Dab rigs, AKA dab bongs or oil rigs, are water pipes designed to be used with concentrates instead of flower. They’re similar to a standard flower bong, though they tend to be much smaller and are usually more simple in design. Flower bongs tend to have tons of percolators and other filtration devices that dab rigs simply don’t need since there’s no combustion involved. But with so many different styles to choose from, how will you know which type of dab rig is best for you? Read on to get the full rundown on the different types of dab rigs, how they work, and what to look for when choosing one for yourself.
How does a dab rig work?
Dab rigs work just like regular water pipes you’d use for flower. However, they’re just a little different since they require different hardware to do their job. Instead of a bowl slide, a dab rig is outfitted with a quartz banger or other dab nail. To take a dab from a dab rig, the banger is heated up with a butane torch until it reaches a temperature high enough to vaporize a cannabis concentrate. Once it hits that temperature, a dab is dropped into the bucket using a dab tool, and then capped with a carb cap. Once the concentrate is capped, you can pull from the rig to inhale the yummy vapor from the rig.
Different types of dab rigs
There are so many different types of dab rigs out there, and each one comes with its own pros, cons and unique features. Choosing the right dab rig involves finding the one that you personally enjoy, so understanding these five distinct versions may help you come to the right decision based on your dabbing preferences.
Glass dab rigs are traditional and widely available both online and at your favorite headshop. They’re used pretty much universally since they’re sturdy, easy to clean, and can withstand temperatures very well. You can find them in all different shapes, colors, and sizes, and some of them may have a few added bells and whistles like percolators or other filtration devices. Like all rigs, they’re typically under 12” tall.
- versatile designs with lots of accessories and upgrades
- more durable than other materials
- withstands heat
- variety in color and design
- good value for what you pay
- clean flavors
- Can break if dropped from a height
- Requires frequent cleaning
Silicone dab rigs are by far the most affordable and the easiest dab rigs to take care of out of all the different styles. Silicone stands up to heat extremely well, and the material is flexible and virtually indestructible. Most of the time, they’re dishwasher safe, too. You can use them with glass and quartz accessories, but their soft design may be a little more difficult to find accessories that work with them comfortably.
- extremely durable, virtually indestructible
- pieces can separate, making them easier to use and clean
- dishwasher safe
- extremely inexpensive
- lots of colors, sizes and shapes to choose from
- Not easy to find compatible accessories
- May leach a plasticky flavor into your hits
Recyclers are usually made of glass and offer the smoothest possible hits out of a dab rig. They’re usually no bigger than 8” tall and feature a unique hourglass-shaped design that allows the smoke to recycle throughout the various percolators and tubes multiple times before reaching your lungs through the mouthpiece. Recyclers are considered the cream de la cream of dab rigs since they offer unmatched cooling and filtration without taking away the terpenes from your concentrates.
- Offer the smoothest hits through recycling and percolators
- Glass is made to be sturdy
- Typically on the small side, making them more portable than other rigs
- Easy to clean
- Aesthetically pleasing design
- Recyclers are the most expensive type of dab rig
- Their unique design makes them a little too top heavy for other accessories, like reclaimers.
- The recycling process may filter out more terpenes than standard glass rigs might, but they offer superior cooling and filtration.
Mini dab rigs are pretty much any type of dab rig standing under 7” in height. They’re usually made from silicone or heat-resistant borosillucate glass, and even with their small size, they pack a punch. In their small designs you can usually find a percolator or two, which makes for potent hits that have been cooled down for smoothness. Mini rigs also tend to be more intricate in terms of design, and often include extra curves for cooling and chambers for filtration.
- Convenient and discreet
- Smooth and filtered flavors like other rigs in a smaller package
- Extra percolation
- Less terpene dissipation for better flavors
- Great value for the price
- Intricate designs can be a bit tricky to clean
- Some cheaper models may not be made with quality glass and could mean hotter more unpleasant hits.
