Getting to Grips with Dab Rigs
Inhaling cannabis remains one of the most popular and effective forms of cannabis consumption to date. And while most of the world is fully aware of the dangers associated with inhaling any kind of smoke, for any purpose, the fact is that consumers want to inhale cannabis. They enjoy it.
As such, there’s a continuously growing consumer demand in the modern cannabis industry for alternatives to the most traditional inhaling methods, which is one of the reasons why vapes became so popular, so quickly. But in this short guide, we turn our attention to a fun kind of cannabis consumption known as dabbing.
So, what is dabbing?
While dabbing and vaping benefit from having a number of things in common, dabbing is the art of inhaling the vapor produced from heating cannabis concentrates; which is something that can be done in one of many dabbing devices. Essentially, the grand difference between dabbing and smoking or vaping is that many dabbing isn’t designed to catch anything on fire.
The problem for beginners arriving to the dabbing arena, is that it can all be fairly intimidating. Dab rigs, sometimes referred to as concentrate rigs, can look pretty technical to the untrained eye, and if you’re new to the cannabis space, dabbing is probably not the best place to start for a number of reasons.
But there’ll no doubt come a day when terms like nails, and domes, and reburn, start to catch your attention and feel tempted to give the world of cannabis concentrates and dabbing a try. When that time comes, remember to return to this guide and we’ll help you to get your dabbing experience off to the best possible start.
A Little Bit of Dabbing History
In the true spirit of our love for cannabis, it’s time for a little dabbing history…
Whether you believe it or not, concentrates, including oil and wax, have been around since the 1960s, but dabbing took a lot more time to fly into action. In fact, the idea of dabbing has always been a kind of “underground” activity, reserved for the more wild among us, which is why most people had to resort to making their own dab rigs from scratch.
But by 2010, the world of dabbing started to move out of the shadows and into the light, in part thanks to legalization, but mainly driven by a consumer desire to find alternatives to the inhaling of smoke of any kind.
Consumer demand grew and the choice of dab rigs grew with it, and we have no doubt that we’ll be seeing even more dab rigs and even more dabbing accessories on the market in the years to come.
What is a dab rig and how does it work?
A dab rig is a special industry device used in the consumption of concentrates, informally referred to as dabs. One of the most important things for a prospective dabber to note, is how dab rigs are designed and how they work. There are so many varieties of dab rigs available for purchase on the regulated market, that it helps to know what you’re looking for and why, before you start to shop.
Plainly speaking, there are four types of dab rigs: simple, low-end, mid-level, and high-end dab rigs. While they may look a little confusing, a dab rig is highly simple to use. Once you’ve chosen which basic dab rig you’re going to go for, you’ll be excited to know that there are tons of extra features and accessories that can be used to truly personalize your dab and the dabbing consumer experience that you’d like to develop.
The best dab rigs can help you to achieve the same level of medication that you’d get from taking several drags off of a traditional pipe or bong. The nail on the dab rig is heated by a torch, the concentrate is placed on the nail, and after a short amount of time a vapor is produced. It’s this vapor that is inhaled. The popularity of dabbing grows by the day, which is why there’s been such a recent explosion of custom dab rigs on the market.
Dabbing looks complicated, but don’t be fooled. It’s super easy and lots of fun. The exact way in which you dab will vary depending on the style of rig you’re using. So, let’s begin…
- Apply a small amount of concentrate — oil or wax — onto the nail, or the heating element that comes with your rig. Only e-nails have the capacity to heat themsleves. All others need to be manually heated, normally through the use of a torch. Dab rigs and torches are usually sold separately, but some vendord and brands sell them as a set.
- Heat the nail with the torch and, as soon as it’s hot enough, apply the wax or oil.
- As soon as you “dab” the oil or wax on the nail, place your mouth over the mouthpiece and inhale, because the vapor will materialize immediately.
- If your dab rig doesn’t have a dome, explained in more detail a little later on, you must wait for it to cool down before packing it away. So, be careful here.
What are the basic components of a standard dab rig?
At this point, you probably have a fairly clear idea of how a dab rig works and the good news is that, despite their apparent complexity, most types of dab rigs are made up of just three components: a glass piece, a nail, and a torch lighter.
In reality, the torch lighter is bought separately and most consumers like to apply their concentrates using a fourth piece of equipment, called a dabber: a small rod that simply keeps things nice and neat and tidy.
If you’re on the lookout for a unique dab rig, our advice would be to browse through those special dab rigs that are sold as complete sets. These rigs usually do come with torches and some even come with the dabber as part of the set too.
For the ecclectic among us, there are the electric dab rigs, glass dab rigs, premium dab rigs, and even micro dab rigs, each set-up with its pros and cons that are best felt and understood through individual experience and exploration. If you settle into the art of dabbing on a long-term basis, there’s no doubt that you’ll gradually build a kit of mix and match items that best meet your needs and personal dabbing tastes.
Beginners should give the standard dab rig starter kit a try. These kits have everything you need to launch on a basic level and they give you the opportunity to be able to add to your kit in the future, as and when you come across new products and new kit styles.
Let’s Dive into Nails
How do you know which type of dab nail works best? While it may seem like it’s not that big of a deal, when you start getting deeper into the experience of dabbing, you’ll realize the importance of the nail and why it makes a difference which type you choose.
The nail is the part of your dabbing kit that is responsible for heating up the concentrate. As such, you need a nail that heats up quickly and has the ability to retain heat for a decent length of time.
So, what are the options?
