Dab rigs: what are they and how do you use them?

WRITTEN by SY

 | Last revised

Dec, 2021

Dabbing has grown in popularity in recent years, thanks in part to the emerging cannabis culture in countries where recreational use has been legalised.

Dabbing is an alternative method of inhaling cannabis for either medicinal or recreational purposes, however, it’s quite different to using a bong or smoking a joint and can be somewhat complex for the uninitiated.

So, what is a dab rig exactly, how do you use one and can you buy one online?

We answer all these questions and review some of the best models available online in Australia.

What is a dab?

By definition, a dab is a small amount of something, and true to its name a dab of cannabis concentrate is all you need to be flying high.

Dabs, also referred to as wax, shatter, budder, crumble, or honeycomb are highly concentrated individual doses of cannabis concentrate containing high levels of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.

Researchers have discovered that some dabs contain up to 80% THC whereas cannabis flower contains a THC concentration of around 10 – 15% [1].

Traditionally, cannabis concentrates like hash are made using either a wet or dry sieve to separate the cannabinoid-laden resing glands, known as trichomes, to extract the maximum concentration.

Whereas, dabs are commonly made using a solvent such as carbon dioxide, ethanol or butane to dissolve and separate the active compounds from the plant. The solvent is poured over the cannabis to ‘wash’ the cannabinoids off the plant and into the solvent.

Solvent extraction methods can be extremely dangerous due to the highly flammable and combustible ingredients. These solvents can explode with just the smallest spark and it’s advisable to leave dab production to the professionals and not experiment in your own home.

oil rig australia. Dabber with cannabis concentrate.

Types of solvent dabs:

• Shatter: A translucent, smooth glass-like extract that’s hard and sticky.
• Budder: A matte, smooth and soft extract with a malleable consistency.
• Wax: A thick sticky, waxy extract.
• Crumble: A brittle and crumbly consistency.
• Oil: A sticky and viscous consistency.
• Distillate: A cannabis oil that contains a single cannabinoid, usually THC or CBD.

There are solventless methods that use a mechanical extraction process to create the concentrate. Solventless extracts are generally more pure as they haven’t been in contact with any type of solvent, and you also avoid inhaling any trace amounts of harmful chemicals.

Types of solventless dabs:

• Rosin: An extract method that uses heat and pressure to squeeze the resin glands from the plant.
• Kief: The resin glands are separated from the plant and collected using a mesh sieve.
• Hash: Kief squeezed into a ball or slab
• Bubble hash: An ice water extraction is used to create Kief that has been made into hash.

How does dabbing work?

In essence, dabbing is just another form of vaping cannabis.

Dabbing is a relatively new term, historically it’s been known as ‘hot knives’ or ‘hot knifing’ which is where the cannabis concentrate is sandwiched between two hot knives to produce the vapour.

Things have definitely come a long way and thanks to the rise in cannabis connoisseur culture, there are now much easier ways to dab.

Dab rigs, sometimes known as oil rigs or dab bongs, resemble a glass bong but are generally smaller in size and they operate a little differently from traditional bongs.

The central heating element of a dab rig is called a ‘nail’ or ‘banger’ and is essentially a weed bowl for dabs. The dab rig nail can withstand extremely high temperatures owing to the materials they are made from, usually glass, quartz, ceramic, and titanium.

The heating process begins by using a blow-torch to heat up the nail, then the dab is added into the heated nail with a dabber and quickly transforms into vapour which is inhaled.

Is dabbing safe?

While dabbing is considered a safer alternative to smoking a bong or joint as it avoids combustion, too much of a good thing can lead to unwanted side effects.

While more studies need to be done to determine if there are any long-term side effects from dabbing, the short term side effects of THC over-consumption can include:

• Rapid heartbeat
• Paranoia
• Numbness or crawling sensations under the skin
• Anxiety
• Shivering or shaking

The other important consideration for dabbing is ensuring the nail stays within the right temperature range; extremely high temperatures can destroy the cannabinoids and terpenes while also potentially producing carcinogenic chemicals. The ideal temperature range for dabbing is between 190° C to 215° C [2].

dab rigs australia. Metal nail heating a dab.

