Initially dismissed as nothing more than a passing trend by some, the popularity of dabbing has shown no signs of abating. Indeed as the benefits become clearer, weed smokers are switching as they find that it is preferable to lighting up a joint or smoking out of a glass water pipe.
Dabbing involves the use of concentrate such as wax or shatter and requires a special piece of equipment. Dab rigs are specific types of water pipes used for smoking extracts, oils or concentrates. A rig is comprised of a dome and a ‘nail’ which is usually made from quartz, titanium, or glass.
Over the last couple of years, an increasing number of scientific studies have shown the benefits of medical marijuana; in particular, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. While the process of smoking dry herbs via joints, bongs etc. is still a popular pursuit, a growing number of people are now looking for even better ways to enjoy the marijuana plant. Vaping has become ‘the next big thing’ but dabbing isn’t far behind.
Perhaps you’ve already had a go at dabbing and enjoyed it a bit. If so, you may be in the market for a dab rig. While we are lucky to live in an age where there are so many options, the sheer size of the rig range is intimidating to newbies. We’ve already mentioned terms such as ‘nail’ and ‘dome’ (which we explain later) which might already cause you to think you’re out of your depth.
In this comprehensive guide, we will help you familiarize yourself with dab rigs by outlining what they consist of and what they do. We’ll inform you of the variety of accessories and options available and conclude by offering our take on the 10 Best Dab Rigs on the market for 2018.
- Borosilicate Glass
- What is a Domed Dab Rig?
- What is Domeless Dab Rig?
- Male & Female Nails
- FALSE: You Can Evaluate the Quality of Hash Oil Based on Texture
- FALSE: Transparent Shatter is Grade A
- FALSE: BHO is Inherently Unhealthy
- FALSE: THC is All That Matters
- FALSE: The Extraction Lab is Where a Concentrate Becomes High-Quality
- 1 – Mouthpiece Size
- 2 – Rig Size
- 3 – Water Filtration
- 4 – Internal Glass Percolators
- 5 – Glass Joint Size
- Borosilicate Glass
- What is a Domed Dab Rig?
- What is Domeless Dab Rig?
- Male & Female Nails
- FALSE: You Can Evaluate the Quality of Hash Oil Based on Texture
- FALSE: Transparent Shatter is Grade A
- FALSE: BHO is Inherently Unhealthy
- FALSE: THC is All That Matters
- FALSE: The Extraction Lab is Where a Concentrate Becomes High-Quality
- 1 – Mouthpiece Size
- 2 – Rig Size
- 3 – Water Filtration
- 4 – Internal Glass Percolators
- 5 – Glass Joint Size
What is a Dab Rig & How Do I Dab?
A dab rig is sometimes known as a dab bong or an oil rig. It is a glass device that looks similar to a bong and is used to inhale the vapors of substances such as oils, extracts or concentrates made from marijuana. Certain rigs are also designed for dry herb. Although you may read the term ‘smoke’ on occasion, it is crucial to note that you’re not really smoking the product; at least not in the manner associated with joints for example.
Unlike traditional smoking mechanisms, a rig should not cause anything to catch fire. Instead, it uses a torch to heat up a nail. The nail’s surface ultimately becomes so hot (usually between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit) that when a substance such as wax is placed on it, the substance produces a vapor which you inhale. Dabbing rigs are designed to keep the vapor inside so nothing is wasted. Dabbing is one of the most efficient means of consuming marijuana.
The term ‘dabbing’ is used because you ‘dab’ a small amount of concentrate on the rig to create vapor. Concentrates are preferable to other substances because they are hard and less likely to run off the nail. Each rig should come with a dabbing implement so you can safely place the wax on the hot nail without injuring yourself.
Aside from e-nails which heat up automatically, a nail must be heated with a torch. Make sure you place your mouth on the mouthpiece when you’re applying the wax because it vaporizes almost instantly. It is best if your rig has a ‘dome’ because otherwise, you have to wait for the device to cool down before storing it away. Users enjoy dabbing because it offers a consistent experience and is less harsh than smoking a joint for example.
How are Dabs Made?
Dabs are concentrated doses of marijuana made by extracting cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Typically, manufacturers will use carbon dioxide or a solvent such as butane to extract the cannabinoids. The result is a sticky oil known as shatter, wax, budder, concentrate, or Butane Hash Oil (BHO).
Perhaps the oldest method of creating dabs is cold water extraction using bubble bags. It involves the use of ice water and produces a dark brown crumbly substance. It is made by extracting trichomes; these are structures that contain most of weed’s active ingredients. You will recognize trichomes because they look similar to tiny hairs and are packed on marijuana buds.
You can make your own ‘bubble hash’ by freezing flower buds laden with trichomes. They are soaked in ice water, manually agitated and filtered through plastic filtration bags known as ‘bubble bags’. These bags are filled with holes of various sizes. When you freeze the flowers, you separate the trichomes which are loaded with THC.
You continue filtering the material using bags with increasingly smaller holes to retain the trichomes and remove the ice water. Eventually, excess plant material is also removed so you are left with a pure form of weed. Finally, you air dry the product to get rid of any excess water.
Bubble hash is rare and expensive so most firms use butane extraction to make dabs. BHO involves extracting a marijuana plant’s terpenes and cannabinoids. Butane is a chemical solvent which washes over the material and dissolves the cannabis plant’s compounds. The final step involves removing the remaining solvent and leaving behind nothing but pure cannabis extract.
There are two distinct extraction methods. Open Loop Extraction is the preferred DIY method which involves spraying the solvent through one end of a tube stuffed with marijuana. The solvent passes through a set of attached filters at the other end of the tube.
It is a dangerous method because butane solvents are extremely flammable and most DIY dab creators fail to follow proper safety protocols. Also, there is no system of removing remaining contaminants from the BHO. As well as creating low-grade oil, the risk of an accident is high.
