sweet nectar in the form of sticky icky dabs. Dabbing offers a completely different kind of high from smoking dry herb. Most notably, dabs produce a powerful, flavorful and immediate high. Because vaporizing concentrates preserves more terpenes than burning dry herb, dabbing lets you unlock the full-flavor profile of your favorite cannabis strains.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found in most plants; think pine, orange peel, lavender and of course, kush. Their particularly high concentration in cannabis are what give dabs their strong aroma, flavor, therapeutic and mood altering effects.
Although more research is needed, the aromatherapeutic benefits of terpenes such as Mrycene, Caryophyllene and Limonene may have far-reaching medicinal applications, meaning the exploration of dabbing has only just begun.
How does a dab rig work?
Unlike bongs, dab rigs aren’t designed for intense filtration but rather to cool smoke and maximize flavor. Rigs with minimal diffusion deliver vapor with little to no drag and have an effortless pull for a smooth dabbing experience. The smaller size and condensed chambers common among dab rigs gets the vapor straight to your lungs so it never goes stale.
Essentially, instead of lighting a packed bowl, you place the concentrate on a hot dab nail. This dab nail, often called a quartz banger, will melt the wax as you inhale through the mouthpiece. As you breathe in slowly, the vapor travels through the downstem and into the chamber filled with water. The water and percolators cool the vapor before it reaches your lips.
Percolators in dab rigs are designed to create many tiny bubbles to accelerate cooling without overcooling. It’s about striking a delicate balance, because you don’t want to overcool and cause your precious concentrate to coat the inside of your rig and go to waste.
Things to consider when buying a dab rig
How often do you dab?
If you dab often it’s worth considering a high quality piece that checks all the boxes. Your daily driver should be easy to clean, strong enough to withstand the inevitable falls that are bound to happen when stoned and produce delicious clouds every time.
Size matters and in this case, smaller is better for more potent, flavorful vapor. The same goes for the mouthpiece, smaller is actually preferred.
If you’re an on-the-go dabber, investing in a dab pen or silicone dab rig may be the way to go. While both are travel-friendly and easy to stash away in your back, a dab pen offers an additional level of discreteness for everyday toking. On the other hand, silicone offers a layer of protection if you tend to knock things over (especially when you’re baked).
If you want to dab anywhere and everywhere consider a dab pen. If you’re dabbing mainly at home but don’t feel comfortable with a torch, don’t like waiting for your rig to heat up or just want to simplify your experience an e-rig may be the way to go.
Traditional vs electric?
Electric dab rigs are efficient, convenient and simple to use. While electric rigs deliver more consistent vapor quality and ease than classic rigs, they do come with a pretty hefty price tag. That said, depending on how much you toke and how much you’re willing to put down, an e-rig may still be a better choice over the long-term.
It’s worth noting though that some dabbers argue that e-rigs just don’t deliver the same flavor and smoke plumes as a traditional setup. Also, most electric dab rigs require a full battery to work so if you’re away from a power outlet for extended periods it’s not always the best option.
Types of Dab Rigs
Glass dab rigs
Made from borosilicate glass, traditional glass rigs generally measure between 5-10”. They include a nail or banger, percolator, mouthpiece and require a butane torch to heat up.
Nano & mini dab rigs
Mini rigs pack a punch and are becoming the standard. Measuring as little as 2.5-5” these highly portable dab rigs completely streamline dabbing, getting the vapor to you faster than ever before. In spite of their small size, micro rigs offer an even more flavorful experience than medium-sized rigs. Because mini rigs are more compact, there is less air, so the vapor in turn is more flavorful and potent. Another benefit is that they are typically less expensive than their larger counterparts.
Electric dab rigs & enails
E-rigs and Enails are often used interchangeably but there are a few subtle differences worth keeping in mind. Electric dab rigs are normally plugged into an outlet whereas enails are battery-powered, portable devices designed for on-the-go dabs.
Both electric dab rigs and enail dab rigs have a higher upfront cost but are easier to use as they don’t require a butane torch and have precision temperature control. For instance, e-rigs such as the Dr. Dabber Switch have their own internal heating element so everything is contained. Just charge the battery and you’re ready to go at the push of a button. Using an electric dab nail is a more precise, consistent and safer alternative to using a butane torch.
Recycler dab rigs
Recycler rigs are a popular style for their intricate designs, enhanced cooling power and ability to keep vapor fresh. They feature a network of tubes, intake and drain which work together to continuously move the water and vapor in the chamber. This means that if you ever need to catch your breath or cough, you can take a break without sacrificing your fresh hit for a stale one.
