Cold Start Dabbing: What Is It – And How Do You Do It?

Given how popular dabbing is today, it is difficult to imagine that it was once confined to the fringes of cannabis consumption methods. However, its popularity has increased exponentially in the last few years.

A study published in Drug Alcohol Dependency in 2018 assessed dab use in the United States. It found that 58% of cannabis-using respondents had tried dabs at least once. Over 36% reported dabbing at least once a month.

The process of dabbing involves, of course, use of a dab rig. Users heat the rig’s ‘nail,’ then place a highly potent cannabis concentrate on it. Typically, concentrates for dabbing contain at least 70% THC, so users only need a tiny amount to get a mind-altering effect.

One of the problems associated with dabbing is inhaling dabs at too high of a temperature. The result is intense chest and throat discomfort. Cold-start dabbing is a relatively newfound technique that aims to avoid high-temperature inhalation. Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Cold Start Dabbing?

The process of cold start dabbing only began in earnest in 2018. A journalist nicknamed ‘Bobby Nuggz’ (real name Robert DiVincenzo) demonstrated how to cold-start dab in a Now This video. The video aired during the Boston Freedom Rally, and Nuggz wanted to show viewers a new way to dab concentrates.

At the time, he referred to it as ‘reverse dabbing,’ but the dabbing community now calls it Cold Start Tech. It is a method that reverses the normal order of things when using a dab. In basic terms, you add the concentrate to the banger first, then heat it. Typically, you’re supposed to heat the nail and then add the concentrate.

Your Step-By-Step Guide to Cold Start Dabbing

Before you can begin cold-start dabbing, you require a nail. A banger is ideal because its design enables you to distribute the heat more evenly. This is key when heating dabs on a cold surface. A thermal nail is fine, although a ceramic or quartz banger is better. Once you have the right equipment, here’s how to reverse dab.

  1. Place your cannabis concentrate on the nail or banger. Make sure the surface is clean, or else you’ll heat residual material from previous dabbing sessions.
  2. Add the carb or bubble cap and use your torch to heat beneath the nail. Make sure the flame is a little distance away from the nail. The aim is to heat the surface to the point where the concentrate bubbles and becomes vapor.
  3. It depends on the dab rig, but in general, you should only need to heat the nail/banger for a maximum of eight seconds. Overheating the concentrate will damage its quality and defeat the purpose of cold start dabbing.
  4. Once you see the vapor, remove the torch and use the carb cap to cap the nail/banger. If your rig has directional airflow, rotate the carb cap, so it is in the direction of the vapor.
  5. Inhale the vapor and enjoy!

Some users report that the flavor sometimes tastes burned or unusual. If this happens to you, heat the concentrate for a shorter period next time. Rather than waiting for it to melt, stop heating the concentrate as soon as it begins to produce vapor.

What Are the Pros & Cons of Cold Start Dabbing?

It is only when you try cold start dabbing that you realize how easy it is. An increasing number of dab users are trying it, although it also has its drawbacks.

cold start dabs


  • It saves you a significant amount of preparation time. Indeed, most users report that they’re able to dab in half or even one-third of the usual time. However, you have to ensure that the nail’s surface is clean before you start.
  • This form of dabbing also exposes your material to less heat overall. As a result, it should preserve a greater degree of cannabinoids and terpenes. This will lead to a more flavorful experience.
  • Cold start dabbing is a quick and easy way to enjoy a single hit if you’re pressed for time.
  • This method also helps preserve your equipment for longer than with standard dabbing practices. You ensure your nail is subjected to lower temperatures. This means it is less likely to break. Unfortunately, borosilicate and quartz nails break relatively easily, and they are expensive to replace.
  • You benefit from a smoother hit which is less likely to irritate your throat and lungs. Bear in mind that you shouldn’t go beyond 750 degrees Fahrenheit when dabbing. If your concentrate is exposed to a higher temperature than this, it will produce unwanted toxins. However, typical dabbing methods heat the nail to a temperature as high as 900 degrees.


  • Cold start dabbing can potentially waste concentrates. This is because a significant amount of dab material could get stuck in the nail/banger after you enjoy a hit. Therefore, you need to clean the surface every time you cold start dab to remove the black residue.
  • Realistically, it would help if you only used cold start dabbing when looking for a single hit. Otherwise, you start to lose time compared to typical dabbing. You need to wait for the nail to cool down before you start again. You also have to clean the nail each time to ensure you get the best flavor.
  • You’ll need borosilicates to get the best out of cold start dabbing. This is very expensive equipment. You have to decide whether it is worth paying extra to experience proper reverse dabbing.

Final Thoughts on Cold Start Dabbing

This is a dabbing method worth trying if you aim to have a quick-fire hit of a cannabis concentrate. It only takes a few seconds, and you’ll find that your lungs and throat thank you! It is also the best way to dab if you want to enjoy the full flavor experience.

However, it requires cleaning your nail after each hit, and it is only useful for single hits.

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