When enjoying herb in its most potent and flavorful form, there’s no better option than using a dab rig. The honey-like concentrate required for this method is loaded with highly-condensed concentrates, so every smoking session is just as satisfying as the last.
Still, you might ask: “Why should I try dabbing?”
For one, dabbing is the most potent and flavorful herbal consumption method. Dabbing also requires a dab rig which uses water to filter and cool smoke. For those just dipping their toes into the world of dab rigs, it’s easy to get flustered: After all, there’s a lot to learn, from understanding the many parts of a rig and choosing between countless styles.
Luckily, we’re here to help. This guide covers everything from basic anatomy to dab rig categories. We’ll even list a few accessories that bring your smoking experience to the next level -- so let’s get started.
What is Dabbing?
Dabbing is a method used to consume concentrate through vaporization. First and foremost, you’ll need a dab rig. A dab rig (also called an oil rig, a wax rig, or a concentrate rig) is a unique device that allows users to smoke dense concentrates via water vapor.
Aside from the dab rig, you’ll also need a heating element (like a torch) and a few tools to dab correctly. Many prefer this method because the overall smoking experience is flavorful and easy on your throat. Dab vapor is also much more potent than burning flower, so you won’t have to light up as much.
Are Dab Rigs and Bongs the Same?
While some features of a bong and a dab rig are similar, they are two very different tools. Bongs can only be used with dried herb, while dab rigs are made to sustain high temperatures and vaporize concentrates.
Is a Dab Rig a Vape?
A dab rig and a vape involve two entirely different substances:
- Vapes require oil to fill cartridges and use internal heating to vaporize
- Dab rigs rely on various forms of concentrate, like shatter and wax
Although you can technically dab using oil, it’s not advisable. Oil has a much lower melting point and cannot withstand high temperatures. Some oils might also have additives that add viscosity and thicker clouds. Dabbing these kinds of additives will likely have an odd flavor and result in a rough cough.
Different Types of Wax
Dabs are a concentrated form of smokeable. The substance is made using a solvent to extract essential oils from plants. Factors like heat, pressure, and solvent type will determine what kind of dab is created. You can identify variations of wax by color, texture, and consistency.
Also called badder or batter, budder is a dough-like type of wax. Budder is typically gold and has a gooey texture.
Shatter has the consistency of broken glass and is deep amber. The concentrate is highly potent, making it one of the most popular concentrate types.
Crumble is drier than other dab types, making it easy to crack apart. This type of concentrate is also called honeycomb because of its coloring and breakability.
Live resin has a sauce-like texture and is easy to dose, but it’s also usually the most expensive and potent dab variant. It is extracted from frozen hemp plants rather than dry herb, whose process retains terpenes that are otherwise lost.
The process of making hash rosin involves taking a small amount of plant matter and placing it inside a heat press, which applies pressure and heat to the material. This causes the trichomes, which contain the majority of the plant's terpenes, to break off from the plant matter and become a sticky, resinous substance.
How to Use a Dab Rig
With a better understanding of dabbing, it’s time to see the dab rig work its magic. Follow these six steps, and with some practice, you’ll be a pro in no time.
Step #1: Set Up Your Station
Make sure the rig is filled with water because you don’t want your first dab to be dry while scorching.
Pour water into the chamber until the downstem is submerged.
Set up your smoking area with the dab rig in a secure spot, and then load a dose of wax onto your nail, ensuring it’s easy to grab.
Step #2: Heat the Nail
Using a torch lighter, heat your quartz nail until it glows red. You can take a high-temperature or a low-temperature dab, depending on your preference.
Dabbing at a high temperature creates thick clouds of vapor. The milky smoke is potent but can also be harsh on the throat and lungs if you’re not a seasoned smoker.
High-temp dabs range between 400°F to 800°F. However, higher temperatures tend to burn concentrate and the terpenes within. The proper temperature for a high-temp hit is between 450°F to 600°F.
Low-temperature dabs occur between 300°F to 450°F. Most smokers prefer the lower temperature because it balances flavor and potency.
Dabbing at a lower temperature is also much easier on the throat. One drawback is that low-temp dabs produce more residue inside your glass piece.
Step #3: Let it Cool Down
Once the dab pipe has been heated to your liking, let the nail cool down. This step might seem contradictory, but a red-hot nail will simply burn the wax. Wait about 30 to 60 seconds before adding concentrate. (It’s helpful to keep track in your head, so you’ll know the target number for your next session.)
Step #4: Apply the Dab to the Banger
Using a dab tool or a dab wand, place wax onto the hot banger and swirl around the surface area. Place your lips on the mouthpiece and take a slow inhale to kickstart the vaporization.
Step #5: Place the Carb Cap
If using a carb cap, now is when you’ll cap the banger. The lid will trap heat and pressure inside the bucket piece. Place your finger on the top air-controlling hole and swirl the bubble cap with your hands. Be careful not to come in contact with the heated nail.
Step #6: Exhale and Repeat
Once you’ve inhaled your desired dose of the dab, slowly exhale. If you take a large dab, you can return for another hit without reheating the nail. Repeat as necessary.
Cleaning Your Dab Rig
A good dab rig owner understands the importance of upkeep, so make sure your equipment is in the best shape by regularly sanitizing your rig.
To properly clean the piece, you’ll need a few supplies: To start, rubbing alcohol is your best friend, along with a cotton swab or two. Invest in an ISO station if you want to step up your game and make the process even easier. This holster keeps all your cleaning solutions in one easy-to-access spot.