Additionally, this style rig acts as a natural splashguard because the drain will catch the water before it ever gets to you. Recyclers come in multiple designs but for improved functionality we recommend choosing one where the intakes are above the drain so that the water circulates smoothly without a hitch.
Incycler dab rigs
Essentially, an incycler is the same as a recycler rig except that the second chamber is located inside the first chamber.
Silicone dab rigs
Silicone dab rigs are virtually unbreakable, making them the ideal portable option for the on-the-go dabber. If you like to travel, get high in the forest or are simply a hazard to anything delicate when you’re stoned, silicone is a worry-free alternative to glass rigs.
Faberge egg dab rig
Also known as fab egg rigs, the faberge egg style is not only beautiful to look at but serves a greater purpose: cooling vapor quickly. Since the vapor has to travel around the network of swiss perc holes, it diffuses the heat quickly. Fab egg dab rigs have two chambers: the first for percolation and the second for recycling.
Heady dab rigs
Heady dab rigs are handcrafted designer rigs made by professional glass blowers. They are intricate, high-end pieces with a greater focus on their artistic design rather than pure functionality. Heady rigs are one-of-a-kind works of art with beautiful embellishments, fuming and glazes, almost too beautiful to smoke out of.
Best Dab Temperature
Terpenes and cannabinoids have different boiling points so fine tuning each dab to the perfect temperature runs deep and there isn’t one straight answer. However, the best temps for dabs tend to fall into three main groups: standard, low and mid-range dabs.
Standard dabs: 545-570°F
The standard dabbing range for most dabs is 545-570°F. This temperature is ideal for crumble, live resin, rosin, shatter and sugar. Heating at this temp will vaporize most dabs fully without scorching the flavorful terpenes away.
Low-temp dabs: 400-500°F
Low-temp dabs are in the 400-500°F range but your oil may puddle up without completely vaporizing and go to waste if you don’t know what you’re doing. Low temp dabbing offers the most flavor of all methods but it is not the best dab temp for beginners using a traditional dab rig setup. One style of low-temp dabbing that’s gaining popularity is called reverse or cold start dabbing.
Mid-range dabs: 500-545°F
If you’re just starting out, mid-range dabs within the 500-545°F range may be the perfect dab temp for you, striking a balance between standard and low-temp. This way, you can experience the full terpene profile without accidentally scorching your dab or conversely having it form a pool in your banger. For instance, solventless hash like hash rosin or ice wax vaporize especially well at this temperature.
Tips for first timer dabbers
Buy from your local dispensary. Most products within dispensaries go through rigorous lab testing and are the best way to ensure quality. Clean lab tests means that your concentrates have been tested for residual butane, mold, etc.
Go slow. Start small and work your way up over time. You should get roughly 40 dabs out of a gram of hash oil. Don’t give into peer pressure. Just go at your own pace. Most importantly, avoid back-to-back dabs and give yourself lots of time in between so you don’t overdo it.
Make sure you’re in a comfortable setting, among good company. You’re much better off in a close friend’s living room than a concert or a stranger’s backyard. The important thing is to surround yourself with friends who will look out for you.
Glass of water
You’ll likely have a coughing fit your first time. Preparing a glass of water beforehand will save yourself from hacking up a lung.
Timing your dabs is key. It’s best to have someone experienced by your side to show you how to dab so you can enjoy it to the fullest.
Avoid Burnt Fingers
If you’re working with a traditional glass dab rig which requires a butane torch, be mindful that your rig, banger nail and your dab tools can stay hot to the touch long after you’ve turned off the torch.
Quality Tools & Accessories
While your buddy’s homemade rig may look awesome, for your health, you really only want to be smoking out of high quality borosilicate glass or food grade silicone. The materials you choose and how well-made they are will also impact the quality of your dabbing experience.
Customize to your Taste
As you start dabbing more you will get a feel for what works for you. The unique part about dabbing is that there are many cool accessories such as terp slurpers, terp pearls and carb caps that will further elevate your experience. These tools all help vaporize dabs more evenly for more consistent vapor, preserving terpenes and letting nothing go to waste.
Dag Rig Parts
A quick lesson in dab rig anatomy will prepare you for an A+ dab.
