What is a Dab Rig?

What is a dab rig? Dabs themselves are a little intimidating to get into as a newcomer, and the use of the term dab rig doesn’t entirely help. If you’re asking, “What is a dab rig?” you don’t have to reveal your ignorance at the local dispensary just to find out. Don’t worry; it’s easier than you might think to understand these terms.

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First, know that the term dab rig refers to any device used to vaporize and inhale dabs, which are just marijuana concentrates. Even a vape pen designed to heat up enough to melt these concentrates may be called a dab rig, although the term dab pen is more common.

Within the wide world of dab rigs, there are many options for enjoying marijuana concentrates at home or on the go. Some are designed specifically for portability, while others aim to maximize your enjoyment of the terpenes.

The Classic Bong Style

The very first dab rigs sold commercially took the form of bongs in almost all cases. This is because you have to heat the nail used to vaporize the dabs much hotter than any bowl used to hold flowers for smoking. Since the nail itself gets red hot, it needed to be supported by an inhalation device that wouldn’t crack under pressure. All glass bongs are made with borosilicate glass that withstands reheating and cooling stress, and it took a little longer for designs that led to other types of dab rigs to be worked out.

Bong-type dab rings remain among the most popular thanks to their cooling chambers filled with water or ice that smooth out each hit. Other features or upgrades include special balls you can add terpenes to for flavor boosts with each dab. You can even get an electronic nail kit, or e-nail, that heats up from being plugged in to eliminate the open flame of a torch.

Honey Dipper and Straw Styles

While a bong might be a comfortable and reliable way to get stoned, it’s not exactly portable or discreet. So the first development in dab rigs beyond the basics resulted in what’s commonly called the straw or dipper style. These devices are either made of all glass or silicone. A titanium or quartz tip functions like a nail, except that you dip it directly into the concentrates after heating it. These devices still require a torch or heating element as a bong does, so they’re still a little limited in their options for portability.

It’s also harder to fit an e-nail heating kit into these smaller devices than a full-sized glass bong. But for people who want to dab quickly and without much fuss, these tools are the way to go. They don’t take up much space in the stash box, either.

Vape Pens Built for Dabbing

When asking, “What is a dab rig?” don’t overlook the most portable options of all. Vape pens and other pocket-sized dabbing devices are the all-in-one solution for enjoying concentrates anywhere. It’s the only way to really eliminate the torch from the dabbing kit since even electronic nails require a wall plug, limiting what you can do while hiking or camping.

You can use dab pens and vaporizers to go completely off the grid as long as you have enough charged batteries. Of course, you can’t add sticky or solid marijuana concentrates to just any old vaporizer. You may need to blend it with a liquid base to use it in certain devices or choose equipment built specifically for concentrates like live rosin.

What Is a Dab Rig Accessory Kit?

No matter the dab rigs you choose, you’ll need some tools to maintain and use all of them. First, a small pick or spoon-shaped metal tool is recommended for transferring small amounts of concentrate into any of these rigs. Even if you use a dipper-style rig, you may want to divide out a particular portion rather than melting a whole slab with each dip. If you find metal tools hard to work with, silicone-coated versions are available that help with sticky and thinner concentrates.

Bongs and e-nail devices with large bowl-shaped nails often lose a lot of vapor as the dab melts against the hot surface. To lose less, you can use a device known as a carb cap. It’s a heat-resistant cap that you pop over the nail after dropping in a dab, ensuring the vapor stays trapped until you can inhale it all at your leisure.

Terpene balls are added to larger nails or the chamber right below it to help agitate the vaporizing concentrate for maximum flavor. Finally, you’ll need some kind of high heat torch for bongs and rigs that don’t have their own heating element. Propane blowtorches are commonly used but can be risky to use, bulky, and heavy. Try a small butane torch designed for culinary use to get a hot enough flame in a smaller and slightly safer package.

Now you should feel a little more confident picking out the various types of dab rigs at your local shop without having to ask, “What is a dab rig, anyway?” Don’t be afraid to ask for help sorting through the products using general terms and narrowing down your choices by category. You’re sure to get personal advice and helpful tips from anyone knowledgeable of dab rigs.

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Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

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