What Is a Rig for Dabs and How to Use It: A Beginner's Guide

by Matt Hampton
A person using a dab rig on a modern tabletop in nature.


Many people find dabbing concentrates confusing at first. A dab rig is a specialized tool designed for vaporizing cannabis concentrates. This article will guide beginners through understanding what a dab rig is, how it works, and tips on using it effectively.

Let's dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • A dab rig is a special kind of water pipe meant for vaporizing cannabis concentrates, different from bongs which are used for dry herbs.
  • There are various types of dab rigs like glass, silicone, mini, recycler, and e - rigs. Each type offers unique benefits such as better flavor, smooth hits, portability, and ease of use depending on your preference.
  • To use a dab rig effectively, you need to heat the nail with a torch or an electric heater until it's red-hot. Then let it cool slightly before applying the concentrate with a dabber tool and inhaling through the mouthpiece. Using a carb cap helps control airflow and captures intense flavors.
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance of your dab rig are essential to keep it functioning well and ensure long-lasting use. This includes removing residue after each session and thoroughly cleaning all parts with alcohol.
  • Beginners should consider starting with simpler rigs like glass or silicone models due to their durability and ease of cleaning. E-rigs can also be good for beginners because they allow precise temperature control without using a torch.

What is a Dab Rig?

A person enjoying nature while using a dab rig.


A dab rig is a type of water pipe designed specifically to be used with cannabis extracts. It shares some similarities with a bong, but it differs in its purpose and design, as well as in how it works.

Similarities and differences to a bong

A person using a dab rig surrounded by various concentrates in a bustling atmosphere.


Dab rigs are specialized tools designed for vaporizing concentrates, and while they share some similarities with bongs, there are key differences that set them apart.


Aspect Dab Rig Bong
Purpose For vaporizing concentrates For smoking dry herbs
Design Includes a nail or banger Uses a bowl for dry herbs
Heating Method Heated with a torch or electric heater Flame directly applied to herbs
Temperature High temperature for vaporization Combustion at lower temperatures
Inhalation Vapor is smoother and cooler Smoke can be harsher
Portability E-rigs offer portability Size varies, smaller options available

Understanding how a dab rig functions is crucial when exploring the world of concentrates. Now, let's dive into the types of dab rigs available on the market.

Purpose and design

A stylish glass dab rig on a modern kitchen countertop.


Dab rigs are designed to vaporize cannabis concentrates using a heated nail or banger. The purpose of the rig is to provide a smooth inhale while delivering the full flavor and effects of the concentrate.

The design typically includes a water chamber with percolators, which helps cool down the vapor for a more enjoyable experience. Different types of dab rigs offer varying purposes and designs, allowing users to choose based on their preferences and needs.

Glass rigs are popular for their clean taste and durable design, while recycler rigs continuously filter the vapor for smoother hits. Silicone dab rigs provide durability and portability, making them suitable for travel or outdoor use.

Mini dab rigs are compact and easy to handle, perfect for beginners or those looking for convenience. E-rigs have electronic heating elements that eliminate the need for torches or lighters, offering a modern twist on traditional designs.

How it works


Dab rigs work by heating a "nail" to high temperatures, which vaporizes the concentrate when it's applied. The user inhales the vapor through the rig, allowing for a cleaner and more potent experience compared to traditional smoking methods.

After heating the nail using a torch or an e-nail, the concentrate is added with a dabber tool. As the concentrate vaporizes upon contact with the hot surface, users can regulate their inhalation by using a carb cap to control airflow.

Maintaining and cleaning your rig regularly is crucial for optimal performance.

Types of Dab Rigs


Glass dab rigs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, offering excellent heat resistance and durability. Recycler dab rigs feature a unique design that continually recycles water for smoother hits and better flavor.

Glass dab rigs

Glass Dab Rigs come in various designs and styles, such as the classic banger hanger or the intricate recycler rig. They are favored for their ability to deliver clean-tasting hits and showcase the vapor production.

The transparency of glass allows users to monitor the vaporization process closely.

The wide range of shapes, sizes, and percolation options make glass dab rigs highly customizable for individual preferences. When using a glass dab rig, ensure that it's made from high-quality borosilicate glass to withstand high temperatures and provide a smooth experience.

Recycler dab rigs


Recycler dab rigs feature a unique design that maximizes the filtration and cooling of vapor for an exceptionally smooth hit. These rigs are equipped with a recycling chamber that continually cycles water and vapor, ensuring cleaner and cooler inhalation.

The innovative system prevents the concentrate from lingering in the rig, resulting in enhanced flavor and a more enjoyable experience.

The advanced functionality of recycler dab rigs makes them popular among enthusiasts seeking premium performance. They offer excellent diffusion while preserving the flavor profile of concentrates, making them ideal for those who prioritize both taste and inhalation comfort.

