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How To Tell If Marijuana Dabs Are Good Or Bad


dabsHow Do You Determine If Cannabis Concentrates Are Good Or Bad?

Are you new to the marijuana concentrates world? Do you know what ‘dabs‘ are? If you consume marijuana often enough, chances are you have taken at least one dab hit by now. For those of you that have yet to take a dab hit, maybe due to unavailability in your area or because you are a new consumer, you should really check it out. They say a dab will do ya, which is true. If you are like me, and you like to ride the ‘higher high’, dabs are the way to go. Anytime you are consuming concentrated forms of marijuana, you will get higher faster than if you were smoking a joint of flower.

For a long time I didn’t know how to tell if the dabs I was consuming were good or bad. I have a long history consuming flower, so I can tell how good the flower is very easily by sight, smell, taste, etc.. But concentrates are a different thing. Some of my usual measurements (smell for instance) of quality translate to concentrates, but not all of them do. For a long time I think the general assumption was that the clearer/lighter colored the cannabis concentrates, the better they are compared to darker dabs. I’m here to tell you that that’s not necessarily true. I know there are people that will argue until they’re blue in the face against that claim, but I know it to be true because I recently visited my friends at Udoxi Scientific and did some research. The results were surprising to both me and my little brother that came with me. I figured I needed another person to help with the research, plus he is brand new to the dab world (took his first dab the day before the visit to Udoxi).

Udoxi Scientific processes cannabis into concentrates for growers. Their concentrates are second to none, and that’s based off of my experiences consuming concentrates all over the Western United States. There are certainly people out there that consume more concentrates than I do, but I consume more dabs than most. A lot of concentrate makers are making dabs in their garage with primitive equipment. Udoxi is operating on a whole other level. Their facility is world class, and the owners have strong backgrounds in agriculture, chemistry, and engineering. I don’t say these things because I’m paid to do so. I’ve never received even one penny from Udoxi. I say these things because they are my unbiased opinion.

I was lucky enough to participate in a quality test at Udoxi. They brought out four slabs, as seen below, and asked which one I thought was the best based off of appearance alone. Naturally, I ranked them in order of how clear they were. How would you rank the slabs below? I pre-apologize for the picture quality – I’m a writer, not a photographer:

dab slabs

Can you tell which dab slab is the best, based off of appearance alone? Does clearer always mean better?

The four concentrates above are the Blue Cheese strain, OG strain, Cherry Pie strain, and Black Cherry Soda strain. After looking at the visual appeal, we then got down to business trying out each one. We made sure to take low temp dabs to maximize the flavor. The first one I tried was the Black Cherry Soda, which was the clearest out of all of the samples. Based off of how most people measure dab quality, this would have been the best one since it was the clearest, as seen below:

black cherry soda marijuana cannabis dabs concentrates

The first thing that I did was smell the slab. The slab really lacked any smell at all, good or bad. It was like I was smelling nothing at all. After taking a couple of hits, it because obvious that there wasn’t much flavor either. There wasn’t much bite to the hit, on the exhale or the inhale. It didn’t seem to get me high that fast, certainly not as I originally expected it to. The Black Cherry Soda sample wasn’t bad, or good, there just wasn’t anything distinct about it.

The next sample that I tried was the darkest, the Cherry Pie strain. I wanted to get as polar opposite of a sample as possible for this exercise. Plus I could tell Jason from Udoxi was likely trying to play with my brain while proving a point that clearer doesn’t necessarily always mean better. So I took a hit of the sample below:

cherry pie marijuana cannabis dabs concentrates


The second I picked up the slab of Cherry Pie I could tell it was much more special than the previous slab. The smell was heavenly, and instantly memories started flooding my brain from when I bought bud from people in the past who used to grow flower that smelled similar to the slab. The couple of hits that I took of the sample didn’t disappoint. There was a very distinct bite to each hit, and not in an overwhelming ‘too big of a dab hit’ kind of way. But in a subtle way, with small coughs resulting during the exhale. Also when I exhaled, I involuntarily started smacking my lips, and swirling my tongue in my mouth in an attempt try to get as much taste out of the hit (the sample tasted that good). It truly tasted like Cherry. The flavor from the flower came through in the concentrates significantly. The front end of the hit was smooth, and the back end was flavorful, just how I like it. Almost instantly I felt the head buzz coming on, and relaxing, tingling feeling down my back.

