Updated on February 19, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Concentrates are popular for people who want a maximum dose of THC. To use concentrates, you have to have a special rig that will heat the concentrate and create a vapor for inhalation. Once you get the hang of ‘dabbing’ concentrates, it is pretty straightforward. Terp pearls are a solution many people don’t (yet) know about.
There is one big problem with dabbing, though. The higher the temperature, the more terpenes you lose. While THC is activated, you are also losing other valuable cannabinoids. And if you are using concentrates as a patient with a medical card, you want all of the benefits cannabis can offer.
Have you ever heard of ‘terp pearls’ or ‘banger beads?’ You may have seen them in your local dispensary and not even know what they were for. They are a low-tech piece of ingenuity that can help moderate the temperature when you are dabbing. And that means losing fewer terpenes and a slower burn for your concentrates for less waste.
What Kind of Rig Do You Need to Dab with Terp Pearls?
If you already have a bong you love, getting a quartz banger will allow you to experiment with terp pearls. A quartz banger is a small extension that fits on the end of your pipe, where you would typically pack your bowl of weed.
The quartz banger comes in a variety of standard sizes. When you go shopping for one, you might want to bring your bong along for the ride. But most dispensaries don’t want you walking in with your trusty bong. So, you may want to buy a bong and a quartz banger new and together so that you know the rig will work.
Once you get home, you attach the quartz banger to the bong. You will still have smoke over water, so make sure that you add water to your bong. When you heat the terp beads and add the concentrate, you will be ready to go. And if you are an experienced dabber, you’ll start to notice some of the benefits of using banger beads, like the taste and stronger terpenes’ effects.
Problems Using Quartz Nails and Terp Beads
One of the common problems with terp pearls is restriction. Some types of caps are not designed to spin the pearls. So, if your terp pearls are not spinning, try different water pipe combinations, the quartz nail, and the carb cap.
Some people prefer to use a thermal banger. This is an inner lining or cup that helps prevent too much wax from flooding your dabbing rig. One of the advantages of a quartz nail is that it is more resilient than a traditional glass nail.
Terp beads can explode. Some people wear glasses just in case. But it is not the actual heat that makes the terp bead(s) explode. It is the process of expansion and contraction after heat is applied. Terp beads expand and then contract, and that force can sometimes make them shatter. Safety glasses (when you are new to dabbing with this method) are a good idea. Expect a bigger than usual draw of your concentrate from your glass pipe when using terp beads.
What Are Terp Pearls Made of?
Quartz. That’s why they look so artistic and cool. But there is another reason why terp beads are made out of quartz; it’s very heat resistant. They come in a variety of sizes, from 6mm, 10mm, 14mm, or 18mm. You may be wondering why you would want to dab with something that reduces the heat? Well, there are a number of advantages.
First, there are fewer puddles when you dab with banger beads. The beads help to evenly distribute the concentrate. This also means you waste less wax when you are dabbing. But did you know that terpenes vaporize at a lower temperature in wax? By lowering the temperature, terp pearls preserve the terpenes.
More terpene content is a really good thing. You see, terpenes are secreted in the same glands as CBD and THC in cannabis plants. And terpenes are responsible for creating the unique psychoactive effects of marijuana. When you read a profile of a cannabis strain that indicates whether it will make you relaxed, happy, energetic, or sleepy, that’s because of the entourage effect—the collaboration between THC and terpenes.
When you choose your concentrate, you learn the profile of the strain used to make the wax. Because then you know what to expect (and maybe what to avoid). For patients who have symptoms like chronic pain,
There are more than 20,000 natural plant terpenes. With cannabis, there are an estimated 200 different terpenes. Cannabis plants are bred for the terpenes that offer the best medicinal benefits.
Where Can You Buy Banger Beads?
You can always have a little more fun with your rig. Some companies make terp pearls or banger beads that are decorative with little faces or cartoon characters inside them. If you are going to be looking at them, they might as well be entertaining, right?
If you aren’t sure where to get some cool terp pearls, check out Etsy. Many vendors are creating hand-blown beads that are cool and creative. They are available in different sizes and colors. Most are made from quartz, but some are made from lab-grown gems, like a ruby. They work just about the same way, with variances in temperature according to size. Terp pearls also come in sets, with something called “terp slurpers.”
Now that you have wrapped your head around the practicality of terp pearls, you might want to check out getting a terp slurper set. It’s fun to say “terp slurper,” isn’t it? They are cool rigs that make dabbing even easier with less waste and more taste.
The terp slurper is the glass extension piece that fits into your bong. Why do banger beads come as part of a set with a terp slurper? When you buy a set, you know the beads fit into the slurper. The piece is designed to improve airflow with slits in the bottom dish. This (along with the beads) helps moderate or lower the temperature and prevent burning. Because fewer terpenes are wasted, each hit from the terp slurper provides a better flavor.
How Do You Clean Your Pearls?
One of the downsides to dabbing is that it requires more work to clean. The resin can deposit on the beads or the thermal banger. There are many non-toxic cleaners you can use to help soften and remove the resin. If the resin is thick, you may be able to scrape it and form it into spots or dots and recycle it for a future smoke sesh.
The common method of cleaning a dabber and terp pearls is to:
1. Get a solution of 99% ISO alcohol and kosher salt. Soak your rig and terp pearls inside for about thirty minutes. Then rinse thoroughly with warm water. And then rinse it again. You want to avoid leaving any toxic residue behind.
2. Scrape off the residue using your dabber tool. Then heat the rig.
3. Wipe it down with a Q-Tip to remove the residue.
4. Rinse again when you cannot see any more resin deposits, and then air dry.
YouTube is full of tutorials that can help you learn different techniques to dab with terp pearls. The basics are easy. But if you aren’t sure how to use terp pearls or beads, head over to your local dispensary for a demonstration. Most new rigs and pearls are less than $100 to purchase and try.