As dry herb becomes practically universally accepted, some connoisseurs have found themselves drawn to something with a bit more of a kick. Concentrates are all the good things about herb turned up to 11. However, you do need a specialized way to enjoy them, otherwise what’s the point? That’s where dab rigs come in. Check out these things, they look like something out of a science lab, but we promise you, they’re easy to use and they offer some incredible results. So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at dab rigs!
Dab Rigs FAQ
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most commonly asked questions we get about Dab Rigs and Bubblers.
1. Why Do Some People Prefer Dab Rigs?
There are more ways than ever to enjoy and consume dry herb concentrates. One of the newest and most popular ways is with specialized vaporizers. However, some people still prefer the old fashioned way of using a glass dabbing rig.
Why? Well there’s always the classic appeal, but we think that the cooling is a bigger factor. Dabbing rigs use percolators and water reservoirs to purify and cool every every hit, leading to a much smoother and comfortable sesh!
2. What Can Dab Rigs Use?
When it comes to bongs and pipes, what you can use with them is pretty obvious: ground herb. However, dabbing is a little more complicated. There are three main types of dabbing concentrate; oil, wax, and shatter.
Dabs are created by flushing the active ingredients out of dry herb. Generally, this is done by using a chemical solvent like butane. Once the active ingredients are purged from the plant matter, the solution is purified in a vacuum oven. This means that the solvent can be boiled away at low temperatures, which helps preserve the active ingredients. Once this process is complete you are left with one of the three forms of concentrate.
Oil is the runniest and least potent of the three forms, it is also generally the most affordable.
Wax, is a crumbly, sticky form of concentrate, and shatter, which resembles a brittle candy, is its purist, most powerful form.
Regardless of the form, dabbing concentrates need to be vaporized at incredibly high temperatures, which dab rigs are specially designed to operate at.
3. What’s The Difference Between a Bong and a Dab Rig?
While they may appear similar at first glance, there are a few pretty significant differences between a bong and dab rig. The first is that bongs often end in a female joint connection, which is intended for use with a bowl. Dab rigs end with a male joint that is designed to work with a nail.
Bongs are also typically larger than dab rigs. This is because bongs use combustion, and smoke can be expected to travel the full length of the tube without dissipating. Dab rigs, on the other hand, use vaporization to generate hits, and thus need to travel a shorter difference to retain its potency and flavor.
Finally, a bong uses a glass bowl to burn its material with a lighter or match. A Dab rig however, uses a nail. This is often made out of quartz or titanium, and uses a butane torch to reach far higher temperatures.
Different Parts Of Dab Rigs
Unlike bongs, which are usually composed of one or two components, dab rigs can be pretty complicated pieces of work. They are made of a range of different combinations of components, some of which are essential to the process of taking hit, and some that are simply handy add-ons. Let’s take a look.
1. The Nail
This is possibly the most important part of a dab rig. It is certainly where you should expect the highest level of quality. The nail is a bit like the bowl of a bong, it is the part of your rig that holds your material and helps generate hits. However, unlike bowls, it is often made from a conductive, heat resistant material. The most common materials are ceramic and quartz, however premium nails may be made out of titanium.
2. The Bubbler
This is the largest, and often, most distinctive part of a dabbing rig. The bubbler is extremely similar to bongs and other types of water pipe. The main difference is often its size, they are generally squatter and shorter than bongs. Bubblers can come equipped with all manner of attachments that help cool and smooth down each hit. Often, these are percolators, specially vented glass tubes that break up each hit into smaller bubbles, allowing the water to cool more surface area.
3. The Torch
A normal lighter doesn’t have the power to heat a nail to the temperatures that dabs require. Instead, users will need a butane torch. This powerful lighter can generate incredible temperatures, perfect for dry herbs.
Why Are Dab Rigs Still Popular?
While ground dry herb is certainly one of the most popular materials on the scene, there is a growing demand for more specialised dabbing concentrates. These dense, potent materials offer several advantages over unprocessed dry herb. The most obvious is that concentrates are many times more powerful than unprocessed herb, with a single hit being as potent as an entire bowl of herb.
Of course, dab rigs aren’t the only way to consume concentrates. There is a burgeoning industry of specialized vaporizers that are designed to work with concentrates, and more and more dry herb vaporizers offer dual-use functions that allow them to work with both herb and dabbing materials. These are fantastic, easy to use, and often very compact.
However, they can’t compete with the average dab rig when it comes to cooling power. Thanks to the water cooling abilities of a bubbler, each hit from a rig will be smooth, tasty, and go down easily. It also helps not having to worry about relying on a battery!
How to Select the Perfect Dab Rig For You?
Choosing the perfect dab rig is much like choosing geany thing. You have to carefully consider the different aspects of the dab rig and how they line up with your own personal preferences.
1. The Nail
The main attraction of the entire rig, the nail is what you should put the majority of your investment into. The material that it is made of will have a significant influence on your experience. If even heating is important to you and you’re on a tight budget, then a ceramic nail is a must. If you’re all about flavor, then get a quartz one, and if you really want to push the boat out, go for a titanium one.
2. The Bubbler
This is where the main cooling of your rig is. If you don’t mind a hotter hit, then a basic bubbler will serve you well. However, if you like to keep things as smooth as possible, then you’ll want to make sure that you get a bubbler packed with percolators. These are small vents in the down stem of your bubbler that break up each hit, making it easier for the water to cool it.