Had I closed my eyes and taken each hit, and then been asked to guess which slab I had just sampled from, I would have came up with opposite results. But knowing what I was consuming, the proof was in the pudding, the darker was clearly better, and not even in a close way. Don’t get me wrong, the Black Cherry Soda was OK, it’s something I wouldn’t mind smoking anytime of the week. However, if I’m going into a store or dispensary, what I hope to come home with is definitely something that is more like the Cherry Pie, hands down.

The other two slabs were slightly darker than the Black Cherry Soda, as seen below (Blue Cheese and OG, in order). They were both better than the Black Cherry Soda, but definitely not as good as the Cherry Pie:

blue cheese marijuana cannabis dabs concentrates


OG marijuana cannabis dabs concentrates

I learned two things that day at Udoxi Scientific. 1) I’m a very lucky person to be able to go to a dab lab and quality test dabs. 2) Just because a concentrate is clearer, does not always make it better/of higher quality. Sometimes that is true, but it’s not simply because of the color, it’s because of many other factors. The rest of the afternoon at Udoxi was spent going over just what those factors are.

One thing that the guys at Udoxi hammered into my brain over and over is that the most important thing about determining whether dabs are good or bad is how clean the dabs are. Are the dabs free from contaminants? Are the dabs as free from solvent residue as possible? The only way to know those things for sure is to have the concentrates tested, and at a quality, reliable testing facility. There are a lot of crappy testing facilities, in Oregon, and in other states where the marijuana industry is present and growing. All one needs to do to prove that is take your concentrates from one testing lab to another. One lab will find mold, while another doesn’t. One lab will have one result for THC and/or CBD, while the next lab has a completely different result.

Something that a lot of people don’t realize is that most marijuana laboratories don’t test for pesticides, or they use equipment that doesn’t do a proper job of testing for pesticides. A lot of people think that consuming the solvent residue is the thing to avoid. In actuality, the amount of CO2 or butane is way, way below the allowable amount for human congestion as recommended by the FDA. But pesticides are a real problem. Consuming concentrates that have pesticides can post real health risks, many of which are unknown at this time. Good dabs are pesticide free.

This creates a very lame situation for consumers, because growers and concentrate makers will go around from lab to lab, ‘lab shopping’, looking for the most favorable results and pass those along as fact, even if that’s clearly not the case. They don’t go to the laboratory with the most accurate results and best equipment, they go to the one that is going to give a result that is hopefully going to boost their sales. So when you are in a dispensary or store trying to make a decision on which dabs to get, take the results as more of a suggestion than anything, unless it’s from a lab that you know or trust.

But if the dabs you are buying have been tested at a reputable facility with a knowledgeable staff that is using solid equipment (and everything is clean), then you can begin the next step of the analysis of the dabs’ level of quality. Obviously the higher something tests, the more potent it is, and to most people, that makes it better. It does to me, because I want to get as high as possible. Always. But I understand that’s not for everyone.

The next factor that is big when determining concentrate quality is finding out what material was used to begin the concentrate making process. A reputable store, dealer, dispensary, etc. will be very forthcoming with what went into making the concentrates, and hopefully even have examples on hand. Concentrates made from nugs are going to be better than concentrates that are made with trim (for the most part), and the better the nugs/trim that went in, the better the concentrates that will come out. It’s not coincidence that the best concentrates I’ve ever smoked are made from the best flower I have ever smoked.

A big factor that goes into making quality dabs is how the material is stored and grown. All to often I see people grow a bunch of outdoor, where the plants are out in the elements, harvest the outdoor, and the trim sits around for a long time collecting dust in a garage or basement. Then months later the person turns the trim into concentrates, and the end product isn’t that good. It’s usually good enough to consume, but it’s not as good as it could be.

Plus people pump the plants full of nutrients that are mostly heavy metals. The storage and feeding combine to make dabs that taste overly harsh, and don’t test that high. The best dabs I’ve ever consumed were grown virtually all organically, were harvested, properly stored, and taken just a couple days later to the dab maker to be turned into concentrates. The end result under those circumstances is a big slab of world class dabs. The type of stuff that I daydream about in my cubicle all day :)

Two factors for determining dab quality that are very similar to determining if marijuana flower is good or bad is smell and taste. Smell and taste is a subjective thing. I like something that smells and tastes like the Cherry Pie dabs I was talking about earlier in this article. I want it to feel like there is a party in my mouth, and have smells that make me smile. I like dabs that make me crave them even when they are not around, much like a type of food that I love.

Are you a dab veteran? How do you determine if dabs are good or bad? Please put your tips and tricks and measurements in the comments below so that others can benefit from your experiences. I want to give a special thanks to Udoxi Scientific for helping me put together this article. They are stellar at what they do, and growers and consumers are better off for it!


