Dabbing Essentials: Equipment You Need to Get Started

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Dabbing technology has advanced far beyond the days of hot knifing and inhaling vapor through a straw. Learn the tools you’ll need for a safe and clean dab below.


If you’ve heard about dabbing but aren’t sure where to start when it comes to what equipment you need, it can be easy to feel a little intimidated. It’s not the kind of activity you can just jump into without the proper gear. Though it requires a few more tools and a little bit more set up than, say, packing a bowl or pulling out the vape, it doesn’t have to be a hassle once you get all the pieces you need.

You can use this list as a starting point and branch out from here. Try brushing up on your Dabbing 101 basics or learn how to take a dab with Coral Reefer while you get your dabbing game plan together.

Dab Rig

Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

This is the place to start if you want to get into dabbing. A dab or oil rig water pipe is similar to a bong, except instead of a glass bowl, this device is intended to hold a nail that vaporizes concentrates. Whether you want a small rig for casual use or plan to go all out for a fancier one, focus your attention on functionality. Look for a design with a sturdy base, thick walls and a good amount of water volume.

Nail

Dabbing Cannabis Now

Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

Titanium and quartz are the most popular materials for nails, though some people use glass and ceramic nails. Quartz nails are considered the best for flavor retention and are known for heating up quickly, while titanium nails retain heat better and are believed to be more durable. It’s up to you which you choose, but do some research and ask questions before you make an expensive commitment.

Mini Torch

You’ll need a small hand torch, similar to the ones chefs use to make crème brulée, to heat up the nail to take a dab. It’s important not to overheat the nail or else you will just burn your concentrate and ruin the flavor (and destroy the terpenes). On the other hand, if it’s not hot enough, your concentrate won’t properly vaporize and will just end up melting into a puddle. The torch can be a butane or a propane torch, but we recommend butane because it burns much cleaner than propane. If you’re feeling different, try out an e-torch.

E-nail

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An e-nail is a device that allows you to heat and control the temperature of the nail without the use of a torch. With this, you don’t need to reheat the nail between each and every single dab which makes it especially useful when you’ve got a few people and don’t want to spend too much time getting everything just right for each person. It’s also helpful because you won’t have to worry about the nail being too cold or not being hot enough once you get the hang of the device.

Carb Cap

Dab Equipment Cannabis Now

Photo Dabbs Dean

A carb cap is really useful if you want your concentrate to melt and vaporize evenly. Carb caps work on open air dabbing systems — such as domeless nails — where the carb cap can fit snuggly on the nail. The carb cap works by creating a low pressure chamber around your dab when you inhale, which lowers the boiling point of the concentrate and helps every last drop burn at a lower, smoother temperature. For domeless nails, the cap helps you get the most out of the dab by preventing the vapors from dissipating so you get the best hit with the most flavor.

Dabber Tool

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This tool is a short accessory that’s usually about as long as a pencil and is used to grab concentrate and distribute it around the heated nail as you inhale. They’re usually glass, metal or ceramic and you can choose from a blunt tip or scoop, which is good for more crumbly concentrates, or find finer ones that allow you to be more precise when picking up gooey, stickier concentrates. Some carb caps come with dabber tools on the end for a two-in-one deal.

Silicone Mat

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Find a nice size round or square mat large enough to fit beneath your rig with enough room for tools and materials you need on hand. The mat is there to protect surfaces from concentrate stains and to use to wipe off your dabber tool to keep it from getting too sticky from buildup.

Cotton Swabs

Photo Kevin Foote

It’s a good idea to keep some cotton swabs around if you opt for a quartz nail. You can use it to keep your nail clean and free of leftover material that can build up from taking dabs at lower temperatures. It helps keep your dabs tasting fresh, prevents you from mixing concentrates and can prolong the lifespan of your gear.

TELL US, what do you use to dab?

K. Astre is a California writer with a global appetite for art, music and culture. She fuels her creativity with tea, yoga, meditation and, of course, cannabis.

1 Comment

  1. Tim Shanahan

    October 18, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Is Cannabis something that helps with ALS? And if so, in what format?
    I live in Ireland and cannabis is illegal. Is there any way around this?

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