Closed Loop Extraction is used by reputable firms because it is safe, reliable, and produces cleaner oil. It involves using two vessels; one on either side of the cannabis. The solvent is sealed and pressurized, and travels from Vessel #1 through the weed and into Vessel #2. Then, it is pushed back into Vessel #1. The butane gets evaporated from the marijuana solution which is finally vacuum-purged to remove the last solvent remnants.
A Brief History of Dabbing
Dabbing is a relatively new concept which means dab rigs have only been available for a few years. Marijuana’s history on the other hand, goes back tens of thousands of years. There is a suggestion that extracts have been used in Asian countries such as Nepal and India for over 2,000 years.
In the modern era, there is evidence that concentrates have been used since at least the 1960s if not earlier. In the 1990s, a company called BudderKing created a small handheld butane device that heated up a small attached surface. Users placed the budder on the surface and inhaled. It was probably the first ‘modern’ dab rig so despite its crudeness, at least it led to an incredible new market for marijuana concentrate users.
Before the advent of the advanced rig, there were various methods of consuming concentrates. The hot knife technique got the job done but with a lot of pitfalls. The Swing Skillet was something of an upgrade but dabbers only got comfortable with the advent of the Nail and Dome. Today, we have domeless rigs and e-nails that heat up the nail automatically.
Why Did the Dab Rig Rise in Popularity?
If you are an experienced marijuana concentrate user, you’ll know the importance of butane in the smoking process. You need it to extract the potency of an herb before it becomes a concentrate, and to fully extract the potency of the concentrate while you are using it. Although you can use a typical pipe, it is unable to withstand the intense heat of a butane torch while normal lighters can’t vaporize wax. Basically, the only thing you’ll achieve is to clog up your bowl and dirty your pipe while wasting a ton of extract.
Methods such as the Hot Knife were used to increase efficiency but they were dangerous and hard to master. Attempts at DIY rigs played a major role in creating today’s expertly crafted pieces. The conductive materials used to vaporize wax became the nail while the tube put over the heated concentrate to control vapor became the dome and carb cap.
Types of Nail
The dab nail is central to the operation of any rig and there are several different options on the market which we review below.
This is strong by the standards of glass and is also one of the least expensive nail options. However, it is still glass and its very nature makes it too fragile for nails. Glass nails are by far the easiest to break which means you have to replace them regularly. Also, glass doesn’t retain heat as well as the other options on the list. Therefore, it either won’t get hot enough to vaporize your concentrate in the first place, or else it won’t remain hot for long enough to finish the job.
This material has a couple of things in common with glass; it is cheap and easy to break. However, it retains heat far better but once again, you’ll have to replace them relatively often.
This material is significantly more durable than either glass or ceramic and as it doesn’t get excessively hot, you should enjoy a decent dabbing experience. While quartz is almost impossible to overheat, it also doesn’t retain heat for long so while you can heat your wax, it won’t create much vapor.
This is an exceptionally strong and durable material but is also very light. A titanium nail is almost indestructible so it will probably outlast your dab rig. The metal heats up quickly and retains heat better than glass, ceramic, or quartz. It is the best of the four material options but its main flaw is that it overheats quickly.
As a result, it can burn your wax rather than creating vapor. Consequently, experienced dabbers tend to combine titanium nails with water diffusers.
This is a convenient option and relatively new to the marketplace. Rather than lighting the nail with a torch, you can relax and let the e-nail heat up the dab using electricity. As well as heating up rapidly, e-nails allow you complete temperature control and you can customize it to the concentrate you’re using.
E-nails are expensive and you have to be close to a power source. Also, traditionalists believe that using the torch is an integral part of the dabbing experience. In the end, if you have money to spend, an e-nail is an excellent purchase.
What is a Domed Dab Rig?
This is a rig with a domed nail. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, domed nails hold in a greater level of vapor than their domeless counterparts and because they are smaller, they heat up faster. Domed nails are also safer but a bit harder to use than domeless.
What is Domeless Dab Rig?
This is a rig with a domeless nail. They are easier to use but more hazardous and less attractive looking than domed nails.
Male & Female Nails
A male nail is placed inside the intake tube while a female nail is placed outside the intake. Some users claim there is a big difference in the dabbing experience between the two while other users don’t notice anything. For the record, most dab rig uses male nails.
Other Dab Rig Parts & Accessories
Although dabbing looks and sounds like a complicated process to the uninitiated, it is very easy and there are only a few parts you have to worry about. Aside from the nail and dome, the rest of a rig consists of a couple of pieces depending on the design. It is normal for the glass part of a rig to have an intricate design as you will see in our list of dab rig reviews below.
Experienced users believe that the shape of a rig impacts the flavor. For example, an oblong or oval bowl is said to deliver concentrated vapor. There are two main tools to worry about:
- Dabber: This is a device that resembles a pen and is used to ‘dab’ the concentrate on to the nail. When shopping for a rig, make sure it comes with a dabber or else you’ll have to purchase one separately. Some users don’t use a dabber and prefer to add the product to the nail directly from its wax form or the bottle.
- Torch: Despite its critical importance, a surprising number of rigs don’t come with the torch. You need it to heat up the nail and without it, all you have is an expensive and useless device! You won’t need a torch if your rig uses an e-nail however. If you’re new to dabbing, we recommend using a small torch that runs off butane because a powerful blowtorch is dangerous for inexperienced users. Propane torches are too hazardous.
If you go to any website that specializes in rigs, you’re sure to come across an array of accessories including:
- Bong cooler.
- Dome bowl.
- Glass joint adaptor.
- Case grinder.
- In-line diffusers.
It is entirely up to you to decide whether you want or need these pieces. Some will enhance the dabbing experience, others could prove a waste of money.
How to Clean a Dab Rig
No matter what waxes or oils you use, a dab rig will ultimately accumulate debris over time; known as ‘reburn’ or ‘reclaim’. The speed at which your rig becomes dirty depends on the model and also how regularly you use it. There are specialized cleaning products on the market designed to make the process easier. If you fail to clean your rig regularly, it will become clogged and impossible to use.
