Are High Temp Dabs Bad for Your Health?

A recent study found that low-temp dabs — in addition to providing a more flavorful and pleasant cannabis experience — do not include the same potentially lethal chemicals as hot dabs.

Are High-Temperature Dabs Harmful to Your Health?

First of all, most people can intuitively tell that hot dabs aren’t healthy because of how massively unpleasant and painful it is to take one — I’ve heard the phrase “chemical burns” used to describe the sensation in your throat and lungs after dabbing off a too-hot nail or banger.

Initial studies indicate that dabbing at high temperatures could lead to health concerns later on. A 2017 Portland State University studied toxicant formation in dabbing. The study found that high temperatures could expose users to potentially dangerous cancer-causing chemicals such as methacrolein and benzene. More so, the study found that the difficulty consumers face with controlling their nail temperatures only heightened the risk.

The study pointed back to terpenes and their rapid introduction to products across the market. The researchers noted an oxidative liability when terpenes are heated. However, most of the attention was focused on e-cigarettes using terpenes.
While many circles of consumers seem to understand that higher temperatures result in additional carcinogens, the study does confirm such assumptions. And though one study is far from conclusive, it does give the first bit of confirmation of the troubling trend. The findings in the study should serve as the foundation for future studies and one such suggested analysis in the reports should center on the degradation of cannabis extracts in both dabs and vaping.

Low Temp Dab

While more research is needed, initial evidence shows high-temp dabbing to be dangerous.
We may not know the outcome of such studies yet. However, with cannabis technology rapidly changing, the emergence of some dangerous technology could be an outcome. Certainly, this provides a pause for concern. Like any other evolving industry over time though, this concern can be corrected with proper regulation, oversight and studies. That day may come with Canada legalizing cannabis and Israel stepping up its research. Conversely, until the United States opens its laws for further research, the cannabis community could remain behind in its critical findings on topics such as this.

Why Consumers Go High Temperature? What is an Alternative?

Despite the potential health warnings, some cannabis consumers continue to insist on high temperature dabbing for a series of reasons. In some corners, they still hold on to the notion that concentrates are void of plant matter and therefore safe to consume at any levels. In other cases, they do not want to “waste” their concentrates and have them pool up in their bangers. In the case of the latter, changing that opinion shouldn’t be so difficult with a proper lower temperature dab.

Unfortunately, a lot of people often give up on perfecting a lower temperature dab because of the variability in nails from quartz to glass and beyond. This outcome is unfortunate as most are much closer to perfecting the dab than they may have thought. With a bit of trial and error, you can discover your dabbing temperature judging largely off the heating times of your nail or banger and the color of your concentrate once your dab is complete.

The introduction of e-nails has also changed trial and error in dabbing. Instead of going off color and torch times, an e-nail will heat your nail to approximately th exact temperature needed for a proper dab. Purists in dabbing have voiced their displeasure with the changing tide. However, like the introduction of technology to sports, we’ve learned that upgrading for modern times often cuts down on costly mistakes despite the few new complaints it introduces.

The Benefits of Low-Temperature Dabbing

Beyond the health benefits, low-temperature dabs provide consumers with fulfilling, flavorful hits that simply can’t be replicated through high-temp dabbing. Plus, the combustion of your concentrate through high-temp dabbing not only can result in harmful toxicants but also the loss of flavor and smoothness.

Remember that while dabbing is supposed to give you effective highs you otherwise may not reach, they should also live up to the legacy of an aromatic experience as well. When torching your concentrates to extreme temperatures, you are cutting down on a small cleaning window while sacrificing the flavors and effects cannabis is supposed to give you.

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From the study:

Use of an electrically controlled nail (“e-nail”) allows temperature control; but, more commonly, users heat the nail (made of titanium, ceramic, or quartz) with a crème brulee torch and have no temperature control. A minority of dabbers use lower temperatures to preserve flavor, whereas a majority use higher temperatures to assure complete vaporization with no wasted material. E-nail users posting online cite a preferred temperature around 710 degrees. 

Bottom line? You should embrace low temp dabs and the philosophy of “waste it to taste it,” a philosophy which will subsequently protect you from exposure to toxic fumes. It’s not just good taste — it’s science.

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