Dabs vs Flower: A Comparison

Dabs vs Flower: A Comparison

Even if we haven’t been paying close attention to the rapidly developing cannabis industry, we’re probably familiar with traditional cannabis flower buds. These dense, green, and trichome-covered flower nugs were once one of the only cannabis products available. Today, we can find a range of cannabis products in legal markets, including edibles, concentrates, patches, tinctures, capsules, topicals, and more.

Concentrates are one of the fastest-growing cannabis products in the market. In fact, the popularity of concentrates is beginning to catch up with the previously unrivaled popularity of flowers. Concentrates are typically enjoyed through dabbing to experience a fast onset of potent effects. If we’re curious about the difference between flower and dabs, keep on reading.

What are dabs?

Cannabis concentrates are simply concentrated forms of the cannabis plant’s therapeutic cannabinoids and, sometimes, aromatic terpenes. Concentrates come in a variety of types that vary in texture, consistency, quality, and potency. Popular concentrate forms include wax, shatter, crumble, oil, live resin, and sauce.

Because of the concentrated cannabinoid content, we only need a “dab” or a tiny portion of the concentrate, depending on the desired effects. We can either consume dabs via a portable vape pen or dab rig, which essentially vaporizes the concentrate to produce a potent inhalable vapor.

What are the benefits of dabbing?

Compared to other consumption methods, dabbing has numerous benefits for medical and recreational consumers. Concentrates contain a high potency of cannabinoids and terpenes that can ease discomfort from chronic or severe medical conditions. Additionally, dabs remove the harsh-tasting plant matter that can introduce carcinogens into our bodies when combusted.

Dabbing also provides us with a fast onset of effects. After inhalation, effects appear within five minutes because the activated compounds immediately enter the bloodstream through the lung’s alveoli openings. This quick introduction of compounds gives us a stronger potency and flavor than almost any other cannabis product. Overall, dabbing is an effective option for those seeking THC-rich highs.

What is cannabis flower?

Cannabis flower is the starting material for cannabis concentrates. During the marijuana flowering cycle, female cannabis plants mature and produce small flower buds that contain the highest concentration of trichomes compared to the plant’s leaves and stems. Dry flower bud can be consumed alone, in a bowl, joint, or dry herb vaporizer, depending on our preferences.

Weed vs Dabs: Which is right for you?

The best part of today’s diverse cannabis market is that we usually don’t have to choose between cannabis products. For new users, for example, dabs may be too overwhelming. The high-THC content can cause negative side effects in inexperienced users or those with severe anxiety. Dabs may be ideal for users looking for strong, immediate, and long-lasting relief.

Flower, on the other hand, provides us with an equally fast onset of effects. Flower may not have as high a THC concentration as dabs, but it can be just enough to give us a mild buzz. If we’re wondering which product is right for us, it may help to understand the key differences between concentrates and flower.


As mentioned previously, dabs are much more potent than your run-of-the-mill cannabis flower. Even the highest THC concentration among strains don’t compare to the significant cannabinoid content in any type of concentrate. Concentrates can boast between 50 and 90 percent THC. Cannabis flower’s THC content generally ranges between 15 and 30 percent.


Dabs are touted as a smoke-free way to enjoy cannabis. Of course, heating a dab on a hot nail produces a milky white inhalable vapor. But, dabbing doesn’t combust plant matter as smoking cannabis flower does.

Certain dabs, however, can be harmful to our health. Some concentrates are made using flammable solvents such as butane and ethanol that can be left in the final product. Third-party lab testing ensures that any concentrate is pure and safe to consume. For now, the jury’s out on the long-term effects of consuming dabs and flower.

Consumption methods

Cannabis flower can be consumed in a variety of ways. We can smoke flower out of a glass pipe or bong. Unlike simple pipes, bongs incorporate water into the equation to produce smoother hits. Flower can also be smoked in a joint or blunt. Finally, cannabis flower can be vaporized with a portable vape pen or a desktop vaporizer.

Concentrates have equally varied consumption methods. Dabbing is one of the most popular consumption methods of concentrates. All we do is drop a dab of concentrate onto a hot nail and inhale through our dab rig. Despite its effectiveness, this method may not be completely user-friendly.

Concentrates such as distillates can be infused into edibles, while oils can be introduced into capsules, suppositories, topicals, and transdermal patches.


If it’s all about flavor, the choice may be a difficult one. High-grade flower is known to smell great, while some types of concentrates may lose out on terpenes during the extraction process. Live resin or high-terpene full-spectrum extracts such as sauce contain a relatively high percentage of terpenes and aroma compared to other concentrate types.


Dabs and flower are generally safe products to consume when consumed responsibly. Smoking cannabis flower can worsen respiratory symptoms and get our fingers burned if we’re not careful, but other than that, the worst we can expect is mild negative side effects such as dry mouth, red eyes, and paranoia, which subsides.

Dabs are also safe to consume, but making them is a whole other story. When making dabs with solvents, we run the risk of creating an explosive atmosphere, but some safer home solventless extraction methods have produced potent and flavorful dabs.

Cost Efficiency

Dabs and flower buds differ in price based on quality and product type. Flower buds can contain about 20 percent cannabinoids by weight, while dabs have an average of 80 percent cannabinoids by weight.

A gram of cannabis flower can run us $15, while a gram of concentrate can cost us $60. Generally, the price of dabs and flower is about the same. Of course, prices vary by brand, potency, and location. Some concentrates and flower can fall below the listed prices.

Consumption methods can also affect the cost-efficiency of dabs and flower. Smoking flower buds can burn away 60 to 63 percent of THC. Vaporizing flower can reduce cannabinoid loss down to 40 percent. Dabbing concentrates, however, only results in losses of about 20 percent of psychoactive compounds.

Generally, cannabis concentrates offer the best bang for our buck. Cannabis concentrates provide a strong dose of potency and aroma with only the most essential cannabis compounds. Dabbing at low temperatures can help preserve more of these compounds and reap even bigger highs.


When smoking cannabis flower, the smoke and odor can be overwhelming and pronounced. It’s not the best way to consume discreetly. Vaporizing flower can help improve discretion. Dabs can also be discreetly consumed with a dab pen.

Dabs and flower provide different, but equally satisfying experiences for cannabis users. Luckily, we don’t have to choose between dabs and flower if we live in a legal state that sells these products. While no one consumption method may be perfect for everyone, there’s bound to be one that will let us consume cannabis however works best for us.

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Harriett S. Miller

Meet Harriett S. Miller, the guy who never met a CBD strain he didn't like! He's been researching and experimenting with CBD for years, and it's safe to say he's a bit of an enthusiast. When he's not busy trying out new strains, you can find him scoping out the latest cannabis accessories and gadgets. Harriett is dedicated to spreading the word about the benefits of CBD and helping people discover the perfect products to enhance their cannabis experience. He may be serious about his research, but he's always up for a good laugh (or a good puff).

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