Selecting The Best Dab Rig For Your Concentrates
The first dabbing experience a lot of people have is with others that already have dab equipment and knowledge of the process. If you’re the first timer you might think, “Awesome, I just need a dab rig, a torch and the concentrate, and I’ll be good to go,” but it’s not always that easy.
Dabbing isn’t overly complex, but as you learn more about it there are some things that can get confusing, like figuring out which rig is best for you, considering the use of a carb cap, choosing the right nail, knowing what carb caps and nails even do…
There are a lot of different parts and new language involved with dabbing that don’t always translate over from general marijuana terminology, so for those that feel overwhelmed this useful guide will help you navigate the new waters!
Dab rigs can appear vastly different from each other. Some designs are meant to be aesthetically pleasing, but the shape of the rig as well as the
filtration system can make a big difference in how the vapor makes its way to you. With bongs, some people prefer a straight tube over a beaker as they feel the hit clears faster and smoother. Others might prefer a beaker style because they get a bigger hit due to the large bottom, and some feel that the smoke is filtered better as well. Thoughts for choosing the elements that comprise a dab rig setup are similar, but there are some key differences. We’re here to give you some clarity and illuminate the important facts.
What Type of Dab Rig and Cannabis Concentrate Should You Choose?
Bongs and Dab Rigs look alike, so the process of smoking from a rig is almost the same as a bong if you’ve never dabbed before. Smoking from a bong is straightforward: fill it with water, put marijuana in the bowl, light the bowl, inhale at the top and let the smoke rise by pulling the bowl out. Dabbing is not the same. For one thing, it doesn’t involve the actual flower like smoking from a bong does. Concentrate is used instead, which is condensed THC in the form of a sticky hash oil that can also be known as shatter or wax.
Strains that are used in oil are the same as regular flowers, but there aren’t any regulations against how oil is extracted because concentrate oil isn’t categorized the same as food. It can be hazardous to use butane for extraction, so using something like a pneumatic press would be one of the best options for self-extraction. We also found this handy guide that helps to explain why concentrates might be a better option than straight flowers, and how you can find the cleanest and safest extracts.
It’s really up to trial and error to see what works best for each individual, but in our experience it’s usually best to start with a smaller, simpler rig and add on or change styles over time so you can really see if your upgrades are making a difference. It’s also good to start small so you don’t unnecessarily increase your tolerance as quickly.
Is Size an Important Factor with Dab Rigs?
Like we mentioned, it’s probably best to start with a smaller rig and work your way up. The main thing to remember about dabbing is that what you are smoking is highly-concentrated hash oil. To put things in perspective, smoking the average flower will give you levels of 10-25% THC, while the average dab is between 60-80% THC (some studies even say up to 95%). A bigger piece isn’t necessary unless you’re already an avid dabber. Even then, some seasoned smokers don’t prefer a bigger rig for reasons mentioned later.
Another thing to remember is that dab concentrate will form into vapor, not smoke. Concentrate vapor travels and works much quicker than flower smoke, so it needs to reach the user faster for it to be most effective. Smaller dab rig = faster inhalation time. Smaller rigs are also better because they preserve more flavor, and a built-in reclaim catch or a drop-down attachment can be added to collect the un-vaporized oil which over time makes the rig dirtier and gives hits an unpleasant taste. You can also convert a bong into a rig with the proper nail, so keep in mind that you’ll want to use a smaller bong
Dabbing Accessories: What is Necessary and What is Optional?
Nails and Bangers
If you dab regularly you already know nails and bangers are the same thing, and they’re used to hold the oil that is heated from the torch (so they’re necessary). Remember that a rig nail needs to be heated before the oil is placed for vaporization. Sometimes dab rigs don’t come with nails, so you’ll have to figure out which kind to purchase and what will fit on your rig. There are so many types of nails, it can be a daunting task to figure out which one to get as they all perform slightly different functions. It’s good to know all the specifics, but basically it comes down to these three questions:
- What Material is Best
- Will It Fit On My Rig
- Domed vs. Domeless
Usually you’ll find nails are made from either glass, quartz, ceramic and titanium. They all have their good qualities, but we prefer quartz best.
