids.

What Are the Benefits of Low-Temp Dabs?

Should you make the switch to cold start dabbing? Many dabbers have, and they cite several key advantages to defend their choice. Here are some of the benefits of cold start dabbing:

  • You’ll preserve precious phytochemicals: Extracts are loaded with cannabinoids and terpenes, the constituents that make dabbing so enjoyable in the first place. However, these constituents are relatively volatile, particularly terpenes. Using lower temperatures while dabbing will enable you to get the most out of them and minimise waste.
  • You’ll enjoy smoother hits: Typical dabbing temperatures can reach up to around 500°C. Such heat causes chemical reactions that lead to the increased release of carcinogenic compounds and other toxins.
  • It’s less taxing on your gear: Most dabbers agree that cold start dabbing takes place within the temperature range of 190–215°C. Exposing your bangers to lower temperatures means you’ll extend their lifespan; several materials, including borosilicate glass, are notorious for breaking and cracking when exposed to the high temps of dabbing over time.
  • It saves time: This technique comes to the fore when you need to rush out of the door and don’t have time to roast your banger to absurd temperatures with a blowtorch.
What Are the Benefits of Low-Temp Dabs?

How To Cold Start Dab

Now that you know the benefits of cold dabbing, you’re probably thinking about giving it a go. Below, you’ll find out the necessary equipment for the job, and the step-by-step process involved.

Equipment

Thankfully, you don’t need any additional gear apart from your standard dabbing rig and accompanying tools. Make sure you have the following:

  • Dabbing rig
  • Banger
  • Blowtorch
  • Dabbing tool
  • Concentrate of choice

You’ll notice we recommend a banger instead of a nail. The cup shape of a banger works much better when cold start dabbing, and allows users to heat the sides evenly to distribute the heat.

Cold Dabbing: Step by Step

You’ve got everything you need; it’s time to start cold start dabbing! Follow the steps below for some of the tastiest and smoothest hits you’ll ever experience.

Step 1: Make Sure Your Banger Is Squeaky Clean

Before taking your first cold start dab, you need to get your banger nice and clean. Any residual oil clinging to the inside will burn up alongside your fresh extract and tarnish the nice terpy taste. Use some rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip to wipe down the inside. Then, rinse with water and dry out with a paper towel.

How To Cold Start Dab

Step 2: Load Up Your Extract

Next, you need to load your extract into the banger. You have an array of concentrates to choose from, including wax, crumble, and budder. Whatever you opt for, use your dabbing tool to fill up your banger with the desired amount.

How To Cold Start Dab

Step 3: Apply Some Heat

Now for the important part: you need to apply some heat! But not too much. Fire up your blowtorch and hover the flame around the sides of the banger, moving it around to avoid concentrating too much heat on one particular spot. As a rule of thumb, you should apply the flame for a maximum of eight seconds during a cold start dab.

How To Cold Start Dab

Step 4: Inhale

During this brief period of heating, you should see your concentrate melt into oil and turn into vapor. As soon as you see vapor appear, place your carb cap over your banger, plug the carb hole on the cap with your finger, rotate the cap, and inhale.

How To Cold Start Dab

Can You Reverse Dab With an E-Nail?

Most dabbers are happy with the simplicity of blowtorches. However, the more technologically inclined venture out to experiment with more exotic options, including e-nails. These devices feature a nail connected to a controller box that allows users to select the desired temperature.

To cold start dab with e-nails, start by loading up your nail with your concentrate of choice. Next, set your device to a temperature between 190–215°C. Keep an eye on your extract as the device heats up, and get ready to take a hit as soon as you see vapor start to form. The initial hit will contain mostly terpenes. As the device continues to heat up, your hits will increase in cannabinoid concentration.

Bonus Tips for Low-Temp Dabbing

You’re now ready to take your first low-temp dab. But before you start, these additional tips will help you take the method to a whole new level:

  • Let it cool: After switching off your blowtorch and placing on the carb cap, wait a little bit. If you can muster enough patience to wait 10–20 seconds before inhaling, you’ll experience even less harshness, which will emphasise those tasty terps further.
  • Get a friend to help: Now, this tip isn’t for everyone. But if you’re particularly nerdy and have some cash to spare, invest in a handheld infrared thermometer. Pass the device to your friend, and instruct them to let you know when you’ve reached your target temperature inside the banger.

Cold Start Dabbing vs Traditional Dabbing: Which Should You Choose?

Low-temp dabbing offers several advantages over traditional dabbing. It produces smoother hits, preserves those tasty terpenes, and creates fewer detrimental carcinogens and other undesirable chemical byproducts. However, it doesn’t produce thick vapor clouds or provide that harshness that some dabbers love. Still, the cold start method enables you to experience another side to this potent practice. Even if you don’t fully switch to cold start dabbing, it’s always there as an option when you fancy tastier and quicker hits.

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