Best dab rigs Australia

So, you’re looking for the best dab rig in Australia? Before we get stuck into the reviews, let’s explore what makes a good oil rig.

The nail is arguably the most important component of a dab rig, each style has its own pros and cons.

Titanium nails are incredibly durable and heat up faster and maintain heat for longer compared to other materials, however, they have a tendency to overheat leading to burnt product. They can take a bit of getting used to and are generally more expensive than other nails.

Quartz nails are also extremely durable, and they don’t tend to get as hot as other nails which reduces the risk of burning the dab. However, they do have trouble retaining heat over a longer period.

Glass nails are inexpensive, but are the most fragile and can break easily. Similar to quartz, glass nails have trouble retaining heat and may not be suitable for all types of dab as they don’t get hot enough.

Ceramic nails retain heat well but also break easily. Similar to glass, these nails are fairly inexpensive.

With this in mind, let’s check out some of the best dab rigs on the market.

Puffco Peak Dab Rig

Features:
• Fast Charging and Long Lasting Battery
• LED Light Band & Haptic Feedback
• Intelligent Temperature Calibration
• Borosilicate glass

The Peak dab rig does all the hard work for you, no blow torches are needed here. Dabbing from start to finish is made easy with this electric dab rig.  It offers users a powerful experience that ensures the best expression of flavour and potent effects.

It has a fast heating time of around 20 seconds and also features four different heat settings so you can reach the ideal temperature for your dab.

The rig is only comprised of two parts: the bubbler and the base. This makes cleaning easy and portability convenient. The silicone base and solid design ensure that the glass is protected.

An innovative dab rig that offers users an easy and consistent way to get results from dabbing.

Black Leaf Bird Cage Bubble

Features:
• Doubles as a dab rig and bong
• Features additional quarts nail
• Compact size

Take the smoothest draws from this hybrid dab rig. The Black Leaf Bird Cage Bubble bong comes with an additional quartz nail, making it ideal for use with both flower and concentrates. The bird-cage percolator provides excellent cooling and smoothing action, with an eye-catching design.

The Bird Cage bubble bong is 23cm in height, making it compact size and the ideal hybrid for smoking herbs or concentrates. The flared mouthpiece is made for comfort.

The Bird Cage model comes with a male joint, and you get a female 14mm borosilicate glass bowl with a handle for easy lifting and a quartz banger for concentrates.

SATURN mini dab rig

Features:
• Glass dome & nail for dabbing
• Great for travel
• Lightweight

You’ll travel to outer space with this mini dab rig.

The dab rig measures just 15cm tall and features a bubble-shaped water chamber and a diagonally positioned scope style mouthpiece.

Both the dab rig and nail are constructed from borosilicate glass for added durability, and it’s super lightweight making it ideal for travelling.

An inexpensive option without any bells and whistles.

FAQ

What is a dab rig?

A dab rig is a glass pipe designed for vaporizing cannabis concentrates known as dabs.

It consists of a glass pipe, similar to a bong, which is connected to a nail or banger which is where the dab is placed. Usually, a blow-torch is used to heat up the nail in turn turning the dab into vapour.

The modern-day dab rig usually includes the glass pipe, a nail, a dabber to add the concentrate to the nail, and in some premium models, it includes a blow torch.

Can you buy dabs online?

As with any cannabis product we do not recommend buying it online, mainly because it’s illegal but also because it’s extremely risky.

You may receive an inferior product that is filled with trace amounts of toxic solvents, or even worse it may be confiscated.

Unfortunately, recreational use of cannabis is still illegal in most Australian states and accessing dabs, even though the medical pathway, may prove to be difficult at this time.

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References

1. Sherri Gordon, "What You Need to Know About Dabbing".
Very Well Mind.
https://www.verywellmind.com/marijuana-dabbing-4797506.
2. , "The side effects of dabbing".
Weed Maps.
https://weedmaps.com/learn/cannabis-and-your-body/side-effects-smoking-dabs.

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Disclaimer. While we strive to relay the most factual education available, this shouldn’t replace official medical or legal consultation and recommendation. This is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Happy days.

Hinterland co. Byron Bay, Australia

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