Recycler dab rigs are versatile and compatible with various types of nails, enabling users to customize their setup according to their preferences.

Silicone dab rigs

Colorful silicone dab rigs displayed on a mountain hiking trail.


Silicone dab rigs offer a durable and portable alternative to traditional glass rigs. They are made from food-grade silicone, making them resistant to breaking and easy to clean. The non-stick surface prevents residue buildup, allowing for easy maintenance.

Silicone rigs are also lightweight and come in various fun colors, catering to personal style preferences.

For those looking for a low-maintenance option that can withstand accidental drops while on the go, silicone dab rigs provide an ideal solution. Their flexibility and durability make them suitable for outdoor activities or travel.

Mini dab rigs

A person using a mini dab rig in a peaceful outdoor setting.


Mini dab rigs are compact and portable, perfect for on-the-go dabbing. These smaller rigs offer the same potent experience as full-sized rigs but in a more discreet package. With a smaller chamber size, mini dab rigs provide intense flavor and vapor concentration.

Their size also makes them easy to conceal and transport, making them ideal for travel or outdoor use. Despite their small stature, mini dab rigs can still feature various percolation methods to cool and filter the vapor for a smooth inhale.

Dab enthusiasts appreciate mini rigs for their convenience and efficient delivery of concentrated hits without compromising on flavor or quality. Whether you're exploring concentrates for the first time or looking for a more manageable rig, mini dab rigs present an attractive option due to their versatility and portability.


A person using an E-rig in a scenic outdoor setting.


E-rigs, also known as electronic dab rigs or e-nails, are portable and convenient devices for consuming dabs. They use electricity to reach and maintain the optimal temperature for vaporizing concentrates.

E-rigs feature a heating element that can be set to the desired temperature, ensuring consistent heat for an enjoyable dabbing experience. These devices eliminate the need for butane torches and offer precise temperature control, making them ideal for those who want a hassle-free way to enjoy their concentrates on the go.

Compact in size, e-rigs are easy to transport and use outside of traditional smoking environments. Many e-rigs come with additional features like digital displays, adjustable temperature settings, and long-lasting batteries, catering to different user preferences.

How to Use a Dab Rig

A dab rig with all its components set up on a clean tabletop.


To use a dab rig, start by choosing the right rig for your needs and preferences. Once you have your rig, set up the components, heat the nail, add the concentrate, use the carb cap to inhale, and regularly clean and maintain it for optimal performance.

Choosing the right rig

When choosing a dab rig, consider the material, size, and style. Glass rigs are durable and provide pure flavor, while silicone rigs are more portable and less likely to break. Recycler rigs offer smoother hits by recycling water for filtration.

Mini rigs are compact for easy travel, and e-rigs allow temperature control without torches. Consider personal preferences such as ease of cleaning and maintenance.

Rig design also plays a crucial role − look for stability in the base so it doesn’t tip over easily. Pay attention to joint sizes; larger joints can accommodate accessories like ash catchers or reclaimers.

Components and set-up

A modern glass dab rig in a stylish setting with all necessary components.


To set up a dab rig, gather the following components: a dab nail, a glass piece or water pipe, a butane torch or e-nail for heating the nail, and the concentrate.


  1. Begin by filling the glass piece with water to just above the percolator slits.
  2. Attach the nail to the glass piece securely, ensuring it fits properly.
  3. Use a butane torch to heat the nail until it is red-hot, or set your e-nail to the desired temperature.
  4. Once heated, allow the nail to cool for about 10 - 45 seconds.
  5. Apply a small amount of concentrate onto the nail using a dabber tool while inhaling gently through the mouthpiece.
  6. After inhalation, cover the nail with a carb cap to control airflow and capture more intense flavors.

Heating and cooling the nail

After setting up the components of the dab rig, it's crucial to properly heat and cool the nail for a smooth dabbing experience.


  1. Heat the nail with a torch until it reaches the ideal temperature for vaporizing concentrates.
  2. Allow the nail to cool for approximately 10 - 20 seconds to achieve the optimal temperature for dabbing without burning the concentrate.
  3. Use a timer or gauge the cooldown period based on trial and error to find the right timing that suits your preferences.
  4. Avoid overheating or underheating the nail as it can affect the flavor and potency of your dabs.
  5. Consider using an electronic nail (e - nail) for precise temperature control and consistent dabbing experience without relying on a torch.

Adding the concentrate

To add the concentrate:


  1. Use a dab tool to pick up a small amount of concentrate.
  2. Heat the nail using a torch until it's glowing red hot.
  3. Place the concentrate onto the hot nail, allowing it to vaporize instantly.
  4. Inhale slowly and steadily while keeping the carb cap on to control airflow.
  5. Exhale and enjoy the flavorful vapor produced by the concentrate.

