All About Dab Rigs

There are many reasons to love cannabis, even more, are the ways to enjoy for the cannabis enthusiast to enjoy some good herb. Are you a connoisseur of all things cannabis? Is THC your favorite acronym? Do you consider yourself to be an industrial-strength weed killer? If so, you’re more than familiar with all the different ways to consume cannabis.

You’re an expert in rolling paper joints. You’ve had more bowls of cannabis than bowls of cereal. So, you’re a water-bong rather than water-park kind of guy. But although you’re well-versed in all the different ways to deliver a little THC in the system, there might be one method you haven’t heard of — we’re talking about dab rigs. They are also known as oil rigs – or concentrate rigs – and resemble a traditional water bong, but use convective heating rather than conductive heating. If you’re curious to know more, in this article take a closer look into dab rigs and why you might want to add them to your weed accessory arsenal.

What Are Dab Rigs?

A dab rig is a glass or ceramic apparatus used to vaporize cannabis concentrate. To use, you simply apply your concentrate to a component called a ‘dab nail’, heat up the nail to a high temperature (316 celsius) with a butane torch, and boom — your material is vaporized. The vapor is then inhaled through a water pipe fitted with a 90-degree spout. The angle of the spout is deliberate; it helps contains the vapor and also acts as a security precaution. You can’t fool around when butane torches are involved.

As mentioned, dab rigs are commonly made from glass or ceramic. The nail is typically made from titanium, quartz, or glass, as all three materials are capable of withholding the temperature needed to vaporize the concentrate. Each material has its pros and cons, and consumers will have their own selection preferences. Whatever the material, the nail is the most important part of a dab rig. There are a few good reasons to consider switching to a dab rig from other methods of ingestion. Dab rigs often come with a specialized ‘dome’ to cover the nail and help keep the vapor in one place. And because you’re using concentrate instead of flowers, consumers report needing fewer vapes from a dab rig than a traditional bong to achieve the same level of high. There’s no combustion either, so the vaporized concentrate delivers a smoother, stronger high.
So, are dab rigs and dab Nnils the same?

Dab rigs and dab nails are not the same things. A dab nail is to a dab rig like a bowl is to a traditional bong. The nail is the vessel to vaporize the flower or concentrate, depending on the type of rig you have. The nail can be made from titanium, glass or quartz. Some nails have a ‘dome’ to contain the vapor. Just think of the dab rig as the entire piece of kit, with the nail being a small and important component of the overall apparatus.

A Quick History Of Dab Rigs

The exact origins of the modern dab rig are unclear. However, a 2005 article in Cannabis Culture sheds some light on its provenance. In the article, titled ‘Beautiful Budder’, a Vancouver native under the alias ‘Bubbleman’ talks of him and his colleagues discovering an amber glass substance. They put it on the windowsill and recall it ‘buttering up’. They were in need of a device to vaporize this new substance, and so they developed a ‘rig’ in 2003 which they sold from their dispensary. That prototype was refined further and ultimately led to the modern rigs of today. By 2010 these modern rigs were in shops and dispensaries and were quickly replacing bongs and other cannabis-related gadgets. Original dab rigs were crude, but manufacturers quickly improved build-quality and injected style, to bring them up to the level we see today. They are now available in novelty designs, and in all shapes and sizes.

The dab rig’s popularity coincided with the discovery that butane can be used to extract the oil from cannabis, leaving a potent psychoactive residue. This is known as butane hash oil (BHO). The ‘dab’ in this instance refers to the small amount of BHO needed to produce a powerful high.

How Do They Work?

Understanding how your cannabis device works is crucial to get the most significant benefit out of it. Dab rigs work by applying a small amount of wax, butter, or hash oil on a component called a dab nail, heating that nail to a high temperature, then inhaling the vapor through a spout which closely resembles that of a bong. The vaporization process is what distinguishes the dab rig from a traditional water bong, which combusts dried flower.

This vaporizing process is usually produced by applying a butane torch to the nail, to achieve the high temperature needed. However, there are electric dab rigs. These rigs use electric coils known as e-nails to heat the substance as opposed to direct heat. The e-nail gives consumers more control over temperature and removes the dangers associated with open flames. This technology comes at a premium though, as electric dab rigs are more expensive than the glass and ceramic versions. However, because e-nails don’t require butane torches, the initial outlay of an e-nail may be recouped over time.

How Are Dab Rigs Made And What Materials Do They Consist Of?

When it comes to choosing and using a cannabis-related device such as a dab rig or bong, the materials that it consists of are an essential factor to consider. Most cannabis consumers prefer gadgets made from materials such as surgical glass, several types of acrylics, and stainless steel.

As discussed, dab rigs are comprised of two main components. The rig itself is a water pipe or bong-like apparatus in which the vapor is inhaled. They are usually made from glass or ceramic, with a 90 degree-angled spout for vapor control and safety. The nail, or skillet, is usually made from titanium or quartz. As mentioned, this is the most important part of the dab rig. They are sold pre-assembled, but customization is possible. Here are the steps needed to construct your own dab rig:

  1. Get yourself a water pipe. Ceramic and glass are the most popular types.
  2. Select a nail. ‘Male’ nails are inserted in the intake tube, while ‘female’ nails go on the outside. Check the size of nail before buying, as some nails may be too big or too small, depending on the size of the pipe you have. Glass nails are inexpensive but are subject to breaking. Quartz nails are more durable but have trouble retaining heat over a long period of time. Titanium is strong and long-lasting but takes skill to use as you can overheat it. E-nails do away with butane torches but require a power outlet.
  3. Get an applicator. Or a ‘dab tool’. This is what you’ll use to apply the substance to the nail. They are normally made from glass or ceramic.
  4. Get a butane torch. Unless you plump for an e-nail, you’ll need a butane torch. These can be found in hardware stores, and there are also plenty of options online.

Below is a list of common materials found in a dab rig:

  • Glass
  • Ceramic
  • Titanium
  • Quartz

The Benefits Of Using a Dab Rig

If you’ve never used a dab rig before, you’re probably curious as to what sort of benefits it has to offer that other cannabis-related gadgets are lacking. That in mind, dab rigs have a number of benefits over traditional methods of ingesting cannabis. For a start, you only need a small amount of concentrate to achieve the same level of high as you would from a bong.

Secondly, the fact that dab rigs vaporize the substance ensures nothing is lost in the process, and the lack of combustion ensures a smooth, strong hit. wax, butter, and BHO can all be applied to the nail, offering the versatility of options. What’s even more? The electric dab rig gives consumers temperature control and removes the need for an open flame. It does require a power outlet, but it can be run off a power bank. Critics say the e-nail dilutes the ‘experience’ you get with the flame, but overall they are a safer and self-contained option.

A Final Word

So now you know what a dab rig is. You know your pipe from your nail, the variety of materials on option, and the different cannabis concentrates you can use to get a stronger sensation with the use of less product.

Whether you vaporize the oils and waxes with a butane torch, or, you can go the electric route with a temperature-controlled e-nail, you now know all the benefits of switching from joints or bongs to a cleaner, smoother, stronger alternative. What is your experience with dab rigs and cannabis? Do you prefer them to other gadgets such as bubblers and bongs, or vice versa? Whatever you choose, we wish you luck selecting your first (or next) dab rig.

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