What is Reclaim and How Can You Use It?

Jillian Jastrzembski

Cannabis reclaim is the recondensed oil that collects in your dabbing rig.

If that doesn’t mean much to you, let’s back up a little bit. What is dabbing? What is a rig?

Once we’ve laid the foundation, we’ll help you understand how to collect and repurpose your reclaim.

What is Dabbing? 

Dabbing is yet another way to consume cannabis. A dab is a kind of concentrate, meaning that the bioactive compounds in cannabis are concentrated to make a more potent product.

Specifically, the compounds we’re interested in are the cannabinoids and terpenes that are naturally present in the plant material. Cannabinoids are predominantly responsible for the psychoactive and psychotropic effects of cannabis. Terpenes may contribute some psycho-activity, but are mainly responsible for the flavor of cannabis.

Because dabs contain concentrated cannabinoids, they have more potent psychoactive effects. And because they also contain concentrated terpenes, they are also more flavorful.

If you’re interested in reading more about dabs, you can check out this article. But it will suffice to understand that dabs are a concentrate containing high amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes. Because the final product is so concentrated, it is also a pretty viscous material.

What is a Rig?

Ok, so now we have our dab of concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes. But how is it inhaled? For that, you’ll need something called a dab rig. Dabs need to be heated at high temperatures, around 500 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit (compare that to just 350 degrees for regular cannabis flower).

The rig is a special kind of pipe for dabbing. It’s similar to a bong except that it contains a “nail,” which provides a superheated surface. The high heat is needed to flash vaporize the concentrate so that the cannabinoids can be converted into their active form and inhaled. Rigs can be heated using a butane torch or electronically.

Heat is almost always a critical step in cannabis consumption, whether you’re smoking, dabbing, or vaping. That’s because cannabinoids naturally occur in their carboxylated form, which is not psychoactive. We often see these denoted as THCA or CBDA. The “A” signifies that these compounds are carboxylic acids. When we apply heat, the carboxyl group breaks off, leaving the activated form of the compound. Put a pin in that one, because it’s going to be important as we talk a bit more about dab reclaim.

What is Reclaim?

Finally, we’re ready to answer the question: what is reclaim? During the dabbing process, there is some oil that recondenses and collects in your rig. It looks like the concentrate you just smoked, though perhaps a little bit darker and less fragrant.

If you’re the kind of person who saves your veggie scraps to make broth, then you may already have your eye on that reclaim. What exactly is in there, and is it worth repurposing?

The answer is, it varies. Some of that reclaim might actually be dab that failed to vaporize on the first go-round. In other words, it’s been melted and recondensed, but is otherwise as good as new. This is your best-case-scenario, highest quality reclaim. You’re likely to have more of this higher quality reclaim if you tend to dab at lower temperatures.

Inevitably, however, that reclaim may be mixed with lower quality reclaim – especially if you tend to dab at very high temperatures. Dabbing temperature is partly a matter of personal preference, but in general you should allow the nail on your rig to cool for about 10 to 20 seconds before dabbing your concentrate. For a more detailed tutorial, check on this article on how to dab.  

Lower quality reclaim does not necessarily mean that it’s not reusable. You can think of it like the 2nd press of olive oil. It’s not quite as good as your extra virgin olive oil, but it’s still perfectly good for some purposes.

Anecdotal testing suggests that reclaim retains a lot of potency in terms of cannabinoids, but loses something in terms of flavor. That’s because some of the important flavor compounds (the terpenes) have the lowest boiling points. Those lower volatility terpenes are the first compounds to blow off, so we lose those pretty easily. But the cannabinoids, which are the psychoactive compounds, are more likely to remain for longer. The result is that reclaim often retains a lot of its bioactivity despite a loss in flavor.

Another important detail is that the cannabinoids in reclaim are more likely to be in their active form. Because they’ve been heated, they have already been decarboxylated.

The lowest quality reclaim will likely be darkest in color, and have no smell, or even a bad taste. You should probably avoid reusing this reclaim, because it can have harmful effects. Smoking is not great for your lungs to begin with, and this low quality reclaim is mostly just ash and tar. This is especially true if you tend to dab at excessively high temperatures.

What is a Reclaim Catcher

A reclaim catcher is exactly what it sounds like – a tool to catch your reclaim. Similar to an ash catcher, the reclaim catcher is an attachment for your rig which collects the recondensed oil.

The reclaim catcher serves two purposes:

1.       It helps to keep your rig clean.

2.       It makes it easier to collect and reuse your reclaim if that is something you want to do.

So whether or not you plan to reuse your reclaim, you may still benefit from using a reclaim catcher.

You can also get away without using a reclaim catcher, but it might involve a bit of extra work. You can use a solvent such as ethanol (grain alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol to dissolve the reclaim. The solvent makes it easy to remove the reclaim from your rig. Then you simply need to re-evaporate the solvent and take your reclaim on its next adventure.

(If you are planning to consume the reclaim, ethanol is a better choice of solvent. That way you don’t need to worry about the residual solvent in your product. If you are just using the solvent for cleaning and you plan to throw out the reclaim anyway, then isopropyl alcohol will do just fine.)

How to Use Dab Reclaim

So, now your rig is nice and clean, and you’ve got a fresh supply of reclaim. What can you do with it?

If it’s relatively high quality, then you can definitely dab it again. Look for a relatively light color reclaim that seems to have retained its fragrance. This is the highest quality reclaim that is likely to give you the best results if you want to try dabbing. Vaping or smoking is also fair game for reclaim.

Since this reclaim has already been heated, a very high proportion of the cannabinoids are already in their active, decarboxylated form. That means that you don’t need to re-heat them to obtain the psychoactive effects. You can take advantage of this by using the reclaim to make edibles, gel capsules, or topical salves.

Reclaim the Narrative

Cannabis reclaim can be collected whether or not you plan to reuse it. Using a reclaim catcher is a great way to keep your dab rig clean. If you have high-quality reclaim, you can also reuse it to make:

·       Another dab

·       Edibles

·       Gel capsules

·       Topical salves

Reclaim is often nearly as potent in cannabinoids as the original dab. However, it is also likely to be less flavorful due to the loss in terpenes. You should also be aware that there are some safety risks to reusing reclaim.

If you have any unanswered questions about the dabbing, reclaim catchers, or any of our products, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

What is Reclaim and How Can You Use It?
Discover the versatility of cannabis reclaim in our guide. Learn what it is, how to collect it, and creative ways to reuse it. Then shop our premium dab rigs.
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What is Reclaim and How Can You Use It?
April 16, 2024
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