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Best Concentrates for Dabs

Concentrates for DabsPhoto from Unsplash

The primary draw of cannabis consumption is its beneficial natural compounds, known as cannabinoids. These compounds include THC and CBD, among many others, and can interact with the body’s own cannabinoid receptors. Some, like THC, can create a euphoric sensation, while others have a range of therapeutic benefits. To capitalize on these benefits, many people choose to smoke cannabis flower. However, others prefer to vaporize a more condensed, potent form of cannabis known as cannabis concentrates.

Cannabis creators the world over have developed a range of methods to extract cannabinoids from the plant matter itself. These concentrates can be added to cannabis flower, but many people prefer to vaporize (“vape”) or use a dab rig to “dab” them. Dabbing is a high-intensity offshoot of the vaping world that is by far the most popular method of vaping cannabis concentrates.

Whether you’ve had minimal exposure to dabbing and the above information is new to you, or you already own a device for concentrates like a dab rig or a dab pen, you can benefit from understanding more about this popular method of cannabis consumption. Learn about the various concentrates available and the most recommended concentrates for dabbing, as well as the differences between them.

What Are the Best Concentrates for Dabbing?

It is difficult to make a definitive choice regarding the best concentrates for dabs, since there are so many great concentrates on the market in a broad range of textures, consistencies, and potencies. With so much variety and personal preference involved, every individual’s opinion will differ. Some concentrates may be easier to physically handle with your hands or more convenient overall than others, and these are often touted as the best extracts for dabs.

Still, there are other considerations to be made. For example, you may be limited by their budget, your favorite flavor profiles, what you’re looking to get out of your cannabis consumption, your available methods of dabbing, convenience, or even your frequency of consumption.

Additionally, many people choose their favorite concentrate for dabs solely due to the positive physical effects that outweigh the other factors. While the most effective way to find out what your favorite concentrates are is to try what seems appealing to you, you’ll need somewhere to start. To help, we’ve broken the choices down into some popular forms and their manufacturing processes and included some helpful input from real cannabis connaisseurs.

Types of Cannabis Concentrates for Vaporizing

The desired cannabis compounds can be extracted from the plant matter with multiple available extraction methods. The resulting product can be further manipulated or refined into a wide range of concentrate forms. Each concentrate type possesses a unique texture, potency, and other features that allow them to yield different effects.

Concentrates are one of the most diverse subtypes of cannabis products, but they can be divided into two major categories: those created with methods that involve the use of solvents and those created without solvents.

Solventless Concentrates

The most traditional approaches to making cannabis concentrates use water, heat, pressure, or a combination of these in order to separate the trichomes — very small resin glands that coat raw cannabis and contain the highest concentration of cannabinoids —  from the plant matter itself. After these raw extracts are stripped away, they are further refined to create various concentrated forms known as concentrates.

These manufacturing methods and resulting concentrate products are never exposed to any solvents and are thus referred to as solventless.

Kief, Hash, and Charas

Kief, also called dry-sift hash, results from grinding dried cannabis flower or bud. The ground cannabis is mostly retained in the grinder itself, but the most finely ground powder is reserved in a “kief-catcher” and is often almost entirely composed of trichomes. While kief is technically a concentrate, it is not typically dabbed, though it’s still possible if you want to sprinkle other concentrates with a bit of kief. Kief is best known for forming the basis for other solventless concentrates.

For example, hash, or hashish, is most often formed by applying pressure to kief. This results in a solid block of concentrate that can be broken into smaller pieces for consumption. There is also bubble hash, also called ice hash or ice water hash, that is instead made by freezing cannabis flower; once brittle, the buds are then agitated to remove the trichomes and filtered through a fine screen.

Hashish can be smoked, added to edibles, and even dabbed, but like kief, it is more commonly used to create other concentrates than dabbed on its own. Kief and hash rely on processes that use dried, cured cannabis (known as cured concentrates) and are distinctly different from processes involving live cannabis plants. One “live” solventless concentrate product is charas, also known as finger hash or hand-rubbed hash; this method of rubbing trichomes away from the plant with human hands originated in South Asia.

Hash Rosin

Rosin, or hash rosin, is typically made from kief or hash that is heated and then compressed into pressed rosin. The oil generated within the product proceeds to solidify while the remainder of the substance is twisted or pulled, ultimately forming its final texture.