Quartz is much more durable than glass, produces a smooth flavor like ceramic, and lasts long like titanium but without the metal taste. Quartz is also in the mid-price range, so if you’re trying to upgrade from glass but don’t want to spend a lot on titanium, quartz is perfect. There are also quartz e-nails, which are used with e-nail coils and electronic heating elements if you prefer that over a torch.
Like with bongs and their bowls, rigs come in different sizes, so you’ll want to make sure what you decide on will also fit on your piece. Most nails are sized at either 10mm, 14mm, or 18mm, and generally most rigs will be built for a 10mm nail. Also make sure you know whether your rig has a male or female joint, as the converse nail type will be needed.
Domed or domeless depends on your personal preference. Domed nails are good for safety reasons, as the bottom heated part of the nail is harder to accidentally touch, and they’re also good for holding the vapor longer. They’re helpful for if you’re passing the dab rig around a group of people. People who dab frequently usually prefer domeless nails, however, because they’re easier and faster to use since the top is exposed.
To get the most out of your concentrate, it must be heated at an extremely high temperature. You can’t just use a lighter, you have to use a torch or an e-nail coil, and most people use torches because they’re more convenient. Using a torch can feel intimidating, but there are some cool-looking torches that look futuristic and not at all torch-y. We really like the torches from Newport because they have so many different style and intensity options available, and they are frequently recommended by market experts. It’s also important to understand how to heat your nail properly, as temperatures too high can be hazardous to your health, and temperatures too low won’t be as effective in producing vapor.
Dab rigs don’t need as many filtration levels as bongs do, as the main goal
of a percolator on a bong is to smoothen out the smoke and preserve flavor. Vapor is always much smoother than smoke itself, so a dab rig can exist in a less complicated form than a bong. There are reasons for and against percolators in dab rigs that don’t apply to bongs.
People who prefer percolators in their rigs are probably thinking about the extra layer of filtration and conservation of taste that percolators deliver.
The vapor from a dab rig moves very quickly, so you obviously want the smoothest vapor possible to avoid coughing your lungs up. Percolators serve the same purpose for dab rigs as they do for bongs, but sometimes rigs are better off without them. The whole point of dabbing is to inhale the vapor as soon as it burns away from the oil, so essentially, you’re sucking up the vapor straight from the concentrate until it’s gone. With a percolator slowing down the process, you might not get the most potent vapor as it has had time to cool down a bit while passing through the percolator.
In the end it comes down to personal preference. If you can take a hit quick and deep, a percolator might not impede your hit, or maybe you might not see a huge difference in the quality of vapor since it’s less rough than regular smoke and prefer that the vapor gets to you faster. Either way it’s good to try both methods out so you know for sure what you like!
Most people use dabbers to move their concentrate from its container to the nail when they’re ready to dab, and to help spread the oil in the nail when it’s burning. Technically you could still dab without a dabber, but it’ll probably be messy, and you might not get a cohesive hit. They can be relatively inexpensive, and there are some multi-use dabbers available too that are handy if you’ve got nails and rigs of different sizes.
Another accessory that is common to see with dab rigs is a carb cap. These aren’t necessary, but they help create a restricted airflow, which causes the oil inside the nail to burn better. Some people prefer to burn their dab oil at lower temperatures to try and preserve the flavor, so the carb cap helps to retain heat this way as well. It’s almost like if you were to heat something on the stove (no carb cab) vs heating something in the oven (with carb cap).
There are always new accessories coming out as dabbing is still relatively new. Sometimes products would come out that we always thought would be a great idea but didn’t realize they existed, like dropdowns and adapters. These are extensions which make sure the rig is further from your face so it’s easier to smoke while also reducing heat output from the rig itself.
Probably the most important things to consider when choosing a dab rig are estimating how frequently you smoke, and how often you’ll be smoking with others. We always think it’s a good idea to start with a basic set-up and work your way to more accessories and different pieces from there. The dabbing market is new and ever-changing, so now that you know the basics it’ll be easier to decide whether a new product is worth the hype or if you’re better off with something else!