Borosilicate glass is the glass that’s used to make bongs and pipes, so it may seem like a pretty good fit for a dabbing nail, but it’s not. While you’ll have no trouble finding a glass nail, because they’re widely available, it wouldn’t be our recommended choice because they don’t tend to last very long, meaning they need to be constantly replaced. Also, while glass heats up pretty fast, it’s not very effective at retaining heat. Cheap, usable, but really not what you need to be investing in by a long shot. So, moving on…
Pretty much the same deal as glass. Ceremic nails retain heat a little longer than glass ones, but they chip easily and are generally not worth the initial investment, no matter how cheap they are. Next!
Quartz is a pretty good option for a dabbing nail. It’s much more durable than ceramic or glass and it’s almost impossible to overheat. However, it’s still not a nail that we would recommend. It’s very poor at retaining heat, which means there’s very little time to actually inhale and concentrate vapor.
Titanium nails are the experienced dabber’s choice. Awesome at heating up, awesome at retaining heat, and virtually indestructible. All good. The only snag is that there’s always a risk of overheating when using a titanium nail, which means you need to have a little experience in the art of dabbing in order to be sure you know how to use it well. An overheated nail can burn the concentrate you’re trying to consume, and that doesn’t make for an enjoyable cannabis experience.
Another market option is the e-nail. These babies are essentially electric nails with a built-in port for a coil and a PID. This PID gauges the temperature of your coil and helps to regulate the heat of your nail at all times. You can even set the temperature of some of them to ensure better control, making this option one of the most convenient and user-friendly options, especially for beginners.
To Dome or Not-To-Dome a Dab Rig?
Some dab rigs are built with domes on the nails and some aren’t, buy why? The purpose of the dome is two-fold. It keeps the vapor neatly locked inside, so that you can consume at the pace you desire without losing any of the product along the way.
Domes are also useful safety features, but, and to put it quite simply, not everyone likes to use them. They can become difficult to manage and slide into placing, causing more hassle than enjoyment for some people, hence the option to have a dome or not. In the end, it’s all about consumer preference and style.
How to Accessorize your Dab
If you choose to invest in a full dab rig kit, you won’t have to shop around to find the other pieces you’ll need. The only trouble is that buying your own dabbers and torches can be really fun.
Metal or glass, big or small, round or flat, dabbers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, just because it adds to the fun. The only advice here is to buy your dab rig first and then buy the dabber to match. Lean on the staff at the store to guide you in your selection, but also take the time to just select a dabber that you like and that you’re excited about using.
The best kind of torch for a dab rig is a mini torch that runs off of butane. Propane torches are too much trouble. Blow torches are way too powerful. Keep it simple, keep it safe, and choose one in your favorite color… because you can!
Why Buy a Dab Rig?
You don’t officially need a professionally-made dab rig in order to dab, but there are many advantages to having one and, more importantly, owning your own dab rig is just damn right cool. So, what are the main reasons why we think you should invest in a professionally-made rig?
Professionally-made dab rigs have everything you need and you can even choose to buy a small dab rig if you think the size would be better suited to your needs.
Homemade rigs might work, but they’re not 100% safe. When dealing with heat and fire and burning concentrates, it really is a much better idea to opt for something that’s been tried and tested.
Dab rigs are often nothing short of works of art. There are so many styles to choose from that they end up becoming a personal style statement as much as a working piece of dabbing equipment. Go for it. Have fun. Make a purchase that you love having in your home.
A Word on Quality
One word of warning… avoid buying a low-quality rig with a poorly designed nail, because you could end up wasting a lot of concentrate because the nail either gets too hot or doesn’t get hot enough. Speak to long-established dabbers and make the kind of purchase that’s really going to improve your dabbing experience, not restrict or reduce it.
How to Clean a Dab Rig
We’re here to show you how to clean your dab rig, but we’re also here to explain why it’s imperative that you keep it clean. It doesn’t matter what type of concentrates you use, or how premium they claim to be, your rig is going to need regular cleaning in order to make sure it lasts as long as possible.
Natural rig decline is to be expected, particularly if you use it every day, but if you take care of your equipment, there’s no reason why it won’t see you through a number of years of truly enjoying dabbing. So….
What to do with the Reburn?
When it comes to reburn, you need to make a decision. Some people gather up the reburn and throw it away. Others recycle what they gather and use it again as a new concentrate. Whatever you do, don’t leave it in the rig, festering away.
Keeping your rig clean is fairly simple and the only items you’ll need in your cleaning kit are some rubbing alcohol, pipe cleaners, a bowl, and some paper towels. When you need to do some real deep cleaning, you can add a little salt to the mix. So, how to clean, step by step…
- Pour the rubbing alcohol into the rig
- Leave it soak for at least a few hours or until the reburn and other residue is visible loose and ready to come away. Once this has happened, the alcohol normally turns a darker color.
- Pour the alcohol out and repeat if necessary.
- Use the pipe cleaners and a little more pure rubbing alcohol to clean the details and hard-to-reach areas of your rig.
- Leave the rig to dry completely and speed things up, if necessary, by using dry Q-tips or paper towels.
Interested in Learning More?
If you’d like to give dabbing a try, or if you’re looking for concentrates that could help to take your dabbing experience to the next level, feel free to contact us directly. We can help by outlining our full list of dabbing products and by helping you to choose how to dose correctly.
Remember, that when it comes to dabbing it’s all about personal taste. Finding the perfect rig can take time. Choosing the right products and the right dosage will be about trial and error for a while, but our advice to you is to kick back and enjoy the ride. Exploring is all part of the dabbing fun. We’re here if you need us!