It’s fun to try something new and different, but concentrates can be tricky.

Most cannabis consumers who seek out concentrates after being a flower user are simply looking for a stronger experience. Others are looking for a flavorful sesh. But for people who have never tried them or who may have overdone it their first time dabbing, concentrates can be intimidating. Getting educated can help your cause, and that’s what this Concentrates 101 series is all about.

Say you’re a longtime fan of flower. Over time, regular users build up a tolerance to cannabis in general, but more specifically, to certain strains and specific cannabinoid/terpene profiles. For example, if you smoke nothing but Sour Diesel for a month and then switch it up to Grape Stomper, the latter will generally hit like a ton of bricks — but flash forward to the next month after nothing but Stomper-smoking, and that Diesel will kick the doors of perception open like it did the first time.

This interaction between body chemistry and specific strains is one of the greatest mysteries of cannabis. And it gets even murkier when you are extracting certain parts of the cannabis and leaving others behind, as is the case with concentrates. During the extraction process, plant compounds are extracted or left behind depending upon a lot of factors including esoteric things that most users would have no idea about, such as their chemical polarity. Whether a strain (and its associated concentrate) affects you in an uplifting way or a relaxing way depends largely upon what parts of it were pulled and how they interact with your body, as well as the manner in which they are consumed.

The most common question in the mind of a new concentrate user is, “Will this be too strong for me if I normally just smoke weed?”

While it’s complicated and depends a lot on the aforementioned body chemistry and other factors, in general, concentrates are stronger, but not in the way most would think. Essentially it’s a numbers game:

If you smoke a joint of approximately 15 percent THC/CBD cannabis that weighs 0.5 grams, you are consuming approximately 75 milligrams of cannabinoids. Granted, as a joint burns, a decent amount of the smoke burns off into the air, so this number is probably more in the 50-60mg range.

To compare this with doing a single dab, the math works out this way:

If you vaporize a standard-sized dab (for argument’s sake, let’s call it 0.1 gram apiece) at approximately 70 percent THC/CBD, then you are consuming approximately 70 milligrams of cannabinoids. Dabbing tends to capture more of the vapor than smoking a joint/pipe does by nature, so that 70mg number is reasonably solid.

Looking at it that way, they are basically the same in terms of overall potency. Then why do some people get completely “spun out” when they dab, yet can smoke joint after joint with no issues? The answer lies in the complex interaction between cannabinoids and terpenes as well as body chemistry. There is no sure answer for how a concentrate will affect you; the only way to know is to try a tiny amount.