If you’re just getting started with dabs, you might be a little overwhelmed by all the different glass, accessories, nails, and tools required to enjoy a quality cannabis concentrate. We’re here to cut to the chase by telling you exactly what you need to get started and which accessories (out of the hundreds available) are going to elevate your dabbing experience at the best bang for your buck. Here’s everything you need to know.
What do you need to start dabbing?
From the outside perspective, dabbing looks complicated, but it’s really quite simple. To dab, you’ll simply heat up a surface on a bong (called a dab rig, in this case), drop your concentrate onto the hot surface, cap it, and inhale the vapor. Afterwards, you’ll clean your rig using rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to make sure it’s fresh and ready for your next go. To get started with a basic dab setup, you will need:
- A rig. A rig is a glass bong that has a special attachment for doing dabs. Instead of a bowl for flower, it will have a quartz, ceramic, or titanium nail for dabs.
- A nail/banger. Sometimes referred to as a nail depending on it’s shape, your banger is the surface you heat up to vaporize your concentrate. The best ones are made of quartz, though you can also find ceramic and titanium ones.
- A torch. You will use a precision propane or butane torch to heat up the banger attached to your dab rig. This will get the surface to the optimal temperature for vaporizing a dab. eNails can also be used as a safer alternative.
- Concentrates and cleaning supplies. You can’t vaporize cannabis flower in a dab rig, so you will need concentrates like shatter, wax, live resin, THCa diamonds, sauce, or rosin. You will also need rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs to clean up the leftover residue from your banger to keep it fresh and prevent it from getting chazzed. Chazzing a banger essentially means that the banger is discolored and unable to retain heat as long as it used to from hitting dabs at too high of a temperature or from reheating a banger that wasn’t properly cleaned.
How and why to take low-temp dabs
When you take dabs you’re vaporizing a concentrate, and vaporization can occur at any temperature above 250°F. That said, you can take dabs up to 1000°F, though you won’t want to. After about 700°F, most of the terpenes that help make cannabis strong and effective (or more importantly flavorful) are boiled out. Taking a dab that’s too hot tends to make them less effective since the terpenes, which have shown to improve cannabinoid effects in a phenomenon known as the entourage effect, are removed. At the same time, taking a dab that’s too cold will fail to activate the THC, an essential process that transforms it into the THC derivative that causes you to feel high. You will also not activate many of the terpenes, so you won’t get full flavors or effects.
With that said, there’s a sweet spot for dabs. You can activate the THC and not boil the terpenes away when you take what’s called a low-temp dab. A low-temp dab is a dab taken between 350-450°F. Medium-temp dabs are taken between 450°F-600°F, and high temp dabs are taken from 600°F-750°F. Low temp dabs will give you the best mix of flavors and effects. Medium-temp dabs will be less flavorful but feel more potent, and high-temp dabs will be harsh and flavorless, though the THC is still active so you can expect to cough more.
Low temp dabs are the preferred way to dab since you get the best impression of the strain you’re smoking as well as the full spectrum of cannbinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids and terpenes together are stronger than cannabinoids or terpenes alone. Best of all, taking a dab with more terpenes will make for a more flavorful dab.
To take a low temp dab, be sure to use an enail or a temperature gauge on your banger to get an accurate reading of the temperature before dabbing. If you decide to eyeball it, try heating your banger until its red hot and allowing it to cool for up to 40 seconds before taking the dab. If your dab leaves behind a dark residue, you’re hitting it too hot. Check out this article for more information about recommended banger cooldown times.
4 best accessories to elevate your dabbing game
With all of that information out of the way, there are 4 specific accessories you can use with dab rigs to improve flavor, reduce mess, improve circulation, and make for a better dabbing experience.
1. Carb cap – While you can dab without a carb cap, you’ll enjoy more flavors and a longer-lasting dab when you use a carb cap. A carb cap is a device often shaped similarly to a spinning top that is placed on top of the banger after you vaporize a dab. It’s used to help improve airflow and move your concentrate around so that it heats evenly, giving you maximum flavor and effects.
2. Terp pearls – Terp pearls are small balls made of quartz or ruby that are placed inside your banger and work in conjunction with carb caps. As the carb cap improves airflow, it spins the terp pearls around the concentrate, helping to increase the heat distribution and improve the longevity of your dab. Using terp pearls allows you to get every last bit of your extract.
3. Inserts – Inserts come in all shapes and sizes, though the standard choice is a dish-shaped insert that you’ll lower into your pre-heated dab rig to enjoy a low temp dab. They are typically made of quartz and are used to help distribute the heat from your banger to your dabs more evenly. They improve flavors, help reduce the mess, and can be used with both terp pearls and carb caps to help you enjoy the best dabbing experience.
4. Reclaim catcher – Reclaim catchers are designed to sit inside your banger to catch the leftovers from taking a dab. If you take a lot of oil based dabs, you’ll want to use a reclaim catcher to help protect your banger from getting chazzed and to help with hygiene. Reclaim catchers can be removed and soaked in rubbing alcohol overnight so they’re fresh and ready to go for your next dab. They simply make it easier to keep your rig clean and protect your banger.