Every dab starts with a water pipe. While most bongs can be converted into dab rigs by changing out the bowl for a banger, the best dab rigs tend to be smaller in size with condensed chambers so vapor quickly cools without going stale and goes straight to your lungs.
The mouthpiece on dab rigs tends to be smaller than bongs to maximize the flavor of dabs.
Dab nail or banger
The dab nail is what you place your dab onto to vaporize. Bangers come in two versions: domed and domeless. The most common are quartz bangers or titanium nails. The main sizes are 10mm, 14mm, & 18mm. A quartz banger, for instance, has the classic swan-like neck and bucket at the end.
You’ll use a butane torch for dabs to heat up your banger. Butane is preferred over propane because it does not impact the flavor and is safer to use.
Also called dabbers, these tools are generally made from titanium or glass and allow you to transfer your dabs to your banger.
Dab carb caps generally made of borosilicate glass or quartz are used with domeless nails to inhibit airflow to your nail. As soon as you’ve placed your dab on the nail, you cap it off which turns your banger into a convection oven, allowing it to retain heat for longer. This maximizes flavor and lets you get the most out of your dabs since it restricts cool air from entering the chamber. There are many different styles of dab caps including bubble, spinner and directional carb caps.
*In recycler dab rigs there are additional parts including the recycler chamber, intake and drain.
There are countless dab rig accessories that elevate the sesh, whether that’s by maximizing the quality of your vapor to keeping your gear clean and organized. Many will seem like nice-to-haves at first glance but they may quickly become an essential part of your dab rig setup.
A dab pad is typically made from non-stick silicone. Silicone dab mats are simple yet essential pieces for setting your hot dab rig on to protect the surface beneath. It will keep your rig steady in place and avoid leaving a ring on the table. You can also use it when manipulating concentrates and for setting down your dab tools.
Made from non-stick silicone or glass, wax containers are where you store your concentrates. Silicone dab containers are extremely durable and concentrates can be easily scooped up. That said, many dabbers still prefer the quality feel of glass jars even though you are likely to lose some wax on the surface.
While you could use a bobby pin or safety pin, a dab tool is a much better option especially since they are super cheap. Dabbers for wax are normally made of titanium or borosilicate glass and allow you transfer wax from your concentrate container to your nail.
Terp pearls go by many names: banger beads, dab pearls, terp balls, terp beads and the list goes on. Terp pearls are balls made from borosilicate glass, quartz or gemstones like ruby that are placed in the banger nail to distribute concentrates and get the most flavor out of each dab. They normally measure 4mm or 6mm.
A terpometer is a dab thermometer that helps you time your dabs. Essentially, it gives you the exact temperature of your banger or whatever surface you are dabbing on. A dab temp reader is able to gauge no matter if you’re using quartz or titanium. An alternative to the dab temp reader is the terp timer which is similar in concept but allows you to be handsfree.
A terp slurper is a version of a quartz banger that has an additional dish at the bottom. When you drop a dab into the dish, it is slurped up through the slits at the bottom of the barrel. It normally comes as a set with a marble and terp pearls to get the full effect and bring out the full flavor of your dabs.
A dab station is a tray with various slots and holders to keep all of your dabbing supplies organized including dab tools, dab mats, q-tips, carb caps, bangers and jars. The dab tray is normally made of plastic but some are made of more high-end materials such as walnut wood. Often, the dab mat is directly embedded into the smoke station so you can set your rig down and easily manipulate dabs with all your tools at the ready.
Dab tool holder
Similar to a dab station but smaller in scale, a dab tool holder can simply be a stand to hold your dabbers alone or also include a few slots for your concentrate jars and q-tips.
Dab kits are generally travel sized tins that include a few dab tools, silicone containers and a dab mat. All inclusive kits even feature a dab straw for on-the-go toking.
A terp cooler is a lockable fridge to store your concentrates that allows you to control temperature and humidity levels. Terp fridges come with a pretty high price tag though so you might be able to just get away with a mini fridge if you can’t front the hard cash.
Used to hold a glass on glass joint and downstem or nail and nectar collector securely in place, keck clamps are an essential piece for smokers and dabbers alike. Keck clips for bongs and dab rigs are made from a heat resistant plastic. They help prevent the accidental drops that are bound to happen with daily toking.
Essentially an extremely portable dab rig, a honey straw is a long, tube shaped pipe made of borosilicate glass or silicone that’s used for dabbing concentrates. These are ideal for on-the-go dabbers. Also called a nectar collector, one tip acts as the banger and the other the mouthpiece. Once heated, simply apply gently into the concentrate dish and inhale through the other end.