If you fancy being economical, it is possible to collect and reuse the reburn. Some users even roll it up and use it in a joint! There are special attachments designed for this purpose and you normally place it between the downstem and nail. When you scrape the rig, place the reclaim in a container and use it again.
Cleaning your rig normally involves using pipe cleaners, rubbing alcohol, paper towels and a bowl. A quick tip from experienced dabbers is to add some salt to the alcohol to enhance its cleaning power. Pour the alcohol into the rig and allow it to soak for at least an hour. The longer you leave it in, the looser the reburn becomes.
Eventually, you’ll notice that the alcohol’s color becomes darker. If your rig is extremely dirty, a second helping of alcohol may be required. Use the pipe cleaner and more alcohol and when you’re satisfied that it is clean enough, let the rig dry. The paper towels speed up the process.
Who Would Need a Dab Rig?
If you smoke marijuana but are looking for something less harsh, dabbing is the ideal alternative. Concentrates are extremely powerful so dabbing is also a good option for people seeking a more intense hit. Although a rig is a relatively expensive investment, it should last for years assuming you take proper care of it. Once you get used to dabbing, it becomes second nature.
Essential Dab Rig Safety Tips
If you use an e-nail with your rig, you don’t have to worry about the right and wrong way to use a torch. Although dabbing isn’t especially dangerous, problems will arise if you don’t know what you’re doing. Never attempt to use a torch while moving around. When you want to dab, find a secure place, sit down and take your time.
Although you can purchase a wide array of accessories, most of them are not worth the trouble. It is best to keep things simple; this is especially the case when trying to dab on the go. It is also a good idea to stick with a single chamber rig. As cool as multi-chamber rigs look, cleaning them all is a difficult task.
Always check your torch to ensure it has enough fuel before trying to heat the nail. Once again, it is especially important when dabbing on your travels. Imagine getting ready for a good session only to discover that your torch burner won’t work! Make sure your concentrate is ready to use; many users find that it is better to add the concentrate to the dabber beforehand.
While an e-nail automatically heats the concentrate to the right temperature, there is an element of skill involved when using a torch. You need to apply the flame until the nail is red hot. Next, use the dabber to add the concentrate to the nail and place your mouth over the mouthpiece. Assuming you have heated the nail adequately, the concentrate should vaporize on contact. Here are a few things to remember:
- While a portable rig with a domed nail cools down fast, a domeless nail takes much longer to cool down so don’t touch it!
- Clean your rig regularly or else the residue build-up with hinder your dabbing. Also, reburn can overheat and catch on fire.
- Use premium concentrates so you don’t have to worry about residual solvents.
How Much Does a Dab Rig Cost?
While there are dab rigs on the market for around $30, you will need to pay well over $100 for a decent quality device. For the record, the cheapest rig on our list is $135 while the most expensive is $740. There are even more expensive rigs in the four-figure range but frankly, they don’t outperform the high-end rigs on this list.
Although the wide price range can be confusing, you tend to get what you pay for. If your rig costs $50, it will perform like a $50 rig! This means it will be somewhat functional but riddled with flaws. Also, cheaper rigs use glass or ceramic nails which break regularly. It’s also a fact that the type of nail and style of the rig alone can make a $200 difference to the price.
Benefits of Dabbing
As long as you dab with clean tested products, dabbing has a variety of good points. First and foremost, it offers a powerful dose of marijuana and it acts much faster than other delivery methods. If you’re dealing with chronic/severe pain or nausea, dabbing is one of the best ways to get quick and effective relief.
Properly manufactured cannabis extracts offer a clean and pure product that is easier on the lungs than smoking. When you smoke weed, the burned plant matter produces resin and hot smoke. Extracts deliver cannabinoids without the added unwanted material. Let’s quickly sum up the pros of dabbing:
- It is powerful so you’ll get stoned exceedingly quickly. It is the most potent delivery method and even experienced users say each dabbing session make them feel as if they are getting high for the first time.
- It is fast acting so if you’re in chronic pain, a dabbing hit can ease the symptoms in a matter of minutes.
- A single dab is the equivalent of several joints and since it only takes a few seconds to take a hit, you can enjoy dabbing any time.
- Concentrates are small and easy to conceal.
Downsides of Dabbing
There is no point skirting around the issue: Dabbing is potentially dangerous when you do it incorrectly. The biggest danger is in the process of home extraction which we don’t recommend. With so many clear and pure concentrates on the market for affordable prices, there is no need to take a risk with a DIY version.
As extraction typically involves butane gas, a combination of its flammable gases and bad ventilation could result in an explosion. Even if you successfully extract the material without causing an accident, it is likely that you’ll end up with a less than pure wax. Professional companies avoid issues by using trained extraction experts, closed-loop extraction equipment, high-grade solvents and lab testing.
There are of course other dangers which we sum up below:
- The strength of concentrates means you could technically overdose. While no one has died from overdosing marijuana in recorded history, there are numerous unpleasant side effects including vomiting, accelerated heart rate and panic attacks. You could also pass out.
- In extreme cases, too much dabbing can lead to marijuana psychosis.
- You may build up a tolerance to weed over time and require larger amounts to get the same effects. If you try to wean yourself off, there are potential withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, wet dreams, and depression to consider.
- Unless you use concentrates created by reputable firms, there’s a danger of inhaling traces of butane and other chemicals. In states such as Oregon and Colorado, concentrates with less than 500ppm of residual hydrocarbons are deemed safe; a figure that is far too high. Fortunately, top-level dabs contain only a fraction of that amount.
- You could suffer serious, or even fatal, injury while attempting a home extraction.
What Are the Most Common Dabbing & Concentrate Myths?
Dabs have risen rapidly in the medical marijuana market but BHO in particular has been singled out as a dangerous substance. Back in 2014, Bill SB-1262 Medical Marijuana in California was proposed to ban potent concentrates in the state of California. The goal was to get rid of BHO that contains over 80% THC.
