Dabbing vs. Smoking: Which provides a greater high?

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Dabbing vs. Smoking: Which provides a greater high?


What is Dabbing?

Dabbing is a popular method of consuming cannabis concentrates that has gained significant traction among enthusiasts. The process involves using a heated surface, often called a “nail” or “banger,” to vaporize a small amount of cannabis concentrate, which is then inhaled. The nail is typically made of quartz, titanium, or ceramic and is heated using a torch or an electronic heating element. As the concentrate comes into contact with the hot surface, it instantly vaporizes, producing a potent and fast-acting vapor that is inhaled through a dab rig or a dab pen.

man holding a dabbing rig


There are various types of concentrates used in dabbing, each with unique properties and cannabinoid profiles. Some common concentrates include shatter, wax, budder, and rosin. These concentrates have higher levels of THC compared to traditional cannabis flowers, often exceeding 70-90% THC content, leading to more intense and immediate effects.

Dabbing devices, also known as dab rigs, come in different shapes and sizes. A traditional dab rig typically consists of a water pipe, a nail or banger, a dome, and a dabber tool. In recent years, portable dab pens have become increasingly popular for their convenience and discretion. Dab pens are compact, battery-powered devices that allow users to enjoy concentration on the go.


What is Smoking?

woman smoking in her bed


Smoking is the most common and traditional method of cannabis consumption. It involves inhaling the smoke produced by burning cannabis flowers, also known as buds or other plant parts like leaves or hash. Cannabis smokers use various methods to consume the herb, such as rolling joints, using pipes, or employing bongs (water pipes).

Joints are arguably the most familiar way of smoking cannabis, where ground buds are rolled into rolling papers to create a cigarette-like product. Pipes, on the other hand, are compact devices with a bowl where the cannabis is placed, and the user inhales the smoke directly through the mouthpiece. Bongs, with their water filtration system, cool and purify the smoke, providing a smoother smoking experience.

The varieties of smoking materials range from the traditional dried cannabis flowers (commonly known as “weed”) to processed forms like hashish (hash) made from concentrated resin glands. The THC content in these materials typically falls between 15-25%, which may vary based on the strain and cultivation methods.


The High: Dabbing vs. Smoking




Method of Consumption Involves vaporizing cannabis concentrates Involves burning and inhaling cannabis flowers or hash
Onset of Effects Rapid and almost instantaneous Gradual, taking some time to feel the full effects
THC Concentration High, concentrates can exceed 70-90% THC Lower, cannabis flowers typically have 15-25% THC
Lower, cannabis flowers typically have 15-25% THC Preserves terpenes better, enhancing the flavor profile Some terpenes may be lost during combustion
Intensity of High Intense and powerful due to high THC concentration Milder compared to dabbing but can still be potent
Duration of High Shorter, may require more frequent use Longer-lasting can maintain the high over time
Sustainability May deplete concentrates faster with frequent use More sustainable with less cannabis consumption
Respiratory Effects Vapor is generally less harsh on the lungs Smoke may irritate the respiratory system
Health Considerations Potential risks of flash vaporization and contaminants Combustion by-products may be harmful to lungs
Side Effects Common side effects include dry mouth, red eyes, etc. Similar side effects, such as dry mouth and red eyes
Risk of Overdose High THC concentration can lead to an uncomfortable OD Overconsumption may cause discomfort and anxiety
Potential for Addiction Potential for cannabis use disorder with heavy use Risk of dependency and addiction with regular use
Best for Medicinal Use Rapid relief for specific conditions with higher potency Gradual and sustained relief, beneficial for some ailments
Suitable for Social Use Intense high may be overwhelming in social settings Gradual high may be more enjoyable for social use


How Dabbing Affects the High

dab rig


Dabbing affects the high in several distinct ways compared to traditional smoking methods. The process of dabbing involves vaporizing highly concentrated cannabis extracts, leading to a unique and potent experience. Here’s a comprehensive look at how dabbing affects the high:

