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Cannabis 101

What do dabs/extracts/concentrates smell like?

04.05.22 - 4 min read


  1. Dabs have a distinct smell due to the terpenes in them 
  2. Dabs smell less than smoking marijuana flower 
  3. Dab pens smell less than dab rigs 

Are you interested in dabs but wondering how much of an odor they produce? Well, the simple answer to the question “do dabs smell?” is yes. But the good news is, dab odor isn’t as strong or long-lasting as smoked cannabis flower, making it a good alternative if you want to keep strong smells out of your home.  

Plus, how you dab influences how much it smells, too. (For example, a dab pen doesn’t typically smell as strong or hang around in the air as much as a dab rig.) 

Read on and we’ll give you a better understanding of how much dabs smell vs. other ways of consuming cannabis, as well as some pro tips on reducing their odor. 


Do dabs & dab pens smell? 

Dabs are highly concentrated forms of cannabis. 

Concentrates can also come in a form of shatter, wax, amber, and honeycomb. They’re oily or waxy types of cannabis concentrate extracted from the cannabis plant with solvents. Whether you do dabs using a dab rig or a dab pen, some odor does come from dab vapor when you heat it and when you exhale it.  

Does wax have a smell? 

Wax, another type of cannabis concentrate, also has a smell. Any form of concentrates, whether heated on a rig or inhaled through a dab pen, does have a distinctive odor. Most of the smell comes from the terpenes in the sticky dab concentrate. 

What are Cannabinoids

What do dabs smell like? 

Along with hundreds of different cannabinoids found in marijuana, different cannabis strains have different terpenes. Terpenes are natural compounds that plants make that create their distinctive odors. Marijuana is far from the only plant that makes terpenes: nearly all plants do. Pine, lemons and oranges, and herbs like sage all have their distinctive smells from terpenes. 

Most dabs are made from several parts of the cannabis plant. After processing, the terpenes can be concentrated. When you use a dab made from certain strains of the marijuana plant, the terpenes from the strain stay in the concentrated dab. Some of the major types of herbal terpene odors you could detect from a dab rig or dab pen include: 

  • Linalool: a lavender and slightly spicy smell 
  • Humulene: a woody, earthy smell 
  • AlphaPinene: a pine and sage smell 
  • Limonene: a citrus smell 
  • Myrcene: a fruity, musky, spicy smell 
  • BetaCaryophyllene: an earthy, spicy smell 

Why do dabs smell? 

Whether you’re using a dab rig or a dab pen, the dab material needs to be heated into a vapor that you inhale. The vapor isn’t the same as smoke from burning plant material that comes from smoked marijuana flower. But it still consists of heated molecules that you inhale in the vapor, and then exhale.  

Dab odor comes from the compounds that are found in the dab material, especially terpenes. Therefore, most of the smell you or anyone else would detect from dabbing will come from the terpenes that are released by heating the dab into vapor. After you exhale, some of them are still present, producing a dab odor. You could be wondering “do dabs make you smell?” Then read on to find out how much, and what you can do about it. 

Do vape pens smell? 

Have you ever been in a room with someone who’s using a flavored vape? It’s easy to detect the odor of their vape, whether it’s strawberry or mango or essential oil like mint. This type of vape has an odor that comes from flavored chemical additives. 

A cannabis vape can use THC oil concentrate or wax, but it doesn’t typically include chemical flavors. The difference between a cannabis vape and a dab or dab pen is that the dab pen uses dab wax, while vapes use oil. Whether your device is using oil or wax, it heats the material to a high temperature to make wax vapor that you can inhale.  

Any cannabis vaping or pen device produces vapor that can have an odor. A wax pen or dab pen heats the dab material which is absorbed by the wick. The wick releases vapor which contains THC and terpenes, mainly responsible for the pen’s odor. Vape or dab pen odor is usually much less strong and long-lasting than traditionally smoked flower, but it can still have an herbal smell that reflects the medical marijuana strain used to make the cannabis concentrate. 


Which smells stronger, dab pens or dab rigs? 

Dab rigs are like bongs for dabs. You heat the dab on the nail and inhale the vapor. Vapor from the nail and the vapor you eventually exhale both contain chemical compounds that have an herby, plant-based odor, mostly from terpenes.  

Do dab pens smell stronger than dab rigs?  

Rigs smell more. They usually have a stronger, longer-lasting odor than dab pens. Dab pens or dab rigs don’t produce the lingering smell that you find with smoked cannabis flower


How to reduce the smell from dabs 

Whether you want to be a considerate roommate or you might just want a pristine-smelling environment, you may want to reduce the smell of dabs. The scents released by dabbing don’t last as long as smoked flower, but they are noticeable. Here are a few tips to reduce the odor from dabbing: 

  • Open a window: fresh air will disperse the dab terpene odors quickly 
  • Exhale out of the window: the vapor will dissipate quickly 
  • Use scented candles or incense: dab odor is mild enough that scented candles and incense can easily be stronger than the dab smell 
  • Spray with air freshener: the mild dab smell is pretty easily covered by air freshener or scent reducing sprays 

Keep an eye on dabbing residue 

Even though the dab smell isn’t extremely strong, it’s still made up of chemical compounds in the vapor. The vapor can hang around and coat windows, glass surfaces, and fabrics. Keep any area where you’re dabbing wiped clean, especially glass surfaces.  


Tips for using wax pens or dab pens 

Wax pens or dab pens can smell even if you’re not currently using them. Keep them in an airtight container when they’re not in use. It’s also important to keep them clean. The vaporizer can get clogged, and it will impact pen performance as well as have a distinctive odor. 

You can install a small fan to blow the smoke out of a window or upward into the ventilation system. If you exhale up when you use the pen, the molecules will rise, because hotter air rises faster than cooler air. The smell will rise up at the same time. 

Final thoughts 

While they don’t smell as strong as smoked cannabis flower, dabs, extracts, and concentrates have distinctive smells. The most likely odor you’ll detect is an herbal odor from the terpenes in the strains of cannabis used to make the concentrate. There are a few ways to get rid of any lingering smell from dabs, but if you want even less lingering cannabis smell, edibles might be a solid alternative.  

If you have more questions, don’t be afraid to talk to one of our knowledgeable patient care specialists at your local RISE Dispensary



  1.  Wikileaf.com | Do Dabs Smell? How Long Does the Smell Last? 
  2. Weedmaps.com | What are cannabis concentrates and how do you consume them? 
  3. Weedmaps.com | What is Dabbing? | Cannabis Dabbing Definition by Weedmaps 
  4. Leafly.com | 5 differences between cannabis concentrates and flower  

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