It’s hard to believe there was a time when we needed to go through our dab ritual without the assistance of a dab temp reader. You’ll find no shortage of dab thermometer options on the market now, but this wasn’t the case even a mere 5 years ago. So, when did the first dab thermometer save us from an unnecessarily grueling dabbing ritual? First, it’s important to understand why it’s so crucial to an optimal sesh to have a temp reader designed with dab enthusiasts in mind. And it’s about more than convenience!
The Importance of Dropping Your Dab at the Right Time and Temperature
Some of us are old enough to remember the dark ages of dabbing, when banger heat was gauged by eyeballs, sweaty palms, intuition and maybe even a few prayers. If you could find the right balance, a tasty, terpy hit would be your well-earned reward. If not… you could be mopping up the charred and chazzed remains of a dab that died before its time or the pooling puddle of wax that never had the chance to realize its full potential. Even the slightest miscalculation would result in wasted concentrates and hits that were… less than satisfying.
But a dab fail costs more than a few dollars and some extra cleaning time. When heat is correctly applied to your dab, it transforms the cannabinoid THCA (which is not psychoactive) into THC (which is psychoactive). However, when you heat THCA too much, the THCA can actually degrade into a compound called CBN which only has 1/10 the psychoactive effect of THC. You will mostly find CBN in the form of reclaim.
High Temp vs. Low Temp Dabbing
Today, most people agree that lower temperature dabs lead to a more satisfying sesh; a conclusion reached after years of dabbing refinement. Yet you’ll still find people hitting that banger with the dab torch until it’s red hot. To give you an idea of where that places you:
- Red Hot – approx. 1050°F
- Slight Red Glow – approx. 925°F
- High Temperature Dabbing Threshold – approx. 800°F
- Flavor Starts to Burn Away – 720°F
- Low Temperature Dabbing Range – approx. 350°F – 500°F
Now, these aren’t exactly hard-and-fast figures. You’ll find dabbing veterans that warn against risking pooling and wasted wax when you dip below 500°F. You’ll just as easily find purists pointing out that anything above 400°F is technically combustion and thus constitutes a high temperature dab. But most will agree that while dabbing at too cool a temperature can waste concentrates, dabbing at too high a temperature sacrifices concentrates, flavor and even beneficial terpenes. This is why so many people have gravitated to the lower end of dabbing temperatures over the years.
Complicating matters are all the different factors that can vary your heating time and temperature. You have to consider the dab rig that you’re using, the design and material of your banger, the dab torch, the consistency of your concentrates, even the temperature of the room you’re sitting in. If you’re constantly using the same exact setup in the same exact place at the same exact time, you might have a chance of getting some kind of consistency with some practice. But most of us wisely turn to science for a helping hand.
Dab Temp Reader Evolution 1: The Old School Wrist Test
It wasn’t even a decade ago that the best way to find your optimal dabbing window was your well-tuned sense of touch and a timer. Of course, no one was actually touching a scalding hot banger… not intentionally anyway. The wrist test involved a well-practiced dab enthusiast heating up their banger and then holding their wrist slightly away from the banger’s surface to “feel out” the right temperature for dropping their dab. For a situation that called for an exact science, this was by no means exact or science. Some creative thinkers turned to infrared thermometers which offered some assistance. But these heat guns weren’t designed with dabbing in mind and struggled with quartz glass surfaces. There were fewer burned wrists, but the consistency of hits was only nominally better.
Dab Temp Reader Evolution 2: The Luxurious Unveiling of the Enail
The introduction of the enail offered unmatched consistency and safety… for anyone who could afford it. And in those early days, that wasn’t many people. The first enails were marketed as high-ticket luxury items, but they allowed the user to dial in their preferred temperature, usually to a single degree, with digital precision. Plus, there was no chance of a nasty burn. One minor setback of the enail was its propensity to tie the user to wherever it was receiving its power, typically the closest wall outlet. Many found flavor suffering when using enails and purists yearned for the feel of a traditional dab rig setup. There was still something crucial missing when it came to seeking the perfect dab temperature.
Dab Temp Reader Evolution 3: The Terpometer Ushers in the Modern Dab Thermometer
It was frustration over this missing piece that found Zack Miller laboring painstakingly over what he hoped would be the answer. The Terpometer offered a wand that came in direct contact with the quartz of the banger, delivering an unwaveringly precise temperature reading. This was the first official dab temp reader and it really knew how to make an appearance. When the Terpometer took a temperature reading, it would show you the digital result on an easy-to-read LCD screen. The results were color coded with a green screen indicating the desired window for dropping your dab. The optimal temperature could be manually adjusted, but Miller and his team had done painstaking research to find the perfect window, even factoring in the approximately 60°F temperature drop the banger experiences when it first comes into contact with the dab. However, dabbing styles differ from person to person, so it helped that the LCD screen also gave an accurate temperature display so you could drop your dab whenever you felt like it, regardless of the color window. The Terpometer seemed like the perfect solution to dabbing without compromise. Where could things possibly go from there?
The Terpometer highlighted an increasing demand for consistency and precision in the dabbing ritual. After roughing it for so many years, many of us didn’t even know what we were missing until we were introduced to the accuracy offered by the Terpometer. It seemed more like a necessity than a luxury. The Terpometer was almost universally embraced by the 710 community; a commercial success with critical acclaim. But some felt there was room for improvement. The most notable complaint was the fact that the Terpometer needed to be held up to the banger, leaving only one hand free. Even with a dab tool built into the device, the demand for a hands-free option was obvious.
Dab Temp Reader Evolution 4: The Dab Thermometer Revolution
Innovation waits for no one, so now you can find a slew of hands-free dab temp reader designs that offer various features and price points. One of the most popular is the Dab Rite Infrared Thermometer. The Dab Rite is designed around a flexible, posable arm that allows you to train its LED guide light at your banger’s base, no matter how complex or heady your setup. You may be asking, “Wait, didn’t you just say infrared thermometers and heat guns couldn’t read quartz glass accurately?” In those early days, people were using IR thermometers that weren’t designed with bangers in mind. The Dab Rite was created specifically as a dab thermometer with built-in emissivity settings and an industrial-grade sensor, setting it apart from generic IR thermometers and heat guns. Its LED not only provides excellent accuracy but is also safer than the lasers usually used in IR thermometers. Rounded out by both visual and audio alarms and a line of interchangeable silicone sleeves in vibrant colors, the Dab Rite offers one of the more decadent dab thermometer solutions.
The Octave Terp Timer may be more appealing to those looking for hands-free performance with a lower price tag. This boxy dab temp reader does not offer the adjustable angles of the Dab Rite, instead requiring the user to position it directly beneath the banger where it uses a more traditional laser to gauge the reading. You program your desired temperature into the Terp Timer and it alerts you when you’ve hit the magic number through video and audio means, like the Dab Rite. The Terp Timer is crafted from rugged material and its impressive battery can offer performance for up to 3 months on a single charge, making it a perfect option for those looking for something portable.
The Terpometer is still one of the most popular dab temp readers on the market, illustrating that there is plenty of room for all sorts of dab thermometers in the ever-growing 710 community. But since the Terpometer is just a little over 2 years old and still as popular as ever, it’s hard to map the future of temperature readers that focus on dabbing. In the meantime, we’ll be waiting in convenience.