Smoking with concentrates with a dab rig offers a nice, smooth and flavorful smoking experience. Perfect for beginners and longtime smokers alike, dab rigs are a must-have staple every concentrate-lover should own. Because dab rigs have been in use worldwide for thousands of years, and used in the western world for decades, there are many different variations to choose from, and all the choices out there may be enough to make your head spin. However, finding the right glass dab rig for your needs is a lot easier than you might think when you break it down and start to take a look at the structure and benefits of each dab rig type.
Herbs vs. concentrates
While dried herbs like cannabis and tobacco have long been used in bong, concentrates are sort of the new kid on the block. Dried herbs require a herb bowl. Concentrates, on the other hand, requires what’s known as a dab nail. Additionally, the stems that hold nails are generally smaller and more angled to better facilitate smoking a concentrate.
It’s important to match your dab rig to your purpose. If you exclusively smoke one type over the other, the choice is pretty easy to make. However, some people like variety. And when that’s the case, you have two options: buy a dab rig each for herbs and concentrate or buy a dab rig with interchangeable stems. You have two ways to go about it if you opt for a dab rig with interchangeable stems: You can opt for a pipe with an unattached stem or you can find a pipe that can be used with adaptors. If you go the adaptor route, be sure to match your adaptor to type. Whether you choose to have a different dab rig for different smoke types, or change out your stems is mainly down to preference and/or finances. You can’t go wrong either way, so long as you remember that herbs need a bowl and concentrates need a nail.
Stability vs. portability
People often think that dab rigs and waterpipes are only limited to home use, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of options that you can take with you on the go when you want to smoke peacefully in the great outdoors.
Straight tubes, beakers and recyclers are great for use at home. They tend to be larger in size, for one thing. Mainly, they’re super stable and therefore you don’t have to worry about them tipping over and breaking for no reason. And there are even handsfree options out there for when you want to multitask while smoking. If you prefer concentrates over herbs, recyclers are a great option.
A warning: Not every large dab rig, even those with broad bases, are stable—you have to take overall design into consideration and some large dab rigs can even become unstable due to being too top heavy or even design flaws like an uneven base. When sturdiness is a must, go for a beaker dab rig with an even base and nothing unnecessary going on up top.
When portability is crucial, you can always go for a water pipe or bubbler, which are basically like a portable dab rig and tend to look much like a large, often whimsical, tobacco pipe. Like dab rigs, the best water pipes are made of glass, and many even have percolators to provide extra filtration.
While dab rigs can be made from a variety of materials, the undisputed best material is easily glass. Glass—especially high-quality glass—is far superior to plastic, bamboo, ceramic, etc. in many ways, an important one being the way it reacts to heat.
As you probably know, many smaller dab rigs like dab rigs are made by glassblowers who artfully form molten glass into your dab rig or water pipe. It’s not made from chemicals, like plastic. Glass is made from naturally occurring elements and, unlike plastic, it won’t leech contaminants that destroy both flavor and potentially even your health into your vapor. Also, it holds up to heat better than bamboo and ceramic, too. The result is a much purer, smoother and better tasting hit.
All of that said, the best glass is thick. Avoid flimsy cheap stuff. Borosilicate glass is a popular glass type as are more science-y types of glass.
Percolators are an important element worth considering when you’re on the search for the best glass dab rig for your needs. Essentially, percolators are chambers that provide extra filtration and diffusion. Many say the more the better, although there can always be too much of a good thing. For instance, too many percolators, known in the smoker vernacular as “percs”, can create an undesirable amount of drag. This effect can make it hard to clear vapor from the chamber and put a damper on your smoking session. Also, too many percolators can make a dab rig harder to clean.
Different types of common percolators include honeycomb, inline and tree, though there are a few others and some glassblowers even create their own signature percolators that are truly unique.
There are a couple of extras, aside of the aforementioned percolator, that aren’t necessary for a dab rig to function, but are nice. Splashguards are a popular add-on feature; they make smoking from a dab rig more by keeping water out of your mouth. For those who can’t take the heat, an ice pinch is a must-have place to put ice to cool down your vapor.
The bottom line
Even when you break the options down by function, choosing the right glass dab rig can be overwhelming. For newbies, it’s best to keep it simple with a standard recycler. (Your choices may be a bit different if you smoke dry herbs.) From there, choose a couple of additional features you would like such as the percolator and/or ice pinch; by keeping it simple, you’ll be happier with your choice and you’ll have an opportunity to learn what you like as you grow as a concentrate smoker.