Rosin can be dabbed or smoked along with cannabis flower as well as used to create other concentrates. Live rosin can be made through the same procedure, except the stripped trichomes are from live cannabis plants that were fresh- or flash-frozen.

While rosin is often considered to be expensive for many consumers, given materials costs and the labor-intensive process, it is also frequently renowned for its flavor and effects. Dab enthusiasts online mention that hash rosin has the best taste compared to other concentrates due to the large variety of cannabinoids and terpenes present. It’s also been noted for producing a fuller high compared to other concentrates. Some mention that hash helps to alleviate headaches and migraines more quickly than other forms of concentrates.

Solvent-Free Concentrates

The wide variety of concentrate consistencies that exist on the market are made through more complicated, modern procedures that utilize solvents. These solvents include carbon dioxide, ethanol, and hydrocarbon (propane and butane mixture), which are used to remove the resinous trichomes from the cannabis plant. The solvents are then purged from the extracted substance, rendering them solvent-free before being further refined and manipulated for the desired texture. It’s important to note that while both solventless concentrates and concentrates created using solvents are considered solvent-free, only concentrates created without the use of solvents can be labeled solventless.

CO2 Hash Oil

CO2 hash oil is made with equipment that forces liquified carbon dioxide through a container of cannabis flower, collecting the cannabinoids and terpenes the trichomes house. After the CO2 evaporates back into a gas, the oils that remain are extremely pure, rich in flavor and potent with active compounds.

This method is relatively new to the industry compared to other similar methods of yielding hash oil. As a result, CO2 hash oil can often be expensive because of the special equipment required to create its level of purity. The potent oil can be used in ingestible forms of cannabis in addition to being vaped as is and as a base to make other concentrates more conducive to dabbing.

Butane Hash Oil (BHO)

The butane hash oil (BHO) extraction method utilizes a liquified, hydrocarbon solvent (typically butane) to wash away trichomes from the cannabis buds. As the mixture returns to a gaseous state, the remaining oil is further purged of any leftover solvent and subsequently manipulated to create numerous different concentrate textures.

BHO and its related concentrates are frequently used as dabs; the different consistencies, purities, and flavors are largely where preference comes in when deciding which concentrate to go for. Online dab enthusiasts mention that this extraction method and its numerous products are popular since the manufacturing process is more straightforward and more cost-efficient than other methods – and so are the products. However, some say that this can lead to a wide margin of quality in BHO concentrates.

BHO Wax and Sap

The simplest types of BHO concentrates can be broken down into two major consistencies: wax and sap. Wax is much thicker and stickier than the oil it’s made from, though users point out that it can still be a little runny and difficult to handle with your fingers; fortunately, it scoops easily with a dab tool. It is also typically more potent than BHO oil itself.

Sap is a thinner but still wax-like concentrate with a texture and consistency comparable to a milk chocolate bar. Dabbers note that due to its sensitivity to heat, it may even melt in your hand. Sap is best used with a dab tool and while dabbing in a cooled room indoors.

BHO Sauce, Diamonds and Sugar

Cannabis sauce, or terp sauce, is made during the BHO extraction process by allowing THC-a crystals to form. The wetter, more potent cannabis oil that surrounds these forming crystals (also called diamonds, crystalline, or isolate) is what is known as “sauce.” Sauce is thick, sticky, and rich in terpenes, which makes for a flavorful dab. Enthusiasts claim that this flavor-forward concentrate also boasts a powerful hit of THC, especially if you’re careful to include plenty of crystals in your dab.

If more crystals are allowed to form, the texture becomes similar to wet brown sugar; fittingly, the resulting concentrate is known as cannabis sugar. Many people prefer using sugar to dab since it’s just as flavorful and perhaps even more potent than sauce, and is very easy to scoop.

We’ve also found a substantial group of people who enjoy simply dabbing with diamonds, the name given to exceptionally large THC-a crystals that are removed from the sauce. Similarly, crystalline diamonds resemble coarse sugar, are easy to handle, and are one of the purest forms of THC since they’re isolated from other cannabinoids and terpenes. For this reason, it’s described as flavorless on its own despite its powerful high, which some concentrate users enjoy while others much prefer the added flavor of sauce or sugar. Diamonds, despite their high costs, are often considered the optimal dab concentrate for some dabbers, while others reserve them as a special treat or only purchase them if heavily discounted.

