Low Temp Dabs VS High: The Perfect Temperature for Dab Potency and Flavor
When dabbing, a dose of cannabis concentrate is dropped onto a hot nail in an effort to vaporize the cannabinoids and terpenes contained within - that's the good stuff. Cannabinoids are the THC, CBD, and other beneficial compounds found in cannabis (and concentrates), and terpenes are the aromatic compounds that give cannabis products their taste and smell. For example, limonene is a terpene that's also found in citrus fruits like lemons and limes.These compounds (the primary constituents of cannabis concentrates) boil/vaporize from 315-440°F (157-227°C); thus, that is the minimum temperature required to fully vaporize the cannabinoids and terpenes in your concentrate.
The Temperature Trade-Off
With regards to dabbing, temperature should be looked as a continuum from too low to too high:
Why you should Low Temp Dab: More flavor, Smoother and Longer hits
The downside: Less vapor, Milder in effect, May leave some concentrate behind
Why you should High Temp Dab: Produces thick vapor/smoke, Intense effects, All concentrate is consumed
The downside: Less flavor, Harsh on lungs and throat, Shorter hit
Please keep in mind that this guide pertains to dabbing surface temperature NOT the set temperature on an electric nail (which is likely higher):
0-300°F: Too low
This will result in minimal vaporization of available cannabinoids and terpenes – you will not be consuming anywhere near all the concentrate dropped on the nail. Expect the concentrate to leave a puddle of oil that produces little vapor (waste it to taste it).
315-450°F: Low temp dab
This is the sweet spot for vaporization of all cannabinoids and terpenes while retaining maximum flavor. Dabbing at this temperature will produce a smooth hit that is relatively easy on the lungs. The effects will be pleasant but milder than at hotter temperatures.
450-600°F: Medium temp dab
This is a nice middle ground for those seeking both stronger flavor and effect. At this temperature, a mix of vaporization and combustion occurs.
600-900°F: High temp dab
At this temperature, the nail may still be red hot and combustion is certain to occur. This will produce a harsh, intense hit with thick smoke. Most of the flavor will be lost at this temperature, resulting in a dab that tastes slightly burnt.
900+°F: Burning the dab
I don’t recommend taking dabs at this temperature – it is not pleasant.
Torch vs Electric Nail for Dabbing at the Perfect Temperature
Depending on your specific setup, you will either be using a torch or an electric heating element to heat up your nail. Using a torch, you can heat your nail anywhere from 0-1,000+°F (0-538°C). The same holds true for electric nails, or e-nail, which uses an electric coil to heat the dabbing surface – most coils can be set to temperatures ranging from 0-900°F (0-482°C). The important thing to note with e-nails is that there is a disparity between the temperature setting on the unit and the actual dabbing surface temperature. Meaning that although the heating unit is set to 680°F, the dabbing surface may only be 600°F. Click here to see the full study.
Furthermore, not all nail materials (electric or otherwise) are the same – each has different heating and cooling properties. The following properties hold true regardless of whether the nail is heated with a torch or an electric coil.
Titanium*: Short heat up time, highest heat retention, least flavor.
Ceramic: Longest heat up time, high heat retention, good flavor.
Quartz (depends on thickness): Medium heat up time, lowest heat retention, best flavor.
*Not all titanium nails are safe for dabbing – there is a large variance in titanium quality and purity. Stick to manufacturers who utilize tested type 2 titanium.
Thus, the actual temperature at which you take your dab is a unique combination of nail material, thickness, and the specific heating element used. As you might imagine, there are different models of torches and electric units available – the 700°F setting may be too hot on one e-nail but just right on another. That said, a certain level of trial and error has to occur in order to find the perfect temperature for you.
Tips for Perfect Temperature Dabs with a Torch
Given the manual element of heating a nail with a torch, our recommendation is to focus on the variables you can control with each dab – how long you heat the nail for and how long you let it cool. Using a timer during heat up and cool down will help ensure an accurate count with each dab. Try heating the nail for 30 seconds, letting it cool for 20, and then taking your dab. If it’s too hot, let it cool a few extra seconds; if it’s too cool, wait less time before dabbing.
Alternatively, you can use a heat gun to try and get more accurate temperature reading of the dabbing surface. Note that there will likely be a range of surface temperatures on the nail depending on which part of the nail the torch was aimed.
The Perfect Temperature for Dabs on an E-nail
Don’t stress about the specific temperature setting on the heating element – what matters is the temperature of the nail surface. It is not unusual for a quartz e-nail to have a surface temperature that is 100°F lower than the set temperature on the unit. This means you have to get to know your e-nail in particular, as your friend’s suggested dabbing temperature may be significantly too hot/cold for you. Most e-nails adjust temperature in 10°F intervals, we recommend making several small adjustment of 10-20°F when trying to find your preferred temperature.
What about vape pens?
The same temperature rules apply when using a vaporizer pen. In fact, many new vaporizer pens have adjustable heat settings for this very reason. Experiment with the different settings to find the perfect temperature for you. If you’re like me and always take your vaporizer pen on the go, I suggest transporting it in a discreet and protective stash box like the Safety Case. It has room for your all your stoner kit essentials like a vaporizer pen, dabber, concentrates, and more. Now that TSA released guidelines for how to take your vape pen on a plane, you can travel safely.