The King's Guide: Dabbing Explained

What's a Rig/Dabber?

This is probably the most important part of the equation, as there is literally no way to dab without it. When we say dab rig (a.k.a. oil rig), we are referring to the modified water pipe that has become the go-to for dabbing. Instead of a connector for a typical glass bowl like you d have on a bong or bubbler, you have either a male or female glass joint (14 mm or 18 mm usually) which is intended to hold a nail (more on that later). This allows you to heat up the nail and place the concentrate onto it, which causes vaporization. The most important things to consider when buying a rig are function, water volume, portability and durability. Whether you want a tiny little rig that fits in the palm of your hand or a hulking behemoth intended to sit on a coffee table as an art piece, it really comes down to personal preference. Smaller rigs with less water will give a more direct hit with lots of flavor, while larger, more ornate rigs with higher water volumes tend to provide smoother hits with a slight loss of flavor. Be mindful of the design of the rig, because anything top-heavy will likely take a spill at one point or another. So if you are dabbing in a higher-traffic environment, look for something low-profile with a heavy, sturdy base and thick walls.

Nails, Bangers and Gavels

There are two main types of nail on the market these days, domeless titanium nails or quartz nails, often called bangers. Stay away from borosilicate glass nails entirely, as they break easily and can shatter under intense heat, which could be dangerous. The term domeless just refers to the early generations of nails, which required a glass dome to surround them and catch the vapor. The industry has since mostly moved away from this setup, which requires additional pieces and coordination, in favor of the domeless arrangement, in which the vapor is sucked through a hole or slit down into the rig. 

What's Better?

There is definitely a debate in the concentrate community about whether titanium or quartz is the better choice for dabbing. In our opinion, they are mostly interchangeable, but many connoisseurs swear by quartz as the surface of choice for the best flavor and also because of concerns about titanium oxidation at high temperatures as titanium nails degrade with improper use. In general, though, titanium is more durable than quartz, which can break if it was improperly made or was just dropped onto a hard surface — if you're spending money regularly on nails, maybe opt for titanium if you're extra clumsy.

Tools Of Choice

Dab Tools/Dabbers

The dabber of choice depends on whether you consume dry, crumbly concentrates or those that tend to stick to the dabber (i.e. sap, shatter, soft budder). Dry concentrate is easier to scoop, so opt for a wider, spoon-like dabber; if you primarily dab shatter or oils, you can get one that is more like a flathead screwdriver or a ballpoint tip.

Carb Caps

The carb cap is an essential piece for those looking to maximize their flavor retention when dabbing. After heating up the nail, it s best to allow it to cool a bit before dabbing so you re not sucking down 900-degree vapor. The carb cap allows you to let it cool more than you would be able to otherwise because when applied, it serves to cover the nail s surface, creating an oven-like environment in which the concentrate will vaporize more easily. This means you can dab at 550-600 degrees instead of at 700+, which allows you to capture more of the volatile terpenes (i.e. smell and flavor) which would be lost at higher temperature.

Nails & Bangers

Electric Nail/E-Nail

Electric nails are often metal boxes with a port for a coil, a switch or two, and a PID that gauges your coils current temperature. Usually the gauge can be turned on separately from the coil to allow the user to prevent themselves from getting burned. Coils come in two different sizes; 16 and 20 millimetres, and will only work with nails that have been designed for coils of that size. Setting a temperature is crucial to the overall experience considering that the main feature of the unit is maintaining the adjustable temperature steadily. Using a carb cap is essential as well, causing the chamber to billow up during a low temp dab after it’s thrown on top.

Why Go Electric?

The benefits of going electric for your nail’s heat source makes the decision to grab one a no brainer. Your nail will stay cleaner because you’re not burning the hash but rather vaporizing it at the optimal temperature of your choice. Not only will what you’re dabbing on stay clean, but your lungs will thank you as well. Low temp dabs are a sure way to prevent them from getting irritated while medicating. The flavor profiles that you would never otherwise be familiar make an appearance, which also gives a fuller high due to a fuller presence of the available terpenes. Think about all the money that you spend on butane torches and the cans of fuel needed to fill them. Now imagine being able to minimize that expense while always staying up to temperature at all times as opposed to waiting for the nail to heat up and cool down.

Quartz Bangers


Banger (Quartz Banger, Gavel) - An extended 'domeless quartz' nail type of design that has a 'dish' that is horizontally further separated from your 'rig' for functionality and so that heating it up is less likely to create any excess heat or damage at your rig's 'joint'. Bangers come in every possible joint size and both male and female joints – they also come in varying bucket/dish size, some called ‘XL’ for example, and perhaps most importantly they come in either 45-degree or 90-degree configurations, so that they can match the style of your rig and the dish can sit at a comfortable angle, depending on what direction the joint sticks out of your rig etc.



Welcome to The King's Guide!

Feel free to check out any of our guides!

We hope to teach and inspire tokers of all legal ages! 

Feel free to email us for questions or additions you think we should add. 

- GK Team