The truth is, the concentrates market is largely unregulated which means less pure substances slip through the net. As a consumer, you have to be vigilant when shopping for dabs and this means getting as much information as possible. Now, we’re going to look at a few myths associated with concentrates to provide you with better education on the subject.
FALSE: You Can Evaluate the Quality of Hash Oil Based on Texture
If you’re lucky, the product you purchase will contain the cannabinoid content and name of the strain. Even so, you’re taking these companies at their word and if there is no third-party lab testing data to back up these assertions, you’re free to take purity claims with a pinch of salt.
The lack of information about waxes etc. means buyers are trying to analyze quality via the texture of the oil. This tactic is a fool’s errand because oil can be hard, runny, crumbly, dry, or sticky and it tells nothing about its purity. The only reason to care about texture is to determine how easy it is to use. Runny wax is hard to use whereas malleable waxes are simple to handle.
FALSE: Transparent Shatter is Grade A
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that transparent shatter is the hallmark of quality. Sure, it looks nice but there is no scientific basis for assuming it is better. According to Steep Hill Labs, a trusted laboratory that has performed thousands of tests on clear shatter, transparent shatter is more likely to have a greater level of residual solvents. Shatter tends to have a higher part per million (ppm) concentration of residual solvents than other concentrates because the process of creating it involves low purging temperatures.
FALSE: BHO is Inherently Unhealthy
It has become increasingly common for companies to extract cannabinoids via CO2 extraction. It is expensive but guarantees purity and quality. Meanwhile, butane extraction gets a bad name; primarily because there are so many substandard BHOs on the market plus the dangers of home extraction which often involves butane.
In reality, there are still several reputable companies that utilize butane extraction. They use hi-tech equipment which results in pure oil you can safely put into your body. Home extractions tend to involve canned butane which is a different story entirely. It is common for such products to contain as many as 50 gases and since it isn’t food grade, there is no regulation to protect the consumer.
As gases have different evaporation temperatures, most home extractors will have no idea what temperature to use and the impurities will remain in the oil. If you stick with BHO from a well-known company that has third-party lab testing results widely available, you should be fine.
FALSE: THC is All That Matters
Although there are over 100 identified cannabinoids, THC is the most famous because of its capacity to get you high. Those in the know understand that THC content alone is not the most important factor. First, you want a concentrate with a low ppm of residual solvent.
Then there is the small matter of the ‘entourage effect’ where the different cannabinoids and terpenes in marijuana work better together than separately. CBD for example is a cannabinoid with therapeutic qualities but unlike THC, you won’t get high.
Terpenes are excreted by the cannabis plant’s trichomes and are the reason for the distinct smells and flavors of the herb. Terpenes work with cannabinoids to enhance their medicinal benefits. When the oil is properly extracted from the plant, its aroma should be similar to the flower used to make it.
Even today, consumers and dispensaries alike are concerned with a concentrate’s THC content. Realistically, you won’t be able to tell the difference between 25% and 30% THC so why stress over it?
FALSE: The Extraction Lab is Where a Concentrate Becomes High-Quality
Extraction labs are not magical places where low-grade weed becomes premium quality. The standard of the concentrate you purchase begins in the garden. You don’t want weed that has been heavily treated with pesticides for example. Likewise, it is bad practice to trim the plant, toss it on the floor and dump it in a trash bag for transportation to the lab. If manufacturers don’t keep a close eye on the growing and trimming processes, their labs won’t be able to turn lead into gold.
Can I Create a HomeMade Dab Rig?
It is not a joke to suggest you can create a homemade dab rig. You will need to experiment with different metals as DIY nails but if you persevere, you could make a low-grade version.
Perhaps the most famous DIY method is the Apple Dab Rig which isn’t as crazy as it sounds. You’ll need the following equipment:
- One apple.
- A butter knife or scissors.
- A dab nail.
- A pen.
Remove the stem from one of the apples and gut the middle with a knife or scissors. The opening has to be big enough for the nail to fit. We recommend using a male nail because they need a smaller opening. Remove all apple seeds to ensure you don’t inhale any!
Push your pen into the middle of the apple to create a hole for your mouthpiece. Create a second hold in the apple’s side around 90 degrees from the first hole. This is the ‘carb’ so it has to connect with the chamber in the center. Put your nail into the opening and start using your unusual rig!
While an apple rig seems like fun, you will have a much better experience if you use a rig developed by experts in the industry. To help you find the best dab rig, we have analyzed dozens of brands to create this extensive dab rig review. Before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s see how to use concentrate without a rig & check out a few things to consider when purchasing a dab rig.
How to Dab Without a Rig
There is a multitude of ways to consume concentrates without a rig. Some are good while others are awful. Let’s check out both kinds below.
Vape pens are less expensive than rigs and are more portable. It is an efficient method that helps you conserve your concentrates. On the downside, a pen doesn’t provide you with the same level of ‘hit’ as a rig.
You can try and rectify that by vaping with dabs instead of dry herb or e-liquid. If you want to vape dabs properly, you need a high-quality atomizer (the name of the heating element). Older vape pen models are probably the best option because they have four parts:
- Battery Chamber.
Newer models normally have the cartridge and atomizer combined in a single piece. When vaping a dab, make sure it is easy to get to the atomizer. In vape pens where the cartridge is attached, the heating coil is blocked off which makes it impossible to vape a dab.
Remove the atomizer from the battery chamber and place your dab on the cool atomizer without touching it with your dabber. Switch on the vape pen and when it is ready for use, attach the atomizer to the battery chamber and then attach the mouthpiece. Finally, get ready to dab and enjoy the full flavor of the concentrate.
This method requires a heat source such as a stove top, an empty plastic bottle and two butter knives. Heat the knives, add concentrate and use the bottle as a funnel to suck up the smoke (make sure you cut the bottom out of the bottle). It is an efficient and easy way to use wax but it does make you feel like a heroin addict afterward. Also, you could burn yourself badly if it all goes wrong.
