What is a Dab Rig/Oil Rig?
When it comes to popular forms of herb consumption, concentrates are definitely the new kids on the block. Despite how long concentrates have been around for (the basic kinds have been popular for thousands of years), people are just getting in touch with the benefits of vaporization and how concentrates can provide a healthier, more flavorful hit. Much of the reason for the turnaround has been the development of wax and oil pens, which led many smokers to consider larger tabletop forms of concentrate vaporization too.
Enter the dab rig, a concentrate-focused cousin of the bong. Dab rigs, also known as oil rigs (although they’re also used for waxes and other, crumblier concentrates), are basically bongs intended to cool down the super-heated vapor coming from the rig’s nail. A few things differentiate these pieces from typical bongs, and you’ll be an expert on rigs once you get a basic understanding of those differences.
What’s a Dab Nail?
The dab nail is what takes the place of a dry herb bowl that a regular bong would have. It’s the part of the rig that’s heated with a propane or butane torch before having concentrate placed in and swirled around with a dabber tool. There are all sorts of different types of dab rig nails available out there, from your basic quartz banger nail to plug-in electric nails, or e-nails. The design of the nail is not the only thing to consider; it’s also important to know the benefits and drawbacks to each kind of nail material out there. Quartz crystal is generally considered the top-of-the-line standard when it comes to a taste-free, relatively easy-to-heat experience, but glass, ceramic, and titanium are also popular options with their own heat-times and flavor profiles.
Most nails can be used with or without the help of a carb cap, which restricts airflow and lets vapor build inside of the piece. It also brings down the pressure inside of the body of the rig and allows the concentrate in your nail to vaporize at a lower temperature, meaning less waste. Some high-temperature dabbers prefer to avoid the carb cap altogether and, instead of waiting the usual 30 seconds for the nail to hit around 300-450 degrees Fahrenheit, hit the dab much sooner. This can result in a big hit to be sure, which is why some people put up with the harshness and nail damage that can occur from high-temp dabs hit on unclean nails. Explore the differences in dab temperatures.
Dab Rig Filtration Systems
Dab rigs also tend to feature intricate filtration systems to make up for the fact that they’re often much smaller than a typical bong but hit at much hotter temperatures. For some dab rigs this means a showerhead or barrel perc, but other concentrate water pipes take it to the next level. Known as recyclers, these dab rigs feature multiple chambers connected to one another, usually with a percolator in the bottom one. This bottom chamber pulls water into the top one through the perc and then releases it back into that main chamber through a tube, effectively recycling the water (and smoke) and keeping the flow going.
The recycling chambers also function as a splashguard, preventing water from getting in your mouth no matter how hard you hit the little rig. That means you’ll only get smooth, cooled, and filtered dabs in your mouth and no gross, tar-filled water.
Ronin Glass’s “Chigiriki” Layered Recycler with Matrix Perc is a great example of a multi-filtering recycler in a small package, with a stylish art deco splashguard on top and a thin, whip-like tube attaching the two chambers.
Other Kinds of Dab Rigs
Recyclers aren’t the only kinds of rigs out there; ones with single chambers are perfectly affordable and accessible to even the most novice dabber. There are plenty of dab rigs out there for under $100 with even two or three internal percolators, so don’t feel like you need to get fancy just to start dabbing. The Ronin Glass “Pakku” Puck Rig with Showerhead Perc is a perfect example of a simple, tiny rig with a lot of filtration power. It’s compact and discrete and comes equipped with a glass nail and dome, enough to get any beginner going on their dabbing journey.
Dab rigs also don’t have to be tiny, and our Honeycomb Perc-to-Tree Perc Water Pipe proves it. This foot-long borosilicate glass rig has a wow-inducing 8-arm tree perc atop a honeycomb perc, all topped by a long neck with an ice-catcher. It’s a rare commodity for a dab rig to have space for ice, and the benefit of having dab smoke cooled down really can’t be overstated. Paired with a quartz banger nail, this rig should blow others straight out of the water.