Dabbing weed right

So you’ve smoked weed for a good long while and want that ‘first got high’ feeling again, my friends, then we’re talking how to use a dab rig. Dabs, dab rigs, dabbers, dab nails, torch lighters; it seems a complicated process, dabbing. But 420 DC knows that if you concentrate anything, you’re talking increased… everything.

Concentrates may seem complex because dabbing has several elements to it. It’s a bit like mad science- firing up the torch lighter, carefully heating a ‘nail’ to optimum temperature, adding a ‘dab’ of wax with a ‘dabber,’ to vaporize and be pulled through water to cool and condense further for smoother dab hits. All that seems a lot to learn but becomes commonplace pretty quickly.

Dab nail, dabber & crumble - How to Use a Dab Rig - 420DC.com

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What are dabs

Condensing something to its base elements is a common culinary process. It’s how we get stocks and bullions for example. Tomato paste, frozen orange juice, powdered drink mixes are all examples of condensed concentrates. And condensing is done for a variety of reasons too including space, time, and most importantly, potency.

How are dabs made

It’s the same thing with weed, you extract the cannabinoids and other essential materials from the cannabis plant and a powerfully potent ‘oil’ is created. Depending on the process used to extract the oil, your dabs can take a consistency from brittle ‘shatter’ to gooey ‘wax,’ from creamy ‘budder’ to cookie-like ‘crumble,’ or from rock hard ‘diamonds’ to ‘pull and snap’ with the consistency of chilled taffy.

Dabs are powerfully potent and not for the newcomer. But if you are ready for liftoff, your rocket ship to orbit is a dab rig.

Concentrate flavors

One of the most important aspects of dabbing (and consequently dab rigs) is flavor. Dab fans are big into tastes and for good reason. With cannabis prohibition coming to an end, the technology behind everything in the industry has exploded from the product being dabbed to the tools used to dab ‘em. And that improved approach includes the science behind dab rigs; water pipes made for concentrates and are, arguably, the best way to breach the stratosphere.

Cannabis flavor is big business now. Full spectrums of biomaterials, including terpenes, can be extracted and then separated. Terpenes produce distinctive smells and flavors as well as greatly influence your high.

Terpenes live in trichomes, those gooey, aromatic crystals that coat cannabis colas like frosted Christmas ornaments. When dried and cured, terpenes condense. Then, when extracted, condensed terpenes are captured saving the scents like herbal, pine, pepper, citrus and fruity. Those aromatics translate to potency and flavor in dabs and can be easily ruined.

Dab rigs are designed to maximize everything about concentrates including potency and flavors.

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Dab rig sizes

To get the most out of concentrates, the true heroes in the industry are the purveyors of paraphernalia. Yes, creating concentrates is cool, but great glass makers give us new tools to enhance an age-old process of consuming concentrates. That’s where dab rigs come into play.

Although you can convert most glass bongs into dab rigs with the switch of a nail for the bowl. However, rigs are designed specifically for concentrates. How is that different from a bong? Well, when you torch bud it creates more pollutants than dabbing. So with a bong, dirty smoke is pulled through water to clean it as well as cool it. That’s why bongs are often big and have multiple percolators and chambers.

But with concentrates, the opposite space requirement is true. For best taste, flavor and impact most rigs are small. Why? Because dabbing isn’t combustion, it’s vaporization with far less to filter because nothing burns (burning wax means you’re doing it wrong). But we’ll get to temps in a minute.

How to Use a Dab Rig - 420DC.comDab rig parts

Dab rigs are designed to cool hot vapor just enough without filtering out the flavor because those terpenes are delicate and easily destroyed. That’s why most dab rigs are on the smaller side- to deliver best flavors and potency without wasting product. But, while smaller rigs are the norm, there is still some cool tech involved to deliver the perfect dab.

The best dab rigs allow for interchangeable parts. Many rigs come with a dab nail which is easily removed and replaced. This is a good thing because the nail of a dab rig is the part that’s heated to high temperatures and will eventually fail from the stress. So they need to be replaced on occasion. But, there are also a wide range of nails and accessories that rigs use.

What are dab nails?

Dab nails are made of different types of materials including titanium, glass, quartz and ceramic. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses like cost, durability, reactivity and so on. But that’s the stuff of a nail blog. So, a dab rig’s nail (banger, bucket, etc.) is heated to a proper temperature, then a ‘dab’ of oil (wax, shatter, etc.) is placed on the hot nail using a dab tool, and the resulting vapor is pulled through the water chamber and inhaled.

There are also other add-ons you can use on dab rigs like reclaimers and carb caps but they are beyond the focus of this Dab Rig 101 article. Suffice it to say swapping parts on a dab rig allows for customized experiences, and glass blowers keep improving dab rigs.

And then there’s heating dab nails to the proper temperature. The most common method to heat a nail is with a butane torch. But this can be very inaccurate requiring a lot of trial and error to find proper heat times. Since dabs are all about power and flavor, keeping those intact is the mission of the best dab rig and the proper temperature is a subjective thing.

How do you use a dab rig?

Using a dab rig comes down to personal preference but there are always the facts. Dabbing is affected by the style of the water pipe itself. The Faberge Egg design, for example, is slightly bigger than the average rig but the intricate weave of chamber space spreads surface tension over greater area, cooling hot vapor faster without filtering out flavor.

Other than thick borosilicate glass, other types of dab rigs you can get online or at smoke shops include silicone rigs, mini rigs, recycler rigs and handheld electric rigs. All essentially do the same thing; vaporize concentrates and filter them through water. So, which dab rig is right for you?

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