According to a study published in the February issue of Forensic Science International, dabbing is the most efficient method of inhaling cannabis.
Based on the findings, dabbing is a much more efficient way of absorbing cannabinoids. More than three-quarters of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are absorbed into the lungs when dabbing. Smoking cannabis, on the other hand, destroys about three-quarters of the available THC, leaving only up to 27 percent of the THC that is absorbed by the lungs.
Researchers called the amount of THC that is absorbed into the lungs the “recovery rate.” “The high recovery of total THC (75.5 percent) by dabbing cannot be achieved by smoking marijuana,” researchers wrote. “Lung availability ranged from 12 percent for mixed cannabis material with a rather low THC content, to approximately 19–27 percent for marijuana flowers, similar for THC in marijuana as for CBD in CBD-rich marijuana.”
For the study, a machine was built to simulate lungs inhaling dabs or smoke, and the vapors that represented what is absorbed in the lungs were analyzed for content. Researchers were able to analyze how efficient both methods were, based on the cannabinoid content in the final vapors that were analyzed.
The research team members assume that even more THC is lost during the traditional smoking process. “In reality, when smoking a joint,” the team added, “further losses in recovery must be assumed by additional sidestream smoke.”
The findings are in line with a previous study on the recovery rates in cannabis smoke, which found 27.5 to 46.3 percent THC in the recovery rates of cannabis smoke. In addition, according to a 2012 study, up to 30 percent of the THC is immediately destroyed during combustion, through a process called “pyrolysis.”
While smoking remains probably the most popular way of ingesting cannabis, dabbing is more efficient, pure and simple. It’s nearly three times as efficient.