This is one of the simplest methods. You need some weed, wax and rolling papers to proceed. Create your joint in the normal way and ensure you have some dry herb and a roach. Dab some wax along the middle of the dry weed and make sure the ends of the wax don’t touch the end you’re lighting.
As wax is sticky, take special care when rolling or else you’ll have paper stuck to your fingers. While it is an easy way to smoke wax if you have no other equipment, the concentrate will drop off and it is rather inefficient.
This is probably the second most popular method of using concentrates behind a rig. You load up the bong’s bowl, add your wax on top of the herb and start smoking. While it is easy to do, you still get the herb taste and you need dry herb for it to work because you can’t smoke wax from a glass bowl in this fashion. It is also a very inefficient way to consume wax compared to a dab rig.
It isn’t as easy as sprinkling wax on your cereal! First, you have to decarboxylate your wax; this means heating it up to the stage where THCa becomes THC. While it is possible to do this with things found in the kitchen, it is nothing like dabbing and the taste can be unpleasant. There are far better ways to consume dabs!
This is a unique kind of glass, sometimes known as a vapor stone. It is extremely porous and to dab, you place it in the bowl of a pipe or inside the bottom part of a titanium nail. Dab the wax on the Healthstone and heat the insert. It is a quick and easy method, and you don’t need much concentrate to get a nice buzz.
Some people try to melt their wax over a stove but it will cause the substance to drip off the sides and get caught by the stove’s grease trap. It is also highly likely to cause hideous burns since you are so close to the heat source.
If you’re not happy with any of the above options, here’s how to use a dab rig.
Although rigs look complicated, using one is not that hard. It looks a bit like a bong but is smaller. It has a mouthpiece, vertical chamber, and a small nail made of glass, metal or quartz. You’ll find that the nail is where a bowl is found on a normal water pipe. Once you have your rig and wax ready, do the following:
- Ensure the rig is filled without enough water to submerge the downstream completely.
- Place your oil, wax or shatter on a dabber.
- Heat up the nail. You can use a butane torch or an e-nail for this step.
- Once the nail is red hot, apply the concentrates with the dabber. The substance should combust when it hits the nail.
- Inhale and enjoy!
Looking for a Quality Dab Rig? Here Are Five Things to Consider
1 – Mouthpiece Size
When it comes to consuming wax, a smaller mouthpiece is preferable because it allows you to enjoy the flavor. Those who smoke dry herbs prefer a wide mouthpiece because they want a mega-hit. When dabbing however, the nail lets air pass through constantly (unless you use a carb cap). As a result, a small mouthpiece won’t hinder your experience.
2 – Rig Size
Smaller is better! If you have a large rig, it increases the risk of the vapor losing its potency as it is constantly pushing through the chamber.
3 – Water Filtration
While there are rigs designed for use with no water, it is never a good idea to inhale concentrates that don’t have a chance to cool off via water first. There are a handful of instances where you should use a waterless rig, such as when you’re in the Great Outdoors and need to carry a lighter load, but overall, you need water filtration for the best experience.
4 – Internal Glass Percolators
Look for rigs with two or four-hole percolators. They cool off your concentrates and allow for a much smoother hit.
5 – Glass Joint Size
Glass joints tend to come in 10, 14, and 18ml sizes with male and female measurement types. The size relates to airflow and the gender dictates the nail type you need. If you have a small rig for example, a 10ml glass joint is ideal because of extra restriction which is what you want when dabbing.
Now that we have provided an overview of dab rigs, how they work, and what to look for, let’s look at ten of the best on the market.
1: TORO Jet Perc Amber
This company was founded by JP Toro and he is renowned for creating some of the most aesthetically pleasing rigs on the market. You can find out more about the firm’s products on its official website and while its Jet Perc Amber is available, it was sold out when we checked for this Toro Jet Perc Amber review.
JP is a ‘glass artist’ and you can see that in the Jet’s nice design. If you want any Toto dab rig, you better act fast or else you’ll miss out because there is a fairly limited edition of each rig available. JP is still in charge of the company and operates out of upstate New York at present. The fact that collectors jealously hold on to outdated Toro rigs tells you everything you need to know about the quality of the products the organization creates.
The Jet Perc Amber uses a fixed stem over the percolator rather than relying on a ball as a splash guard. As a result, the percolator is located lower down on the mouthpiece. In rigs that feature an inferior design, water will annoyingly splash up to the mouthpiece when you’re attempting to dab. However, the Jet Perc Amber prevents this from happening.
In the unlikely event that you splash a bit of water past the stem, the bent neck of the mouthpiece keeps you away from splashing water and hot nails. We love that the percolator keeps the vapor at the right temperature and there is ample flavor left in the chamber. The Jet Ball is a little different insofar as it offers a ball-shaped colored splash guard.
On the downside, the percolator holes are a bit small so if you’re enjoying a particularly heavy session, there’s a danger of the holes clogging up. Therefore, regular cleaning and maintenance are essential for best results.
How We Ranked the Toro Jet Perc Amber
If you’re new to dab rigs, Toro is an ideal company to make your first purchase with. It is one of the most reputable firms in the industry with some of the most beautifully designed rigs you’ll ever see. Such artisanal quality comes at a cost however. The price starts from $570 and you’ll probably pay up to $100 more.
For the price, you’ll receive a clean, gorgeous looking rig that is relatively simple to clean. Regular maintenance is a pain and the percolator holes could be larger but overall, the Toro Jet Perc Amber is not just a good dab rig, it is one of the finest on the market.
2: Beta Glass Labs Omega 2.0
Although it is a relatively new company, Beta Glass has quickly gained a reputation for creating dab rigs of exceptional quality for a reasonably affordable price. While its official website is devoid of pomp and circumstance, there is something special about the brand’s Omega 2.0 mode, which can also be purchased wholesale.
There are versions with lovely colored accents on the lips and percolators but you’ll save a couple of hundred dollars by focusing on function. In our Beta Glass review, we were not surprised to learn that the Omega 2.0’s glass is handcrafted from 5mm thick German Schott Borosilicate tubing; like all of the firm’s pieces. Every single piece is put through rigorous quality control checks and the coveted 23 carat Beta label adorns them all.
