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Dabbing: What is it and should you try it?

Dabbing: What is it and should you try it?

Dabbing: What is it and should you try it?

Remember when you couldn’t imagine breaking up with your Blackberry for an iPhone, but then you did and it was true love? Transitioning from a bong to a dab rig may be much the same

At first glance, the act of dabbing might look intimidating or, let’s face it, gross.

First, there’s the glass dab rig, which is cumbersome, complicated-looking and often full of resin (if it’s been used before), and its nail (read on) that demands precision heating with a butane torch. Then there’s the tool that’s used to pick up the concentrate or wax and spread it around the scalding hot interior of the nail. Once the concentrate has melted, only then can you inhale on the mouthpiece and, finally, enjoy the flavour and effects of the quality concentrate.

The whole thing is a bit like an experiment at some dodgy adult science fair. It seems like a lot of work, but the truth is, it’s a lot simpler than it looks and can be a great way to reach your desired state.

Dabbing is the act of heating concentrate such as shatter, wax or oil, and inhaling its vapour. It differs from a bong in that dabbing uses concentrate rather than flower, and instead of incinerating the product, boils it on the ceramic or quartz surface of the rig’s nail.

It’s also incredibly effective. A recent study found that dabbing is more effective than smoking a joint or using a pipe device like a bong. Researchers found that over 75 percent of THC in each dab goes directly into the lungs, which is more than either smoking method.

But no method is perfect; dabbing does have a higher barrier to entry. It’s more intimidating than, say, a bong or vaporizer because of the equipment required, plus it’s still a relatively new way to consume cannabis compared to the tried and tested joint. That said, some companies sell out-of-the-box solutions, where you can buy an entire pre-packaged kit rather than pick up each piece a la carte.

Want to get dabbing? Here’s what you’ll need

Concentrate, wax or oil

You’ll need to buy concentrate rather than flower, so get prepared by finding a strain that best suits your needs.

Dab rig

The rig itself looks similar to a bong, but with some slightly different twists, turns and vessels. Much like a bong, the different shapes and varieties are a matter of personal preference, so do some research before committing to your first rig.

… or an old bong

Your existing bong might actually work as a dab rig if it has a stem, but you’ll need to buy a proper nail that fits snugly inside.


The nail functions similarly to the bowl of a bong in that the product is placed inside and activated with heat. Remember that nails are often sold separately from the rig and are most commonly made from quartz, ceramic or titanium.


If you’re big into making crème brûlée, you probably have a torch that’ll do the trick. A traditional lighter won’t heat the nail well enough, so a butane or propane torch is necessary. Another option is a plug-in dab rig like Big-E™ Rigfrom Hyer, which uses electricity to heat the nail to the right temperature.

Or just buy a dabbing kit

A kit takes out the work of researching and buying individual items, offering everything needed in a neat and tidy, out-of-the-box solution. Puffing Bird sells a variety of kits, including its paint-coated honeycomb rig set-up, which comes with the rig, a PID temperature controller, a heating coil, a quartz nail and more. It retails for US$174.99, plus shipping to Canada.

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