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Apr 3, 2016 5:25 PM

How to Avoid Bad Cannabis Concentrates

We pay a lot of attention to the topic of good dabs. But what do we know about bad marijuana concentrates and what makes a dab bad? Regardless of whether you are an experienced pothead or a newbie in the dabs world, you have all chances to make at least one dab hit. Let us explore some of the factors that influence the concentrated forms of medical marijuana.

The days when people just smoked marijuana are long gone. Now, in the states where cannabis is legal, you can find weed in various forms, from buds to infused edibles to concentrates. Dabs, one of those concentrates, are gaining popularity thereby receiving more and more public attention, especially, after the recent exploding of the hash lab in Brooklyn, where two teens suffered severe burns. This past February, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued an alert about an outbreak of “hash oil explosions.” So it is natural that people want to know whether BHO dabs are dangerous and how to avoid a low-quality product.

First, it is necessary to figure out what dabs actually are. Dabs—also known as Butane Hash Oil (BHO), budder, honey oil, wax, and shatter—is a highly concentrated extract of cannabis' psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is most commonly created through a technique in which high-quality weed is blasted with butane that is then extracted. Such marijuana concentrates approach 70 to 90 percent THC. The origin of hash oils is dated back to the early 70s. If you think of cannabis as classic rock, says senior editor at High Times magazine Bobby Black, then dubs are the heavy metal: it is a cultural-generational thing.


If the concentrate is black, that means some of the plant material got into it. If it is made in the right way, it should be clear or creamy, like hot candle wax or honey. Dabs must be thick and gummy.

Nothing can make hash oil as bad as pesticides, hair, mold, fertilizers, dust, and all those disgusting things that make it a terrible-tasting and extremely dangerous product. For the last couple of years, it has gone from the obscure corners of marijuana culture to the mainstream. But while the BHO process remains unregulated, amateurs continue to pretend to be chemists making a crappy product you may then buy and consume. The easiest way to check your dabs for contaminants is to hold your sample up to the light: it should be clear, and the light should pass through the substance. If you see anything in it, or it does not pass the light, do not smoke it.

Residual and Incorrect Solvents

Butane hash oil is made with solvents (usually, hydrocarbons like butane) which are measured in ppms (parts per million). Ppms show how much of the solvents remains in the final product the consumer is about to smoke. While in the white-market states, you can simply ask your budtender for the lab-testing information about the product, on the black market, there is no reliable way to know whether the dabs you are considering to purchase are safe.

Also, ask what sort of solvents have been used to make your concentrate: not all butane sources are pure, and some of them should never be used to craft consumables at all. Ideally, dabs should be made with only pure butane purchased from a reputable gas distributor. Many concentrate makers are creating their product in some garage and use primitive equipment and bad ingredients. If you are not quite sure what the product was made of, think twice about laying down money for that hash.

Storage Issue

Like any product, dabs can go bad if they are improperly stored: in a moist, warm place or under direct sunlight. Moreover, hash oil has a shelf life and changes over time. The dabs stored in a warm place tend to degrade in flavor and potency; moist place contributes to the appearance of mold. Preferably, store your dabs in a dark, cool, and dry place.

Black suggests using a great “litmus test”: before smoking, put a drop of the BHO on the tip of your nail and heat it up. Good dabs should silently burn off. If it bubbles, crackles, or produces any other sound, do not consume it.