It is an upgrade on the original Omega despite being smaller. It is tough enough to hold on to what is the heaviest e-nail coil and nail combination in the industry. The single perc option enables you to enjoy perfectly filtered vapor which is cooled by the same radial recycler used in the original. We were very impressed by the fact that we could draw as hard as we liked without ever having the flow interrupted.
Water splash is always a concern but you don’t have to worry about such an unfortunate incident when using the Omega 2.0. Its slits are big enough to avoid clogging and because of the way the water travels in the rig, the majority of reclaim is removed from the perc. As a result, you don’t need to clean it nearly as often as the Toro; although it looks better when clean! As a consequence of the design, you can enjoy extremely heavy sessions without a loss of function.
How We Ranked the Beta Glass Labs Omega 2.0
If you’re an experienced yet clumsy user, the Omega 2.0 offers a lot of benefits. Its heavy base ensures that you won’t smash your rig by knocking it over accidentally. It is one of the best rigs in its class with outstanding function and durability. It ensures you get the best possible flavor from your dabbing experience and benefit from cooler vapor.
The water spinning chamber is an interesting design but it does mean the water and vapor have to travel a long way. As a consequence, you’ll have to be patient because you’ll have to take another breath when trying to really rip into it. It is also affordable as prices start from $470.
3: Termini Tubes Incycler
Karl Termini is the brains behind the Termini brand and operates out of Ithaca in New York. His love affair with glass began in the late 1990s when he worked as a lampworker in New Jersey. It took him several years to become an expert and Karl opened a small shop in his house in the late 1990s.
In 2004, various legal issues with the industry forced a frustrated Termini to move to Amsterdam where he quickly gained a reputation as an artist and glass maker. His focus on scientific glass making techniques paid dividends and he opened his second company with Adam Dunn and Hans Meijer, which they called SNOB.
SNOB became one of the top firms in the pipe making industry and won several Cannabis Cup awards. In the Netherlands, Karl opened the Studio Termini Amsterdam where he taught students about the art of borosilicate glass. Although his skills continued to improve while overseas, the party lifestyle was becoming too much which is why he returned to the United States to open Termini Tubes.
Today, the company is booming but Karl still creates every pipe personally. Each piece he creates is made to order and because there is no inventory stocked, you receive a unique dab rig, although you may have to wait longer than normal to receive it.
What About the Incycler Rig?
The Incycler is one of Karl’s most recent rigs and is 7.25 inches high with a maximum width of 4.25 inches across. The rig utilizes a 10mm handspun female joint and like with each Termini model, the incycler rig features the sandblasted Termini logo.
To be clear, it is one of the most expensive rigs on the market as prices start from $740. Karl’s eye for detail is apparent in this rig which is designed so that any splash from the 4-hole percolator is moved outwards and towards the hole to the downtake. The production work on the Termini Incycler is as clean as anything you’ll see in the industry but lovers of color won’t enjoy the lack of colored glass.
However, you probably won’t care about that once you inhale because there is next to no drag. With most rigs, it takes a lot of effort to get the water to recycle a reasonable amount but with this Termini model, it is so easy to take huge rips without pausing. As well as featuring an extra chamber above the incycler, the bent neck ensures you don’t have to worry about the water splashing.
How We Ranked the Termini Tubes Incycler
It may be expensive and lack colorful flair, but the performance of the Termini Incycler is as good as anything you’ll find in the industry and it is one of the cleanest production glass pieces you’ll ever see.
4: Leisure Brick Stack Incycler
Like an increasing number of dab rig providers, Leisure Glass prefers to use social media to sell its wares rather than rely on a static website. The company was founded by Luke Wilson who has been a glassblower in Southern California for almost two decades.
You can learn more about the company on its Instagram page which has almost 22,000 followers. Alternatively, you can watch one of its videos on the firm’s LeisureMedia YouTube page which has over 130,000 views since it was created in February 2010. Read our Leisure Brick review below to learn more about this cool rig.
The Leisure Brick Stack Incycler is a compact dab rig with an extremely slow draining internal recycling water chamber. It uses a 14mm female joint which works well as a flower bong or an oil rig and would even make an ideal accessory to a domeless concentrate nail. It is made from exceptionally durable American glass and is eight inches high. With a price of $420, it is also one of the least expensive rigs around.
With the Brick Stack Incycler, all of the recycling is done inside the rig so you don’t have to worry about an easy-to-break piece of glass sticking out for draining. At the time of writing, this rig is overwhelmingly popular with consumers; possibly because it enables you to create enormous dabs without worrying about getting burnt. This rig cools vapor beautifully and we are shocked by the of percolation when you consider its relatively small size.
It also offers unbeatable versatility because you can use your flowers in the event you suddenly run out of concentrate. The detailed interior filtration system ensures you benefit from a smooth exhale when you use dry herb. One downside with this glass incycler is the increased effort you need to make while inhaling because of the additional percolation.
How We Ranked the Leisure Brick Stack Incycler
It is one of the best dab rigs for newcomers and as it is a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than comparable rigs, you are getting a real bargain. The Brick Stack Incycler is perfect if you have a lower-end dab set up and are looking for an upgrade that won’t break the bank.
5: Pulse Incycler Rig
One of the main things about this award-winning company is its ability to create some of the most remarkable looking rigs you’ll ever see. Seriously, it regularly makes glass rigs the likes of which belong in a museum or an art gallery. During our Pulse rig review, we came across the Wisteria Barrel Incycler, which is available in limited edition form only. It is part-pipe and part work of art!
Pulse operates out of Los Angeles and is one of the nation’s leaders in glass rig production. You can find further details of its creations on its main website. According to Pulse, it pushes “the laws of physics to offer one of the smoothest experiences.” Examples of its exceptional work include its special Barrel Stemline which offers optimum diffusion through 360 degrees of unobstructed flow and it’s Gridded Tongue percolator which is ideal for upwards airflow.
