Different Types of Dab Rigs

“Dab rig” can describe a variety of different instruments used to consume cannabis concentrates. If you’re just beginning to explore the world of dab rigs, there are a variety of styles, ranging from simple “dab straws” (a tube of glass or quartz, heated at one end to smoke concentrates with) to electric dab rigs. Whether you’re aiming for ease of use, exceptional taste, or portability, here’s how to choose between the different types of dab rigs. 

Read our tutorial on How to Use a Dab Rig.

What to Consider When Choosing a Dab Rig

There are three factors to keep in mind when selecting a dab rig: 

  1. Cost: While some dab rigs are expensive works of art, referred to as “heady glass,” most cannabis enthusiasts prefer something that works well and provides optimal delivery of cannabis concentrate. 
  2. Versatility: Some dab rigs can be used for both flower and concentrates, so if you’re looking to limit how much equipment you need to buy, models that allow for consumption of both types of cannabis products can be a good investment. 
  3. Ease of use: There are two main categories of dab rigs, manual and electric. Manual dab rigs have to be heated with a butane torch or other heat source, whereas electric dab rigs have a heating element that vaporizes your concentrate. Depending on your preferences, one will be more convenient for you to use than the other.

Manual Dab Rigs

When using a manual dab rig, you will need a torch, heat gun, or another consistent heat source. Lighters are insufficient for this purpose because they don’t get hot enough to properly heat the nail, and you need to keep the flame on the nail continuously for 30 seconds to a minute to bring it to the right temperature. See our How To Use a Dab Rig article for step-by-step instructions, including a note on cooling the nail prior to use.

How to Choose a Manual Dab Rig

You will be choosing two separate parts: the nail and the glass piece. 

  • Nails: The most important part of a hand-fired dab rig is the nail or “banger.” Depending on what kinds of water pipes you already have, some nails may work with your current system.  Nails can be made out of glass, quartz, ceramic, and titanium. The material of your nail does not affect the flavor of concentrates, but it does affect what temperature the concentrates can be heated to. 
  • Bonus tip: Quartz nails provide the best dab experience when used properly. Quartz doesn’t crack under heat (or thermal pressure) the way glass does, so it provides better flavor for most concentrates. Titanium nails are recommended for optimal use for hash or solventless products.
  • Glass: When choosing a glass piece, bigger isn’t always better. A smaller piece can maintain the clean flavor of concentrates and ensure the vapor maintains its potency. The more volume your piece has, the more likely your vapor will lose potency. Also, make sure your glass piece has a chamber for water to cool the vapor. Because of the high temperatures required to dab, inhaling the vapor without a water chamber can be harsh and unpleasant. 

Electric Dab Rigs

Electric dab rigs, or e-rigs or e-nails, are a great option for those who are not comfortable handling an open flame for a standard dab rig. They can also be portable and heat up and cool down faster than a manual dab rig. E-nails come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from portable pens to atomizers. However, electric dab rigs are often more expensive than their hand-fired counterparts. 

Some highly-rated options include: 

  • The Puffco Peak
  • The Dr. Dabber Switch
  • The Pulsar Rök

How to Choose the Best Electric Dab Rig

When considering an e-rig, affordability, portability, ease of use and durability are the most important factors to take into consideration.

  • Affordability: Some high-quality e-rigs can cost upwards of $500. While you don’t want to spend too little and end up with a rig that isn’t durable, finding a balance between investment and overspending will be specific to you and your situation. 
  • Portability: When it comes to portability, most reputable e-rig manufacturers will provide a carrying case so you can safely transport your rig. 
  • Ease of use: This is a more subjective factor, but most e-rigs should come with clear, easy-to-understand instructions. An overly complicated process may be a sign to consider a different model. 
  • Cleaning: How much time and effort is required to clean and maintain the rig? If it comes with a novel of care instructions, you may want to reconsider. 

Dab Rig Starter Kit

Once you’ve decided on a manual or electric dab rig, consider getting a dab rig starter kit with all of the necessary components. This way you’ll start off with everything you need and can build on your equipment from there.

If you need recommendations, talk to our Happy Valley Hosts during your next visit to our East Boston or Gloucester locations. Our Hosts are knowledgeable and can also offer recommendations when it comes to the different types of concentrates available, as well as their uses.

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