In this article, I’ll be giving you step-by-step instructions on how to make your own homemade cannabis wax, aka “dabs.” But first, let’s talk about what it is, how and why it’s used, and what it does.

How to Use Cannabis Wax

Although there are many means by which you can use cannabis wax, dab rigs are the most common. In short, a dab rig is best described as a water bong with a dab nail (or “nail” as it’s most commonly referred to) attached to it. To find out more about dab rigs and nails, read here.

When using a dab rig, you place your wax on the surface of the nail after heating the nail with a blow torch. When the wax is placed on the red-hot surface of the nail, it can then be inhaled or “dabbed” via the “water bong” that the nail is attached to. Inhaling weed wax via a dab rig creates an intoxicatingly powerful combination of vapor, smoke, and a super-concentrated form of THC.

Another way that wax is used is via a dab pen or “wax vaporizer,” where instead of heating a nail with a blow torch, the wax is heated in the pen’s heating chamber, which is powered by a battery. Dab pens are particularly popular with young adults as its more discrete, easier to carry with you, and simpler to use. Furthermore, dab pens also produce what some argue is a more flavorful vapor experience.

In terms of using a dab rig vs. vaping, the other reason that some prefer to use a dab pen is that although dabbing is still healthier than inhaling weed via a joint, etc., vaping wax with a dab pen is that much gentler on the lungs.

What is Cannabis Wax?

In short, cannabis wax is a crystallized type of cannabis oil extracted from cannabis plant matter. While its composition varies, it is always opaque and is usually soft, sticky, and wax-like and can be on the more gooey side to compact and flaky. High-end wax that is made from high-quality cannabis will usually be softer to the touch and amber in color. This type of weed wax is commonly made from butane hash oil (BHO).

Furthermore, while the potency of wax also varies, with lower quality wax containing about 50% THC and BHO wax up to 90%, it’s always significantly stronger than combusting marijuana buds, where 25-28% THC is about the highest content you’ll find in a supremely powerful strain.

The reason for wax containing such high THC levels is because the extraction process used to make it produces a waxy substance that is close to being pure THC, which gives seasoned medical and recreational users an incredibly powerful high that hits quickly.

If explaining just how strong dabs are hasn’t made it abundantly clear yet, please allow me to explicitly state that dabbing, or using weed wax, is not for the faint of heart as you could end up being overwhelmed by the adverse side effects that can come with exceeding your usual tolerance level. As such, you should always start off conservatively in your usage of it, as say for example, if your wax contains 70% THC then 1-2 hits may get you as high as say 4-7 from a pre-rolled joint might.

One last word of caution when using cannabis wax, even though it generally hits hard and fast, it can take some people as much as 30 minutes to feel its full effects, so wait a bit before you start inhaling away as this stuff can easily knock even regular users off their feet.

Group of green cannabis plants
Users with a high tolerance to THC often turn to cannabis wax as a next step
Source: Pixabay

Why Use Cannabis Wax?

Frequent recreational users with a high tolerance to THC often use potent forms of cannabis concentrates like wax to revel in the more potent psychoactive effects of using this form of concentrated marijuana.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana users who use medical cannabis on a daily basis often turn to use wax when they need fast-acting relief from severe physical and mental health ailments, such as chronic pain, insomnia, mood-related disorders, and nausea–just to name a few.

Another reason that some prefer to use wax is that it’s believed to cause less damage to the lungs than other more traditional smoking methods, but honestly, its immense strength and fast-acting, intense effects are the number one reason why.

How to Make Your Own Marijuana Wax

As mentioned at the start of this article, high-quality weed wax is usually made from BHO. This is because butane is able to extract the highest percentage of both terpenes and cannabinoids from cannabis. But, because butane is also an extremely dangerous and highly-flammable substance that should only be used by professionals who have the right kinds of equipment, factory set-up, and safety systems and protocols in place, you should never try to use butane as an extraction solvent in your home. Instead, I’m going to provide you with one solventless extraction method for making a form of cannabis wax known as rosin dabs, and one solvent-based method that uses the safer form of alcohol extraction.