  1. Rapid Onset and Intensity: Dabbing provides an almost instantaneous onset of effects. When the concentrated cannabis extract is vaporized and inhaled, the cannabinoids, especially THC, quickly enter the bloodstream through the lungs. This rapid absorption results in an intense high that can be felt within seconds after inhaling. Users often describe this initial rush as a powerful and euphoric sensation.
  2. High THC Concentration: Cannabis concentrates used in dabbing can have significantly higher THC levels compared to traditional cannabis flowers. Concentrates can contain THC levels of 70-90% or even higher, whereas cannabis flowers typically have THC levels between 15-25%. This higher THC concentration contributes to the intensity of the high experienced through dabbing.
  3. Terpene Preservation and Flavor: During the extraction process used to create concentrates, some terpenes, which are aromatic compounds responsible for the distinct flavors and scents of cannabis, are retained. As a result, dabbing can offer a more flavorful experience compared to traditional smoking methods. The preservation of terpenes in concentrates adds complexity to the flavor profile, allowing users to enjoy a wide range of tastes beyond just THC.
  4. Potency and Efficiency: Due to the high THC concentration and rapid onset of effects, dabbing can be more efficient than smoking cannabis flowers. Users may require smaller quantities of concentrate to achieve the desired level of intoxication, resulting in a longer-lasting supply of cannabis products.
  5. Precise Dosage Control: Dabbing allows for better control over the dosage of cannabinoids. With concentrates, users can measure and regulate the amount of product used in each dab, making it easier to find the right dosage for individual needs. This precision can be especially beneficial for medical cannabis users who require specific cannabinoid levels for symptom management.
  6. Shorter Duration of Effects: While dabbing offers a quick and intense high, the duration of the effects tends to be shorter compared to traditional smoking. The intense euphoria and relaxation experienced through dabbing may subside relatively quickly, leading some users to take more frequent dabs to maintain the high over an extended period.
  7. Potential for Overconsumption: Due to the rapid onset and intensity of effects, dabbing can potentially lead to overconsumption, especially for inexperienced users. Overconsumption can result in an uncomfortable experience, including anxiety, paranoia, and physical discomfort, commonly referred to as “greening out” or experiencing a cannabis overdose.

It’s essential for users to be mindful of their tolerance levels and consume concentrates responsibly. Beginners are advised to start with small doses and gradually increase their intake, allowing their bodies to acclimate to the potency of dabbing.

Overall, dabbing provides a unique and potent experience that appeals to many cannabis enthusiasts seeking a rapid and intense high. However, like any cannabis consumption method, responsible use and understanding individual limits are essential to ensuring a positive and enjoyable experience.


How Smoking Affects the High

man smoking cannabis


Smoking cannabis affects the high in a different manner compared to dabbing or other methods of cannabis consumption. Here’s a comprehensive look at how smoking affects the high:

  1. Gradual Onset and Peak: When cannabis flowers or hashish are smoked, the THC and other cannabinoids are released through combustion and inhaled as smoke. The onset of effects is generally slower compared to dabbing. It may take a few minutes for users to start feeling the effects, and the high typically builds up gradually, reaching its peak after about 30 minutes to an hour.
  2. THC Levels in Cannabis Flowers: Cannabis flowers, commonly referred to as “weed,” generally have lower THC levels compared to concentrates used in dabbing. The THC content in cannabis flowers typically falls within the range of 15-25%. The combination of THC with other cannabinoids, such as CBD, and the presence of various terpenes in the plant contribute to the overall effects of the high.
  3. Flavor Profile and Nuances: Smoking cannabis flowers provides a more comprehensive and nuanced flavor profile compared to dabbing. The combustion process releases a wide range of aromatic compounds, including terpenes, which influence the taste and aroma of the smoke. Different strains of cannabis offer unique flavors and scents, making smoking a more diverse and flavorful experience.
  4. Entourage Effect: Smoking cannabis flowers allows users to experience the entourage effect. This is the synergistic interaction between cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in the plant. The entourage effect is believed to enhance the overall effects and therapeutic benefits of cannabis, leading to a more well-rounded and balanced high.
  5. Physical and Cerebral Effects: The high experienced through smoking cannabis flowers are often described as more balanced, offering a mix of physical and cerebral effects. Users may feel relaxed and euphoric, with a sense of general well-being. The effects can vary depending on the strain’s cannabinoid profile, with some strains providing more uplifting and energetic effects, while others induce a more calming and sedative high.
  6. Longer Duration of Effects: Compared to dabbing, the effects of smoking cannabis flowers tend to last longer. As the THC is released gradually and metabolized by the body, users may enjoy a sustained high that can last for a few hours, depending on the amount consumed and individual factors.
  7. Traditional Smoking Methods: Smoking cannabis allows users to choose from various traditional methods, such as rolling joints, using pipes, or employing bongs. Each method offers a slightly different smoking experience, affecting factors like the smoothness of the smoke and the rate of THC delivery.
  8. Risk of Combustion By-products: Smoking cannabis involves combustion, which produces various by-products such as tar and other harmful compounds. Inhaling smoke can irritate the respiratory system and potentially lead to chronic bronchitis-like symptoms, especially with heavy and prolonged use.

