As adult-use and medical cannabis legalization has led to a rapidly growing marijuana industry, there have been many innovations in the world of weed, but arguably none among them has changed the way we consume more than the cannabis concentrate.
With names such as shatter, budder, badder, wax, crumble, sugar, sauce, and crystalline, the many types of concentrates turn dispensaries into curators of taste. It’s no surprise that the concentrate category has seen expansive growth over the years. While these product types only accounted for 10% of the legal cannabis market in 2014, it ballooned to about 27% in 2018 and is expected to reach $8.5 billion by 2022, according to a 2018 report by BDS Analytics and ArcView Market Research.
While vape pens have become a wildly popular way to consume concentrates, primarily for their ease of use and discretion, many seasoned stoners prefer to vaporize their highly potent concentrates with a dab rig. With a similar design to the traditional bong, a dab rig is usually made of borosilicate glass and utilizes a nail or banger instead of a bowl.
Using a blowtorch, the banger or nail is heated for about 30 seconds or until it glows red hot. After waiting for about 60 seconds, the concentrate is placed onto the heated area using a dab tool and vaporized for the consumer to inhale. The dab rig setup, also sometimes referred to as an oil rig, enables consumers to activate cannabinoids and terpenes, leading to a highly potent and flavorful hit.
Whether you’re just dabbling in the world of concentrates and buying your first dab rig, or you’re entering connoisseurship and looking to level up your collection of rigs, understanding what to look for when choosing a rig is crucial. So Weedmaps News put together a guide to the most important things to look out for and keep in mind when making your dab rig kit.
How to Choose the Right Dab Rig
The foundation of every dab rig kit is, of course, the rig itself. Depending on your experience level and budget, there are many different avenues that will grant you access to the cannabis concentrate kingdom.
If you’re curious consumer or a longtime stoner who smokes flower but wants to dabble in the world of dabbing, you’ll probably want to start off with an affordable dab rig. It’s important to balance price with quality, however, or else you might end up with a lesser-quality rig and an unsatisfying dabbing experience.
Look for a simple dab rig that doesn’t seem too flimsy. Make sure the glass is moderately thick and has at least one percolator to filter the cannabis concentrate byproducts. You can find dab rigs priced on the more affordable side, usually about $30 to $40, at your local headshop or through online glass sellers such as DankGEEK or 420 Sciences.
If you want to take your dab rig game to the next level, there are a number of reputable glass manufacturers that will surely garner cred from your true cannabis-loving companions. Some of the most beloved dab rig producers include Grav, Bougie Glass, Diamond Glass, Glob Squad, and many others. Compared with the dab rigs in the budget segment, these higher end pieces sport a more complex design and are made of higher-quality glass.
If you decide to shell out some extra cash for a dab rig from a reputable brand, you can find some truly fascinating pieces that will distinguish you from other glass collectors. Take this fiercely horned Banger Hanger Dab Rig from Bouge Glass or the uniquely shaped Rigception by Diamond Glass as examples of what a couple of hundred dollars can net you on the dab rig market.
When we’re talking about high-end dab rigs, the discussion is going to revolve around customization and aesthetics. Social media are also a terrific resource for finding custom dab rigs made from highly talented glass blowers.
For instance, searching for the #glassforsale on Instagram will lead you to a treasure trove of upscale dab rigs. Typically, after you find the dab rig you like, the interaction starts with a direct message to the glass blower, and if a price is agreed upon, the dab rig is then purchased from a head shop or directly through the artist.
Think of high-end glass as pieces that are artisan-blown, not produced in bulk. The techniques that glass blowers use and the amount of time put into a piece will dictate the value of the piece, which can sometimes reach several thousands of dollars.
Finding the Right Dab Rig Components and Tools
While the dab rig acts as the foundation for the concentrate consumption experience, there are numerous other components, including the banger or nail, as well as the carb cap and dab tool. Again, the best components and tools will be contingent on what you’re looking for. Similar to the selection of dab rigs, there’s a choice between a frugal route or a more lavish path.
The most integral part accompanying the dab rig is the banger or titanium nail, which is the component that is heated to vaporize concentrate upon contact. Higher-quality bangers are made from quartz, while glass bangers are the most affordable. Compared with glass bangers, quartz is known to be more durable while also offering a cleaner hit.