As for the Pulse Incycler Rig, it is available from the company’s official store and its price is from $400. As is the case with recent pulse offerings, the design is practically flawless from an aesthetics point of view with a myriad of creative designs topped off with sandblasted glass. The glass is 55m thick and extremely durable, and these rigs have gorgeous patterns with windows in the recycling and main chambers. This feature enables you to see your smoke and also the spinning of the water.
Obviously, function is king with dab rigs and Pulse excels in this department too. The recycling chamber does an outstanding job of providing a smooth and delicious hit every single time. The neck is bent and, when combined with the height of the recycling chamber, you have a rig that prevents water from rising up the neck.
One downside is that you’ll need to exert yourself significantly if you wish to keep the water spinning constantly. If nothing else, the Pulse Incycler rig may force you to get into shape so you can get the most out of your weed concentrate! The reason for the necessary additional force is because this Pulse model is bigger than most comparable models; smaller chambered rigs require less lung capacity but also provide inferior flavor.
Why We Like the Pulse Incycler Rig
It is one of the best-designed rigs on the market and it works about as well as it looks. It provides excellent flavor and you couldn’t ask for a device to give you smooth hits as consistently as this Incycler.
6: Ill Glass Smuggler
Ill Glass was founded in 2010 and currently operates out of Denver, Colorado. It is known for producing cutting-edge rigs and its Flux Cycler is an award-winning device. In our Glass Smuggler review, we found that it was the smallest rig created by the company. So how did this affect its function?
First of all, the Ill Glass Smuggler is outstanding for portability since it is one of the few high-quality glass rigs on the market capable of fitting in your pocket. We were delighted to learn that the Smuggler still includes the brand’s outstanding Flux Finger percolator so there was no danger of losing quality or function.
The rig is beautifully created with intricate handcrafted designs, and the percolator offers 24 points of diffusion which guarantees smooth hits. As the name suggests, the Smuggler is designed to be carried around discreetly. At 5.5 inches high, 2.75 inches wide, 3.25 inches long and weighing just 0.35 pounds, the rig achieves its goal.
Its tube bushing uses a 14mm male joint while the slide bushing uses a 14mm female joint. The rig has a second can stacked on top of the main chamber at the neck. The design features a bent neck and ridges which ensure water won’t splash up your mouth. As it is a portable clear production glass pipe, we felt as if the cost was a little on the steep side. You can buy it from $385 and you can find it on the brand’s official website.
How We Ranked the Ill Glass Smuggler
To be clear, we love this device as it is one of the best small incyclers on the market. It is also a clean rig that offers nice hits and its percolator functions extremely well. However, there are larger, better-performing rigs available for less than $100 extra.
7: Zob Rig
Zob Glass was founded in Southern California and has been creating scientific glass water bongs with an extra zest for several years. The majority of their offerings include a straight tube made of clear borosilicate glass and a beaker body. As we found during our Zob Rig review, this product is no different.
However, the Chamber Bubbler is almost ‘tame’ by the experimental standards of the company. It is known for pushing the boundaries by experimenting with scientific glass bongs and creating ranges with bizarre sounding names such as the Wubbler; one of Zob Rig’s best-known inventions.
As well as gaining fame for the structural design of their pipes, Zob Rigs is legendary for helping users create their own custom pipes. While other firms try to be zany for the sake of it, Zob Rigs shows method in its madness. Its glass designs rely on repeating patterns for example, because the firm knows these designs work.
One of its most outspoken proponents is a man named Professor Gill. He appeared in videos on YouTube which discuss dab rigs and answers questions on topics such as “What makes American glass so great?” and “what is a shower head perc?” (with added profanity). Gill is a scientist that dances to the beat of his own drum and is the ideal spokesperson for the brand.
Zob Rig’s Chamber Bubbler is one of its more affordable options at a price of $170. It has a 75mm diameter and is made with 5mm of durable glass. The chamber is large enough to hold a reasonable amount of smoke and the fixed stem provides ample diffusion. As a result, you receive cooled vapor without sacrificing the quality.
A bent neck seems standard for high-quality rigs and this Zob oil rig is no different; the design prevents water from splashing up the neck. We were happy to discover that we could smoke in comfort without having to crouch over the rig.
Why We Like It and Why You Should Too!
We are not going to pretend that this Zob glass Rig offering is perfect. It is possibly the least aesthetically pleasing device on this list for example. However, what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in function, convenience and price! It is a comfortable and convenient rig that is perfect for daily use.
8: C2 Ratchet Perc 38mm
You can follow Custom Creations on Instagram where you’ll see pictures of its various products, including its C2 Ratchet Perc 38mm. With a price tag of $135, the ratchet perc bubbler is one of the least expensive models in its class.
Of course, price means nothing if the product is subpar. The California-based company realizes this which is why the C2 is made with German Schott Glass. Each rig is hand blown using this premium-quality glass yet Custom Creations has somehow priced its device at a fantastic level.
We were very happy with the fixed downstem because it prevents you from pulling out the stem with your bowl or nail by accident. It is a semi-regular occurrence for some users and extremely annoying. The glass might be German but every pipe is created in America; a point the company is keen to point out with its ‘Made in the USA’ sticker plastered on every pipe.
You will struggle to find a more attractive looking rig for under $200. The bent neck is a welcome feature for a low-cost model as it prevents you from being exposed to a hot nail. The ratchet percolator cools the smoke so you enjoy a pleasant hit, and the base is strong enough to support the e-nail coil and nail without wobbling.
The C ratchet perc is versatile as it can be used for dry herb but it works better with dabs. For the record, if you want a rig capable of burning weed better, you need a device with bigger pieces for additional filtration to cope with the extra harshness of herb. Low price or not, one of the most puzzling aspects of the ratchet per dab rig was the absence of a nail. You have to purchase one yourself if you want to dab, although it has a bowl for dry herb.
