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’ve tried it and enjoy it, then it is time for you to consider investing in dab rigs.

It can be a little intimidating to pick one, especially 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 too afraid to ask).

What Is A Dab Rig?

Unlike pipes, bongs, and other mechanisms used 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 onto it. Once they heat up, they produce inhalable vapor. 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

A dab rig has three primary components: a nail, a glass piece, and a torch lighter. Some people prefer to use 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 complete kits. Some people like to mix and match the components and buy them separately, which makes this a matter of personal taste more than anything.

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 is responsible for heating the concentrates. It must be constructed of a material that heats up quickly and retains the heat for a sufficient time. Some of the most popular nail choices include:

  • Glass – Borosilicate is durable and works excellent in pipes and bongs. However, the material doesn’t really cut it when used as a nail. 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. While it retains heat better than glass, it is still an inferior option and not worth the investment.
  • Quartz – More durable than ceramic or glass and tough to overheat. The only drawback is that quartz nails do not retain heat for very long. Since it cools quickly, the concentrates may not stay heated long enough 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 varies, 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 to be very careful while dabbing. Although it is not dangerous, you need to be cautious 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. While there are a lot of accessories for dab rigs, like inline diffusers and showerhead percolators, most are not really worth the trouble. Just 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 to 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 until it gets sufficiently hot, and then use the dabber to 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.


Joshua Willard (Freelance CBD Content Writer/Editor

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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