Beginner’s Guide to Dab Rigs

Beginner’s Guide to Dab Rigs


Dab Fin RigAs people are growing more aware of the perils of inhaling smoke, they have started to look for other ways to enjoy the medical benefits of dry herbs. Vaping is the most common alternative, but a new delivery method called dabbing is becoming increasingly popular. Simply put, dabbing involves heating up the herb concentrates and inhaling the vapor. If you have tried it and you enjoy it, then it is time for you to consider investing in a dab rig. It can be a little intimidating to pick one if you are a newbie. So, here’s a handy guide that will tell you everything you need to know about dab rigs (but were afraid to ask).

What is a dab rig?

Unlike pipes, bongs and other mechanisms for inhaling smoke, a dab rig is not designed to set anything on fire. It has a torch that heats up a small nail and the concentrated herb extracts are dabbed on to it. Once they heat up, they produce vapor that you can inhale. A dab rig is much more effective than a pipe or a bong. Since only the concentrates are involved in vapor production, you get the same kick from a single round as you would from many drags off a pipe or a bong.

The basic components of a dab rig


Now that you have  fairly good idea of how a dab rig works, let us take a look at its three main components – a nail, a glass piece and a torch lighter. Some people prefer using a dabber (a small, short rod) to apply the concentrates. You will find a lot of dab rigs sold along with dabbers and torches as pat of a complete kit. Some people like to mix and match the components and buy them separately, which makes this a matter of personal taste more than anything.

The different nail styles


There is a lot of debate in the dabbing community as to which type of nail works best. Although this issue might seem too nitpicky for beginners, it is not so. The nail does the job of heating the concentrates. So, it is essential that it be made of a material that heats up quickly and retains the heat for a sufficient period of time. Let us look at some of the most popular choices of material for nails:

  • Glass – Borosilicate is strong and works great in pipes and bongs. But, the material doesn’t really cut it when used as a nail. The only reason they are found everywhere is because of they are cheap. But, since they don’t last very long, you will have to keep replacing them frequently. So, in the long run, you will just end up paying a lot more.
  • Ceramic – Ceramic also tends to break easily. Although it hold the heat better than glass, it is still an inferior option and not worth the investment.
  • Quartz – These are pretty decent. They are more durable than ceramic or glass, and it is extremely difficult to overheat it. The only drawback is that they do not hold on to the heat for very long. Since it cools quickly, the concentrates might not stay heated for long enough for them to produce vapor.
  • Titanium – This is the choice of material of experienced dabbers. The metal is practically indestructible and an excellent heat retainer. The only downside is that it can overheat and burn the concentrate. But, if you use it along with a water diffuser, you’re all set.
  • E-nails – Although few people bother with e-nails, they are really convenient. They are electric nails that have a coil and a PID that gauges the temperature of the coil. Although they cost more, you no longer have to use a torch. Also, you have much better temperature control as you get to set the precise temperature. Since the vaporization point of different herbs vary, it is handy to have a nail where you get to set the exact temperature.

Best practices


Unless you are using an e-nail, you need o be very careful while dabbing. Although it is not dangerous, you need to be careful while using the torch. Don’t use it while you’re moving around. Find a secure spot and concentrate on the job at hand. Once you have settled down, get all the components in order. Although there are a lot of accessories for dab rigs, like inline diffusers and showerhead percolators, they are not really worth the trouble. Jut like the rig, these components can get sticky with repeated use. Once there is a sticky buildup, it can be a pain to clean it up.

Before you start, make sure that the torch has fuel. You don’t want to start heating up the nail only yo realize that you ran out of fuel. Also, have the concentrates ready. As a matter of fact, you can apply them to the dabber’s end ahead of time. Light up the torch and hold it against the nail till it gets sufficiently hot. Once it is hot enough, use the dabber and apply the concentrate. It will immediately produce vapor. So make sure that your mouth is over the mouthpiece. Depending on the material the nail is made of, it’ll take some time for it to cool down. On the other hand, if you are using a portable ring that comes with a domed nail, you can close it up almost immediately.

As for the reburn, you can either clean it or gather it up and use it as concentrate, or even include it in a joint. If you are the kind of person who likes to make the most of your concentrate, then reclaim the reburn. In fact, there is a special attachment that is designed to help you do that. It usually goes between the nail and the downstem. After you scrape put the rig, store the reclaim in a container and use it later. Last, but not the least, make sure you use high quality concentrates if you want to avoid any residual solvents.


Alaina Dorsey is CEO, freelance cannabis copywriter and content strategist at her Baltimore-based business Bud Biz Llama in Maryland. 

FDA Disclosure Statement

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


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