To start, wipe the inside of the banger or nail to remove leftover oil. Then, pour isopropyl alcohol into the chamber of your rig and let soak for a few hours. Once the piece is free of sticky substances, rinse and let air dry.
Quick Tip: Ensure the rubbing alcohol is thoroughly rinsed before using it again because the substance is flammable.
How Do Dab Rigs Work?
Now that you understand the process of dabbing, it’s time to cover the basic anatomy of a dab rig. Oil rigs consist of three main parts. The mouthpiece and stem are similar to that of a water pipe. The main chamber at the bottom is filled with water to filter vapor. Finally, the most crucial piece of dab rigs is the dab nail.
Nails and Bangers
Dab nails or bangers are attached to the joint of an oil rig. This bucket-style piece is where the concentrate is placed and vaporized. Nails and bangers must be durable and heat-resistant, as they are heated to extreme temperatures using a blow torch or butane torch. Bangers and nails are made of different materials, each of which has its own pros and cons.
Quartz bangers are well-loved within the dabbing community because of their reliable convective heating and resistance to very high temperatures, making them ideal for high-temperature dabs. Quartz is also a flexible material, making it easy to shape into unique shapes.
The downside to quartz is that they lose heat quickly, so you’ll have to reheat your quartz banger between sessions. Although, some dabbers might find this a bonus as you can touch the banger sooner without the risk of a burn.
Glass nails are an affordable and popular option. Still, an important thing to note is that although glass nails retain heat moderately, they’re ideal for low-temp dabs because their optimal temperature is below 350°F.
Chambers and Percolators
Dab rigs also have a central chamber that holds water. As smoke passes through the compartment, the vapor is cooled and filtered. The result is a smooth hit that is easy on the throat.
The most common kinds of percolators found in dabbing rigs are:
Quick Tip: High-end dab rigs tend to feature percolators. From simple-to-use to a little more complex, percolators add an extra dimension to filtration. Some rigs might feature as many as three percolators.
Different Types of Dab Rigs
Dab rigs have exploded in popularity over recent years — so it’s no surprise that manufacturers and craftspeople have come out with an expansive range of designs and styles. Whether you prefer an artful handmade version or a travel-friendly style, there is bound to be a style that fits your preferences.
Mini Dab Rigs
Mini rigs are designed for efficiency without compromising a potent dabbing experience. The smaller size allows you to take bigger rips than larger versions. Mini dab rigs also offer maximum flavor.
Another sizable advantage of owning a mini rig is they are a breeze to store and clean. Long gone are the days of soaking your water pipe only to spend hours meticulously scrubbing every nook and cranny.
With mini rigs, all you need is a solid isopropyl system and a few extra minutes. Finally, you won’t cower at the thought of cleaning day.
If you like to smoke concentrates on the go, mini rigs are an excellent option. This sturdy rig is travel-friendly and easy to store.
An electric rig, also called an e-rig, allows you to control your ideal temperature with a click of a button. E-rigs work via internal conductive heating elements, which removes the danger of a direct flame and simplifies the entire process.
But if you don’t want an e-rig, a good alternative is an electronic nail. The high-tech accessory is compatible with a typical dabbing rig.
Take MJ Arsenal’s G Pen Connect, for example. The small-yet-mighty tool has three temperature settings and can be attached to any mini rig with an effortless magnetic snap. A spring-loaded carb release button offers instant airflow, and supports back-to-back sessions with ease.
Accessories for Your Dab Rig
Smoking with a rig and your favorite concentrates is a recipe for an unforgettable smoke session — but if you want to take it to another level, you can add an accessory that’s stylish and enhances your whole experience.
A carb cap is a lid-shaped accessory that sits on the banger. Like the carburetor in a car, its primary function is to control airflow and pressure. Carb caps are an affordable way to enhance vaporization and bring out complex terpenes of wax.
Terp pearls are a great option to add flair and flavor to your dabbing routine. The colorful glass balls are dropped directly into your bucket banger. When in use, they spin around and around, sticking to flavorful terpenes of your wax.
Reclaim catchers are a great way to keep your rig looking like new. It catches unvaporized wax as a middle piece between the banger and rig. The leftover reclaim can be repurposed in several ways, including baking in edibles or loading back into your rig.
Dabber and Dab Mat
Our dab tool is a flat, pointed tool that is used to scoop up a small amount of concentrate and then apply it to a heated surface, such as a nail or banger. The dab tools also have a scooped or spoon-like shape, which can be used to apply larger amounts of concentrate at once.
And since dabs are messy, you’ll need a dab mat. Dab mats are typically made of silicone or rubber, and are used to protect surfaces from the heat and mess. They are placed underneath a dab rig or other dabbing equipment to prevent damage to tables or countertops, and to make it easier to clean up any spills or residue that may occur during the dabbing process.
Dab mats may also have non-slip properties to help keep dabbing equipment in place and prevent accidents. In addition to protecting surfaces, dab mats may also be used to hold dabbing tools or other small items, or to provide a designated area for dabbing.
If you’re looking for a great smoking experience and want to guarantee a flavorful dab each and every hit, then a dab rig is the way to go.
With so many different materials and accessories available, there’s something for everyone when it comes to rigs. Whether you’re just starting or are an experienced smoker, MJ Arsenal has a variety of high-quality dab rigs to choose from.
Check out our dab rig selection today and find your next favorite smoking apparatus.