Cannabis Science

Do Dabs Smell?

dab on a table

Maybe you love weed but need to be discreet. The great news for you is that cannabis can be consumed in many forms that range in smelliness. You’ve probably already heard a lot about dabbing but may be surprised by how low odor it is. With all the misinformation about weed out there, you’re probably wondering, ‘do dabs smell?’ Here’s what we know. 

Photo:  Unsplash

What are Dabs?

Before we get into whether or not dabs smell, we thought it would be important to chat about dabs a bit. 

A dab is really just a concentrated form of butane hash oil (BHO) and chock full of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). FYI, butane is a hydrocarbon used to extract oils from the weed. It’s also pretty flammable. 

When we say dabs have a lot of THC, it’s no joke. According to a 2015 study, dabs can have a THC concentration in excess of 70%.  The National Council on Drug Abuse said, “On average, regular marijuana has a THC content of 12–13 percent.”

Since there is so much THC present, people usually only need one hit to feel the effects. 

It’s important to note that dabs go by many names. According to Very Well Mind, dabs are sometimes called:

  • Wax
  • Shatter
  • Amber
  • Honeycomb
  • Budder

Do Dabs Smell?

Yes, they do. 

However, it’s important to mention that they don’t smell as strongly as the smoke from a blunt. The smell tends to be light and dissipates quickly. 

Reddit users also claim that dabs have a scent but it’s not as strong as smoking marijuana flowers. 

The intensity of the smell depends on:

  • Quality
  • Method
  • Size


According to Piece of Mind Cannabis, the quality of the concentrates will determine the strength of the smell.  When you heat up a dab, you’re really smelling the terpenes present. Therefore, if you have a great quality product, meaning the cannabis compounds are mostly intact, the smell will be stronger. 


The smell of a dab may differ based on the method you use. There are two main ways to consume dabs. Either heating to a really high temperature in a water pipe called an ‘dab rig’ or using a vape pen.

Very Well Mind says that when using a vaping device “there is no smoke or distinct smell”. Most sources think there is always a smell present regardless of the method. Piece of Mind Cannabis says, “The odor from a dab pen is much less likely to permeate a room… may only linger for a minute or two before vanishing.”


The size of the dab you use can have an impact on how strong the smell is. Piece of Mind Cannabis says that a smaller dab will produce less odor than a larger dab. 

How to Reduce the Smell

Even though dabs typically don’t produce strong smells that linger, there is likely SOME smell present. If you want to reduce the smell, consider doing the following:

  • Using a smaller amount of dab – As we stated previously, smaller amounts of dab have less of a smell. 
  • Increase ventilation If you really want to smell to dissipate quickly, crack open a window or two. Piece of Mind Cannabis suggests exhaling directly out the window. 
  • Freshen up the air You can light a candle or use another similar method for changing the smell of the room.

Are Dabs Safe? 

It depends. Everybody won’t have the same experience with dabbing. Of course, every substance carries some risk, including prescription medication and over-the-counter medication. Therefore, it’s perfectly reasonable that dabs have some risks associated with them. Let’s explore some of them. 


The 2015 study we referenced earlier stated that 80% of the sample examined were contaminated. The study states that the samples were contaminated by residual solvents and pesticides. Therefore, you have to be careful about where you get your dabs. And don’t even think about making it yourself either. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, making it is dangerous and one method can result in an explosion. 

Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

Besides the chemicals from the dab itself, heating it up can expose you to even more chemicals. According to Very well Mind, “dabbing also may expose people to elevated levels of toxins including carcinogenic compounds.”

The article says that the higher the temperature, the higher the risk. 

High THC Content 

Due to the high concentration of THC, scientists worry it may result in abuse. The 2015 study stated, “Dabbing……..may also be more prone to abuse by recreational users seeking a more rapid and intense physiological effect.“ However, at the same time, dabs are recognized as a potential way to deliver quick results to patients. 

You may also feel the more desirable effects of THC more strongly. At the same time, you may feel the negative effects of the THC with greater intensity. 

Finally, due to the high amount of THC, users are more likely to develop a tolerance and have more withdrawal symptoms. If that sounds like you there are ways to safely detox from weed.

If you’re new to weed, maybe try a method with a lower dose of THC so that you don’t have a negative experience. 


Do dabs smell? Yes, they do. However, they tend to not smell as strongly as marijuana flowers. The smell tends to be light and disappears quickly. However, if you’re worried about the smell, there are many ways you can reduce it. It’s also important to be careful where you get your dab and avoid dabbing if you’re completely new to weed due to the high THC. 


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].