Vaping vs Dabbing

There are many different ways that you can enjoy cannabis, from hand-rolled to one-hitters to water pipes and everything in between. However, there are two options that have grown enormously in terms of popularity the last couple of years – vaping vs dabbing. You might be familiar with the names, but chances are that you’re not quite as familiar with the processes behind those names or how they stack up to one another.


In the process known as “dabbing”, a heated plate is used to warm the oil or concentrate. This is direct heating, or conduction. The plate is called a “nail”, and it might be made of one of three different materials, including quartz, ceramic or titanium. Once heated to the point that the oil/concentrate vaporizes, the vapor is inhaled through what’s called an oil rig, which is a specially designed pipe.


Vaporizing is somewhat similar to dabbing in a couple of ways, but also very different. Both processes involve heating an oil, concentrate or solid. Vape pen and mod vaporizers are both used, and the fact that they’re battery powered means they’re incredibly portable. Vaporizers don’t combust the concentrate directly, nor do they heat it directly as in dabbing. Here, the air is heated first, which then heats the material.

Which Is Better?

There’s a lot of argument about which method is better, but it really boils down to your definition of “better”. For instance, if you mean better for your body, then vaporizers have the edge. They produce less benzene, and because they don’t get as hot as the heated plates used for dabbing, they cannot achieve super-high levels of heat (which produces even more benzene). Convective heating also eliminates charred material, resulting in a purer taste. Benzene is produced in greater quantities the higher you heat the material, and dabbing plates can go as high as 1,000 degrees F. In fact, many authorities recommend dabbing at 550 to 750 degrees F, even though benzene production increases above 350 degrees F.

Vaporizers can be set to very high heat settings, but they are more easily controlled than dabbing plates, which means that there’s less risk to your health. With that being said, some users prefer the stronger throat hit produced by dabbing. It’s closer to what they have come to appreciate. Of course, it’s not quite the same as what you’d experience with a “knife hit” from the old days.

Finally, we need to consider cost. Vaporizers tend to be cheaper, ranging from somewhere around $30 to $200 or so. Dabbing setups are much more expensive, ranging from $50 to tens of thousands if you wanted a custom rig designed.

In the end, both dabbing and vaping are legitimate ways to enjoy your cannabis. It’s really more about exercising caution and knowing what you’re putting into your body, particularly at higher temperatures when harmful chemicals are released by the material.

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