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  1. I use about a gram per day of dispensary extract. I use rubbing alcohol per the patent on removing pinene and waxes from citrus oil except I put dispensary extract in the rubbing alcohol instead of untreated citrus oil. I have a $65 centrifuge used per the patent formula that removes waxes and using a binary azeotropic mix like rubbing alcohol removes the pinene. The colors of the extract become pristine and clear and range from tan to red. The oil is liquid at room temp, super sticky and generally tastes fruity and delightful. The hits thusly prepared are spine tingling even to a one gram a day user.

    I have dabbed, vaped, and smoked extracts. There is simply no method I have tried that supplies such strong and pleasant medicine as vaping a “bagful” of vapor into my vape bag and taking a full lung hit so light and fresh I have to exhale a bit to see if I got any. Exhaling a dense cloud then the rush confirms inhalation lolz, and the taste is delightful and extravagent.

    I know precisely what even very high test extract is, but personally I avoid it now completely if it has not been washed of waxes and pinene. The only warning, and I am not kidding, is once you taste extract dabbed or otherwise that has been prepared like I do (like citus oil in the old patent), then untreated extract will never taste as good to you again. Once you go off the path, Frodo, you will not find your way back…

    Semper Fi

  2. Jim, that is very interesting as I have never heard of wax being converted to shatter as that seems impossible to me because the way you make wax is by irritating the process of shatter, it’s why it’s way less potent than shatter???? Then you stated that you melted the bubbles out on parchment paper? Am I just misinterpreting what your saying or what? I would love to do this if it were possible lol

  3. I think dabs are great if you don’t buy them from some idiot that thinks he knows how to do it. Keep it safe and go to a dispensary and get the good stuff that you actually know the true strain and if it was from bud or trim aka suga leaves. It should be nice and Golden depending on the strain though. I got some blue dream from a dispensary in NV and it was actually blue wax, I was blown away as all the other waxes I have gotten through a dispensary were golden in color, and I go to the top shelf dispensaries, the price is worth it when your getting the best and it’s clean [ That’s why you go to the places with the best rating on sites like leafly] I have never had a problem other than when I first started getting into it and got it on the streets, that’s when it tasted like butane, I vowed after that day, always get it where you know it is safe!!!!! I can’t say it enough guys, know the source! The best waxes I have gotten have been gorilla glue #4, fire OG, blue dream, and Grape Ape. Most of them were from the sugar leaves too, not even bud, even though I have trimmed for dispensaries and quite a bit of bud actually gets in the trim, you would be surprised. They normally put you over a plastic tub with a five gallon bucket to the side for the fan leaves. The sugar leaves gets really crystally and when you mess up and cut into the bud and a lot of places I have trimmed at they had us just take the nugs that were the size of our thumb or smaller and put them in with the trim too, so your getting bud,flower too! I love wax and shatter but nothing beats the taste of the flower itself and each flower has it’s own qualities and with wax and shatter you don’t always get that. I like to hit a bowl of a certain strain I’ll pick up and then after about and hour or two I’ll hit the wax or shatter and boom, lights out!!!! No more pain!!!

  4. I bought some wax that was supposed to be Rosin the other day. it was wet, crumbly, took my breath away and I was thoroughly disappointed. I converted it to shatter by placing the wax on parchment paper and heating til all of the little bubbles were gone stirring occasionally and then set aside to cool. The result was an easy to work with malleable oil that looks and feels like Rosin. The taste was better; the slab was easier to work with and the high felt much better. In this particular case, I believe there was a considerable amount of Butane in the wax. I will NEVER smoke wax again! I will always process wax further to achieve a higher quality product in the future. I have Crohn’s Disease and I need the high THC levels to keep my disease in check. When I’m flaring up, I don’t want a dab that will make me cough for an hour as each time I cough my stomach contracts and the pain becomes ten times worse. I hope this helps somebody out there. Have a great day!

  5. I’m not the most educated on the subject but try to see me out.
    I smoke wax quite often and recently I purchased some wax that was supposedly shatter. The wax is very sappy and sticky. When frozen, it does become shatter but once taken out it returns to the sap. The taste and smell is almost bland and tastes almost like rubber. The wax itself is very clear in color. The thing I’m concerned about it is the off taste and how it’s oddly smoother than wax in the past. If you have any idea of what this might be and if it is safe to smoke please feel free to inform me. The reason I didn’t post a picture of it is because I explained the wax in words.

