How to Use a Dab Rig Without Wasting Your Concentrate: Step-by-Step

So you’ve bought yourself a fancy new dab rig. Great, so now what?

Taking your first solo dab can be daunting, especially if all the equipment at hand is subpar at best. Not to mention your knowledge.

Adding to the difficulty are the different sorts of gear and extracts created from the growing culture of dab and concentrates lovers all over the world.

So, to ease the tension and to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience, here’s how to use a dab rig without wasting a big ol’ glob of shatter, or whichever extract you’re using.

Note: Here’s an article explaining ‘what is dabbing’, in case you’re not familiar.

All the Equipment You Need

A water pipe/rigs. These look like your classic bong around 8-10 inches that you can find in your local smoke shop.

A torch. Your typical, run of the mill butane torch will work just fine which you can get in store or online on ebay. You can also use an electric dab nail, that you just turn on and off. You can also find this online or in store.

A dab nail. A nail is what you use to vaporize the concentrate inside the rig. You’ll need a nail that fits the gauge of your water pipe – there’s a whole lot of variety out there but titanium is the most commonly used type because you can get the nail screaming hot. You can also use a ceramic or quartz nail.

A cannabis concentrate. From shatters to crumble, to waxes and rosin, check your nearest dispensary and find the one suited to you. This is essentially an extracted and refined, very strong form of cannabis.We don’t advise dabbing with alcohol-based extracts, as they can have negative health effects. If you’re concerned, talk to your distributor to find out how the extract was made.

A dome/cap. This is referred to as  a dome, a cap or even a glass hood which you place around the nail to keep the smoke from escaping.

A dabber. To scoop the concentrate onto the nail, you’ll need a dabber. This is what you call the glass, metal, or ceramic implement you use to apply a dab. You can find them in a variety of shapes and colors. It’s good to use a pointed, or ball point, titanium dabber. Odd shaped dabbers or glass shaped dabbers tend to leave too much waste.

So you have the equipment set up? Let’s learn how to dab!

how to use a dab rig steps
(Photo by Seth McConnell from Denver Post file)

Learning How to Use a Dab Rig! Step-by-Step

Step 1: Take your dab rig and fill it up with enough water to make it bubble when you pull air through it.

Step 2: Take your nail and put it inside the joint. Take your dabber and scoop a tiny amount of concentrate, trying to keep it at the very end of the dabber tool so that it easily drops off.

Step 3: Grab your torch and heat your nail until it’s glowing red hot. Make sure to face the torch flame away from your glass or you’ll crack it. Watch the nail, and once it starts to turn orange, stop heating it. Put the dome/cap over the nail onto the joint.

You can skip this step all together if your dab nail is electronic. Simply turn it on and set it to the proper temperature. For the optimum temperature, you’ll want to keep the nail between 550-650°F. This temperature is said to preserve your concentrates’ terpene profile that’s responsible for the yummy flavor.

Step 4: Wait anywhere for 10-40 seconds for the nail to cool. The longer you wait, the better the flavor. But don’t wait too long or the nail will not vaporize your entire dab.

Step 5: Once it has cooled to the right temperature, apply the dab into the center of the nail, place your dome over top the nail and start to pull air through the dab rig slowly (and feel yourself fly to new heights!)

Do’s and Don’ts to Make Your Dab Time Perfect

Do: Set a timer. This is an easy way to make sure your letting your nail cool to the optimum temperature and setting a timer so that it’s not left up to guesswork.  

Don’t: one thing that should never happen is that your dab turns to smoke right away. It’s an oil – so it should be vaporized, not combusted, so as you’re rubbing it you want the concentrate to bubble a little bit and dissipate

Do: Keep the rig clean by sanitizing the mouthpiece with wipes. Also wipe off the residue on the dabber so that it’s nice and clean for the next use. Cleaning the nail after use as well after you’ve completed your dab is good etiquette too.

Don’t: Dab too much! You only need about half a grain of rice in size comparison for a dab. Dabbing gives you a much stronger high than any other way of consumption due to the nature of cannabis extracts – the smoke coming from these extracts is much more potent when compared to dried flower.

So, do you feel ready? Can you implement these techniques and perfect the practice of how to use a dab rig?

Best of luck and happy dabbing!

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