The Ultimate Guide for Dabbing Shatter or Wax

Shatter and Wax has had a huge impact on the vaporizer and dabbing communities.  Over the last five years, people have been using vape pens (aka dab pens) and Dab Rigs to consume shatter. Now there are so many different dab accessories, it gets super confusing how to use or even buy them.

To the uninformed onlooker, dabbing shatter is a blowtorch-wielding activity that looks similar to smoking a regular bong.  The difference is that you're heating this ceramic, glass, or titanium nail at a very high temperature (700F-900F) and then using a straightened glass or titanium tool (aka dabber or dab tool) to touch the wax to the nail (often called a domeless nail.) and breathe in a very tasty and pure hit.  You can use a ceramic or titanium carp cap for better airflow and minimize the loss of vapor.

As any experienced lover of dry herbs will tell you, dabbing is one of the most pure methods of consuming wax. Getting to know the tools necessary for a successful dab session -- as well as how to navigate the dabbing process -- will make for a more informative and authentic experience and may even make a fan out of reluctant observers.

Dabbing wax with a Mini Dab Rig

Difference between Dab Rigs and Bongs

Bongs and Dab Rigs

Like any method of smoking shatter or wax, there are certain dab tools that are required when undertaking a successful dabbing session.

The principal component of dabbing is the dab rig. This device is often compared to a bong, as it is an apparatus meant for concentrate consumption that is often constructed of glass or silicone and is filled to a certain amount with water. The attachments, such as domeless dab nails fit into dab rigs the same way a bong bowl piece would. So if you think about it, you can turn your bong into a dab rig by just changing from a bong bowl to a domeless nail.

It would be a mistake, however, to confuse a dab rig with a bong. For one thing, dab rigs are typically small: This is because -- as we will explore further in this article -- the vapor traveling through the rig is at its most potent when it travels short distances; the longer the vapor has to travel, the less powerful it becomes. That being said, if you want to waste half a gram of wax on a huge hit, you can take as big of a hit as a bong, but you might not get up for the next 12 hours, haha. Bongs, on the other hand, are often larger in size, as the dry herb smoke traveling through it does not lose its potency by traveling any length of distance.

The last difference to comment on is the substance used with a dab rig and bong.  You can not use dry herbs with dab rigs.  Nor can you use shatter or wax to smoke a bong. That's why both a bong and a dab rig need to be categorized as something else.

What are Domeless Nails?

Domeless nails are available in a number of sizes and iterations, depending on your dab rig’s kind of glass or silicone down stem (the hinge that connects your dab rig to your nail.) Some nails are required to fit around the glass joint; these are known as female nails. Nails that meant to fit inside of the glass joint are referred to as male nails.

The substance out of which the dab nail is made will often influence the taste of the vapor. Titanium is a popular option, though it may sometimes cause the vapor to have less of a pure taste since its heat retention is the highest. Ceramics and quartz are most popular among those who prize the flavor of the vapor over the convenience of the heat-conducting steel.

Combine the different gendered nails and the substance out of which they are made along with the difference in nail sizes, and you have a vast array of options from which to choose nails. Among the metallic pieces, there are the options of the male titanium nail or the female titanium dab nail. If you want a cool dab nail that can adapt to the dab rig stem or slide piece hole, you can check out the interchangeable titanium nail.

There are also a plethora of available quartz pieces that are all of different shapes or sizes. There is the 14mm male quartz banger nail, the 14mm male birdhouse quartz nail, and the 19mm female quartz nail, just to name a few.

The final essential tool used for dabbing is a blowtorch. This instrument -- which heats the domeless nail to a temperature that would be impossible for a lighter -- should be handled with extreme caution and should only be handled by an adult.

Quartz Banger Nail

So how do I dab?

With all of the components in place, you should be ready to start dabbing. This takes place in three discrete steps.

For the first step, you should use the blowtorch to heat up your dab dab nail. Fix the heat upon the nail until the nail is glowing orange from the heat, and then quickly remove it.

Next, use your dab tool to pick up your concentrate, whether it is wax or shatter. Most most concentrates are stored in silicone dab containers, glass dab jars, or folded wax paper tucked in an envelope.  The amount of shatter or wax that you choose to pick up with your dab tool will determine the amount of vapor you will produce -- and ultimately the intensity of your dab.

The final step is to drop your concentrate onto the already-heated dab nail. This will produce vapor that you quickly inhale through the dab rig. (Don’t forget: There should be a small amount of water already placed in the dab rig before you begin the process.)

For those who wish to take multiple hits -- or would like to share with someone else -- from a dab rig that’s just been hit, another essential tool is called a carb cap. This piece is used to cover the nail so that no more vapor escapes than is necessary, allowing the consumer to take a small break before resuming their dabbing.

Carb caps are currently available from Vape Vet Store as either a titanium carb cap or a ceramic carb cap, so that the make of the carb cap may sync up with your dab nail.

Domeless Nails for Sale

Why is dabbing so popular?

It has only been in the past several years -- as cannabis usage has entered the mainstream -- that dabbing has garnered a massive following. There are several reasons behind its skyrocketing popularity.

For starters, dabbing cuts out the need for lighters or matches, which oftentimes affect the taste of the smoke: Joints or blunts may often taste like lighter fluid because of the heating element that is used. Dabbing, therefore, produces a more pure flavor of vapor.

Related to the purity of the vapor is the health factor. Those who inhale smoke -- whether it is derived from cannabis or some other substance -- may be taking in harmful carcinogens that are rough on the user’s lungs. Dabbing instead results in the user imbibing vapor, which is both smoother and healthier than traditional smoking.

Finally, there is the actual high that the user receives. Because the vapor is produced from extracts -- which are already far more potent than regular dry herbs -- the potency combined with the purity makes for a high that is more intense and longer-lasting than almost any that is provided by dry herbs or other methods of cannabis imbibing.

To Sum Up: Dabbing is an innovative new method of consuming shatter or wax and it delivers a flavorful and healthy vapor to the consumer. If you want to check out our dabbing products, visit our online head shop or continue reading articles in our Vaporizer Learning Center.

Products Related to Blog

Silicone Dab Rigs

14mm Male Birdhouse Quartz Nail

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2 Responses

Morgan Plathe
Morgan Plathe

February 01, 2021

You may have to switch from dry herbs to dabs, if you have not already.


August 23, 2018

Had just about every kind of vaporizer from a Volcano to a Kandy Pen to a quartz banger to the traditional nail and cap with torch. Still trying to find an alternative to the nail/water pipe rig for heavy dose hits. Have serious pain issues that are only aided with a nice, healthy session. I’ve found no pen or “electric” vaporizers that will hit nearly as well as the wax rig for any consistent period of time. Anyone have any suggestions? Plus, quartz banger got burned out and the titanium nails only hold heat for a certain period before they get fatigued. What say you??

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