Essential tools for dabbing

Essential tools for dabbing

Dabbing marijuana has become a popular way of consumption the last few years. For a good experience of dabbing you will need some special items. Here's what you need and how each piece works:


An oil or dab rig

Pick this out first and the rest will fall into place. Even if you're going to order online, visit your local smoke shop to get a close up look at things and ask some questions. Pick up the rigs, feel the weight of each one and see how all the parts fit together. If you ask nicely, they may even add water to a few so you can see how they draw.

A dab rig looks very similar to a glass bong, but it has a glass joint that holds the nail instead of a bowl. We'll talk about nails later. The joint can be male or female, and it'll usually be either 14mm or 18mm.

When choosing your rig, ask about function, durability and how much water it can hold. Think about whether you'll be dabbing in one place or if you'll be traveling with it. Size matters, too.

These pieces vary from palm-sized to gigantic pipes. It's all a matter of preference because even a tiny oil rig can pack a punch and deliver a whole lot of flavor. Bigger rigs, on the other hand, produce smoother hits with a milder taste.

If you want your investment to last, pay attention to the quality of the glass and the design. Good, sturdy rigs are made of thick borosilicate glass. Look for a low-profile base that won't tip over and fall the first time someone gets a little careless. There's no doubt it'll get dropped at some point. If you're really worried about breakage, cheap silicone oil rigs are available too.

Prices range from well under $50 for small, cheaply-made rigs to thousands of dollars for art pieces made by famous glassblowers. Mid-range dab rigs running between $100 and $250 perform nicely.

A regular water pipe can also be converted into an oil or dab rig. All you need to do is replace the glass bowl with dabbing attachments that can be purchased online or at most head shops.


A nail for dabbing

You'll need a nail to fit the joint in your dab rig, usually 14 mm or 18 mm as mentioned before. This is what you heat up to vaporize the concentrate. It's also the piece of gear that breaks most often, so you'll probably want at least one spare.

Nails come in domed and domeless models. Domed nails are the old-fashioned kind. Once you apply a dab to the nail, you cover it with a glass dome to capture the vapor. Domeless models are more modern and have a hole built in so that the vapor is sucked down into the rig.

Materials are a big consideration when shopping for nails. Borosilicate glass is great for the rig, but not so great for the nails. It doesn't retain heat well, it's easy to break, and it shatters at high temperatures. Take our advice and don't buy one.

Titanium and quartz are both good. Titanium nails are very durable and create a nice vapor, but dabbers who prefer quartz swear by them because of the better flavor. And some people think titanium can oxidize and degrade when exposed to high temperatures or improper use.

You could always go with a composite nail that combines quartz and titanium for the best of both worlds. Titanium nails are a bit cheaper at $50 to $250 each, while quartz nails will set you back about $75 to $200 per piece.


Dome for dabbing

This is a simple glass hood that goes around the nail after it's been "dabbed." Get one if you go with a standard nail. Remove it from your shopping list if you choose a domeless nail.


Torch for dabbing

You'll need a torch to heat the nail until it's hot enough to fully vaporize the concentrate. Mini-torches sold in kitchen shops will do, but it might take a minute. Some people upgrade to larger, propane-fueled torches like plumbers use. Don't forget to keep some extra butane or propane on hand.

If the idea of using real flames is too much for you, e-nails are available for about $250. Current models must be plugged into an outlet, but they have a lot of advantages over an actual torch - like adjustable temperatures, consistent heat, and safety.


A tool for dabbing

A dab tool is a glass, metal or ceramic rod that transfers your dab material to the heated nail. If you like an oily concentrate, pick a dab tool that's got a narrow, pointier tip. Drier extracts work better if you scoop it out with a spoon-shaped implement.

You can also use a carb cap dabber that has a dab tool on one end and a carb cap on the other. It's kind of like the dome you no longer need but different. Use it to cover the surface of a heated nail to create a tiny, little oven. That way, you can dab at lower temperatures and conserve the terpenes that burn off at 700+ degrees. Terpenes give extracts their flavor.


Marijuana concentrate

Finally, let's talk about concentrates. Choose whatever you like as long as it wasn't made with an alcohol-based solvent. That means QWISO and RSO are out and BHO and solventless extracts are in. Other than that, you can dab with shatter, wax, budder, rosin or whatever you prefer.


If you buy a bunch of expensive gear and can't figure out how to use it right away (no matter how many YouTube videos you watched), you won't be the first person or the last to get discouraged. Trust us - with practice, you'll be dabbing like a pro soon enough.

In the meantime, you can always buy an inexpensive vape pen that's designed to be used with extracts to enjoy the high-quality concentrates you now have at your disposal. The pen won't give you exactly the same experience as your shiny, new oil rig, but they're practically foolproof.