7 essential tools for dabbing cannabis
Dabbing is a great way to enjoy cannabis wax, shatter, or budder, but it's not as straightforward as regular smoking or vaping. While the process is relatively simple, you'll need some essential tools to get things going. We'll tell you about each of them in detail so you can enjoy your dabs to the fullest.
There are few ways of getting high that are more fun (and efficient) than taking dabs. Every part of the process feels like a science experiment, mainly because there are some cool-looking tools involved. Thankfully, there aren’t too many, and they aren’t too complicated to understand, either. To make sure you don’t get tripped up, we’ll walk you through each tool you’ll need to start dabbing to your heart's content.
7 ESSENTIAL DABBING TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES
In total, there are seven essential tools and accessories you’ll need to take dabs. Some are more important than others, but we think anyone taking dabs regularly should ensure they have all seven.
1. DAB RIG
Of course, you won’t be able to do any sort of dabbing without a dab rig. That, essentially, is a small bong that’s specifically designed for inhaling wax/shatter/budder. There’s far less water at the base, and the internal workings are slightly different, but it’s the same sort of mechanism.
Despite their similarities, however, you shouldn’t use a bong as a dab rig, nor should you use a dab rig to smoke bud. Beside the differing mechanisms, concentrates and flower offer distinct flavours that are less pleasant when mixed together.
Price-wise, dab rigs don’t break the bank much more than the average bong. There are also cheap silicone options available, but we wouldn’t personally recommend them for first-timers. You could find some decent-quality glass for around €60, or even less if you know where to look, but the higher-quality options will run you €100–150+.
If you get the right one, however, it could last you years, so it’s worth the initial investment. If you can’t afford that, cheaper glass rigs can last almost as long when properly cared for.
2. QUARTZ NAIL / BANGER
Every bit as necessary as the rig itself, you’ll need to have a nail (also known as a banger) to heat up and drop your dabs in. With an open top to allow you to insert what you’re dabbing, it has the same general mechanism as a traditional bowl. The opening that leads to the air path, however, is on the side—or protruding up from the middle—rather than on the bottom.
The other key difference between a bowl and a nail/banger lies in how heat is applied to the flower/concentrate placed inside. With a bong, you apply a flame directly to the flower in the bowl, not the bowl itself.
With a dab rig, however, you’ll apply a torch flame to the bottom of the nail, waiting for the bowl to get red-hot (then cool slightly) before dropping the dab in.
You have some options when it comes to materials, as we’ll discuss below, but we personally recommend a main nail made of quartz. It allows for the most flavourful dabs, you can heat it up quickly, and it’s very affordable! You won’t pay more than €15–20 for a decent quartz nail.
BACKUP — UNIVERSAL TITANIUM NAIL
Just because we prefer quartz, however, doesn’t mean other materials don’t have their benefits. Titanium nails, for instance, are definitely more durable than their quartz and ceramic peers, and they heat up quicker than those materials as well.
In turn, many titanium nails are also designed to be universal, meaning they can be adjusted to fit into almost any standard dab rig. It’s not a given, though, so make sure to check the details of your rig before buying a nail.
Their main drawback, really, is the fact that titanium nails don’t offer as much flavour as quartz or ceramic bangers. Ceramic nails are second place in that regard, and quartz is first. Titanium is around the same price as quartz in the store, so it’ll ultimately come down to your personal preference.
ALTERNATIVE — E-NAIL
If you really want to get fancy, an e-nail may be what you seek. These nails are designed to work not with a torch, but instead with a heating rod (which must sometimes be purchased separately). They’re almost all made of titanium as well, so they’re designed for people who prioritise convenience. They’re also great for people who don’t want to deal with butane and torches.
Naturally, this convenience comes at a price. The e-nails themselves can go for around €30, but the heating wand may cost you around €100. Since you’d be saving on butane, though, this could end up saving you money in the long-run.
Now, unless you’re using an e-nail, a blowtorch is another essential tool. This is because we need to be able to get the nail super hot to effectively vaporize the dab.
You don’t need to go too crazy here; a hand-held torch you can buy at a smoke shop will do just fine. Sure, you could use a camping-grade blowtorch if you wanted, but that would be heavy, dangerous, and downright inconvenient.
Most torches fall within the €20–30 price range, but options south of €20 aren’t unheard of either. You’ll also have to consider, however, that butane is sold separately, specifically for around €3–5 per can, depending on the quality. As far as torch fuelling goes, average-quality butane will work perfectly well.
4. DAB TOOL / DABBER
Once you’ve got all that sorted, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll measure out your dabs and place them in the nail. Those tasks, as it turns out, are accomplished with the help of the dab tool, also known as a dabber.
A dab tool is about as straightforward as a tool can get: Essentially, it’s a stainless steel stick with a small, flat head. You use the head to trim off your dab from the rest of your concentrate, then dip it into the heated-up nail in turn.
This direct contact with heat makes the material choice essential. No matter how nice some may look, a plastic dab tool would be a health hazard, and a wooden dab tool would inevitably lead to a fire. Steel, however, can resist heat, cool down quickly, and be cleaned off easily.
These are about as cheap as they come, and you shouldn’t have to pay more than €5–10.
5. CARB CAP
Now, whether or not you have a carb cap won’t make or break your dab session. However, since they help you get the most out of each dab, they improve the experience to the point where they’re basically essential.
In short, a carb cap is a glass, metal, ceramic, or quartz cover designed to be placed over a dab nail opening. This design is intended to lock the vapor into the rig system, allowing you to inhale it all, instead of letting some go into the air.
By making sure you can inhale your whole dab, carb caps reduce the amount you need to get sufficiently high. They also help you keep your dab nail clean! Since your dabs will more completely evaporate, there will be less residue left behind.
Considering the amount of hits and cleaning time they save you, carb caps are a steal at €10–20.
6. RECLAIM CATCHER
If you thought a carb cap would save your oil, you’ll be in awe of what a reclaim catcher can do.
So, when you dab, you may notice small globs of oil getting caught in the rig, seeming so close, yet so far. There are ways to clean it out of the rig, but those methods leave the oil unusable.
What if you could catch it all before it hits the rig, though? That’s exactly what reclaim catchers are designed to do, placed strategically so they can hold all the residual oil in one place. Then, you can easily scoop it out and reuse it from there. It won’t be as nice as what you were originally dabbing, but it’s oil that you would’ve otherwise abandoned.
You should be able to find a decent reclaim collector for under €30.
7. GLASS STORAGE CONTAINER
Lastly, you’ll need to think about where you’re storing your dabs. Plastic containers may work for a few days, but your wax, shatter, etc. won’t last long in those circumstances. There are silicone containers, too, which are more flexible and durable, but face the same freshness problem as plastic containers. There’s also the potential issue of terpenes from the dabs degrading the silicone itself.
The best options, by far, are airtight and made of glass. Unlike plastic or silicone, glass won’t pass on any contaminates to your dabs, ensuring they’ll last as long as you need them. All you have to account for is making sure the container isn’t in a warm and/or sunlit place. You can even keep your dabs in the fridge, but cooling them down makes them harder to manage. We also suggest looking for a small container, as it will ensure less air comes into contact with your concentrates.
Glass containers can be picked up for just a few euros, and will last a long time.
IT’S TIME TO ASSEMBLE YOUR DAB KIT
Dabbing may look like a chemistry experiment, but it’s certainly not rocket science. With these seven essential tools, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an experienced dabber, ready to pass on your wisdom to others! Not only that; the combined cost of these materials is sufficiently lower than the price tag on most high-quality vaporizers, so you can spend more on the dabs themselves!