How to Use a Dab Rig – Step-by-step Guide

    A dab is essentially cannabis in a concentrated form that is often made by extracting cannabinoids like THC. The extraction process typically involves a solvent such as carbon dioxide or butane. This results in a sticky substance with oil-like consistency. This is the stuff that you dab. It’s what you call as shatter, butane hash oil, wax, budder, etc.

    The way to dab these concentrates is by heating them on a hot surface, typically using a nail. Once the stuff is hot, you then inhale it via a dab rig.

    Although dabbing as a way of smoking cannabis concentrates, it has been around for quite a while now. However, new and more sophisticated extraction methods have brought on numerous new forms of cannabis concentrates. That’s what gave a boost to dabbing’s popularity.

    What makes dabbing so popular?

    The reason that makes it such a popular vape method is you get to enjoy the potent effects of THC, all the while getting access to other cannabinoids such as CBD. This is probably the most efficient and quickest way to get those cannabinoids absorbed by the body. On top of that, aromatic oils and terpenes profile add to that unique flavor.

    What all you would need (tools) to start dabbing?

    Although the dabbing technology is getting finer with each passing day, the traditional setup remains more or less the same. To that end, you are going to need the following items/tools. 

    Also, know depending on the make, the appearance of each tool can vary –

    • Cannabis extract – You get a variety of options when it comes to cannabis extracts. However, the generally available ones are – CO2, solventless extracts such as rosin, and BHO. We recommend against dabbing with alcohol-based extracts. 
    • Water pipe – Take out the glass bowl and replace it with some dabbing attachment. This is the easiest way to turn a water pipe into a dab rig. You can also visit Big Daddy Smoke to check out quality dab rigs.
    • Nail – You are going to need a nail that fits perfectly with the gauge of the water pipe. Generally, you can find them made of titanium, quartz, and ceramic, with titanium being the most popular material.
    • A dome – Dome is the glass hood that covers the nail. You can get dome-less nails too that don’t need glass-like globes. However, standards nails would generally need something to lock the vapor so you can inhale them.
    • A torch – The ones that chefs use for making crème brule should do the trick in this case. However, you can go more sophisticated by choosing larger ones that are propane-fueled. These tend to get the job done faster. Although today you have new and improved ways of heating the stuff that is totally flame-less, some people like to stick with the old methods involving torch. Part of that is probably because this is a low-cost method.
    • A dabber – This can be a ceramic, metal, or glass tool that we use for applying the dab.

    A step-by-step guide to using a dab rig 

    1. Once you have prepared the rig and the dabber is all set, it’s time to get started. But, before you get started, make sure you are seated properly because the sudden rush of cannabinoids can possibly be physically intense.
    2. Turn on the torch and aim directly for the nail in order to directly heat the stuff up. Most users like to heat it up until the nail has turned red hot.
    3. After the nail is hot enough, turn the torch off. Now put the glass dome over the nail to cover it up. If you are using a quartz nail, let it sit for about 45 seconds to cool off. For titanium ones, the recommended timing is about 10 seconds.
    4. Now take the dabber, apply the dab on the nail inside the dome, and start inhaling slowly. Keep rotating the tip of the dabber slowly. This will avoid any oil stuck on the dabber from going waste.


    Word of Caution – It is possible for the dome and the nail to become too hot during the dabbing process. Pay special attention to careful handling to avoid accidental burns. Wait till all the pieces have cooled down before you think about touching them.

    What are the downsides to dabbing?

    Dabs are clearly a clean and more flavorful way of getting the smokes. However, since the smoke is often quite strong, it can take some by complete surprise. 

    Some feel a spinning sensation that might require them to take a sudden nap. This is why beginners are required to start with tiny amounts and burn them at low temperatures to avoid any unwanted effects. Also, make sure never to dab while the surface is hot.  

    If you are a novice who is just testing the waters, you might want to start with a vape pen. This will get you used to the flavors and intensity of concentrates. You can then slowly move to dab.

    Bottom Line

    Dabbing is best for users who are looking for highly potent and flavorful smokes, or they also want medicinal benefits of smoking cannabis. It’s also good if you are an experienced smoker and have a quality concentrate they can rely on.


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