Everything You Need to Know About Using Dab Rigs

iStock / AYEHAB

Dabbing is one of the most preferred methods of ingesting cannabis, particularly by the more experienced consumers who have a higher tolerance to THC. While the process may seem slightly complicated at first, once you have it down, the benefits are undeniable.

Here, we will take you on a tour of everything that you need to know about dab rigs including what they are, how to use and clean them, how to choose the perfect device, how to dab at various temperatures, and finally, dabbing etiquette that is necessary for social tokers.

What are dab rigs?

Dab rigs are tools that resemble an average bong, but they are equipped with a unique bowl to hold the marijuana products and a nail for some serious heat application which vaporizes the cannabinoids so that they can be inhaled.

What is dabbing?

Dabbing is best explained as a way to enjoy the experience of getting the most out of your cannabis concentrates, and that is achieved by using the aid of a bong or dab rig and vaporizing. The action of dabbing is where the name dab originated, through the act of dabbing wax or concentrate on to the nail in a dabbing motion.

What is a dab?

iStock / rgbspace

Dabs are, typically, marijuana concentrates which include butane hash oil (BHO), budder, honeycomb, earwax, or shatter. Dabs are more potent than the conventional forms of cannabis, due to the much higher concentration of the psychoactive chemical THC; Often upwards of 80%. Dabs are produced by pouring butane over marijuana which promotes the extraction of the THC into the butane. It’s then filtered and poured into a dish or tray where the result is an extracted gummy solid, and this is what is dabbed or smoked in bongs or rigs.

Benefits of dabbing

Let's take a look at some of the reasons why you would consider this method of consuming cannabis:

  • The flavour is smooth and fresh with no harshness.
  • There is no smokiness, making an excellent option for indoor use.
  • Dab rigs are more potent, requiring less work.

Dab rig accessory basics

Dabbing is a method of ingestion that will take a few things more than just a dab rig. These are some of the most important dabbing accessories that every consumer should have on hand before they start:

1. Bongs
A bong can also work as a dab rig, as the difference between the bong and a dab rig is, mainly in size. Dab rigs are supplied with male joints, and a banger or nail is utilized to vaporize the concentrate. Bongs are different since they have female or down stems, but often adapters can be used to convert them into dab ready tools.

2. Bangers
A banger or nail is needed to put your dabs on. Nails come in a titanium glass or quartz and ceramic. Titanium nails are the strongest but require seasoning before they can be used. Bangers are of different shape and are made from quartz and resemble little buckets.

3. Propane torch
An excellent and efficient propane torch is needed to heat the banger or nail.

4. Dabber
A dabber or a poker-like tool is used to pick up the concentrate and place it on the nail. As a newbie, it is best to use a dabber that has a spoon at one end as this model will make it easier for you to scoop up the dabs and gently place them where they need to be.

5. Silicone container
A silicone container is the best choice for storing your marijuana concentrates.

How to choose the perfect dab rig

iStock / SvetlanaSF

1. Price point
Cost is often one of the most critical aspects of shopping for any kind of bongs, dabs rigs or other weed paraphernalia. The first thing you will need to do when browsing for a new device is to set a price limit and stick within it. It’s always nice to look at more expensive options, but if you are new to the game and is just starting out, it’s best to stick to the basics for the time being.

2. Quality
The quality of a dab rig, dab nail, E-ring or bong is an essential element to consider. Unfortunately, those new to dabbing, generally have no idea how to tell the difference. Now the quality that you may or may not be able to afford will ultimately influence how highly, well-made your new device will be. What is certain is that dabbers should steer clear of regular glass options and spring for quartz and titanium parts and accessories whenever possible. The stronger the materials are, the more abuse it will take before needing to be fixed or replaced. Since torches are used over and over to reheat the nail, they will degrade over time and eventually break or shatter if made of low-quality material.

3. Design
There are a couple of different designs to choose from when shopping for dab rigs. The first will feature a removable nail that needs to be heated before the cannabis concentrates are dropped onto it. This takes some skill and precision to pull off without making a mess. If you are experienced at dabbing, then a nail will likely be preferred since it will provide the best results, but one that is equipped with a banger instead will not have multiple movable pieces to break and will also be much easier to drop daps into. Ultimately, the best design will be based on personal preference and experience.

4. Tools required
We’ve touched on how there are different designs of dab rigs with the two most common types to choose from. What many people don’t realize is that, particularly with dab nail equipped devices, the size of the area that needs to be heated will fluctuate dramatically from one to the next. For nails dabbing tools are essential and bangers allow a bit more freedom to use alternatives.