Inhaling and using the carb cap

To inhale the vapor, place your lips around the mouthpiece and gently draw in as you heat the concentrate on the nail. Once the rig is ready, use the carb cap to trap the vapor before pulling in sharply. This allows for optimal airflow and maximizes your hit. Using the carb cap properly can enhance your dabbing experience by controlling the intensity of vaporization and ensuring no concentrate goes to waste.

Cleaning and maintenance

To keep your dab rig in top condition, it's essential to regularly clean and maintain it. Here are some key tips to ensure your rig stays in optimal shape:


  1. After each use, promptly remove any leftover concentrate residue from the nail or banger using a cotton swab or alcohol-soaked cloth.
  2. Clean the glass components with a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and coarse salt, shaking vigorously to dislodge any stubborn buildup.
  3. Rinse all parts thoroughly with warm water after cleaning to remove any remaining alcohol or salt.
  4. For regular maintenance, change the water in your dab rig before each use and rinse it out thoroughly after every session.
  5. If your dab rig comes with multiple accessories like percolators or ash catchers, be sure to clean these regularly as well to prevent clogging and maintain smooth hits.

Tips for Beginners


Invest in a good quality beginner dab rig, consider the benefits of mini dab rigs, and dispel common misconceptions to ease your way into the world of dabs. Read on for more insights on how to make the most of your new rig.

Best beginner dab rigs

For beginners, glass dab rigs are a solid option. They're durable, easy to clean, and offer great flavor. Recycler dab rigs are also ideal for newcomers, as they provide smooth hits and help cool the vapor.

On the other hand, silicone dab rigs are popular due to their break-resistance and affordability. Mini dab rigs are convenient for portability but may be more challenging for new users due to their smaller size.

E-rigs are electronic, making them user-friendly and consistent in delivering quality hits.

The debate over mini dab rigs

When considering the debate over mini dab rigs, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons. Mini dab rigs are compact and portable, making them ideal for on-the-go use. However, some users argue that their smaller size may compromise the quality of the smoking experience due to limitations in percolation and diffusion.

Despite this, many enthusiasts appreciate mini dab rigs for their convenience and discreetness, especially when traveling or in tight spaces.

Ultimately, whether a mini dab rig is worth the investment depends on personal preferences and lifestyle. It's crucial to consider factors such as portability, ease of use, and overall smoking experience when deciding whether a mini dab rig aligns with individual needs and habits.

Is it worth the investment?

Considering the numerous options for dab rigs and their varying prices, it's essential to determine if investing in a quality rig is worth it. A high-quality dab rig can enhance the overall experience by offering better flavor, smoother hits, and efficient vaporization of concentrates.

Investing in a durable, well-designed dab rig can ensure longevity and consistent performance, making it a worthwhile choice for those who are committed to enjoying dabs regularly.

Additionally, the investment in a good dab rig can be seen as an opportunity to explore and appreciate the artistry behind different designs and materials used in crafting these smoking accessories.

Common misconceptions and FAQ

Before getting started, it's essential to address some common misconceptions and frequently asked questions about dab rigs. One of the most prevailing myths is that using a dab rig is complex or difficult for beginners.

The truth is, with the right guidance and practice, anyone can quickly get the hang of using a dab rig. Another misconception revolves around safety concerns related to using a dab rig.

When used correctly and responsibly, dab rigs are no more dangerous than other inhalation devices like vaporizers or dab pens.

Moving on to frequently asked questions, one prominent query among beginners is whether a butane hash oil (BHO) should be used with a specific type of rig. In reality, any well-designed rig can effectively handle BHO without posing any risk if users adhere to proper usage guidelines.



Mastering the art of dabbing requires understanding what a dab rig is and how to use it. Choosing the right type of rig that suits your preferences and needs is crucial for an enjoyable experience.

Learning the proper techniques for heating, adding concentrates, and inhaling will ensure a successful dabbing session. With practice and knowledge, beginners can confidently explore the world of dabs with their newfound expertise.

Regular maintenance and cleaning will keep your dab rig in top condition for continuous enjoyment.


1. What is a rig for dabs?

A rig for dabs is a special type of equipment used to smoke concentrated forms of cannabis, like oils or waxes.

2. How do I use a dab rig?

To use a dab rig, you heat the nail with a torch until it's hot, then place your concentrate on the nail and inhale the vapor through the water pipe.

3. Do I need anything else besides the dab rig to get started?

Yes, besides your dab rig, you will need a torch to heat up the nail, as well as concentrates (like oil or wax) to vaporize.

4. Is using a dab rig safe for beginners?

Using a dab rig can be safe if done carefully. Beginners should start with small amounts of concentrate and learn how everything works under guidance from someone experienced.

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