Smoking weed certainly isn’t a new hobby – some of the oldest evidence of marijuana smoking is almost 3,000 years old – but in recent years, the use of BHO oils (otherwise known as dabs, waxes, budders, etc.) have given the flower a run for its money. The process of dabbing can seem a little hardcore, but there’s no denying the medicinal benefits, as well as the convenience, of smoking concentrates. The advent of this new way to medicate has also produced a plethora of different materials, accessories, and techniques to be used with the substance, all of which have their own strengths and weaknesses.
1. Dab Rigs
The staple for any dabbing setup, a dab rig is a must have for any concentrate lover. In fact, each user is very careful in choosing just the right dab rig for him or herself. These daily drivers are going to be your go-to glass piece for smoking oils and waxes.
The main difference between the design of dab rigs from your typical bong is the focus on flavor. While traditional bongs are designed for smooth percolation, which is a delicate combination of filtering and cooling the hot smoke from combustion, a dab rig focuses on maximizing the flavor from your hit.
As a result, dab rigs tend to be built smaller than traditional water pipes, where the internal percs are geared towards cooling down the hot vapor, but not percolating it too much to lose flavor.
2. Nectar Collectors
Any seasoned dab smoker knows that concentrates can easily be wasted on a nail, and many new accessories have hit the market to try and minimize the waste involved in the dabbing process. One such accessory is the nectar collector.
Nectar collectors were designed for the purpose of controlling dab intake more accurately, while also attempting to make the dabbing process more simple for medical patients. They typically consist of either a glass or titanium tip, a complex, spill-proof bubbler body to hold water, and a mouthpiece, though some nectar collectors don’t have a bubbling attachment and are meant to be hit dry. Nectar collector use involves placing lines or small dabs of concentrate on a silicone or glass plate, heating the tip of the collector with a torch, and then gently touching the tip to the oil to vaporize to smoke it.
Nectar collectors are an interesting step away from traditional rigs and offer a unique way to control dab intake and minimize waste of your concentrates. However, do be advised that nectar collectors must be assembled and cared for properly in order to avoid any accidents with the nail or breakage.
If you enjoy using a rig, but you’re looking to diverge from using your typical nail, a healthstone might be just what you’re looking for. Healthstones are glass vapor joints with a vapor stone placed in the center and are used by placing dabs directly on the inert carbon vapor stone and using a butane torch to vaporize them right off of it. This means that, if you’re so inclined, you could vaporize huge amounts of dabs very quickly – but this isn’t typically recommended due to potential wastefulness.
It’s certainly a convenient alternative to regular nails, and because the vapor stone doesn’t require an incredibly high-temperature flame to heat up, heathstones can be used with smaller torches that produce smaller flames. One downside of using a healthstone is that the butane or torch fuel from the heating element ends up being directly inhaled by the user, because healthstones involve inhaling as you vaporize as opposed to just heating up something up and then vaporizing off of it. This can make the taste less than ideal, though some users swear that healthstones can actually taste better than your typical nail.
4. Honey Buckets
With such tremendous heat being directed towards a glass piece over and over, it’s easy to see why rigs can crack and break from stress. That’s where accessories like the Honey Bucket come in. Honey Buckets are designed to keep heat from transferring to your piece by offering a swinging arm – made from titanium or quartz, typically – that is heated away from the piece. After being fully heated, the arm is swung via a handle back into the ‘dome’ of the piece where the user can then use the arm’s bucket as if it were a nail head and dab normally.
Honey Buckets not only help to increase the longevity of a piece, but they also offer extreme airflow. Holes in the sides of the arm’s bucket allow for even more airflow and make Honey Buckets one of the most pleasant ways to dab. However, one thing to be sure of when purchasing a Honey Bucket is that the swinging arm is not loose – a loose arm can swing too quickly and potentially cause damage to the bucket, piece, or user.
The dabbing process can certainly be time consuming, what with having to heat the nail every time you want to do a dab – but of course, like with any inconvenience, the industry has come up with a solution. E-Nails are electric devices that heat up the nail via a heating element or metal coil, eliminating the use of a torch and allowing the nail to stay evenly heated through the dabbing process. Though there are many varieties of e-nails, they usually consist of a base that plugs into an outlet and controls the temperature via a digital or analog display, and a long cord with the nail attachment at the end of it.
As soon as you turn the nail on, you can set the temperature you would like and it will continue to heat up until it reaches that temperature. It also doesn’t take long to heat up, and stays heated for as long as it remains on. This makes it perfect for passing around in a group without having to worry about the pomp and circumstance of heating your nail with a torch.
One of the downsides of using an e-nail is that it can be dangerous if you’re using one with an open coil. However, some e-nails do have a safety feature that will turn the machine off if it is on for too long or if the temperature is too high, such as the advanced Galaxy E-Nail.
