All about reverse dabbing AKA cold start

Published Feb 21, 2019 12:57 p.m. ET

What is cold start AKA reverse dabbing?

Reverse dabbing is using lower nail temperatures to most efficiently preserve the terpenes which are essential to the flavor, taste, and smell of a concentrate.

How to achieve a cold start?

The original dab method of reverse dabbing is called health stone. This method is performed by using concentrates that are placed onto a porous health stone in a nail. Health stone has been used for hundreds of years and was the inspiration for today’s more tech-savvy dabbers who use tools made of quarts or borosilicates.

  1. To perform reverse dabbing yourself you will need a nail or banger preferably made out of quartz. A banger has the advantage of allowing for an even heat distribution which is helpful when attempting to heat concentrates that have been placed on such a cold surface.

  2. Ensure that the nail head is as clean as possible. Even a small amount of residue can be enough to hinder the process.

  3. Load up your concentrate on either a banger or nail and press the bubble cap or carb to your nail.

  4. Light your torch and hold it several inches away to slowly heat the bottom of the nail. You will need to keep the torch there until you see that the mixture has begun to bubble which means it is vaporizing. This should take around 10-15 seconds.

  5. Turn off your torch and rotate the cap as you take a deep inhale. Depending on the size of the dab you will likely get two hits off of one dab this way.

Benefits of using a cold start/reverse dab

  • Low-temperature dabbing provides a cushion of protection that preserves the flavorful terpenes that are present in a concentrate which will enhance the taste of the hit.
  • Cold Start dabbing is less time consuming as it takes a fraction of the time both to heat the nail and to cool in between each hit.
  • Reverse Dabbing will preserve your tools. All dabbing hardware goes through intense heating over time which can cause hairline fractures and more. The low temperatures of cold start dabbing will be easier on your nails and rig making them last longer.
  • Less residue builds up on hardware when using low-temperature dabbing.
  • Smoother hits that are easier to take are produced when using this method.

Cons of using a cold start/reverse dab

  • Some people find dabbing concentrates using cold start is wasteful. Even with the ideal temperature being achieved reverse dabbing will leave behind more concentrate which is thrown away when the nail is cleaned in between uses.
  • Cold dabbing is more functional for a single person to perform. This is because of the time you must wait in between each use for the nail to cool down which isn’t required when dabbing at higher temperatures.
  • Choosing to reverse dab can be expensive. The best quality material that is recommended for cold dabbing is borosilicates which are incredibly expensive to buy and to care for properly.
  • Dabbing using cold start is tricky due to the difficulty of heating a nail to the correct temperature. When using an open flame to heat a nail, it is incredibly hard to predict exactly how hot your nail is which means a lot of experimenting and wasting hits while figuring it all out.


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