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The Smoke Cartel Guide to Dab Rigs
When it comes to oil, wax, shatter, or whatever kind of concentrate you have, picking the right size rig size can make a lot of difference. Most dab hands are flavor aficionados, so working with the right equipment ensures you maximum flavor profiles, effectiveness of your dab and overall experience.
Dab rigs are similar to bongs for dry herb in the sense that they use water to swirl and cool your hit. But concentrates differ from herb, though, in what that smoke is made of. With dry herb you're getting smoke and bi-products created from combustion, usually flame (although can laser bongs be far away?). With dabs, that smoke is really a vapor created from a residual heat from a heated nail.
When dabbing first broke into the mainstream, dabbers often put heating elements on their large water pipes and called it a day. But dab rigs have changed significantly over the past several years, and dabbers have traded in beaker bongs and straight tubes for dab rigs that are half the size or smaller. Of course, larger pieces always make for an impressive presence!
Take the classic faberge egg rig design, for example. Fab eggs aren’t small in stature, but they possess a tight water chamber to bounce water and concentrate vapor against the walls of the piece. The point of concentrates is for a drag-free smoke, and that requires condensed chambers to easily send the vapor directly to your lungs.
After the style and shape of the rig itself, buyers are typically most interested in the nail—the piece of the pipe that the concentrates are vaporized upon. Nails come in several styles and materials and may be purchased separately or sold with the rig. If buying a nail separately, always make sure the size and “gender” of the attachment fit your current rig or glass pipe. Some nails come with a universal or adjustable fit, while others are one-dimensional.
Vapor differs from smoke in many ways, right down to it’s finer consistency of smoke particles. So, just like raindrops form from condensed water vapor that comes together to form solids, so does vapor from oil. So, using the wrong temperature or the wrong size equipment to dab, means a loss in more ways than one.
Not to worry.
What’s the Difference Between a Bong and Rig?
Both bongs (for herb) and dab rigs (for oil) are technically water pipes in that they pull a hit through water for cooling and filtration. What makes a bong a bong and a rig a rig is the add on tool. When smoking dry, you use an herb slide (bowl). When smoking concentrates, you use a nail.
So, while you could use any water pipe as a bong or a rig, there are other things to consider if you want the best dab rig for your precious concentrate.
Bongs for dry herb use heat from a flame to combust the material and create smoke. It also converts any THC-A into THC, but that’s another discussion. Bongs are often large and have percs to condense and cool harsh smoke and filter out debris.
Dabbing uses residual heat and is therefore a vapor that can recondense after being pulled through water? That means to reduce that kind of waste, true dab aficionados use a water pipe with fewer percs and less interior space.
Micro rigs are becoming more common in dabbing crowds specifically to savor the flavor. Not only are these little rigs heavy hitters that deliver premium tastes, but they can be the most portable of pipes. As long as it can hold a nail, it’s a rig no matter how small it is.
Different Rig Sizes
Water pipes are usually measured by height, and the size of the joint. No, not that kind of a joint. A water pipe joint is where the bowl or nail slides into the downstem. Joints are either ground (sandblasted) or groundless (clear), and have male or female anatomy.
That’s right, your bong has sex. A male joint works with female gear, and female joints take male add ons. An add on is a removable tool like a bowl (herb slide), nail (domed or domeless) and much bigger oil buckets. There’s also other cool attachments like reclaimers and ash catchers that improve performance and reduce dirty water.
Now joints and their corresponding add on tools are measured in millimeters and come in three standard sizes, 10mm 14mm and 18mm. Don’t bust out a ruler, because those sizes aren’t exact and are rounded to nice even numbers.
Plus, there’s a trick you can use to measure; if a dime is larger than the joint, it’s 14mm. If a dime can just cover the joint, it’s 18mm.
Both joints and add ons are tapered to be male or female bits. These bits come together (pervert), creating a snug, airtight seal as one slides into the other (get your mind out of the gutter). Snug connections deliver optimal performance whether being used as a bong or rig.
So, size of the joint is a big consideration when buying the best rig. You can pull much more air more quickly through an 18mm joint than you can through a 14mm or 10mm one. But that also means you use your lung capacity much faster too. If the rig is large or has lots of percs, clearing the chamber in one breath is next to impossible.
Dabbing is Both Art and Science
Dabbing is still an evolving way to consume. Many advances in the science have come about because of growing interest and awareness. People used to think you had to heat a nail red hot, probably because most nails used to be some sort of metal. But today, people are aware that much lower temperatures are needed, especially with the growing popularity of quartz and glass tools nails which heat more quickly and last longer with lower temp dabs.
