How to Select the Right Dab Rig

What to Buy for a Beginner Rig

  1. Start with a small beaker bong: The smaller rigs preserve more flavor and produce a better terpene taste.
  2. Check that the rig has a built-in reservoir or reclaim catch. If not, can a ‘drop down’ attachment be added. These options collect the not vaporized oil which can affect taste and leave rig looking dirty.
  3. Try a titanium nail: Durable, long-lasting and easy to use. Downside can be a metallic taste.
  4. Combat metallic taste with a carb cap: This nail or banger accessory covers the unit allowing heat to be redirected to the oil. Essential for low-temp dab.
  5. Sample a quartz banger: This bucket is heated with a torch prior to dropping in dab of concentrate. Pair it with carb cap for better vaporization. Ideal paired varieties include: standard buckets, troughs, quartz castles, thermal buckets, bubble caps and directional hover caps.

So you Think you can Dab…

With dabbing continuing to increase in popularity among the cannabis community, it is important to know some tips and tricks for getting the most from your dabbing experience. Knowing what type of dab rig and accessories are best suited for your dab style can significantly improve your dabbing experience. In this article, I am going to cover some of the basics in dab rigs and accessories. Knowing what consistency of concentrates you typically smoke is one important factor on selecting the right attachments. With a multitude of options, selecting the right one for your dab style can be daunting. However, with a little guidance, we will have you dabbing like a pro in no time!


The Right Rig

Choosing a dab rig is always the first step. Finding that balance between form and function, and what best fits your dab style can be tricky. For beginners, the simpler the better. These days, the styles of dab rigs are endless. Ranging from around $20 for a basic Chinese glass rig to upwards of $100k for some incredible functional art. For a beginner, I strongly suggest going on the inexpensive side for that first dab rig. Get comfortable with the process before going out and getting a more expensive heady piece. Something like a small beaker bong is a great introductory rig. It is also important to remember that with dabs, smaller rigs are going to preserve more flavor and allow you to taste the terpenes better. So, keep this in mind before you reach for that two-foot bong.

Dab rigs come in all varieties of shapes, sizes, and colors

One of the first things I look for when selecting a dab rig, is where my reclaim is going to go, and how easy it will be to clean. Reclaim is the not vaporized oil that is left behind after you take your dab. Over time, it accumulates in your dab rig causing a buildup that will affect the flavor of your dabs and leaves your rig looking dirty. Pieces that are designed specifically for dabbing often have a built-in reservoir to catch your reclaim. Rigs without a reclaim catch may benefit from adding what’s called a “drop down”. A drop down is an attachment, typically made of glass, that fits between the rig and the banger or nail. It offers a place for your reclaim to drip down into and makes collecting it much easier. I use mine to make edibles. But that’s for another article.


No Shame in a Starter Setup

My first actual (non-homemade) dab rig had a quartz nail with a dome setup. In hindsight, that’s probably one of the most difficult setups to use. Especially when your level of comfort with a torch and working around thousand-degree equipment isn’t as high as with an experienced dabber. It entails heating up a nail-shaped piece of quartz that is sitting inside of the down stem of the rig. After heating the quartz, you place a glass dome around the nail to contain potential splatter that can occur when dabbing concentrates with heavier residuals, or dabbing reclaim. Then you have to lower your dab into the small opening of the dome and get it onto the “head” of the heated nail to vaporize. It is a test of coordination, and as expected, can increase in difficulty the more “elevated” you become.

For a beginner, I suggest something requiring a little less articulation. When you’re just getting accustomed to using a butane torch, the less steps you have to take to be ready to dab, the better. In my opinion, the nail or banger is the most important decision you’ll make about your dab rig.

Nailed it

A rack of bangers and bowl pieces

Titanium nails seem to be the standard for beginner dabbers. I know it was for me. The benefit to titanium is its durability and longevity. I still have my first titanium nail, and it’s still in pretty good shape. (Granted I haven’t used it for a couple of years.) You do tend to sacrifice flavor when dabbing on titanium. The terpenes can be masked by that hot metallic taste, and typically, those who are using titanium nails are dabbing at higher temperatures (800°- 1000° Fahrenheit) unless you’re equipped with a carb cap. A carb cap is an accessory for a banger or nail that covers the unit, allowing the heat to be redirected back to the oil, allowing for those thick clouds without cooking the oil onto the nail. Carb caps are essential for taking a low-temp dab.

I prefer using what is known as a “banger”. Typically made of quartz, a banger is essentially a bucket that you heat with a torch, and then drop your dab of concentrate into when the desired temperature is reached. Quartz, when used for low temp dabs (400°- 600° Fahrenheit) does a great job at delivering a flavorful dab. This requires some sort of a carb cap to get that convection heat going inside the banger to better vaporize your dab.

There’s a wide variety of banger and carb cap combinations; from standard buckets, to troughs, quartz castles, to thermal buckets,  bubble caps to directional hover caps.


Try Some Variety!

It really becomes a matter of trial and error to find what is going to fit your style the best. But it’s a lot of fun trying all these different combinations on your path to dabbing elitism. Be sure to ask one of our educators if you’d like more information on this, or any cannabis topics!

Written by: James Phillips, ASM/Educator at South Renton