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.
“I prefer using a quartz nail with my dab rig.”
“Dab rigs or oil rigs require flash-heating, so be sure to use a butane torch.”
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.
How Are Dabs Made?
Dabs are concentrated doses of marijuana made by extracting cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Typically, manufacturers will use carbon dioxide or a solvent such as butane to extract the cannabinoids. The result is a sticky oil known as shatter, wax, budder, concentrate, or butane hash oil (BHO).
Perhaps the oldest method of creating dabs is cold water extraction using bubble bags. It involves the use of ice water and produces a dark brown crumbly substance. It is made by extracting trichomes; these are structures that contain most of weed’s active ingredients. You will recognize trichomes because they look similar to tiny hairs and are packed on marijuana buds.
You can make your own ‘bubble hash’ by freezing flower buds laden with trichomes. They are soaked in ice water, manually agitated and filtered through plastic filtration bags known as ‘bubble bags’. These bags are filled with holes of various sizes. When you freeze the flowers, you separate the trichomes which are loaded with THC.
You continue filtering the material using bags with increasingly smaller holes to retain the trichomes and remove the ice water. Eventually, excess plant material is also removed so you are left with a pure form of weed. Finally, you air dry the product to get rid of any excess water.
Bubble hash is rare and expensive so most firms use butane extraction to make dabs. BHO involves extracting a marijuana plant’s terpenes and cannabinoids. Butane is a chemical solvent which washes over the material and dissolves the cannabis plant’s compounds. The final step involves removing the remaining solvent and leaving behind nothing but pure cannabis extract.
Types of Nail
The dab nail is central to the operation of any rig and there are several different options on the market which we review below.
This is strong by the standards of glass and is also one of the least expensive nail options. However, it is still glass and its very nature makes it too fragile for nails.
Glass nails are by far the easiest to break which means you have to replace them regularly. Also, glass doesn’t retain heat as well as the other options on the list. Therefore, it either won’t get hot enough to vaporize your concentrate in the first place, or else it won’t remain hot for long enough to finish the job.
This material has a couple of things in common with glass; it is cheap and easy to break. However, it retains heat far better but once again, you’ll have to replace them relatively often.
This material is significantly more durable than either glass or ceramic and as it doesn’t get excessively hot, you should enjoy a decent dabbing experience. While quartz is almost impossible to overheat, it also doesn’t retain heat for long so while you can heat your wax, it won’t create much vapor.
This is an exceptionally strong and durable material but is also very light. A titanium nail is almost indestructible so it will probably outlast your dab rig. The metal heats up quickly and retains heat better than glass, ceramic, or quartz. It is the best of the four material options but its main flaw is that it overheats quickly.
As a result, it can burn your wax rather than creating vapor. Consequently, experienced dabbers tend to combine titanium nails with water diffusers.
This is a convenient option and relatively new to the marketplace. Rather than lighting the nail with a torch, you can relax and let the e-nail heat up the dab using electricity. As well as heating up rapidly, e-nails allow you complete temperature control and you can customize it to the concentrate you’re using.
E-nails are expensive and you have to be close to a power source. Also, traditionalists believe that using the torch is an integral part of the dabbing experience. In the end, if you have money to spend, an e-nail is an excellent purchase.
What is a Domed Dab Rig?
This is a rig with a domed nail. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, domed nails hold in a greater level of vapor than their domeless counterparts and because they are smaller, they heat up faster. Domed nails are also safer but a bit harder to use than domeless.
What Is Domeless Dab Rig?
This is a rig with a domeless nail. They are easier to use but more hazardous and less attractive looking than domed nails.
Male & Female Nails
A male nail is placed inside the intake tube while a female nail is placed outside the intake. Some users claim there is a big difference in the dabbing experience between the two while other users don’t notice anything. For the record, most dab rig uses male nails.
Other Dab Rig Parts & Accessories
Although dabbing looks and sounds like a complicated process to the uninitiated, it is very easy and there are only a few parts you have to worry about. Aside from the nail and dome, the rest of a rig consists of a couple of pieces depending on the design. It is normal for the glass part of a rig to have an intricate design as you will see in our list of dab rig reviews below.
Experienced users believe that the shape of a rig impacts the flavor. For example, an oblong or oval bowl is said to deliver concentrated vapor. There are two main tools to worry about:
- Dabber: This is a device that resembles a pen and is used to ‘dab’ the concentrate on to the nail. When shopping for a rig, make sure it comes with a dabber or else you’ll have to purchase one separately. Some users don’t use a dabber and prefer to add the product to the nail directly from its wax form or the bottle.
- Torch: Despite its critical importance, a surprising number of rigs don’t come with the torch. You need it to heat up the nail and without it, all you have is an expensive and useless device! You won’t need a torch if your rig uses an e-nail however. If you’re new to dabbing, we recommend using a small torch that runs off butane because a powerful blowtorch is dangerous for inexperienced users. Propane torches are too hazardous.
If you go to any website that specializes in rigs, you’re sure to come across an array of accessories including:
- Bong cooler.
- Dome bowl.
- Glass joint adaptor.
- Case grinder.
- In-line diffusers.
It is entirely up to you to decide whether you want or need these pieces. Some will enhance the dabbing experience, others could prove a waste of money.