Why We Liked This Dab Rig
The affordable price is an obvious plus point but the C2 is well-designed and somewhat versatile. It should provide you with years of happy dabbing and will do just fine until you can pay for a more sophisticated model.
9: Mobius RDS Incycler
While it is nice to find a rig that is the dabbing equivalent of the Mona Lisa, function is the #1 priority. If you want a pipe that does exactly what it says on the tin, invest in the Mobius glass 10mm RDS Incycler as it is compact & clean, spins water and stacks bubbles just like a high-grade rig is supposed to.
The RDS’ removable downstem comes out at an angle and offers the classic ‘bong’ feeling while being far more efficient. You also can’t fault its versatility because it enables you to use dry herb if you run out of concentrate. During our review of the Mobius RDS, we discovered that it provided us with delightfully cool vapor. This is because the downstem’s diffusion bubbles up to the incycling chamber.
As a result, you can rip as hard as possible and never have to contend with water shooting into your mouth. In fact, you can operate it without the nail or bowl and still avoid the unwanted bong water taste. The RDS is unique on this list as it’s the only top 10 entrant that has no fixed downstem. Even so, it performs admirably and with a price tag of $365, it offers value for money too.
Why We Liked It
In many ways, the RDS is a classic dab rig because of the removable downstem. This feature can be a burden if you don’t like storing extra pieces. Otherwise, the Mobius RDS Incycler is a fine piece of equipment that is well worth purchasing.
10: Nexus Nano Puck Rig
Nexus Glass has not been around long but has made waves within the industry ever since it made its debut in Denver, Colorado on International Weed Day, April 20 (4/20). It won the ‘Best in Glass’ award and has created a stir on social media ever since. Nexus is a Southern-Californian-based firm and has pledged to make high-quality rigs from glass without overcharging customers.
All of its products are created from high-grade borosilicate glass so while they may create inexpensive glass dub rigs, there is nothing ‘cheap’ about the products. During testing for our Nexus Nano Puck Rig review, it was clear that this new device was much more than a gimmick. It is designed to look like an ice hockey puck and the German Schott Glass construction guarantees durability.
Stylewise, you are invited to choose between a variety of gorgeous American glass colored accents as a means of adding a personal touch to your rig. Its diminutive size means it works well as a portable rig and you can rely on the bent neck to keep you clear of the hot nail. While there is little in the way of percolation, the holes in the downstem create some diffusion.
The stem is fixed to the rig’s body which means it is harder to damage and easy to clean. At a price of $200, it is a relatively cheap way to enter the dabbing world and you can buy it from the official Nexus website.
How We Rank It
As it uses a male joint, the hits are a little warmer than in rigs with a second chamber or a recycling chamber. However, it is far more than merely a portable and cheap rig. The Nexus Nano Puck Rig is an extremely well-designed and durable piece worthy of your consideration and cash.
Final Thoughts About Our Best Dab Rigs
Rather than creating several long paragraphs on the subject, we have taken the liberty of dividing the pros and cons of each rig into an easy to read table.
|Dab Rig Brand||Pros||Cons|
|TORO Jet Perc Amber||Clean and professional looking.
Percolator ensures the vapor is at a perfect temperature.
Fixed stem percolator prevents splashing water.
|Relatively expensive at $570.
Regular maintenance is irritating.
The percolator holes are on the small side.
|Beta Glass Labs Omega 2.0||Beautifully designed with colored accents.
Large slits prevent clogging.
You can use as much dab as you like without worrying about loss of function.
|The design of the water spinning chamber means the vapor has a long path to travel.
Good lung capacity required to rip into the rig.
|Termini Tubes Incycler||Extraordinarily clean glass production work.
Heavy and durable so no danger of knocking it over accidentally.
Minimal drag means dabbing is a pleasure.
|The most expensive rig on the list; prices start from $740.
Lacks the colorful design of other models.
|Leisure Brick Stack Incycler||Made with tough American glass.
Allows you to use dry herb and a variety of concentrates.
The recycling is conducted inside the rig.
|Extra percolation means drawing large amounts of vapor is tricky.|
|Pulse Incycler Rig||Uniquely designed rig.
Efficient recycling chamber guarantees smooth hits.
Offers outstanding flavor.
|Large chamber means extra lung capacity is required to enjoy premium hits.|
|Ill Glass Smuggler||Small and extremely portable.
It has a clean design with a top performing percolator for the size.
Stunning handcrafted designs available.
|Expensive for a portable rig.|
|Zob Rig||Its design allows you to dab in comfort.
The chamber is large for the model’s price.
A bargain at $170.
|Not the most aesthetically appealing rig.|
|C2 Ratchet Perc 38mm||Bent neck design keeps you clear of the hot nail.
Allows you to use dry herb and wax with a bowl for the herb.
Excellent value for money at just $135.
|Doesn’t come with a nail.
It could burn dry herb more efficiently.
|Mobius RDS Incycler||Features a removable downstem.
Does a fantastic job of ensuring water doesn’t splash.
Cools the vapor down splendidly.
|Some users may not like carrying an extra piece of equipment around.
You have to replace the downstem if you lose it.
|Nexus Nano Puck Rig||Portable rig with a nice ‘puck’ design.
A fine starter rig for $200.
The stem is fixed to the body of the rig.
|The vapor is a little on the hot side with a certain harshness to the hits.
There isn’t much percolation.
If you are looking for an alternative to smoking weed, consider investing in a high-quality dab rig. The vapor they produce makes them similar to vape pens but you should get more powerful hits. They are similar to bongs in many ways but provide you with a cleaner experience.
Bong hits involve smoking the plant whereas dab rigs use concentrates which are purer and don’t require as much filtration. Percolation is responsible for stacking those wonderful milky white clouds you see in a rig’s chamber and it also cools the vapor before it hits the throat and lungs.
Once you find a high-quality rig, you shouldn’t need to buy another one. If you purchase any one of the 10 dab rigs we’ve reviewed above, it should provide you with years of happy dabbing. Finally, please remember that weed concentrates are STRONG so use them responsibly.