Dab nails require less heat and, therefore, a smaller torch, which may influence your end decision. Another thing to consider is the number of cleaning accessories you will need to upkeep the dab rig. Those with multiple chambers and narrow stems will require time, patience, and skill to clean properly which is necessary to keep it functional. Try to pick a dab rig that requires the least upkeep and has straight tubes for the most extended shelf life.

5. Functionality
In the end, the functionality and efficiency of a device may be the deciding factor in a purchase. If you don’t mind using a torch, then a typical dab rig may suffice, but for those who prefer a more automatic or flexible option, there are other, more unique choices. E-rigs will automatically heat themselves, acting as a vaporizer and since they reach ideal temperatures with no guessing, they also end up with a lot less residue. For those who have already invested in a high-quality bong, an option like a banger can often be retrofitted to work, by just replacing the typical bowl.

Though there are many different aspects to consider when choosing a perfect dab rig, it will depend on personal preference throughout every step. While there is no one size fits all, there are many different designs and sometimes more straightforward choices. Select the one you feel most confident in using from a reputable head shop that will answer any questions that you may have in person before purchase.

How to use a dab rig

iStock / AYEHAB

Once the dab is on the dabber, you are now ready to dab! Here are a few steps to follow:

  1. It is usually advisable to start dabbing with a small dose and then increase gradually if needed.

  2. Turn on the torch and place it close to the nail so that the flame can get the nail heated. Usually, when the nail is heated it looks red.

  3. Next, turn off the torch when the nail is heated.

  • Now, put the dome over the nail and inhale the vapor slowly.

  • Finally, exhale and repeat Step 2 through 4.

  • What is cold start AKA reverse dabbing?

    Reverse dabbing is using lower nail temperatures to most efficiently preserve the terpenes, which are essential to the flavor, taste, and smell of a concentrate.

    How to achieve a cold start?

    The original dab method of reverse dabbing is called health stone. This method is performed by using concentrates that are placed onto a porous health stone in a nail. Health stone has been used for hundreds of years and was the inspiration for today’s more tech-savvy dabbers who use tools made of quartz or borosilicate.

    1. To perform reverse dabbing yourself, you will need a nail or banger, preferably made out of quartz. A banger has the advantage of allowing for an even heated distribution, which is helpful when attempting to heat concentrates that have been placed on such a cold surface.

    2. Ensure that the nail head is as clean as possible as even a small amount of residue can be enough to hinder the process.

    3. Load up your concentrate on either a banger or nail and press the bubble cap or carb to your nail.

    4. Light the torch and hold it several inches away to slowly heat the bottom of the nail. You will need to keep the torch there until you see that the mixture has begun to bubble, which means it is vaporizing. This should take around 10-15 seconds.

    5. Turn off the torch and rotate the cap as you take a deep inhale; Depending on the size of the dab, you will likely get two hits from one dab this way.

    How to clean dab nails

    1. How to clean a glass nail
    The best “how to clean a glass nail” guide will not recommend the frequent use of harmful solvents, which can degrade the quality and lifespan of the glass dabbing nail. While many of the methods mentioned above can work, for glass, the manual/ heat method is the safest long term. Alcohol should only be used when excessive buildup makes heating for removal nearly impossible.

    2. How to clean a titanium nail
    It is a common misconception that titanium nails do not have to be cleaned and this isn’t at all true. The residue from the buildup of impurities will interfere with direct contact and will also affect the taste of the vapor produced by the nail. For titanium nails, alcohol will be absorbed by the rough outside material that the nail is made of. Because of this, the only method you should ever use is the manual heat and remove method.

    3. How to clean a quartz nail
    When cleaning a quartz nail, you will not only have the most options when it comes to cleaning solutions but also the least chances of anything breaking or degrading the quartz nail structure. You can use all three of the cleaning methods listed to clean a quartz nail.

    Dabbing etiquette

    iStock / rgbspace

    If you are new to the wide world of social dabbing, then chances are, you’ll have yet to brush up on proper dabbing etiquette. Whether you have just been invited to a gathering where you know dabbing will be available or you would just like to know what to do in case you ever find yourself in such a situation, we’ve got your back. Below we have listed 10 of the most essential rules of dabbing etiquette that every dabber should know.

    1. Know your dabs
    Rule number one may also be the most essential. You should always know what kind of dabs you are bringing to a gathering so that you can serve them accordingly. Whether it’s the potency which can affect the users, the harshness which might catch a few people off guard, or the type of marijuana concentrate, which may change the temperatures that are required to dab it properly. You should know as much as physically possible about your dabs before joining a dabbing session with them in tow to share.

