Dr Dabber Dabber doooo!
It’s been a few years since we had so much to say about a new vape, but the Switch from Dr Dabber is a game-changer in so many ways. Technically amazing yet far from perfect, the Switch is also the most controversial vape we’ve ever reviewed.
Entering Herb Space
Dr Dabber is best known for its range of dabbing devices, such as this one we reviewed; the Switch is the company’s first venture into the herb space.
True to its heritage, the Switch is also a superior dabbing device – you can toggle, or switch between the two modes (hence the name).
The first hint that we’re dealing with something out of the ordinary is that the Switch arrives well packaged in a box the size of a small suitcase.
Besides the unit itself and its battery pack, there are two ‘ceramic induction caps’ or load chambers, one black (for leaf) and one white (for oil). They’re both made of titanium and ceramic coated. Also ceramic is a leaf filter cap.
There’s a glass tool for loading concentrates that doubles as a carb for – drum roll – the glass percolator or bubbler. Yes, the Switch is a native water-cooled vaporizer, the first since the Verdamper was launched 20 years ago.
Rounding off the contents of the well-padded box: a pair of reverse action tweezers, silicone stash box, charging cable and adapter, and a comprehensive, well-illustrated manual. You’ll be referring to this a lot; there’s much to learn about this complex and groundbreaking device.
Getting to Grips
While the battery was charging (60 minutes to full, with pass through so it can be used immediately), I took some time to check out the manual and get my head around what, besides water-cooling, is so novel about this device.
Introduction to the Dr Dabber Switch Review
For a start it uses a whole new method of heating – magnetic induction. This uses precision directed energy in the form of an oscillating magnetic field that is transmitted into or absorbed by the induction cups, causing them to heat up.
Rapid Heat Up
Induction heating has a number of advantages. The ceramic-coated cups heat up incredibly quickly – 5 seconds max for most of the temperature profiles – and evenly for fewer hot spots and thus a consistent flavor.
The electronics for all this are totally shielded from the vaporization environment, which is a solid glass ‘well’ into which the herb or concentrate-loaded cup is dropped.
This set-up means zero chance of leakage, no air passing anywhere near the electronics, no silicone anywhere, no electronic connections to the heating element to wear out or break.
Precise & Thrifty
Induction heating is also very precise (+/- 1%) and controllable. The manufacturer claims you can get up to 150 dabs on a single battery charge, which I never got to actually check but even half that is outstanding for a battery rig.
5×5 Heat Profiles
This controllability is used to give the Switch five basic heating profiles, each of which can be further broken down into five more in advanced mode. Just hold down the Dabber button when switching on to enter this mode – rainbow lights come on, and 25 temp settings (five colors, each with 5 temp levels in it) become available, spanning a 300-800 degrees F. (XXX degrees C.) You can further customize the hold times for draws too.
That ‘super heat’ (800 degrees F.) mode burns off any residues in the cups, making it essentially self-cleaning (caveat ahead).
The glass well-and-cup has been designed to keep air out of the vaporization environment so combustion is physically impossible (it needs oxygen).
The result is supposed to deliver smoother vapor, less waste and higher efficiency (another caveat on the way).
And? How does it taste?
Let’s get to the vaping experience. I started out with a couple of very different weeds. Neville’s Haze, a sativa hybrid chock full of fruity terpenes with 16.8% THC and zero CBD.
For contrast, I also used some Purple Power Bio, an outdoor grown ruderalis x sativa with 10.8% THC and 0.9% CBD.
I loaded some fine-ground Haze into the black cup and carefully dropped this into glass well, filled the bubbler and slid this onto the glass well. I got the ground glass-on-glass squeak familiar to old school bong users and had to remind myself that this was actually a vaporizer.
Flipping the Switch
A switch at the base of the device was flipped to leaf mode and the five LEDs indicated that it was pre-set at 3 lights, which flashed green a few seconds later to indicate this temperature had been reached.
I should mention here that there are no thermal measurements shown on the device; they’re all pre-programmed, and the settings have as much to do with how the temperature is reached as the eventual temperature.
It’s kind of black-boxy for anyone used to seeing a readout or even a temperature band, and you kind of have to trust the Dabber tech-heads – and play around with the settings.
The first hit was fruity and a bit thin, becoming less fruity and thicker with subsequent pulls. I think this thin-to-thick gradient had to do with the air in the carb mixing with the vapor and diluting it.
The vapor was lovely and cool, as expected with the glass bubbler.
Powerful Body High
Overall, pleasant but strong. I mean, maybe the induction heating draws out more of the higher boiling point cannabinoids, because the effect was very bodily and stoney compared to other vapes with their light, heady hits.
The reverse tweezers are needed to pluck the hot cups of spent load out of the glass well. You can use them to place the cup into the well, or just drop it in).
Tipping out the remains I was shocked to see what looked like granules of pure carbon. No browning or patches of green ABV, just jet black charcoal.
Pyrolysis not Burning
And this is essentially what it is, for the other unique thing about the Switch heating in an oxygen-free environment is that pyrolysis takes place. This is not combustion.
In other words, the Switch is barely even vaporizering as we have been used to understanding the term. It produces not smoke or vapor but something in between.