Erigs are electronic dab rigs that are by far the most user-friendly option out there. While they do tend to be on the more expensive side compared to other versions, they make up for it in their ease of use, portability, and precision temperature control. Some eRigs offer degree-by-degree temperature control while others offer preset temperature settings, both of which offer perfect dabs every time. The only major downside is that they’re battery powered, and the batteries need to be charged frequently.
- Fast heating
- Precise temperatures make for perfect dabs every time
- Durable and long lasting as long as you don’t hit them while they’re charging
- Easy to take apart and clean
- Rechargeable batteries that last up to 8 hours of use.
- Usually have LED lights and look pretty
- Not typically compatible with accessories other than the ones made by the manufacturer
- Charging the battery can be time consuming, especially since you can’t use the device while its on the charger
- Some parts on eRigs are very fragile and must be cleaned precisely and carefully
Dab Rig Components
Your dab rig is the entire combination of accessories and tools required to vaporize your concentrates. While the water pipe itself is a major component, it’s only one piece of your dab rig, which we’re breaking down below.
Your water pipe is the main piece of your dab rig setup. It’s a water pipe in one of the styles we mentioned above that contains a water chamber and a dab nail or a quartz banger
A banger is the piece you attach to your water pipe and is the primary surface you take your dabs from. They can be made from glass, quartz, titanium or ceramic — all of which are heated until concentrates can be vaporized within them.
Carb caps are made of ceramic, quartz, glass, or titanium. Each one features a small hole or other designs designed to allow airflow into the nail to lower the pressure and create an oven-like effect that improves the vaporization of your concentrates within the nail.
Your dab tool is a piece of metal that you can use to cut, scoop, scrape or drop concentrates of various consistencies into your banger. It’s designed to resist heat to protect your hands and apply the concentrate to the nail directly.
Your torch is like a big butane lighter that you can use to apply a concentrated beam of flame to your banger to get it ready for dabbing.
Other components that can be used with a dab rig
While the above components are absolutely necessary to take a dab from a dab rig, you can also use an eNail, which involves an electric coil that heats up your nail to a preset temperature. eNails make it possible to get more accurate temperatures on your nail and remove the need for a torch which involves a bit of guesswork for gauging the optimal temperature to hit your rig at.
If you want to forego an entire dab rig setup, you can opt for a simple torch and nectar collector setup, and dab your concentrates directly from their glass or silicone containers. Nectar collectors are like dab straws. To use them, you’ll heat the tip using a butane torch and apply it directly to the concentrate while inhaling to get a hit.
What to look for when choosing a dab rig
When it comes to choosing dab rigs, less is usually more. Since there’s no combustion involved, you don’t need a ton of fancy percolators or other bells and whistles to improve the quality of your vapor. More or less you just need a little diffusion and a water chamber and a small water pipe designed for flavor. Below are the most important things to look for when choosing a dab rig.
As we mentioned, less is more. The best dab rigs are usually under 10” tall. The smaller the rig, the better the flavor. You can go larger if you’re looking to support heavier accessories and still get good flavors, or you can go smaller if you want to take your rig on the go with you. Larger rigs tend to contain more percolators and diffusers, which may take away from flavors, while smaller ones tend to take a less is more approach.
Unlike flower bongs, dab rigs don’t really benefit from having a ton of percolators. A good dab rig usually contains no more than two percolators. Any more than that and it may filter out too many of your terpenes and leave you with a really smooth and cool but flavorless hit.
Material and Durability
Dab rigs can be made with all sorts of materials, including glass, metal, ceramic and silicone. When you’re working with high temperatures, you’re going to want something that can stand up to the heat well. Ceramic, glass, and silicone are ideal since they’re good with heat. Silicone is the most durable, followed by glass. Ceramic is a little more delicate, but it stays the coolest. Choose a dab rig with a material that you’re comfortable with and will last through drops and tumbles, like glass or silicone.
The last thing to consider is the compatibility of certain bangers. Smaller rigs may have a harder time supporting larger, heavier bangers, for example. However, a good rule of thumb is to look for a standard banger that is the same size as your rig but the opposite gender. For example, if your dab rig has a 14mm female joint, you’ll want a male banger in the same size. Alternatively, if it’s a 10mm male joint, you’ll want a 10mm female banger.