Every Parent’s Guide to Dabbing: What Are the Risks?


Getting high off THC can take several forms. Dabbing is a popular trend to achieve new highs off the drug. It also poses risks that no parent should ignore.

What Is Dabbing?

Dabbing is the act of inhaling cannabis that has been concentrated into a waxy substance often called butane hash oil (BHO). Thanks to its preparation, the THC in hash oil is concentrated at 80%, unlike the 15% found in the original product. The result is an immediate, intense, euphoric high as opposed to the weaker and slower high of the traditional method.

A teen can dab through simple means like heating the wax on a piece of foil, but they can also find complete dabbing kits online. These kits can be discrete or flashy, but they all come with the same components:

  • A rig that looks like a glass bong
  • A butane torch
  • A small bowl (called a nail or banger)
  • A bobby pin/safety pin/dabbing tool

The rig is assembled, filled with water, and a dab of BHO is placed in the bowl. A butane torch will heat the oil and water, and both will be vaporized and inhaled directly into the lungs. This method is popular because, unlike smoking, there is no strong, lingering odor.

The Dangers of Dabbing

The risks can be twofold: the health effects from inhalation and the safety risks involved in making BHO. While the high is more intense from hash oil, so are the health consequences. For one, thanks to the high concentration, the risk of dependence and withdrawal intensify. Tolerance can also occur, meaning it will take more hits more frequently to chase that same high.

Some of the most immediate risks are dizziness, memory loss, and extreme anxiety that can descend into a full-on panic attack or psychosis. Over time, the inhalation of vaporized hash oil will take its toll on the lungs. While there may be no smoke, there are still byproducts that are toxic and carcinogenic (benzene) and contaminants from the plant itself, such as pesticides that have now been concentrated and smoked. Since vaping and dabbing are relatively new, scientists are still studying the lifelong effects. Worst case, these effects can cause chronic issues such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and even respiratory failure. Cognitive decline is also a risk, since the brain structure can change over time.

Due to its simplicity, making hash oil is popular among users. It involves taking dried marijuana, putting it into a metal or glass tube then “blasting it.” A solvent (most commonly butane) is added to the plant to extract THC. This is then filtered and put into a glass container to apply heat. The volume will reduce until all that is left is a waxy mix of concentrated THC.

As a parent, you probably see the danger in this. Accidents can happen if the extract is heated too fast or exposed to a flame. Just Googling “hash oil fire” can produce multiple stories about explosions, fires, and people suffering severe burns. If the hash oil is produced in an enclosed environment, inhaling that much butane can also pose a danger.

What Can I Do if I Think My Teenager Is in Danger?

Having a child put themselves in harm’s way is frightening and frustrating. You may need help tackling this issue. We at Colorado Addictions Consulting are here to help!

If you believe your child is struggling but don’t understand why, our staff is waiting to be of service. Schedule an evaluation today to get answers and give your child the specialized care they need. Call 720-379-6590.