3. The Torch
A bog-standard lighter won't get you far here. What you need is a small butane torch or lighter. Make sure you get something that you can safely use and that is easy to refill.
How To Use Dab Rigs?
While dab rigs aren’t exactly hi-tech pieces of kit, they do take a little explaining and a touch of practice to figure out. Don’t worry, we’ll give you a quick run down on the main aspects of them right here:
1. How Does A Dab Rig Work?
There are three main actions you need to perform when it comes to taking a hit from a dab rig. The first is heating. As we mentioned above, dab rigs operate at far higher temperatures than nearly any other type of herb consumption. So high, in fact, that glass materials can’t be used because of the risk of thermal stress.
Instead dabbing nails are made out of heat resistant materials like quartz and titanium. When you want to take a hit, the first thing you need to do is to bring the nail up to dabbing temperature. This is easy enough, simply apply heat to it with a butane torch.
Once it reaches the proper temperature, you can take the next step. This is, unsurprisingly enough, called dabbing. In this step you load the material onto the heated nail. This is generally done with a specialized tool. Once you have applied the material to the nail, you place a carb cap, or dome over it to trap any vapor.
Finally, you put your mouth to the rig’s mouthpiece and inhale. This drags the vapor though from the nail, through the reservoir of water. This is where the hot vapor is cooled to a more comfortable temperature. Then, it hits your lungs, simple as that!
2. How To Operate A Dab Rig?
Operating a Rig is pretty simple, the trick is to break any habits you might have built up from using bongs. You do NOT want to try to lift the nail out as you take a hit like you would with a bong’s bowl, it will be extremely hot and you will burn your fingers badly.
When you heat the nail, you want to apply the torch to the outside of it. This may take a bit longer than you’d expect, but generally the conductive materials that nails are made of hit dabbing temperature in a few seconds.
It’s best to use a specialised dabbing tool to apply your material to the nail, these are often little titanium or steel picks with a flat, spooned tip. These are precise and make handing the often sticky dab concentrates a simple task.
Taking a hit from it is just like taking a hit from a bong. You simply take a long, slow draw. Be careful not to go too hard unless you want the water from the bubbler to splash up into your mouth!
3. How To Clean Dab Rigs?
As with any form of herb consumption, every so often you need to knuckle down and clean things. There are two main parts of a dab rig that require cleaning; the nail and the bubbler. The nail is relatively simple to clean. Simply remove it from the rest of the rig and steep it in isopropyl alcohol.
When any grime has loosened up, give it a scrub with a soft-bristled brush and then wipe it down with a cloth. To be safe, we recommend rinsing with warm water to ensure that any residual alcohol is washed away.
Cleaning the bubbler is a little bit more involved. First, empty out any water that is inside it. Then, fill it with isopropyl alcohol or cleaning solution, for added abrasion pour in a little rice too.
Then, using plastic and rubber bands, or stoppers if they’re provided, seal up the mouthpiece and downstem. Give the whole waterpipe a good shake for a few minutes. Empty it out and give it a rinse with warm water. Then, leave it to stand until it's dry!.
Dab Rig Parts & Accessories Guide
There is a gigantic market of different parts and accessories that can help you adjust and augment your dab rig. With a bit of careful buying, you should be able to find the perfect accessory to suit your tastes.
As we said above, the nail is one of the most important components of the dab rig. It needs to be of high quality to ensure that it can stand up to the temperatures you subject it to. After this, the main consideration should be the material it is made of. Ceramic is known to be great for evenly distributing heat, providing efficient, consistent hits.
Quartz nails are often a little more expensive but are amazing if the flavor of your hits is important to you. It is a non-reactive material, so no matter how hot it gets, it won’t affect the flavor of your hits. Finally, titanium is a premium material that is only found in the most expensive nails. It is resilient, light, and extremely conductive, reaching dabbing temperatures in a few moments. On top of this, it cools quickly, which is a much-needed safety feature.
2. Non-Stick Silicone Dishes
While not strictly part of the rig, these dishes are a must if you are entering the world of dabs. For the most part, concentrates are sticky, tacky materials that love to adhere to any surface they come into contact with. This means when you put them in a glass container, you might have a hard time getting them all out. A specially treated silicone container is wonderful as it allows you to easily store your dabs and to make sure that you can take out whatever you have put in.
A zippo won’t cut it with a dab rig, you’re going to need something a lot more powerful. Butane torches are a must. These things are serious, looking a little bit like flambe torches, they often have an easy to use pistol grip. One of these with a few refills should keep you going for as long as you need.
4. Dabbing Tools
As we said above, concentrates are notoriously sticky, so you need a specialized tool to help handle them. Dabbing tools come in a range of materials, but the most common is high-quality stainless steel. These are often specially shaped to allow you to section off a piece of concentrate, lift it, and deposit it into your nail. You NEED a dabbing tool, without one, you’ll struggle to lift concentrate at all!
Pros and Cons of Dab Rigs
More Potent hits
Might be too much for new users
Fewer hits needed
Concentrates are far more expensive than herb
A full kit can be large and unwieldy
No need to worry about batteries
More skill is needed to get good results
Easy to clean
Hard to store
Who Are Dab Rigs For?
Ultimately, dab rigs are for experienced herb fans who know that they can handle the more potent hits delivered by concentrates. On top of this, they are for those who prefer a more old-school experience over the streamlined concentrate vapes.
While a bubbler may not be quite as attractive as a full-sized bong, they still have a certain charm and should be kept in ship shape. If you don’t mind a little extra maintenance, then a dab rig is for you.