How to Use a Dab Rig: Beginner’s Guide

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Dab Rigs: How to Use a Dab Rig

Using a dab rig might seem a bit daunting at first, but don’t worry, we’ve got your back! In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about dab rigs, including what they are, how to use one, what to look for when shopping, and answers to some common questions. So let’s dive in!

What is a dab rig?

A dab rig is the centerpiece of your dabbing setup. It goes by a few different names, like oil rigs or wax rigs, but essentially, they’re small, simple water pipes designed to accommodate a dab nail instead of a bowl slide. Dab rigs come in various materials and offer different percolators, filtration devices, and so on. Ultimately, they’re a type of water pipe designed to help you make the most of your concentrates.

Dab rigs have a smaller, no-fuss design that typically features one or two small percolators and no more than one water chamber. They also usually have narrow, angled mouthpieces that make it easier to hit them from a stationary position, like a table, rather than your couch.

How do you use a dab rig?

Using a dab rig for the first time can feel a bit overwhelming due to the different components and techniques involved. But once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty simple. For a fully functional dab rig setup, you’ll need:

  • A dab rig
  • Quartz banger or another dab nail
  • Carb cap
  • Dab tool
  • Butane torch
  • Concentrates
  • (Optional) Timer or stopwatch, or laser thermometer

Here’s how to use a dab rig setup:

  1. Fill your rig to the water line and slide your banger into your rig.
  2. Use a butane torch to evenly heat the surface of the nail until it reaches your desired temperature. You can use the stopwatch method by heating it until it’s red-hot and letting it cool for about 45-50 seconds. Alternatively, you can use a laser thermometer or terpometer to find the right temperature before taking your dab.
  3. Once you find the ideal dab temperature, use a dab tool to drop your concentrates into the hot nail, and then quickly cap it with your carb cap.
  4. Spin the carb cap on top of the nail to help distribute your concentrates evenly across the nail for even heating.
  5. Sip from the mouthpiece and draw the vapor into your lungs until your concentrate is fully vaporized.
  6. Allow the nail to cool down, then clean it with a little isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to keep it in good shape for your next dab.

What to Look for When Buying a Dab Rig: A Personal Guide

When we’re shopping for a dab rig, there are several factors we need to consider, such as the material, size, joint type, and whether it has too many chambers and percs to be effective. Let’s take a closer look at these aspects.


We prefer dab rigs with small, narrow mouthpieces that resemble bendy straws rather than PVC pipes. The goal isn’t to clear the chamber with dab rigs, as they offer constant airflow. We want something we can sip rather than rip. The best dab rigs usually have an angled mouthpiece, making it more comfortable to hit from a table while sitting.


We’ve found that the most common dab rigs are made of silicone or glass. Silicone works in a pinch, but it can alter the flavor of our dabs and be harder to clean. We recommend heavy-duty borosilicate glass, as it holds up well to heat, is easy to clean, and doesn’t add unwanted flavors to our concentrates.

Joint Size

The best joint size for a dab rig is 10mm, as its small size prevents oxygen permeation. However, dab rigs come in various sizes. It’s crucial to ensure that the joint on our nail matches the one on our dab rig but is the opposite sex. So, if we have a female nail, we’ll need a male rig and vice versa.


We’ve learned that less is more with dab rigs. While flower bongs benefit from extra chambers and filtration devices, we only want one chamber and no more than two percolators on our dab rig. The more volume our vapor must travel through before reaching our lungs, the more flavor and potency we’re filtering out. We opt for something smaller with fewer bells and whistles for the best results.


Size is crucial for our dab rig. We want something relatively small since less distance for the vapor to travel means better-tasting hits. We recommend a small rig with a narrow mouthpiece and a simple design featuring no more than two percs to get the most out of our dabs.

Answers to Our Most Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much do dab rigs cost?

A: Dab rig prices depend on artistry and craftsmanship. There are fantastic dab rigs in the $50-$300 range, but we can find rigs as cheap as $20 and as expensive as several thousand dollars. It all depends on the quality of materials and construction. Price isn’t always an indicator of quality, but we want to ensure our rig is made from heavy-duty borosilicate glass. A smaller size without extra bells and whistles is a bonus, as it can save us money without compromising the experience.

Q: Bong vs. dab rig — what’s the difference?

A: The main differences between bongs and dab rigs come down to size. Bongs for flower are typically larger than dab rigs and have wider mouthpieces and joint sizes. Bongs also usually have multiple water chambers and many percolators or filtration devices necessary for cooling and filtering the harsh smoke from flowers. Dab rigs, however, are designed to minimize the volume that our dab vapor must travel before reaching our mouth. While dab rigs also cool and filter smoke, they are simpler and much smaller. Dab rigs often have small mouthpieces, allowing us to sip instead of rip like with a bong.

Q: How much water should we put in our dab rig?

A: Filling a dab rig with water isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, as every rig is different. A good rule of thumb is to ensure we have enough water to bubble as we draw vapor into the chamber but not so much that it splashes through the mouth.

Now that you have a better understanding of dab rigs and how to use them, you’re ready to start enjoying the world of concentrates. Take it slow, be patient, and soon you’ll be a dabbing pro!

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Harriett S. Miller

Meet Harriett S. Miller, the guy who never met a CBD strain he didn't like! He's been researching and experimenting with CBD for years, and it's safe to say he's a bit of an enthusiast. When he's not busy trying out new strains, you can find him scoping out the latest cannabis accessories and gadgets. Harriett is dedicated to spreading the word about the benefits of CBD and helping people discover the perfect products to enhance their cannabis experience. He may be serious about his research, but he's always up for a good laugh (or a good puff).

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