What are Dab Rigs? Differences & Similarities

What is a Dab Rig

Dab rigs are the main tool used for taking dabs with wax or concentrate. Rigs can come in the form of either a small pipe, a water pipe, and even a large bong. The main components of the body of a dab rig include the stem, chamber, and percolator section that may or may not hold water. Dab rigs are very popular because dabs can provide much larger hits and also a higher THC content than traditional herb pieces, and they are also considered to be more pure and clean hits. Dabs also do not give off as harsh of an odor when smoked.

The entire dab rig consists of multiple pieces that can vary between user setups. These pieces include the nail, the rig, dab tool, wax, blowtorch, and potentially more. The nail is normally attached to the stem of the dab rig and is made of either glass, quartz, titanium, or ceramic. Whichever material you use depends solely on your preferences for taste, durability, appearance, and price. The nail is where the wax that is on the tip of the dabber tool is placed and the wax is burnt. Before you take the dab, you must heat the nail to a temperature well suited for the wax you are using, something you should look up or talk to your budtender about. There are many types of rigs ranging from silicone to titanium, and which you choose depends on your personal preferences.

Types of Dab Rigs

Glass Dab Rig

Glass Dab Rig with Quartz Nail and Dab Tool

Glass dab rigs may be the most popular option for those who dab, as glass provides many different benefits ranging from customization to durability. Glass can be shaped into many different shapes and sizes and provides a clean and tasty hit if maintained well. Glass rigs can be fragile, but the customization ability and look and feel of glass dab rigs is hard to beat and why they are among the most popular choices among dab enthusiasts.

Cheap Dab Rigs

Cheaper dab rig options are plenty able to provide very smooth and enjoyable dab experiences, but the drawbacks to these options includes a lack of customization and also less durability and ability to maintain them for long periods of time. The cheapest dab rig options include vape chamber pens, where the wax is placed in a dome chamber and burned by simply pressing down the button on the pen. These pens have short battery lives and are one of many cheap dab rig options, and can get the job done for a period of time. When it comes to dab rigs, you will most often get what you pay for.

Silicone Dab Rig

Silicone Dab Rigs for Dabbing Wax

Silicone dab rigs are also a very popular option for dabbing veterans, as they also come with a wealth of benefits that make any dabbing experience easy and enjoyable. Apart from unique appearances and more color and customization options, silicone pieces are much more durable than their glass and quartz counterparts. Their soft and padded design allows for less stress and chance of an accident occurring during your dab sessions.

Electric Dab Rig

Electric dab rigs, more commonly referred to as e-nails, are one of the easiest and most efficient ways to dab. These electronic varieties can come either in a full rig or simply as a nail, and provide consistently perfect temperature dabs. E rigs achieve this by keeping the nail heated at a constant temperature as long as it is turned on. Electric dab rigs remove the pain of requiring a torch to heat your nail to the right temperature, and it also removes the guesswork of getting it to the right temperature. E rigs are a favorite choice among dabbers everywhere due to the simplicity and efficiency these pieces can provide.

Preparing the Rig for Dabbing:

Since there are high temperatures involved with taking dabs, it is important to be prepared for the hits you will be taking. This includes making sure your nail fits correctly onto your rig and does not contain any air leaks, ensuring your blowtorch is loaded and ready, and that the wax is placed on the tip of your dabber. You can make sure your nail is clean every hit by heating it until it is red hot, and making sure you burn off any stains or debris before taking hits. Make sure the material of the area you are heating is able to handle the high temperatures, as some nails only can take high temperatures towards the end of the tool. 

Heating The Nail:

How you heat up your rig depends on whether or not you are using a regular nail or an e-nail. Regular nails require external heat to be applied in the shape of a blowtorch of some kind. As discussed, e nails can be manually set to your favorite dabbing temperature, ensuring that each hit is just right. If you have a new e-nail, simply set it to a good temperature, let it heat up, and dab whenever you please. In both cases, it is best to reach a temperature below red-hot that will not be too harsh on your throat. Thicker quartz nails hold heat much better than other materials, and if heated to the point of being red hot, they take about 30 seconds to return to a comfortable dabbing temperature. Thinner nails heat faster and cool quicker, and thicker quartz nails retain heat longer and can take a little longer to reach an ideal dabbing temperature.

Domeless nails are the most popular variety of nails used by dabbers. They provide an easier way to heat the nail and use a carb cap to get the most out of every hit. Other varieties of nails aren’t as simple to heat and hit as domeless nails, and are not as open to air flow as domeless nails. 