Shatter and “Pull and Snap”

Shatter is arguably the most popular concentrate and is named because it easily shatters into smaller pieces when handled with your fingers. For this reason, it is an ideal concentrate for dab pens. It’s translucent, solid but brittle, reminiscent of glass, and amber in color. It starts as BHO and then is poured onto a slab that’s placed within a vacuum oven to eliminate solvents and create the brittle texture. Dabbers love the ease of breaking off a small piece to dab, as well as its effective, potent hits.

Still, while shatter is considered to be the most physically stable concentrate, some note that it may have less flavor than other varieties because it holds minimal residual terpenes. Some dabbers also find that shatter isn’t sticky or pliable enough to dab as they prefer.

Pull and snap is also a BHO extract which starts out similarly to shatter. Instead of allowing the substance to harden as shatter does, it is further manipulated and pulled until it has a taffy-like texture. Smaller bits can be pulled and twisted away from a larger piece before dabbing, typically via dab rig or e-rig. Like shatter, dabbers love pull and snap for its ease of use and potency more than its flavor.

Budder and Badder

Budder and badder concentrates are named for their consistency. Both can be made from either rosin or shatter that’s been heated to a melting point before being vigorously whisked to create varying textures. Budder is whipped to a butter or peanut butter-like consistency and is thicker than badder. Badder is stirred until it reaches a runnier consistency, similar to cake batter. Both textures are considered to be ideal concentrates for dabbing – users note that budder tends to be a neater dab while badder can vaporize more quickly.


Concentrated cannabis wax that has a crumble-like consistency is also created by melting shatter that’s subsequently manipulated to ensure air pockets are uniformly distributed throughout the substance before being placed into a vacuum oven. The resulting texture is comparable to a lump of sugar or honeycomb.

Crumble is described by dabbers as dry, granular, and loosely held together. Many say this allows it to be easily broken down into small dabs. Some cannabis enthusiasts prefer it to wetter concentrates that are more packed with terpenes, as this can lend an unpleasant harshness to their dabs.


Ethanol distillate is cannabis resin that uses ethanol as a solvent to further refine and isolate the desired cannabinoids from the remaining extract. The resulting distillate is extremely pure, though flavorless, odorless, and without terpenes. It is also rather potent.

Since distillate is flavorless and odorless, it is ideal for creating edibles, as well as for dabbing or vaping. Some dabbers find distillate alone to be somewhat one-dimensional, but it may be preferred by people who enjoy simple concentrates with a “clean” taste. It is also ideal for those who prefer to use pens to dab, whether for discretion, convenience, or both.

Live Resin

Live resin is extracted with solvents from live cannabis plants that have been fresh-frozen. It is more challenging to produce than other concentrates and is somewhat harder to find. Often, this means it is more expensive than other types of concentrates.

When resin is extracted from live cannabis, the concentrate retains its full terpene profile, thus making it more flavorful than distillate. The full cannabinoid profile in combination with its full terpene profile also improves its potency and entourage effect compared to some other concentrates. Live resin is quite popular and renowned among those who enjoy dabbing, many of whom say they prefer its sticky texture – between wax and sauce – and its sweet, resonant flavor.


Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is the namesake of Canada’s own Rick Simpson who first created it to treat his tinnitus. The extraction process for RSO involves placing the entire cannabis plant into a container with ethanol. After purging the solvent and plant matter, the resulting concentrate is dark and tar-like, with a notably hardy cannabinoid and terpene profile. RSO can be ingested and used in cannabis topicals in addition to being vaped. However, while it’s thick and sticky enough to survive in a dab pen, the chlorophyll and alcohol that may remain in the RSO make it a less-than-ideal candidate for dabbing.

Need More Insight?

Overall, it’s always a smart idea to approach the often overwhelming world of concentrates by experimenting. Just do so in small increments and start slow, so you can take particular care to pay attention to how your body reacts to the different varieties. Over time, you can gravitate towards what’s appealing to you.

Our Arizona dispensary is here to help you get started, with a full selection of dabbable concentrates, glassware, dab pens, and more.

To learn more about the concentrates and extracts we carry, decide which cannabis products are right for you, get the details on the differences between vape and dab pens, and more, be sure to reach out to our friendly staff.

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