  6. Hi, I am new here and fairly new to dabbing. I have had a rig for the last 2 months or so. I go to the same shop here in town every time so I know the owners and talk to them about what wax is good etc… So I just picked up 4 different types dont know whos making it. So I get a fire og wax, cherry pie pull and snap, skywalker pull and snap, and girlscout shatter. I tried the CP first and caught a huge whiff of solvents in the hit and it burned the crap out of my nose when I pushed it out. I then went online and did a little research on how to tell what is good and bad. Thanks to this site for much of the info. So I passed the fire as clean and lo and behold it does not burn my nasal passages at all no matter how big a dab I take. I then used that as a benchmark. I tried the shatter and it only burned a tiny bit on the back end so again I was right it was one of the clean ones. Then I went for the skywalker. Wow! It felt like I did a fat line of crank when I exhaled! Clearly this is solvents being released. It was the same with the Cherry Pie. So the 2 I thought had the smell and taste of solvent burned and the ones I thought were clean didnt burn at all. Just wanted to share this finding as it is a standard I am using from now on. I went back to the shop and let them know what I found and they graciously switched me out for some more fire og. I also found out that they dont sample any of the dab material that comes in so now I know I have to do it myself from now on. I hope you find this helpful in your quest for a safer dabbing experience.

  7. It’s also the best medication for my tic disorder (think tourette’s but no sounds. No cursing! I curse on purpose) and for my social anxiety and/or panic attacks :)

  8. The best wax I’ve ever vaped was dabbenport extracts blackjack live resin. It came in a glass jar and was very much like organic local honey, the top layer of it. The wax was shiny and greasy looking, with an overall crumble texture. It stuck to itself and to dabbers quite well and left a wet sheen where it contacted the glass. It was also BRIGHT ORANGE. 10/10 would buy again. Oh yeah it was $70/g too

  9. “Or looks wet”.
    Gotta say that being associated with a lab I’ve seen many good dab runs come out syrupy and soupy in strains like strawberry cough. It’s viscosity can vary due to the strain and can still be very tasty and stony and may not be due to impurity or low quality.

  10. i know where you’re coming from, but there’s no cause to compromise. I am willing to bet that some day there will come a time where you’ll want to look to concentrates to try out. it’s a relatively new feat, concentrates are, it will take some time for the dude down the road to figure it out and stop blowing up his garage. be patient and understanding with your fellow weed community, cause my tolerance is damn too high for flower any more, and i neeeda be high.

  11. oxy is definitely not available at 7-11’s.. the dude that first commented is probably referring to how federally cannabis is illegal and oxy and morphine are legal through a script.

  12. common dabs very well may be addictive simply because of how awesome they are. I think the anti-grinch is just saying that dabs may be more addictive than weed which isn’t really addictive.

  13. the coloring from high grade dabs actually does not come from suspended plant matter, waxes, or oils. The coloring and consistency comes from the type and percentage of canabinoids and terps in the material.

  14. “Marijuana Flower is NOT a drug as it is created through mother nature. Dabs on the other hand are created by man.”

    Wheat is created by mother nature. Flour is created by man.
    Your logic is flawed.

  15. What’s your point? We can’t prohibit every single thing that people get addicted to. If we did, sex and food would be illegal.

  16. we have rights !! on

    I don’t understand why people say oxy is legal but pot is illegal . In Canada they are the same they both require a prescription with out that they are both illegal , is that not how your laws work in the states as well ?? or is oxy available at 7-11’s??

  17. There are plenty of deadlier things produced by nature than by man as well than dabbing or drugs. You do realize everyone takes drugs. Everyone. Not talking about alcohol or cigarettes. I’m talking about things like caffeine, the coco plants in it’s natural form can be additive as well. Sugar in itself can be good or bad to your health depending on the amount of consumption as well as the body mass. Nothing is just simply black and white like people are trying to make it out to be when arguing it should be legal/illegal or it is a drug/isn’t a drug.

  18. dab me up ryaan on

    The clearer the purer theres other things hanging in the wax producing color not a bad thing always iv never condsiderted clearer “better” just very pure what bothers me about wax is what is left from the extracting process like bho

  19. There’s physical addiction and there’s mental addiction. Mental addiction is different from compulsive behavior. The word “compulsive” itself validates that. Mental addiction is almost never without depression. Being physically addicted is shitty, but it’s not life-altering or even damaging. Most are both physically and mentally addicted because getting high is the only good thing that ever happens to them. Luck exists, and some are simply given life without any.

  20. You shouldn’t reject dabs that are not stable at room temp because there are so many types of oil that is so dank and it is not stable at room temp. For example live resin is not stable but when made with good flower it provides a beautiful terpy hut dab that is very potent. Also many types of bho is in a liquid u or sappy form.

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