It’s essential to be mindful of the potential risks associated with smoking, particularly for those with preexisting respiratory conditions. For users concerned about the negative effects of smoking, alternative methods of consumption, such as vaporizing dry herbs or using cannabis edibles and tinctures, may offer a smoke-free and potentially less harmful experience.


Comparing the Effects of Dabbing and Smoking

Intensity and Potency

couple smoking marijuana, weed


The intensity and potency of the high experienced through dabbing or smoking can vary significantly based on individual preferences and tolerance levels. Dabbing is renowned for delivering a more intense high due to the higher concentration of THC in concentrates. As a result, users may experience a more pronounced cerebral and physical effect.

On the other hand, smoking cannabis flowers generally produces a milder high compared to dabbing. While the THC levels are lower, the entourage effect plays a significant role in shaping the overall experience. Some users prefer this more balanced and gradual high, finding it more enjoyable for social settings or daily use.

Both dabbing and smoking can have short-term and long-term effects on users. Short-term effects include euphoria, relaxation, altered perception, and increased appetite. However, some users may experience negative effects such as anxiety, paranoia, or dizziness, especially with higher THC concentrations.

Long-term effects of cannabis use, whether through dabbing or smoking, can vary depending on frequency and duration of use. Regular, heavy use of high-THC cannabis products may lead to cognitive impairments, respiratory issues, and potential addiction. Moderation and responsible use are essential to minimize these risks.


Duration and Sustainability

The duration of the high experienced from dabbing is generally shorter compared to smoking. Dabbing delivers a rapid and intense onset of effects, but the high tends to taper off more quickly. This means users may need to take more frequent dabs to maintain the high over an extended period, which can lead to a faster depletion of concentrates.

On the other hand, smoking cannabis flowers provides a longer-lasting high due to the slower release of THC into the bloodstream. The effects may build up gradually and peak over time, resulting in a more sustained experience. Additionally, smoking larger amounts of cannabis flowers may not be necessary to maintain the high for an extended period.

However, frequent and excessive smoking can lead to a tolerance buildup, making it challenging to achieve the desired effects with the same amount of cannabis over time. This tolerance can also contribute to decreased sustainability of the high, potentially leading to more substantial cannabis consumption and related health risks.


Health and Safety Considerations

woman dabs cannabis


Dabbing Safety

While dabbing can offer a potent and efficient way to consume cannabis, it also comes with specific safety considerations. Dabbing equipment, especially the nail or banger, can become extremely hot and cause burns if mishandled. Users should exercise caution when heating and handling the nail, using appropriate safety gear like heat-resistant gloves.

Another safety concern is the potential risk of flash vaporization. If the concentrate is exposed to excessively high temperatures, it may combust rather than vaporize, leading to potentially harmful smoke inhalation. It’s essential to find the right balance of heat to ensure proper vaporization without combustion

Furthermore, some concentrates can be contaminated with residual solvents or other impurities from the extraction process. To mitigate health risks, consumers should purchase concentrates from reputable sources that provide lab-tested products free of harmful substances.


Smoking Safety

Smoking cannabis, whether through joints, pipes, or bongs, also requires safety precautions. When using rolling papers or smoking devices, it’s essential to be mindful of fire hazards and avoid accidentally dropping hot ashes.

Bong users should be cautious when handling hot glass components, as they can cause burns. Additionally, water pipes need regular cleaning to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria and mold.

Smoking cannabis, especially in its plant form, produces smoke that can irritate the respiratory system. For those with preexisting lung conditions or concerns, it’s wise to consider alternative consumption methods.


Comparing Health Impacts

woman using dab rig


Respiratory Effects

Both dabbing and smoking involve inhaling substances into the lungs, and as such, they can have potential respiratory effects. Smoking cannabis flowers releases various combustion by-products, including tar and carcinogens, which can irritate the lungs and lead to chronic bronchitis-like symptoms over time.

