A pipe designed for vaporizing cannabis concentrates, sometimes referred to as an oil rig, vapor rig, or concentrate pipe. Similarly to a bong, a dab rig filters concentrate vapor through water at the base. In addition to the central piece, dab rigs require a glass, quartz, ceramic, or titanium nail, or banger, to hold or “dab” concentrate, a dabber tool, and a torch lighter for proper heating.
What are dab rigs?
A dab rig is the chamber of a glass pipe, connected to a nail or banger, used for dabbing, in the place of a traditional bowl typically found on a bong. New dabbers may be overwhelmed at the technique, upfront cost, and number of accessories required to use dab rigs and pipes. But they may also appreciate the strong, streamlined effects and heavy terpene flavors that concentrates and dab rigs provide.
Once you get the dabbing process down, using a dab rig can be easy and efficient. The key steps are simple: heating the nail with a torch, placing a dab of concentrate in the nail, and inhaling the resulting vapor.
The modern-day dab pipe typically includes the glass piece, a nail, a dabber, a torch, and a carb cap. Carb caps have become popular accessories because they allow the user to dab at lower temperatures and hold vapor in the nail for a longer time. If you want to find the perfect dab rig for your concentrate consumption needs, several considerations should be made before a purchase.
Why are dab rigs small?
Both bongs and dab rigs are technically considered “rigs,” or pipe chambers connected to a nail or bowl that holds cannabis products for smoking. If you’re new to dab rigs, you may have mistaken a dab rig for a bong, or seen a smaller dab rig or pipe and wondered: Why is that bong so small?
Although both bongs and dab rigs come in an array of shapes and sizes, the dimensions can usually be used to indicate which type of device you’re looking at.
The essential difference between a bong and a dab rig is that dab rigs are optimized for concentrates. In addition to the banger or nail replacing the bowl, dab rigs are typically smaller than bongs. A smaller chamber provides less drag, which means the vapor travels to the lungs more quickly. Many quality glass artists and production glass companies make mini rigs for those who enjoy a rich terpene profile from their cannabis extracts.
Other differences between a bong and a dab rig
Until recently, dab rigs were also typified by a 90-degree male joint that would connect to a female attachment. A male joint has a narrow opening and is meant for accessories to fit over it while female joints have a wider opening for accessories to be inserted into. Male joints have gone out of fashion — as have the types of nails that made them popular.
As of 2018, dab rigs are usually fitted with 10 millimeter or 14 millimeter female joints. The size of a female joint is measured by the inner circumference of the opening.
History of dab rigs
Before dab rigs entered the scene, “knife hits” were the most popular method of vaporizing concentrates. Cannabis users from the ’60s to the ’90s would heat two knives on a stove and place a piece of hash on them once they were glowing red. The resulting vapor was then inhaled through a tube or soda bottle that had the base removed. An early form of the dab pipe was made by using a “swing skillet” instead of a bowl on a bong — basically a bong downstem on top of a titanium plate that when heated with a torch vaporized the hash.
How Does a Dab Rig Work?
Dab rigs work in slightly different ways and vary depending on the style of the concentrate rig you choose. However, in its most basic form, a dab rig works by incorporating a glass vapor slide, a 90-degree joint, a recycler, and a nail.
Of these rigs, nails are arguably the most critical aspects of the dabbing process. A nail can be made of quartz, titanium, or glass, and they all have pros and cons along with personal preferences to consider. So, it’s essential to choose one that’s right for you.
A dab rig can feature a vapor dome that fits the nail and prevents you from losing any of the concentrated vapor produced. Whereas traditional water pipes have 45-degree joints, dab rigs typically have 90-degree joints and are smaller in size to help prevent the dilution of the vapor’s taste.
A dab rig may also come with a recycler – a specific type of water pipe that pushes the water throughout the device. Smoke and water travel from one chamber to the next, then back down into the first chamber, providing a continuous loop of filtration that continually cools the water and vapor.
Not sure whether a device is intended for dabbing? Look at the gender of the joint on the apparatus. If it is a male joint and comes with a vapor dome or glass nail, you can use it for dabbing. Other pipe styles can be converted using unique nails, but the male joint pipe is most common.
How to Choose the Best Rig for Dabs?
If you’re ready to invest in a dab rig of your own, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer assortment available. Trying to understand terms like “burn,” “domes,” and “nails” can be intimidating, but you don’t need to feel like a fish out of water. Like most smoking apparatuses, there are low-end, simple dab rigs, mid-level devices, and high-end dab rigs, complete with an assortment of extra features.
Just as concentrates have evolved in the past several years, too have the pieces you use to enjoy them. If you’ve never owned a concentrate rig before, the options can be intimidating. Keep in mind that a standard dab rig kit requires three pieces: a nail, a glass piece, and a torch lighter. While you can certainly go the cheapest, most economical route, pay attention to an essential part of your setup – the nail or heating element.
Depending on your preferences, you have several choices of nail surface material: titanium, ceramic, glass (borosilicate), or quartz (fused silica). While some people might prefer one type of material over the others, the truth is, your choice will have little effect on the flavor. Instead, the material will affect the temperature the nail reaches and how long it remains at that temperature.
If this is your first dab rig, you might consider opting for a domed nail. Domed nails generally require less upkeep but do offer a bit less airflow. Domeless nails require more care and cleaning but are designed to have more airflow. Domed nails are also smaller and don’t need as much heating time as domeless nails.
When purchasing a torch, we’d recommend using butane. Propane gets too hot too quickly. Choose a small torch with a manageable flame to avoid heating the glass on the rig. As you continue to dab, you’ll notice that the rig will become coated in a resin-like oil – known as “reburn” or “reclaim.” You can collect this and spread it on papers to smoke or season new nails.
Ultimately, your dab rig will come down to a personal preference. Experiment, ask friends and experienced dabbers what they use, and ask questions to get the best possible experience.