Applying The Wax:

Once the nail is heated to the temperature of your liking, stop applying and touch the wax on the end of the dabber onto the nail. If you want the heat to come down a bit, wait until the red color has dissipated. Once applied, the wax should turn to vapor immediately. While there are many tips and tricks you are bound to hear from fellow dabbers, the process itself is pretty straightforward. Your dabber will have some sort of end piece; a point, shovel, or end piece of some kind. This is where you want your concentrate to stick and where you will apply the wax to the nail. When handling shatter, it is important to be careful and precise as being forceful and pressing too hard can send your precious glass into pieces.

Once the wax is attached to the end of your tool, you should heat your nail (based on the material of your nail this time will vary). Once the nail reaches the desired temperature and while inhaling, apply the dabber tipped with wax to the inside of the nail in a circular motion and ensure all of the wax melts into the nail. You should see the wax completely melt into the nail from your dabber, and none of it should be. Once all of the wax is off of the dabber, remove the dabber and cover the nail with a carb cap if applicable and continue to hit until all of the smoke is cleared. Be careful to let the tip of the dabber and nail cool before touching them once you finish the dab.

Using a Carb Cap:

Carb caps are used to cover the dab you just took and ensure all of the wax is burned properly and makes it into the hit. Most car caps are made of silicone and are used to get all of the vapor created from a dab. When left to the open air for too long, the wax can become lost to the atmosphere and not make it down the stem into the main chamber. After all of the wax melts off of the end of the dabber, remove the dabber from the nail and seal the open end of the nail with your carb capper, This will ensure that your hits get all of the wax you had on the dabber.

How to Clean a Dab Rig

There are multiple steps involved in cleaning the rig as the nail and body require separate cleaning methods. In order to clean the nail, simply heat it with your torch until it is red hot. If done multiple times, your nail should begin to clear and the residue should burn off. The best way to clean the body of your rig is with typical bong cleaning solutions or using a salt and cleaning alcohol combination with water. Rinse out the body with warm water, fill it with salt and alcohol, and then shake it and rinse. Repeat this process as many times as it takes to reach your desired amount of clean.

Dab Containers and Dabbers


There are many types of dabbers that use either a ballpoint, shovel or pinpoint tip and come in materials such as quartz, glass, silicone, and more. Carb cap dabbers are a style of dabber can help to combine the two steps of carb capping and applying the dab with the dabber. Instead of reaching for and exchanging the dabber for a carb cap mid-hit, you can conveniently finish off your dabs like a pro with a carb cap and dabber hybrid. 

Dab Containers

Dab Containers with Dab Tool

The best type of dab containers are those that are simple to use and ensure your wax stays fresh the longest. The most popular types of wax storage containers come in silicone and are available in nearly any shape or size you could want.

Dabbing Tips

Dabbers can also act as a utility tool for cleaning, maintenance, and can double as a resourceful all-purpose smoking tool. You can turn your dabber into a super tool by using it to clean, clear, and optimize your smoking space. Dabbers can scrape and clear out dry herb vapes, bong bowls, and glass pipes if they have hard to reach areas for cleaning. Normally, they have fine or shovel-shaped tips ideal for clearing clogged bowls and canals. Also, breaking up herb and lining joints/blunts perfectly can be tedious and require an extremely steady hand to complete, something a fine-point tool could easily facilitate.

Also, having removal dabber tips and flower bowls are nice so as to not have to have multiple rigs to use. Using a detachable filter attachment can help to even separate your flower and wax hits separately so as to not affect the taste.

Always be careful around hot objects, use a carb cap for smooth vaping, don’t over apply and waste wax, and always use a dab container and dab tool for application and storage of wax. 

Vaping Wax vs Dabbing

Dab Rig vs Wax Vape Pens

While there is not much of a difference between vaping and dabbing wax, there is much more ability to control the factors associated with dabbing using a rig. Vaping wax can provide a very potent and clean smoking experience, but there is no way to rival the size and customization ability of a home rig.

Where to buy a dab rig

Dab rigs, containers, dabbers, and all of the accessories you need to get started can now be found anywhere from smoke shops to head shops and even gas stations. Fortunately, you can now just order all of your favorite tools and accessories online, and you can get all of the items mentioned in this article and more with FREE shipping from Vape Vet Store.

Related Blog Posts

How to Dab Without a Rig

G Pen Connect is the Best Portable E-Nail Around


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