Another option that helps reduce heat transfer to a piece is a banger. Bangers are made of quartz, ceramic, titanium, or glass and consist of a joint connected to a small tube that leads to a cup-shaped attachment. The banger is placed on a rig where the cup is then heated to an optimal temperature. The user then places concentrate in the cup, inhaling the created vapor through the tube connecting the cup to the joint.
Bangers possess optimal airflow and, if made from quartz or ceramic, can also provide more tasty dabs than an accessory made from titanium. Quartz and ceramic can break if not heated properly, though, so technique when using a banger is very important. Practice makes perfect!
7. Tabletop Vaporizers
While tabletop vapes for bud have been around for some time, the advent of oil has provided vape companies with the motivation to make single and dual-function tabletop vaporizers that can vaporize oil. Though portable vapes are incredibly popular, they can’t beat the function and vapor quality of a tabletop, and if you’re looking to make the switch to a vaporizer for health reasons, tabletop vapes give the most genuinely healthy experience on the market.
Unlike their portable counterparts, tabletop vapes offer very subtle and controlled temperature selection, which means that users can very easily modify the temperature and thereby the consistency and taste of the vapor produced. The vaporizers usually use either bags or ‘whips’ (rubbery hollow cords) to deliver the vapor, and both methods have pros and cons depending on how the vaporizer is used. The temperature is controlled via either a digital or analog display, similar to an E-Nail.
With all of the health concerns associated with smoking and the combustion process, a tabletop vape is a step in the right direction for those looking to improve their lung health.
8. Portable Vaporizers
On the flipside of tabletop vapes, portable vaporizers have been sweeping the market. These vapes allow for maximum convenience by functioning with a battery instead of a power cord, allowing for easy travel and more discrete dabbing. Pen-style vaporizers offer the most when it comes to subtlety – they typically look like e-cigarettes, and the smell from vaporizing oil is much less noticeable than when burning or vaping flower. There is also very little waste involved with using a vaporizer, particularly if the oil portions placed on the heating element are monitored.
Portable vapes, specifically those for use with oil or wax, are typically heated via a coil or heating element. A small amount of oil is placed on the coil and, after the mouthpiece and chamber have been replaced, a button is pressed on the body of the vaporizer to begin heating the coil. The oil then begins to vaporize, creating smoke.
Portable vaporizers are convenient, and as mentioned previously, vaping in general has been proven to be more healthy than regular smoking. However, the brand and type of portable vape is important – a cheap vaporizer can break or get clogged easily.
9. Low-Temperature Dabbing and Carb Caps
It’s not just tools and equipment that are important in the dabbing process – the technique used also matters a great deal. Low-temperature dabbing using a carb cap has quickly become one of the most popular techniques for dabbing, and with good reason. When a nail or other accessory is heated to an incredibly high temperature, the oil can burn instead of vaporizing. This can diminish flavor and, on occasion, actually waste material. Low-temp dabs offer more flavorful hits, conservation of oil, and can also be much less harsh than super high-temp dabs. What’s not to love?
Low-temp dabs are taken by heating a dome-less nail up until it turns red hot, and then waiting for it to cool slightly before hitting it. The cooling time varies depending on the material of the accessory, so some trial-and-error may be necessary. The trick to properly utilizing a lower temperature actually involves the use of one more accessory – a carb cap. Carb caps are used to cover the tops of domeless nails to create a vacuum inside, which regulates the heat inside the nail and allows for the dab to be vaporized more evenly. They are to be placed on top of the nail as soon as the oil is placed on it, and as it traps the vapor, more and more smoke will be created until the concentrate is completely vaporized.
When a nail is heated to red-hot, its temperature is typically sitting somewhere between 950 and 1050 degrees. The optimal temperature for smoking dabs is between 300 and 500 (depending on the smoker’s taste), so using a red-hot nail will either burn or waste the oil. However, waiting for the nail to cool slightly and then using a carb cap ensures that the dab will be properly vaporized and provide the best flavor possible!
10. Domeless vs. Domed Dabbing
When dabbing first hit the scene, domes and nails were the only way to go. This method became common, and most rigs are now sold with domes and nails. However, it didn’t take long for designs for domeless nails to surface, and now there are more options than ever on how to dab. As with most things in the glass world, these two methods are highly contested and most people have their own preference in one way or the other.
The basic difference between domed and domeless dabbing is that domed dabbing involves a dome and nail, while domeless nails have eliminated the need for a dome due to their construction – this means that, for those that prefer to deal with fewer items during the smoking process, using a domeless nail may be a no-brainer. However, for those that are interested in preserving the flavor of the concentrates, there are some subtleties between the two that are very important.
Domed nails typically have a smaller surface area to heat up, which means that there is a smaller surface area to dab off of. This means that getting really large, good hits can be difficult, so domeless nails are better for getting that seriously milky smoke – particularly when used with a carb cap.