Solvent-Free Extraction Method for Making Rosin

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Approximately 2 grams of cannabis flower
  • Hair straightener or flat iron that has a set of at least 300 degrees Fahrenheit or less, as anything hotter can result in the loss of terpenes due to their being burned away
  • Unbleached, non-waxy parchment paper aka “bakery paper”
  • Oven mitts, or another type of heat-resistant pair of gloves
  • A resin collection tool, such as a razor blade, palette knife, or small putty knife

Step-by-Step Guide

  • Step 1. Turn your hair straightener (or flat iron) to its lowest setting, which should be somewhere between 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Step 2. Break up your cannabis buds into smaller portions.
  • Step 3. Cut a piece of parchment paper so that it’s small enough to fit on the surface of your hair straightener but big enough to hold your broken-up marijuana buds. Then, fold the paper in half, put your plant material in the middle of it, and gently press it closed.
  • Step 4. Place the folded-up parchment paper with the cannabis material on the surface of the straightener (or flat iron) and using your oven mitts, press down hard on the buds for approximately 3 seconds or until you hear a “sizzle.”
  • Step 5. Remove the paper and what is now rosin from the hair straightener. Unfold the paper and use your collection tool to remove the rosin/wax from the paper, and voila!–you have wax!

*Note: You can also use your collection tool to remove any remaining plant matter.

Cannabis buds growing next to leaves
Turn your cannabis flower into cannabis wax using isopropyl alcohol
Source: Pixabay

How to Make Wax via Isopropyl Alcohol Extraction

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Approximately 2.5 grams of cannabis flower
  • Oven- and freezer-safe container (i.e., pyrex)
  • 99-100% isopropyl alcohol
  • Metal mesh screen
  • Unbleached coffee filters
  • 2 mason jars or something like this
  • Hot water
  • Pot

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Step 1. Break up your small batch of cannabis flower so that it’s crumbly as opposed to powdery, and place it in the oven-safe container.
  • Step 2. Dry your weed out in the oven, in your oven-safe container, at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes until it is super dry and “crispy.”
  • Step 3. Place your dried-out nuggets into the freezer alongside the bottle of 99-100% pure isopropyl alcohol for about 3-5 hours. *Note: Do NOT place it INSIDE the bottle of alcohol
  • Step 4. Remove your container of cannabis buds and cold isopropyl alcohol from the freezer, and pour your now-cold alcohol over the dried and frozen marijuana plant nugs with about an inch of alcohol.
  • Step 5. Gently swish and swirl this mix for around 20 seconds, making sure to not spill any of the contents. Then let it chill for 1-2 hours. (Or, you can let it chill for up to 1-2 days to get as much THC as possible.)
  • Step 6. Pour the entire mixture through a mesh screen into one of the mason jars in order to separate the nuggets from the 99-100% isopropyl alcohol. Squeeze out any remnants.
  • Step 7. Set your cannabis material to the side, place your coffee filter over the second mason jar (or mug), and pour the alcohol through the filter.
  • Step 8. Being careful not to tear or damage the coffee filter, wring it out so that you get as much of the 99-100% pure isopropyl alcohol out.
  • Step 9. Wait for the alcohol to evaporate by either leaving the coffee filter on top of the mason jar and just waiting, or placing it in a hot water bath in the pot on the stove at a low setting until the alcohol has begun to evaporate. However, if you use this faster, latter method, you need to be extremely careful to not let it go into a boiling-off process as not only can this ruin all your hard work, but even more importantly–alcohol, while far less risky than butane, is still flammable.
  • Step 10. Once the alcohol is completely evaporated, scrape your newly-formed cannabis wax out of the mason jar and either store it in another glass container or in some non-stick parchment paper in a light-free area.
  • Step 11. Dab away!

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