What are Dab Rigs?

The dangers and risks of smoke inhalation are well documented. As a result of this, the last decade has produced various healthier alternatives to smoking. These allow the user to enjoy the social and medicinal benefits of certain herbs, without the associated health risks from smoke. Vaping is something that’s snowballed in popularity in recent years, with dabbing following in its footsteps, not far behind. Dabbing, for those unaware, refers heating up herb concentrate, and inhaling the vapor.

If you’ve tried dabbing previously, or just like the sound of it and want to try it for yourself, then you should consider purchasing some dab rigs of your own. If you’ve done a brief search, you’ll probably find that there are an overwhelming amount of variations available. Like any product, there are low-quality rigs, all the way up to high-quality, which use the best possible materials and usually have additional features.

Dab Rigs explained

What may seem like an easy concept to grasp to those in the scene, the imagery of dab rigs can cause a high level of confusion to those who are unaware. Dab rigs are used in the same regard as to what a pipe or bong would be used for, except that nothing gets ignited. The same level of medication is achieved, but no smoke is involved whatsoever. The effectiveness and ease of using dab rigs are one of the main reasons why it’s shot up in popularity.

What is dabbing?

The term dabbing has come about because when using your rig, you literally dab your wax or oil concentrate onto it, to create the vapor. Oil concentrates are reasonably solid and shouldn’t run off your nail when dabbing.

The process of dabbing is fairly straightforward once you’ve done it a couple of times, although there are a few different methods of doing it depending on the type of rig you have. In simplified terms, it involves heating up a nail (which are made of many materials, including glass) and applying your wax or oil herb concentrate onto it. Electric nails do exist on expensive rigs, which will heat themselves up, but most will require you to heat up the nail using a torch. These torches usually don’t come with the rig itself, but sometimes you can find packages that include them.

To dab, you first must heat up your nail. After it is sufficiently heated, which varies on how powerful your torch is or what material your nail is, you then apply your herb concentrate. As you’re doing this, your mouth will be placed on the mouthpiece, and you should be inhaling, as the oil or wax will instantly vaporize.

Dab Rigs Components

Components of a dab rig

Dab rigs are primarily made up of two parts: the glass piece and the nail. You’ll also need a torch but they’re commonly bought separately. Although it isn’t required, most will use a dabber to apply their chosen concentrate onto the nail. A dabber is a small rod, which makes the dabbing process a lot easier and safer. Again, dabbers aren’t usually sold with rigs, but you can sometimes find complete sets with will include the rig, torch, and dabber.


Nails are available in several different materials, all with their pros and cons. This may seem like something that isn’t really worth looking into, but the nail is solely responsible for producing the vapor. It’s beneficial that the nail heats up fast, but it’s also important that it retains enough heat so that all of your herb concentrate is used up.

Here is a list of some of the most common options:

  • Glass – The same type of glass that is used for bongs and smoking pipes, is used for dab rig nails. Glass is popular due to its low cost but unfortunately it doesn’t hold in the heat as long as other options. This can be a problem with thicker concentrates, and you might find that you have to reheat your nail. Glass also breaks fairly easily from repeated use.
  • Ceramic – Although ceramic holds in the heat a little better than glass, it’s also just as fragile. It’s pretty much not worth the bother and if you’re looking for glass alternatives, there are much better options.
  • Quartz – These nails are massively more durable than its glass and ceramic counterparts, and they’re also tough to overheat. However, they don’t retain the heat very well, so you may find you don’t create as much vapor as you’d like.
  • Titanium – Those who are keen to invest properly into the hobby will usually opt for titanium nails. They’re the most durable and will retain heat better than anything else available. The downside is that it’s quite easy to overheat your nail, which will result in your concentrate being burnt, rather than vaporized. This is why titanium nails are usually bought by those with a little bit more experience in dabbing.


As you start to browse the dab rigs available, you’ll notice that some nails come with domes, and some don’t. Domed nails are a lot safer and will reduce the amount of vapor that escapes before inhalation, but a lot of people don’t like to use them as they feel they’re unnecessary.

Safety tips and risk

Dabbing is pretty safe, especially if you’re using an electronic rig. However, there is always an element of risk when fire and chemicals are concerned.

Here are just a few safety tips:

Use the smallest torch you can find to reduce the flame size and to not overheat your nail

Clean your rig. The accumulation of wax and oil and overheat and catch fire

Always use high-quality oils and wax to make sure you aren’t inhaling unknown substances

Purchase a nail that has a dome to reduce the chances of burning yourself.

Make the most of it

Hopefully you now fully understand the fundamentals of dab rigs and minor risks involved. If you’re a newbie looking to make your first purchase, consider looking for packages that have everything you need from the get-go.

Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy dabbing!

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