Low temp dabs has become because of flavor profiles. The scent that plants like cannabis produce come mainly from the extremely aromatic terpenes of the plant. Extractions have become more and more thorough as dabbing those extractions became more and more popular. This means than can even separate terpenes from other plant matter. So, concentrates can even have added terpenes for flavor.
But terpenes are temperamental and flavor can be fleeting. For this reason, those tiny rigs I mentioned called micros often use a 10mm joint and very little water through which to pull, are becoming more and more common.
But these small joints usually have far fewer add ons from which to choose than the standard 14 and 18mm size bongs and rigs. So, while there are fewer nails, fewer bowls and fewer attachments, the smaller, easier-to-cear water chamber means bigger terpene flavor and easy-to-ingest awesomeness.
So What Size Rig is Right for Me?
The short answer is, whichever you prefer. This article has given you some of the considerations that will help you make a personal choice. Technically, any water pipe that can hold a nail can be a rig. But, like Goldilocks, your choice can be juuuust right when you consider all the choices.
First, remember the nature of dabbing. It’s not smoke you’re inhaling like that you get from combusting dry herb. Concentrates vaporize from residual heat applied to a nail. The concentrated vapor is condenses, like a cloud being made up of condensed water particles. That cunning cloud of tasty terps and tantalizing cannabinoids is pulled through water, cooling it quickly, becoming solid again soon as it collects. Whether or not that vapor gets to your lungs depends on the right size for you (and your lungs).
A dab rig that’s too big has too much space, making clearing a chamber quickly nearly impossible, even for the thunder-lungs friend you have. Any vapor left in the chamber will eventually resolidify wherever it gathers and settles. That means most unsmoked vapor is usually left inside the rig (unless you are using a reclaimer) where it eventually condenses back to solid.
Final Thoughts About Dab Rigs
So, when talking dabs, the larger the rig usually means the larger the loss of unclaimed material as well as a loss of flavor. Residual vapor also stales quickly, making your next hit taste worse. And too much water washes traps those poor, innocent, delicious terpenes.
Another consideration on the perfect dab rig for you is complexity of the pipe. If that rig has multiple water chambers and/or percs, like most 18mm water pipes, that puts oil in an impossible place to reclaim or clean. There’s also loss in the water itself, especially if there’s more than one chamber. Oil that could have been inhaled or at least reclaimed is just being flushed away or lost the next time you clean if your dab rig has overly complex percs.
Super small dab rigs, while preserving flavor, have fewer add ons from which to choose. They are becoming more popular, though, with the realization that low temp dabs preserve flavors and deliver maximum performance. Micros also usually cheaper than your high performance herb bong with multiple percs. So, if you also smoke dry herb, the smaller water chamber doesn’t cool combusted smoke as well as a large bong.
Finally, 14mm mid-size rigs are the most popular for being juuuust right in most ways. There’s a wide range of styles and add on attachments. Plus, the size of the chamber on most 14mm rigs means not too much water to pull through, thus preserving flavor profiles. Mid-sized rigs usually have fewer percs and an easier-to-clear chamber.
Dabbing is a method of pressing a piece of legal essential oil, extract, or concentrate against a highly heated surface of an oil rig, and then inhaling the smoke. It's considered as one of the most growing and newest trends for smoking aficionados and can be used as an alternative for those individuals who want a more smooth smoking sesh. Dabbing is perfect for this due to no combustion occurring! When taking a dab, the dosages are more easily controlled than the typical flower and water pipe experience, allowing the user to customize their session. Dabbing also requires less product, so it's a more discrete form.
Dab rigs and how dabbing works
Taking one dab tends to be the latest and greatest means of consuming legal extracts or concentrates nowadays. Dabbing is also a term used to describe the process of taking a single dose hit of concentrates using water pipes and pipes.
The pieces are usually designed to have a nail or banger, usually made from titanium, quartz, or glass and are heated with handheld torch. The user will then dab a small extract to the hot nail triggering the concentrates to flash to a vapor that users inhale. Since dabbing is done at such a high temperature, the product does not combust, leading to a cleaner, more pure inhalation experience.
