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Dabbing Into The World Of Marijuana Wax: A Guide

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By Ron Garmon

Anyone left loitering in the Reefer Madness era of marijuana awareness is going to have a difficult time with the dabbing craze. 420-friendly media outlets routinely cover the growing popularity of marijuana concentrate use and dabbing itself became a mainstream media Thing after 2013’s cross-country series of apartment and hotel explosions, among the most recent being in a fire last month in Brooklyn. Even FEMA has gotten into the act; the federal agency’s issuing an unusual alert listing the rise of hash oil fires alongside other threats to the nation’s infrastructure. Such ugly incidents could set off a moral panic among the diminishing number of Americans still fighting the War on Weed and even pro-legalization advocates begin to wonder if dabbing isn’t dangerous not to say detrimental to the tone of the whole legalization movement.

What is marijuana wax?

Varying in appearance and texture from dense yellow paste to dark brown mucilage, wax is most often named after the weed used in its extraction and smoked in a variety of ways, many alarming to the uninitiated. Among the most simple is the knife hit, or dropping a crumb of the stuff onto a heated blade and inhaling the vaporized result, but sophisticates prefer the vaporizing pen. For the wax-curious fearing the senses-shattering, instant-karmic slam of vaporizing, there are slower methods of ingestion.

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How is it made?

Enthusiasts love to debate finer points of wax extraction, but the most-often used method involves manufacture of concentrated butane hash oil (BHO), popular among stoners for decades. Prep and equipment used vary from jerry-built kitchen operations to prefab extraction kits available on eBay. BHO production involves infusing dehydrated marijuana (small buds or shake) with butane. After purification (by hot-water immersion or vacuum pump), what’s left is ordinary wax, dab, erl or shatter. The process looks simple enough for enterprising home chemists with access to a spare baggie or two of high-grade trim. Experts advise would-be dab makers handle most of the process outdoors and have a fire-extinguisher handy. Use of cheap butane also increases risk of sudden self-immolation and some purists tout an alcohol method, which also poses a fire risk.

Since the dangers are too great for the ordinary weedhead, I strenuously don’t recommend anyone attempt at-home BHO preparation. In addition to the chance of reducing self and surroundings to ash, manufacture of wax is prohibited in California, though sale, possession and use are legal for registered patients.

What is it like to smoke it?

For this experiment, I used Yoda’s Brain wax, a brown-sugary paste and Caviar O.G. shake. It costs $50 for a gram and I picked it up at Beverly Hills Dollatella in Brentwood. Packing a metal marijuana pipe half-full with the shake, I carefully tamped in a lump of wax about one-third the size of a Tic-Tac and sprinkled on more green stuff. Igniting flame and breathing deeply, results from a single lung-searing were instantaneous and long-lasting, like smoking an entire joint in one herculean pull. The melting wax coats the remaining weed, burning slowly and providing an afternoon’s worth of serious stoning. Upon consumption, you’ll find yourself little able to leave your house and that’s all to the public good for dabbers.

Weed Review: Larry OG Will Remind You Of Your First Joint

When not writing about marijuana, Ron Garmon conducts interviews and listens to music for L.A. Record. His writings have appeared in Utne Reader, the Los Angeles Times, Famous Monsters of Filmland, SF Weekly’s “All Shook Down” blog and many more. Depending upon the angle, he looks like either Sting or Rutger Hauer.