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Cold vs. Hot Start Dabs: What's the Difference

Cold vs. Hot Start Dabs: What's the Difference

So! You finally got your hands on some high quality cannabis concentrates and now you’re wondering: how the hell am I supposed to consume it? To simplify, dabbing is a method of consuming cannabis concentrates through vaporization. Similar to an essential oil, cannabis concentrates or “dabs” are made by extracting cannabinoids and other compounds from cannabis flower, resulting in a highly potent material. You can also find a comprehensive breakdown of the different types of concentrates, extraction processes, and more, here!

In the world of concentrates, two main methods of dabbing stand out: "cold start dabs" and "hot start dabs". These methods offer different benefits to enjoying concentrates, and understanding the basics can help you make a more informed decision and choose the best method that aligns with your preferences and needs.

What is a “cold start dab”?

A cold start dab, also known as a reverse dab or low-temperature dab, is a method of consuming concentrates involving pre-loading your banger with concentrate, and gradually applying heat. The lower starting temperature offers the benefits of preserving many of the beneficial terpenes found in concentrates sought out by medical and recreational users alike, resulting in a nuanced and flavorful experience. Cold start dabs are the choice method for those who appreciate the subtle and complex flavors of the concentrate, as the lower temperature allows for a smoother hit while preserving the full spectrum of flavors. This method also provides users with more control over the vaporization temperature and speed, resulting in a more pleasant experience.

This video is a great example of how to take a cold start dab, starting at 1:11

What is a “hot start dab”?

Still widely considered the “standard” method of dabbing, hot start dabs involve preheating the banger before the concentrate is added. Once the quartz is at the desired temperature, the concentrate is dropped directly into the heated banger causing it to vaporize almost instantly. Generally this is achieved by heating the banger with a torch and then letting it cool down for a set amount of time before inserting the concentrates. This method is favored by those who prioritize rapid onset and big vapor clouds, as well as individuals who enjoy the bold and immediate release of flavors when the concentrate hits the hot quartz surface.

Comparison overview:

Cold start dabs prioritize the strain or concentrate itself, as the process typically only reaches between 400-450 degrees where many of the terpenes and cannabinoids are vaporized, but not wasted. This method aims to preserve the delicate flavor profile and nuanced characteristics of the concentrate, allowing users to savor the unique terpenes and aromatic compounds present. In contrast, hot start dabs generally aim for more powerful hits at the sacrifice of some flavor compounds. The dab rig is preheated before introducing the concentrate, aiming for rapid vaporization upon contact with the heated surface. Many seasoned dabbers go in at anywhere from 500-650, typically hotter than a cold start dab. This results in strain-dependent terpenes and cannabinoids evaporating before you’re able to fully benefit from their effects. This method prioritizes immediate and intense effects, as well as a bold flavor profile that results from the quick vaporization of the concentrate. The choice between cold start and hot start dabs ultimately reflects a preference for either a more flavor-focused and controlled experience or a rapid and potent onset of effects.

Pros and cons of cold start dabs:

Cold start dabs offer advantages for those who are looking for a more controlled and flavorful dabbing experience. One of the primary pros is the increased control it provides, allowing users to manage the heating process more precisely. Cold start dabs also increase flavor preservation, as the lower initial temperature helps retain the unique and fragile terpenes and cannabinoids of the concentrate. Cold starts are the most effective method if you’d like to take advantage of strain-specific cannabinoids and terpenes. Additionally, the ability to reheat leftover resin can add an economic benefit. Cold start dabs boast a quicker time until vaporization from the moment heat is applied, offering a more efficient and expedited session. Users can also appreciate the potential for a longer lifespan of their banger and a simpler cleanup process. The lower temperatures associated with cold start dabs can also be much gentler on the throat and lungs, which means less harsh coughing fits (huge W in my opinion!). However, there are some cons to consider. Cold start dabs may require an adjustment period for those accustomed to the more traditional hot start method. The technique demands undivided attention during the heat-up phase compared to hot start dabs and can come with a slight learning curve. Despite these drawbacks, the advantages of enhanced control, flavor, and full-spectrum benefits make cold start dabs an appealing choice for many daily dabbers.

Pros and cons of hot start dabs:

Hot start dabs cater to enthusiasts seeking a rapid and intense dabbing experience. One of the notable pros is the quick onset of effects, providing users with almost immediate sensations upon vaporization. The method is likely to vaporize most, if not all, of the concentrate, resulting in substantial vapor production that appeals to those who enjoy fat ass clouds. Additionally, hot start dabs are versatile and work well across various styles of bangers, accommodating different preferences. As always, there are some cons to consider. There is a risk of "chazzing" or staining the banger if the temperature is too high, potentially affecting its longevity and aesthetic appeal. Another challenge is the difficulty in gauging temperature strain to strain, as different concentrates may have varied optimal vaporization points. Moreover, the use of high temperatures in hot start dabs can lead to harsh inhalation, causing excessive coughing and, in extreme cases, potential discomfort or nausea if the temperature is too high. Despite these drawbacks, the quick onset and impressive vapor production make hot start dabs an attractive choice for those seeking a powerful and immediate dabbing experience.

Overall, getting started can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’ve never stepped foot into the world of dabbing. Rest assured that with a bit of practice and patience, you’ll soon find your rhythm and discover what works best for you! But fret not, we’re here to help! Below you can find a few different recommended setups, with their recommended method of heating. No matter which method you choose, as you explore and refine your process don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance or share your own discoveries with the community. With time, you’ll master your personal ritual and find what works best for you! Cheers!

Recommended starting setups for cold and hot start dabs:

Cold start dabs:

25mm Round Bottom Kit + Recy-clops Bundle

Big Buddy Torch by Blazer

Hot start dabs:

Fully Fused Terp Slurper + The Coliseum Bundle

Big Shot Torch by Blazer

Dab Rite PRO (Optional, for temperature precision)
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