Dab Rigs for Beginners:
How to Choose and Use
A Concentrate Water Pipe
What’s a dab rig?
A dab rig is a type of water pipe used primarily primarily with oil or wax extracts through the process of "dabbing." It gets this name because you "dab" the material onto a heated nail, which we'll explain more about below.
We have a special place in our heart for dab rigs, and we think you will too after reading our in-depth guide to dab rigs for beginners. Keep reading to find out how to pick 'em and how to work 'em so they take your not-so-cheap concentrates to peak performance.
The benefits of a dab rig:
- Even small dab rigs pack a more powerful punch.
- Fresh, natural flavor.
- Clean smoke-less aroma.
Dab pipes are not for beginners, but tend to be an art preferred by intermediate and expert level enthusiasts. If you're looking for a solid concentrate experience without the learning curve -- check out quick and easy (even one-button!) concentrate vaporizers that streamline your steps. Once beginners have mastered the vape or dry herb pipe, they'll know a bit more about the dab rig that's the right fit.
What's important when buying a dab rig:
- What size fits right into your home and is as portable as your lifestyle needs?
- Is it durable and easy to upgrade with cool accessories over the years for long-term satisfaction?
- Is the pipe made by a reputable brand, and/or have high ratings?
- Does is suit your personal style? Will you be proud to show it off; will it match with your home decor; or will you just shove it under the sink...
- Do you like the nail it includes?
Before we get down to it, you need to know nails if you want to know concentrates. This is the part of the dab rig where you "dab" on your waxy extracts; where all the heating takes place.
How to Use A Dab Nail:
(This does not apply to E-nails)
1. Aim your torch's flame at the nail until it glows red.
2. If your nail has a dome, slide it over the top so it sits on the joint.
3. Let titanium nails cool for 10 seconds. Let quartz nails cool for 45 seconds.
4. Tap a small amount of concentates onto the heated nail.
Even if you end up switching to a concentrate vape one day, it's a big help to know what the different materials are. The nail material on a dab rig is comparable to an atomizer's heating chamber in a vaporizer. Choosing the right material effects the flavor, freshness, heat-up time, and ability to hold onto heat in a concentrate device.
They come in all kinds of shapes, too, to let personal style shine.
Read Boo's guides on How to Choose A Dab Nail and the 6 Most Unique Dab Nails to really get to know the nail.
The most popular dab nails are:
- Quartz Banger (a.k.a. "bucket") Nail - clean vapor delivery, easy open-top shape
- Domeless Titanium Nail - the most durable nail, hassle-free shape
- Glass Dome & Nail - the low-cost standard included with most rigs, but usually gets upgraded
- E-Nail - not recommended for beginners, allow for precision temps.
High-end dab rigs such as POUNDS or UPC are the rare brands that include a top shelf nail with their rig. Standard brands will include a cheap glass nail to keep the cost of your rig down. The POUNDS Collection actually includes domeless nail and quartz banger!
Banger nails are the best dab nail for beginners because they are just so easy to heat and work with, while keeping your dab rig clean.
About the Size:
Because concentrates literally concentrate the amount of power a small amount of material can produce, you may be surprised to learn that dab rigs don't get nearly as big as dry herb bongs.
Think of it this way: other water pipes are built as large as possible (like beaker bongs) to filter out the harsh smoke created when dry herb combusts; that’s why there’s so many percolators and chambers to push smoke through and cool it down. With a dab rig, there’s no combustion of the flower since it’s already processed when they make concentrate, so you don’t need many chambers or a large water container to filter the smoke, since it’s just vapor.
Mini Rigs, Nano Rigs, and Bubbler Rigs make up a large portion of our most frequently five-starred dab rigs.
Best-Selling Dab Rigs from Small to Large:
All-Quartz Mini Dab Rig
Petite yet powerful, this cloudmaker measures only two inches wide. All-quartz construction has fast heat-up time and preserves fresh pure flavors. Even the nail it includes is made from quartz, which means no need to upgrade!
POUNDS "Starship" Dab Rig
At 6 inches tall, this top-seller includes a dry herb slide and a quartz concentrate nail for premium dual function. The POUNDS collection ranges from this "mini rig" to full-sized dab rigs fitted with impressive percs you can see below.
UPC Mini-Tube Dab Rig
Handcrafted in Los Angeles, UPC presents an extra-thick glass dab rig with two honeycomb percs at a moderate 8 inches tall. The slender, streamline design is excellent for sliding into small spaces while a thick quartz bucket nail delivers at peak performance.
Ronin "Kabutowari" Dab Rig
A cleansing UFO perc takes this 9.5 inch tall dab rig to the top shelf. Ronin's powerhouse collections are each named after the weapons of warriors to emphasize the strength and precision in every design.
This piece includes a standard dome and nail that you may want to swap out for a banger nail.
POUNDS "Battleship" Dab Rig
Extra-thick 5mm borosilicate and a two-prong dewar's joint makes this one of our most durable dab rigs. It stands 12.5 inches tall as our most towering top-seller. The dual function water pipe is fitted with two swirling turbine percs and one cleansing honeycomb perc in a legendary combination.
Dab Rig Upgrades, Sidekicks, and Accessories:
A silicone storage jar, torch, carb cap, and dabber are the essentials every dabber eventually acquires.
A torch and dabber are the only tools you'll need to use your new dab rig right away.
Silicone Storage Jars
Silicone is an excellent material for sticky concentrates, because even the hardest to handle material slides right off the smooth non-porous material. Silicone is also dishwasher safe and can stand the torch-hot tempertatures concentrates require.
Nucleus Silicone Storage Jar and stackable Silicone Blocks are DopeBoo's bestsellers.
Torch or E-Nail
You'll definitely need a way to heat your dab rig's nail. E-nails are a great option for intermediate and expert enthusiasts, but we recommend getting started with a classic butane torch.
A regular lighter just won't get the intensely hot heat that herbal concentrates need to activate all the right ingredients.
This is the little tool you'll use to scoop concentrates onto a heated nail. This where people like to spark in some personality the most -- dabbers come in all kinds of inspired designs from Pokemon to Medieval themes.
A great option is the two-in-one carb cap and dabber that fits two useful tools into one effective device.
Just like nails, dabbers are popularly made with titanium, quartz, ceramic, and glass. Titanium tends to be the most durable while quartz preserves the pure flavor best.
A carb cap works like the side-carb on a dry herb pipe: it's for airflow control. With a carb cap, you keep concentrate vapor from wisping away into the air and let in cool, outside air.
These are often combined with dabbers in a two-in-one style. They also come in eye-catching themes from genie lamps to teapots.
Any dabber’s heart beats when they see a little disc of wax: it’s a beautiful sight (if you’re not quite sure on how wax works, check out our wax and concentrates guide). And they know it will get you higher than you can imagine, with just a little piece of wax placed on a hot nail--the exact opposite of packing a deep bowl for a water pipe. Because you need such little dab to get the desired effect, a little goes a long way: the flavor from a tiny amount of wax is intense, and you can really enjoy the flower’s effect. You are going to taste the flavor at least three times more when dabbing with a concentrate instead of smoking the dry herb. We recommend dabbing for all of our delicate flavor connoisseurs out there.