    2. BYOD (bring your own dabs)
    Dabbing is much like smoking cannabis in that you should never show up to a session empty-handed. Marijuana concentrates can get expensive, and as much as we all like to help a friend out from time to time, doing so continually might just be enough to get you uninvited next time. If you don’t have or can’t find any, then ask your friends ahead of time if you can pitch in with cash for a purchase instead. Your friends will thank you for it.

    3. Keep a clean dab rig
    Dab rigs are beautiful devices that work incredibly when they are in tip-top shape, but when they aren’t, the experience can certainly feel like it’s lacking. If your dab rig requires water, then be sure it’s freshly added, and before you head out the door you should be giving your rig a good once over-cleaning. Too much residual resin within the chamber can heavily affect how well the air circulates through the device, making draws harder to take.

    The second most common issue with a dirty dab rig in the awful taste and pungent smell. Both of which can be found in a device that’s only been used a few times without getting a proper rinse in between. Don’t ruin the dabs you and your friends are about to enjoy, take 5 minutes to perform a coarse salt rinse instead.

    4. Know where to apply heat
    The most crucial aspect of dabbing is in respect to the temperature of the nail or dabber and the temperature it must reach to work correctly. Heating the wrong portion of a dab rig is going to make it difficult to achieve the heat that you need, and it can also be harmful to the integrity of the device. The most common time that breaks occur in dab rigs is caused by being improperly heated. Quartz or glass is most commonly used to make the base of these devices, and they are not meant to be dramatically heated in any way. Excessive heats can cause shattering, hairline cracks, and other problems in the rig, so please, just don’t do it.

    5. Empty the dab rig chamber
    Whether you are using a bong, weed pipe, dab rig, or any other kind of smoking device that comes equipped with a chamber, you should always be sure to empty the tank of any remaining smoke. This is for a few reasons, but the most significant is taste and harshness, which will negatively affect the taste of any dabs that are put through it. A lot of people will assume that the cooling time required will be long enough for the smoke to dissipate. Instead, it is heavy and able to linger for up to an hour after a dab rig has been used. Take a breath after each toke and one more draw to be sure it’s clear for the next person in line.

    6. Clean the dab rig in between uses
    Though not everyone takes the time to do this properly daily, your friends and lungs will thank you. The taste and experience that is provided by a freshly cleaned dab rig each time are well worth the time and effort that it takes. If you want to go the extra distance and are dabbing with multiple people, then a bowl full of lemon water to freshly sanitize the mouthpiece in between each person is most recommended.

    7. BYOT (bring your own tools)
    Dabbing requires a handful of relatively expensive tools which will have a lot of people not so excited at the prospect of sharing. If you are going somewhere that you know there will be dabbing, bring as many of your own tools as you possibly can, which may include a dab rig, cotton swabs, coarse salt (for washing), a dabbing tool, and any other rig accessories. Since dabbing can be a somewhat lengthy process, bringing your tools ensures that everyone can have their own set up going at the same time, which results in a much faster high for everyone.

    8. Clean the nail in between uses
    Dab nails get incredibly hot and will continue to hold heat long enough to burn you for several minutes after you have used it. Titanium nails can last even longer, making the safety of top priority while maintaining clean nail heads. Each time that marijuana concentrates are dropped onto the smooth quartz surface, there will be some residual oils left behind, as the resin, after only a few hits will turn into a buildup that will no longer work for dabbing. Keep handy a small bowl with lemon juice or water combined with coarse salt along with a few cotton swabs for fast and easy cleaning in between hits to keep the nail most effective and the taste nice and clean.

    9. Use a dab mat
    Though not everyone is going to care about the surfaces you might end up dabbing on, it is proper dabbing etiquette to use a dab mat. This will help to contain any possible mess and also provide you with a safe place to set down tools when you need a break, without smearing oils all over your friend’s nice table or countertop. If you don’t have one yourself, then ask if the host has one before setting your dab rig down on any unprotected surfaces.

    10. Heat the nail for the next person inline
    Dabbing can be incredibly time consuming and a bit difficult for those who are new to juggling a torch and dabbing tools at once. To help your friends, make it a habit to preheat the dab nail for them after it’s been cleaned. Though it’s certainly not necessary to do someone else's work, if everyone heats the nail for the next person in line, it allows the user to focus on preparing themselves and a dab for once it’s hot enough, which is just a kind thing to do.

    Top 10 dab rigs and accessories that you can buy on Amazon Canada


    Related posts