Keep in mind that dab rigs have three joint sizes, so not every banger will work with your dab rig. The three most common sizes are 10 millimeters, 14 millimeters, and 18 millimeters.
You also need to know which gender banger fits your glass. A dab rig with a male joint is compatible with a female nail, while a female joint goes with a male banger. An adapter is needed if you want to use a banger that is the same gender as the dab rig. If you purchase your dab rig without a banger or nail, make sure you know the joint size for future reference.
Quartz bangers provide excellent flavor and can be heated quickly, while titanium nails are generally more durable and have much better heat retention. Personal preference will determine which type is ideal for your dab rig setup. If you decide that the titanium nail is best for you, look for products from reputable brands that use medical-grade-2 titanium.
Those who are new to dabbing world might be tempted to take the more affordable route and go with a glass banger, but there’s an argument to be made for spending a bit more on quartz banger. A quartz banger will retain and distribute the heat better than a glass banger, making it more durable and better suited for repeated use. It’s also important to look at the purity of the quartz used in the banger, as this will improve the flavor of the hit.
For dab tools and carb caps, you can also take the frugal route and find options in the $20 range. if you want to kill two birds with one stone and keep your total expenses down, you can purchase a dual-use titanium carb cap and tool from a head shop or online for $10 to $20. With it, you can use the tool end to place the dab in the banger and the dome to cover the banger and retain heat while you take a hit. It’s important to check that the size of the carb cap matches the circumference of the banger, or else you might have problems retaining heat during your dab.
In between cheaper dab rig accessories and masterfully hand-blown pieces on the pricier side of the spectrum, there are a number of bangers, caps, and dab tools that offer a balance between affordability and function. For a high-quality banger that doesn’t cost more than the rig itself, look at options like the $150 Cavel V2 from Highly Educated, which features a 4 millimeter thick layer of 99.99% pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) opaque quartz. Also, look for artists or brands who sell these components together. For instance, the handmade banger and bubble cap bundle from Evan Shore X NE Quartz costs around $119.
Similar to high-end dab rigs, there are also artisan-blown caps and bangers that fuse fine art and function together. The Toro Core Reactor and Toro Grail, for instance, are two popular bangers in the $200 to $300 range. Another high-end glass option for bangers and caps is Binary Banger from Mothership Glass, which includes masterfully shaped glass with vibrant patterns. These high-end components don’t come cheap.
The Binary Banger costs $300, while the Binary Cap and Binary Bubble Cap are $400. While these exorbitant prices may seem excessive to entry-level concentrate consumer, expensive and visually captivating glass pieces like these are tailored toward glass collectors and serious dab enthusiasts. There are also additional components that can be added to enhance the dabbing experience, such as terp pearls, which are tiny quartz marbles that are placed inside of the banger to enhance heat distribution.
The Final Touch: How to Complete Your Dab Rig Kit
Now that you have your dab rig and components selected, it’s time to put a bow on your kit by adding a few necessary, but sometimes overlooked, things to your shopping list. Here’s what else you’ll need to get started:
- Torch: Without a torch, you can’t heat your banger, and without a heated banger, you can’t dab your concentrate. Butane torches are preferred over propane torches because they burn cleaner and are more portable. One of the most popular torches used amongst dabbers is the Blazer GT8000 Big Shot Butane Torch. Dab torches come in many different sizes, so if portability is an important factor, there are smaller-sized options out there as well. Ideally, the butane torch you select will offer features such as adjustable heat and a lockable flame feature.
- Butane: In order to fill up your blowtorch, you’ll need some butane to refill the torch when it’s empty. Make sure to read the instructions on the butane bottle before refilling the torch to avoid potential hazards.
- Traveling Case: There’s a wide selection of carrying cases that will allow you to store and transport your dab rig in a protective and discreet manner. One popular type of traveling case coveted by dab enthusiasts is the highly protective and waterproof Pelican-branded case.
- Timer: You can use any ordinary stopwatch, smartphone, or any other type of portable timer device to keep track of the time while you heat up the banger and wait for it to cool down.