The need for quality dab rigs
At present, it cannot be denied that there is an increasing demand for dab rigs and other related smoking products such as vaporizers, recyclers, water pipes, and more. The rise in demand only signifies that increased numbers of individuals are now looking for a more intense and satisfying smoking pleasure. While looking for a dab rig, never settle for cheap and low quality glass. It is highly essential to invest in quality dab rigs that you will surely enjoy and can give you long years of smoking pleasure.
In order to meet your needs, you need to find the right perc for you, the best style and the most suitable dab rig overall (e.g big or small?). It would be best to end up with one that's perfect for dabbing concentrates anytime, anywhere. There's a wide variety of materials and styles of dab rigs to choose from, so be careful when it comes to product selection. This is to ensure that your needs and criteria are successfully met.
The quartz banger is convenient because it doesn’t require a dome and curves away from the rig for easier dabbing access. Since the nail is further from the rig itself, heat stress fractures to the body of the rig are less common.
Although quartz nails can still break if dropped, they are far more durable than glass when it comes to heat stress fractures. They take a bit longer to heat than glass and cool faster, but when heated correctly they produce extremely smooth dabs.
By far the most durable, titanium nails are also the most expensive. They have been known to scorch product if heated too long, but users won’t have to heat this nail for very long for it to reach optimal temperature. Some titanium nails will transfer a metallic taste to the vapor, but quality titanium should be fairly tasteless. Most universal and adjustable nails are titanium so you won’t have to worry about buying different sized nails for your various rigs. Some titanium nails are electronic and allow the user to preset the temperature for various concentrates, which is another helpful feature.
These nails may add flavor to your dab, which you may or may not enjoy. Ceramic can also crack under too much heat and is fragile like glass, so careful. This material does take longer to heat than glass, but it retains the heat longer, ensuring the full use and consumption of your concentrate before the nail has time to cool.
Dab Rig Styles
Direct Inject / Classic
This is the most simple design. The nail column supports a bowl around the top to load in the concentrates. The vapor travels from the base of the bowl to the top of the nail column and down into the base of the rig. Because of its structure, this design doesn’t require a dome.
Daisy or "Castle"
Here the design the nail forms into a bowl on top with slits along the rim that pull the vapor into the base of the rig. Because of the structure, these nails don’t work well with carb caps, but they also don’t require a dome.
These nails not only offer aesthetic appeal with a unique asymmetrical design, but also they may provide a larger surface area for concentrates to sit depending on what angle you are holding your rig. Domes are not necessary for this design either.
This design is usually the most affordable option, but it does require a dome to catch the vapors and redirect them down into the base of the rig. This nail has a cupped end where the concentrates are placed. After the user heats the nail and places the concentrates, the melted goodies will slide the dome over the top of the nail.
Get ready for the science.
Dabbing involves heating up a nail and dropping in a golden glob of goodness so it vaporizes. The cannabinoids, terpenes and other goodies are released starting at 315°F and keep coming until the heat reaches 440°, upon which you're in scorch territory.
But what's the right temperature for maximum enjoyment?
Most torch-wielders heat up their nail until it glows red, ensuring that it is actually hot enough, then letting it cool down. Impatient smokers don't wait long, while others take the time to let the nail mellow.
Pros & Cons
Higher temps provide more intensity and burn every last bit, but it can be harsh that coughing dance move is no joke) and it all vaporizers so quickly that you won't taste the delicious flavors.
Lower temps provide smoother hits are are ideal for experiencing the complex terpene profiles of particular cannabis strains, but they can leave valuable product behind and not push your consciousness into the stratosphere.
Personally, we're not in a hurry. We prefer lower temps for a most delicious sesh, and use Tip Tech Swabs to clean up our nails.
Low Temp Tips and Tricks
Heat up your nail as you normally would and wait about 30 seconds before hitting it. This means it should not be red hot on any part of the nail. If you can place your hand flat just above the nail and feel the heat without it being too hot for your hand, then it’s ready to hit. When getting the oils on the nail from the dabber, it’s important to let it just slide off the dabber so you can cap it quickly. The oil will look like it is starting to sizzle but no smoke will be coming from the nail. This is a perfect time to cap it, if all was done correctly. Once the cap is on you should see your smoke start to milk up in your piece.
Wait time will vary based off of nail material, thickness, and wear, so experiment. But listen, it's important to figure out a temp that works for you, so take time to figure this out. You can do it!
It is all about practice and researching what is perfect for you and your set up. Perfecting your low temperature dabbing and carb cap usage will give you the entire amazing flavor that your concentrates have to offer. You'll also save money by conserving your oils.