It is this aspect of the Switch that merits the term ‘controversial’. The vapor purists may well hate it, but (joint) smokers will probably love it.
Smokers Love It
The pyrolysis generates a much thicker and more satisfying vapor (or whatever it is).
This is undoubtedly less ‘clean’ and probably less healthy than pure terps-and-‘noids, but still healthier than smoking a bong or joint.
What you’re actually inhaling is anyone’s guess. The fruitiness suggests the terps are not being destroyed by pyrolysis, and the (very) tangible effects demonstrate that the cannabinoids are also getting through un-broken down. But what else is being created in this super-heated environment?
I tried the Purple Bio next and while the vapor production was the same as the Haze, it had none of the fruitiness. I have to conclude that it’s just not a great herb to vape with, taste-wise.
On to the Dabbing
You have to turn the Switch off before turning it to Oil Mode, and use the white ceramic cup.
There is a quartz crystal cup option that uses its own heat profile but these are not standard and I didn’t try it myself. Other reviews have noted that the extra money is worth it; the dab is improved significantly.
Hot or Cold Load
You can hot load or cold load the dabbing material, but the latter produces a nicer flavor at lower temps.
The Switch works well with small or large dabs. In fact, so well that this is actually an outstanding and uncontroversial aspect of the Switch.
It’s a greatdab rig, one of the best battery operated available. Much less scary for newbies without the need for a torch, and just a superior user experience all round. Especially with the quartz option.
Playing with Profiles
Further sessions were spent playing around with the 5 or 25 heating profiles, and this is indeed a vape you need to play around with.
It’ll handle any level of moistness of herb, you can get a regular ABV out of it at lower temps but you can also crank it up and nuke your weed for unbelievable clouds of whatever it is you get from intense pyrolysis.
Pro Tip: Pack Tight
If you pack your herb tight and start at a low temp, you can reduce or eradicate the pyrolysis.
Modern Lava Lamp
You can also play around with the glass well lighting – there are multi-coloured LEDs in it, programmed into 36 light modes – for a modern version of the Lava lamp.
As a light smoker, I liked the dry herb mode. It does generate a satisfying punch similar to a bong hit but with much better flavor, though I can understand why some reviewers say if dry herb is your prime motive maybe look elsewhere.
What no-one else has picked up on though, perhaps because all the reviews I’ve seen were from America, is that this baby is the first vape to be able to handle pure hashish.
Let me repeat that for the Europeans out there because this is huge: finally you can vape hash!
Thanks to the self-cleaning mode and removability of the cups without terminally gunking up your device!
Back to the pyrolysis and herb issue, I did notice that the room smells somewhat smoky using this mode, even though, as we heard, there is no smoke produced.
Keep it Clean
Also the glass well gets verysticky and smelly after a couple of uses. Being glass it cleans easily with a Q-tip and isopropyl, but you’ll need some old -fashioned bong cleaning fluid for the glass attachment.
As with any glass rig, you don’t want to go from using flower to using oil or vice versa without a thorough cleaning.
Besides the crystal cup, other optional accessories include a black glass bong and a carry case.
At low temps the vapor may seem a little wispy compared to other vapes but the effects are generally much stronger.
Medical users especially have praised the physical effects, while stoners love the intensity of the highs achievable with the Switch.
A ‘Swiss Army’ Vape?
That is one of the device’s best qualities: you can rip just like a real dab rig, or vaporizer, or bong rip, or e-nail. The settings are varied enough that every form of consumption can be tackled – it even has the ability to record and save your hit time to match your preferred inhale.
Thanks to its size the Switch is not strictly portable but it is great and easy to lug around the house, more than any other dab rig anyway.
Having it battery powered is way better than having it plugged in all the time. You can just grab it off my table and sit back comfortably and chill throughout your session.
Superb Battery Life
The fact that it heats so quickly yet the battery life lasts so long is mind blowing; I don’t think there’s anything on the market of comparable efficiency. Methinks we’re going to see a lot more induction in the future.
The battery and electronics are guaranteed for two years.
For a vape this size it really should have an LCD screen; working only with colored lights is confusing. I’m sure Dabber has its reasons; am just sayin’.
The build quality is excellent; it feels super sturdy and not nearly as fragile as other dab rigs, with no atomizer or other parts that will need to be replaced due to malfunction or breaking. You can ram a Q-tip in and nothing is going to break.
Bear in mind this is a first generation product so not expected to be perfect.
There are small quibbles but when you get right down to the nitty gritty – performance – the Switch is a transformative device, especially for dabbing.
Hope for Future Iterations
The heat up is near instant, it gets you high AF, is super customizable and it more or less cleans itself with very little maintenance needed.
No doubt it could be in a prettier body with a more intuitive UI, and the firmware under the hood will be tweaked according to customer feedback in future iterations.
The Switch is stronger than vaping and smoother than smoking and could well become the device that sways combusters that have found normal vaping unsatisfying.
Bonus – Noah from Highcuisine.com reviews the Dr Dabber Switch
- Great battery life
- Long lasting charge
- Fast heat up
- Superior, economical dabbing
- Water-cooled vapor
- Concentrates and herb
- Is it really vapor?
- Dry herb controversy
- Opaque interface & temps
- Room odor with herb
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