How to Dab: A Comprehensive Guide

Why Dab?

Contrary to popular belief, dabbing is more than just a touchdown dance. Unlike Cam Newton’s signature move, this dabbing is not just a passing fad. Although concentrates have been around for thousands of years, the technology has consistently grown to get the most out of them. Dabbing has gained popularity due to being more efficient and effective than burning dry herbs. The process of concentrating herb makes it vaporize rapidly and release more active ingredients when heated. Dabbing is a little more complicated than regular smoking but, when done correctly, can produce an intense flavor.

Everything You’ll Need for Dabbing

First of all you need your dab. The dab is a wax or oil concentrate which has been extracted from its dry counterpart. Aromatherapy oils can be used as well.

Dab rigs go by many names such as oil rigs and concentrate rigs. They are usually composed of separate parts similar to a bong; a chamber, downstem, and nail. If you feel as a regular dab rig isn’t portable or cheap enough, there are mini rigs which are of similar size and construction to a bubbler (you can also check out our on-sale dab rigs). Nectar collectors are another portable option for dabbing as the tip works as the nail. You will still need a non-stick surface for your dabbing material, such as a silicone jar, to both act as a platform for you to dip the nectar collectors tip into and to hold leftover material you don’t use.

glass quartz ceramic titanium dab nails

The nail on the dab rig is responsible for holding and vaporizing your dab once it’s heated. These nails can be composed of glass, quartz, ceramic, and titanium. A glass nail is the simplest and cheapest, but they also are not meant to be permanent as they can fracture easily from the constant heat they endure. There are also electronic nails - e-nails -  which supply many benefits at an upscale price. With an e-nail, you can control the temperature of the nail, which means you don’t have to count seconds after heating one. The e-nail electrically heats itself which saves you the trouble of dealing with a torch. Titanium nails are the most popular because of their durability and clean taste after going through a seasoning process. Unless it is specified as domeless, a dome usually comes with your nail to hold your vapor until you are ready to inhale. If you’re interested in buying a new nail, check out our dab nail buyer’s guide.

dab torch

Torches are better for dabbing because of their high heat and precision. A normal lighter would take much longer to heat up a nail and the flame is harder to control.


A dabber is a tool that is used to transfer the dab from its storage location to the nail. Dabbers are made by many brands and come in many sizes. They are usually crafted out of glass, ceramic, or stainless steel.


Step 1: Find the rig that fits you best

dab rigs

Although you can change your usual dry herb bong into a dab rig by switching out the bowl for a dome and nail using an adapter (as described in How To Use Your Bong For Dabbing), this is not always the best idea. Flower residue from combustion will leave a taste and residue that will affect the taste of your dab. Besides that, it is entirely up to personal preference. Just like glass bongs, dab rigs come in many shapes and sizes, with varying percs and prices. Browse thoroughly before selecting your dab rig to ensure that it has all of your preferred specifications.

Step 2: Research which nail is best for you (and heavily consider buying a backup)

Like we mentioned before, there are a few choices when it comes to nails. First of all make sure it fits the joint of your dab rig as you don’t want it slipping into the dab rig itself. Get a nail that fits your dabbing style. If you don’t dab that often or you’re just trying it out then a glass or ceramic can do the job until you become more experienced. Once you realize how amazing dabbing is, you should upgrade to a quartz or titanium nail that is extremely durable. No matter what kind of nail you choose, make sure to get a backup one. There is a lot of stress put on your nail from a torch so having an extra nail will most likely come in handy at some point down the road.

Step 3: Add water to chamber first to test

Add water to your chamber just like you would with a glass bong. To check if you have enough water, pull from the pipe and see if the water bubbles. If the water reaches your mouth while doing this then you have too much in there. Simply pour out or fill until the the water is bubbling and reaching the percs, but is not creating splashback.

Step 4: Season nail if it is titanium

Seasoning your titanium nail greatly improves the taste you will get out of your dab rig. Seasoning is when you repeatedly heat your nail then place it in cold water. Seasoning can also be used to clean your nail after uses by burning away any extra residue.

Step 5: Set up dabber and nail

Pick up a small amount of your concentrate with the end of your dabber and leave it on the side. It is smart to have this ready before heating your nail so you can make sure you are smoking your vapor as soon as the nail is heated to your liking.

Step 6: Heat nail and wait

Use your torch to heat the nail but make sure to keep the flame pointed away from the rest of your rig as the spike in temperature can cause heat stress. Keep the flame on the nail until it starts to get an orange glow. If you have a dome for your nail, this is when you can put it on to keep any vapor from escaping. Finding a specific amount of seconds to wait after you are done heating your nail is up to personal preference, but the recommended time is about 10 seconds for titanium and 30-45 seconds for other types of nails. Either way be careful as these nails maintain high temperatures well after these time periods, so handle with caution.

Step 7: Place concentrate on nail

Take your dabber, with the concentrate all ready to go at the end, and apply the material directly on the top of the nail. Rotate the end of your dabber so no oil is wasted being stuck to the dabber.

Step 8: Inhale and exhale as needed

While you are still making contact between the dabber and the nail, inhale slowly until there is no more vapor left. Make sure to go slow as dabs are very potent and will hit you faster. There is no need to keep the vapor in your lungs for too long so feel free to exhale whenever is comfortable for you.

Step 9: Clean dabber and nail

Simply use heat to burn off any residue on the dabber and nail after you are done dabbing. After they both cool down you can wipe it with a rag or swab soaked in alcohol. It is important to clean these two vital parts, along with the rest of your dab rig, as resin will build up which can negatively impact the quality of your dabs.