420 Culture

What Accessories Do I Need to Smoke Dabs?

July 7, 2022

Cannabis concentrates offer the purest, most flavorful consumption methods currently available. Many consumers, though, may feel confused or overwhelmed by the hardware or intense heat necessary to enjoy them. Or some may be dizzy at the flurry of new language involved. Fear not, below is a comprehensive guide to the devices, parts, and accessories used to smoke dabs.

The rise in popularity of concentrates has been driven in part by refined processing methods that can result in terpene-rich live resins and solventless rosin. These oil-based concentrates are commonly referred to as “dabs,” and “dabbing” is the process of vaporizing them in a pipe called a “dab rig.”

A dab rig functions similarly to a bong or water pipe. They are composed of a few modular pieces, some of which are essential to any rig, and others that are not necessary but may improve the vaping experience. Below is a review of dabbing accessories from the necessary, to the neat, to the gnarly.

Necessary Dabbing Accessories

All dab rigs have three fundamental pieces: the nail or banger where the concentrate is heated and vaporized, the chamber where the vapor passes through water before being inhaled, and the mouthpiece the vapor is inhaled from. Of course, dabbing also requires a lot of heat, usually from a gas torch. Lastly, no consumer should try dabbing without a dab tool.

Nail or Banger

a clear glass banger attached to a dab rig is heated up by blue fire from a torch

Nails and bangers serve the same function in that they hold the cannabis concentrate and serve as part of the heating chamber. 

A nail is called such because it looks like a little platform similar to the head of a nail, and they are typically made of titanium. The alternative to the nail is a banger, which is more like a little bucket that concentrate is dropped into. Bangers are usually made of quartz stone or ceramic.

Chamber

a colorful dab rig with a blue water chamber and pink mouthpiece

The chamber may take varied forms on different dab rigs, but it always serves the same function: to hold water and cool the vapor before it is inhaled. Dabs are typically vaporized at temperatures between 350℉ – 550℉, so the vapor itself is pretty hot. Pulling that vapor through water cools it significantly, making it gentler on consumers’ throat and lungs.

The chamber typically also serves as the base or main body of the machine.

Mouthpiece

close up image of a colorful dab rig with a pink tie dyed mouthpiece

Not much needs to be said about the mouthpiece, which, like the chamber, functions similar to a bong. Pressing your lips to the piece creates the seal that allows you to draw the vapor from the nail or banger, through the chamber of water, and into your lungs. Since dab rigs can be composed of interchangeable pieces, you can find mouthpieces in almost any color or shape you want!

Torch

As dabs are typically heated between 350℉ – 550℉ or more, this is usually accomplished with a propane or butane torch. The nail or banger is blasted with direct flame for about 30 seconds, then allowed to cool for 30 seconds to a minute. Of course, these are broad estimates that will fluctuate between materials (i.e. quartz, titanium, or ceramic), but most consumers quickly develop a sense for how long to heat and cool their rig for their preferred amount of vapor.

Dab Tool

a person uses a titanium dab tool to scoop yellow-orange concentrate from the container

A dab tool, sometimes called a dab wand, is a small pick with a shaped head effective for handling sticky cannabis concentrates. They are usually made of metal and look similar to dental tools. Most have a flat head used for scooping and separating hash oils, but others have pointed heads for breaking harder concentrates such as shatter. Regardless of what kind of dab tools you choose, you will definitely want something to help handle sticky or soupy concentrates.

Neat Dabbing Accessories

E-nail and E-rig

High Five Duo e-rig with blue lights and a carb cap

If you want to package everything above and ship it to the 21st century, you might appreciate the e-rig, an electronically heated dab rig. These machines offer the ability to consume concentrates without the fire risk or dependence on propane canisters.

E-rigs are powered by rechargeable lithium batteries, and some can even be used while plugged into the wall. Most e-rigs can be programmed to specific temperatures and come equipped with timers indicating when the machine is heated up, and when the vapor is ready to consume. Many of them also turn themselves off to reduce power consumption and overheating. There is really no downside to an e-rig, especially for new consumers.

E-Nails are a similar accessory, but require a traditional dab rig for use. Instead of using a torch to heat up your nail or banger, you can use an e-nail instead. 

Carb Cap

If you prefer to cook your concentrate over an open flame, then you’re probably also in the market for a carb cap. “Carb” is short for “carburetor,” like the device under the hood of a car — both devices regulate airflow. Functionally, a carb cap is simply a lid for the nail or banger. This prevents the release of heat, raising the temperature in the banger more quickly, and sustaining that temperature longer.

This is particularly critical for consumers who want to take lower temperature dabs. Temperatures over 750℉ begin to damage or destroy cannabinoids and terpenes, ultimately sacrificing potency and flavor for thicker clouds of vapor. Lower temperature dabs, between 300℉ – 400℉, offer a more complete terpene profile for better flavor and more well-rounded effects, but keeping a nail or banger at that temperature can be difficult. The carb cap works by trapping and sustaining heat at lower temperatures, making low-temp dabs easier to achieve.

Gnarly Dabbing Accessories

Nectar Collector

a dab straw, with a metal side for dabbing and a glass side with stripes and the mouthpiece

A nectar collector, or simply a dab straw, is a portable dab rig that functions more like a straw, and less like a bong. Similar to traditional dab rigs, dab straws consist of a nail to conduct heat, a water reservoir to cool the vapor, and a mouthpiece to draw from. Traditional dab rigs are stationary or tabletop devices which concentrates are added into, but a dab straw is a handheld device with a hollow tip, usually made of titanium or ceramic. When this tip is heated with a torch then pressed against a dab of concentrate, the concentrate vaporizes and the vapor is inhaled through the tip, through the water, and through the mouthpiece.

Nectar collectors are great for consumers who prefer the flavour and potency of dabs, but would rather not mess with the sticky and soupy concentrates. Most concentrates are sold in food-safe glass or ceramic dishes that nectar collectors reach safely and easily into, making dabbing a mess-free process.

Dab Pen

silver dab pen, next to a container of wax and a titanium dab tool
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A dab pen, or wax pen, is a portable device for consuming dabs. While dab pens may look or sound similar to the more common cartridge pens, they have a few distinct differences and should not be confused or used interchangeably. 

Common vape pens are essentially just batteries, which cartridges are then attached to before being later disposed of. Conversely, dab pens contain a conduction oven, usually ceramic, that concentrate is added directly into before each use (and should probably be cleaned after each use as well). Because of their beefier hardware, dab pens are usually bigger and chunkier than disposable vape pens, but should still fit in most pockets.

The benefit of these dab pens is the option to enjoy pure, potent, flavorful concentrates without relying on disposable cartridges.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Equipment is Needed to Smoke Dabs?

To effectively smoke dabs you will need a dab rig consisting of a mouthpiece, a nail or banger, and a water chamber to cool the vapor. The nail or banger should be heated with a torch, propane or butane, and you will want a dab tool to handle the concentrate.

What Device do I Need to Smoke Shatter?

Shatter should be consumed via a dab rig, or oil rig. These devices function similarly to bongs or water pipes, but instead of a bowl for dry herb, they are equipped with a nail or banger which is heated with a torch to vaporize oil-based concentrates.

What is a Dab Kit?

When you purchase a dab rig, it will likely come in a kit, boxed together with extra pieces, alternative accessories like a quartz or metal banger, or quality-of-life accessories like a dabbing tool for handling sticky concentrates. Some also offer a minimal storage container. These kits are great for novice dabbers or first-time purchasers because they equip the consumer with compatible accessories and necessary tools they may not have considered.