Dabbing, on the other hand, produces vapor rather than smoke, which is generally less harsh on the respiratory system. However, the long-term effects of vaporizing concentrates are still being studied, and some users may experience irritation from inhaling vaporized cannabinoids and terpenes.


Potential Side Effects

Cannabis, regardless of consumption method, can have side effects that vary from person to person. Common side effects include dry mouth, red eyes, and increased heart rate. Some users may experience heightened anxiety or paranoia, especially with high-THC products.

It’s essential to start with small doses and monitor how the body responds to minimize the risk of negative side effects.


Risks of Overdose or Adverse Reactions

While cannabis itself is not considered lethal, consuming too much THC can lead to an uncomfortable experience known as “greening out” or a cannabis overdose. Symptoms may include extreme anxiety, nausea, dizziness, and a feeling of losing control.

It’s crucial to be mindful of dosage, especially when using concentrates, as they can be significantly more potent than traditional cannabis flowers.



woman dabbing, smoke


Both dabbing and smoking are popular methods of cannabis consumption, each offering unique characteristics and effects. Dabbing provides a rapid and intense high due to its high THC concentration and immediate onset. It allows users to experience the full range of terpenes, enhancing the flavor profile of the concentrate.

On the other hand, smoking cannabis flowers offers a more gradual and well-rounded high, thanks to the entourage effect. It can be a more sustainable method for maintaining the high over an extended period.

When considering dabbing vs. smoking for a greater high, it’s essential to weigh individual preferences, tolerance levels, and health considerations. Responsible and moderate use is key to maximizing the benefits of cannabis while minimizing potential risks.

If you’re interested in exploring the world of cannabis further, Leaf Alleviate offers a wide range of high-quality products to suit your preferences. Whether you’re curious about dabbing concentrates or looking for premium cannabis flowers for a traditional smoking experience, Leaf Alleviate has you covered. Our products undergo rigorous testing to ensure purity and potency, providing you with a safe and enjoyable cannabis journey. Visit our website to learn more about our offerings and discover the perfect fit for your cannabis needs.



Q: Is Dabbing Stronger Than Smoking?

Dabbing is often considered stronger than smoking due to the higher concentration of THC in concentrates. Concentrates can contain THC levels of 70-90% or even higher, whereas cannabis flowers typically have THC levels between 15-25%. This potency difference leads to a more intense high with dabbing. However, the concept of strength can be subjective, as some users may prefer the gradual build-up of effects from smoking cannabis flowers, finding it more enjoyable and manageable.


Q: Can Dabbing or Smoking Lead to Addiction?

Cannabis, regardless of how it’s consumed, has the potential for dependence or addiction. However, the risk of addiction varies from person to person and is influenced by factors such as genetics, frequency of use, and individual susceptibility. It’s essential to use cannabis responsibly and be aware of any signs of dependency. Seeking professional help may be necessary for individuals struggling with cannabis use disorder.


Q: Which Method is Safer for Lungs?

Both dabbing and smoking involve inhaling substances into the lungs, which can have potential respiratory effects. However, dabbing may be considered less harmful to the lungs compared to smoking cannabis flowers. Smoking produces smoke that contains various combustion by-products, which can irritate the respiratory system. Dabbing, on the other hand, produces vapor, which is generally less harsh on the lungs. However, the long-term effects of vaporizing concentrates are still being studied. For those concerned about lung health, alternative consumption methods like edibles, tinctures, or vaporizing dry herbs may be more suitable.


Q: Is Dabbing or Smoking Better for Medicinal Use?

Both dabbing and smoking can have medicinal benefits, but the best method depends on the specific condition and desired effects. Dabbing concentrates can provide rapid relief for certain medical conditions due to their immediate onset and higher potency. Smoking cannabis flowers can be useful for medical purposes when a more gradual and sustained effect is desired. The entourage effect from whole-plant cannabis can enhance therapeutic benefits. Consulting with a healthcare professional knowledgeable about cannabis can help determine the most appropriate method and strain for medicinal use.


Q: Can You Dab and Smoke Together?

Combining dabbing and smoking is possible but should be approached with caution, especially for inexperienced users. The simultaneous use of concentrates and cannabis flowers can lead to a more intense high, potentially overwhelming for some individuals. If combining both methods, it’s crucial to start with lower doses and monitor how the body responds. Overconsumption can lead to adverse effects, such as anxiety or nausea.

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