Even more travel-friendly and convenient, dab pens are a cross between a vape pen and a dab rig. This smoking device uses prefilled or refillable dab carts filled with cannabis concentrates. Unlike vape pen cartridges which are diluted, dab pen carts offer the flavor and potency of hitting from a rig, without the hassle.
Also called a rosin press or wax press, this tool consisting of two hot metal plates uses force to press cannabis flower into resinous rosin concentrate.
What is a dab rig?
A dab rig is a smoking device made for vaporizing dabs like oil, hash rosin and crumble.
How to dab?
Dabbing can seem pretty complicated at first, from dosing to finding the perfect dab temperature to how to take a dab. The truth is, there’s a learning curve. Many dabbers start with the 30/30 method (30 seconds on heat followed by 30 seconds off).
First, turn on your torch. The tip of the inner blue flame should hit the corner edge of your banger. As soon as the flame touches, start your stopwatch. The banger should glow red hot. After 30 seconds, turn off the torch. Wait another 30 seconds to let it cool down because if you don’t that dab will burst into flames and you might end up hacking up a lung. Once 30 seconds have passed, rub the face of the dab tool with your concentrate along the inside of the banger, cap it off with the carb cap and inhale slowly.
There are many ways to take dabs without a rig: smoke it in a bowl, roll it in a joint, load it in a vape pen or even knife hits, as a last resort.
How long to heat up dab rig?
About 30 seconds.
How much is a dab rig?
While it depends on quality, material and features, cheap dab rigs cost around $20-50 while most clock in around $50-$100.
How much is a dab pen?
Generally, you’re looking at about $30-100 for a dab pen, although the price depends on the features, brand and design.
Where to buy dab rigs?
You can buy a dab rig at your local dispensary, smoke shops or from online headshops. Online headshops tend to have a larger selection of products including related dabbing accessories like dab tools, quartz bangers, terp slurpers and carb caps.
How to clean a dab rig?
Follow these simple steps in our how-to article using 90%+ isopropyl alcohol, coarse sea salt, pipe cleaners and a ziplock bag.
How to clean a dab rig without alcohol?
You can either use mild dish soap or a mix of white vinegar and baking soda.
How to clean a dab rig banger?
After you take a dab, it’s important not to let it sit and get cold because it’s so much harder to clean. We recommend using q-tips dipped in isopropyl alcohol and rubbing the inside of your banger immediately after hitting to remove any sticky residue that cannot be salvaged. After a while it will become second nature.
How to make a homemade dab rig?
The most common way to make a dab rig is using a water bottle and hot knife, although we don’t recommend it since plastic can release toxic chemicals when heated.
How are dabs made?
There are different methods of extraction but the most common are via Butane Honey Oil (BHO) extraction, Supercritical CO2 Oil extraction, ethanol extract, water extract and isopropyl oil extraction. BHO, the most common method, involves mixing cannabinoids and butane together in one container until all the butane evaporates. Since butane is a highly volatile, flammable substance, there’s a risk of fire and explosion.
Do dab pens smell?
Dab pens are known for being discrete but they do give off a slight smell. It’s best if you hit in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. If you’re inside, leave the window open and blow directly outside or use a sploof.
Do you put water in a dab rig?
Yes, you should put between ¾-1 inch of water inside. To test the level, blow into the downstem. If water reaches your lips, pour some out and try again until it bubbles without splashing up.
What are terps?
Terps or terpenes are the compounds found within most plants, including cannabis, that give off a distinct aroma and flavor. Common terpenes in kush include myrcene and limonene.
What are terp pearls?
Terp pearls, also known as banger beads or dab balls, are commonly made of ruby, quartz or borosilicate glass. They spin within the banger to evenly distribute concentrates, maximizing flavor by preserving terpenes.
How to use terp pearls?
Place the terp beads gently into your banger. When you put the carb cap on, it will make the balls spin. This splashes the shatter around and hits all the hot spots, so you can get an extra two pulls in.
How to use a terp slurper?
First, heat the dish bottom for 20-30 seconds. Let it sit for another 30 seconds, then immediately place the carb cap on top. Drop your dab into the bottom dish and inhale. You can also follow our step-by-step terp slurper guide.
What is terp sauce?
Terp sauce gets its name because of its sauce-like texture. It’s a cannabis extract high in terpenes that’s usually made into vape carts.