Build a Starter Dab Kit: Everything You Need to Dab Like a Pro
You’re well-versed in the power of flower. And you’re ready to take the next step in your journey to cannabis nirvana.
It’s time to explore the wide world of dabs.
Dabbing involves vaporizing and inhaling potent cannabis concentrates. These concentrates contain much higher THC and cannabinoid content than flower, so this is a consumption method for more advanced cannabis users.
If you’re ready to take your relationship with herb to the next level, here’s a list of everything you'll need to build out your dab rig kit, plus a few extras you may want to consider.
The dab rig, aka the star of the show
A dab rig is a small water pipe made for smoking dabs. Usually made from borosilicate, dab rigs generally have a small water chamber and a simple percolator. Some also have an angled mouthpiece, making them easier to hit when they’re sitting on a flat surface.
While designs certainly vary, dab rigs tend to be on the simple side without many chambers or complex percs. The smaller size preserves terpenes and maximizes the flavor of your hit. And less surface area inside means less glass for your vapor to stick to.
Some dab rigs, like our Orbis collection, are designed specifically for dabs. You can also repurpose many bubblers into a dab rig by simply swapping out the bowl for a banger, which we’ll discuss next.
A banger or nail (where the magic happens)
A bong or bubbler comes with a bowl to pack with flower. You apply flame to the flower to burn it, and inhale the resulting smoke. With a dab rig, the bowl is swapped out for a banger or a nail. The banger or nail is heated when empty. When it gets hot, you’ll add your cannabis extract which will vaporize on contact. Then you’ll inhale the resulting vapor.
A banger is usually made of quartz, which is heat resistant and doesn’t impart any flavor to your concentrate when it vaporizes. Bangers usually have a 90° or 45° bend in the neck, depending on the design of your dab rig. At one end, the banger has a flat-bottomed bucket which you’ll heat up to receive your concentrate.
A dab nail is usually made of titanium or ceramic, although they can also be made of quartz. The standard dab nail has a simple vertical design, with a joint at the bottom and a flat recess at the top which you’ll heat to receive your dab. They sometimes look like a drill bit or screw.
Whether to choose a nail or a quartz banger is really a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer the durability and heat retention of titanium. Others prioritize the clean flavor of quartz, as titanium can impart a metallic taste to your vapor.
The most important things to keep in mind with your banger are a) quality and b) cleanliness. You’ll be applying super high heat to your banger, so make sure you get high-quality quartz or grade two or three titanium. Bangers don’t have to be expensive, but if the price is too good to be true, it’s probably made from inferior ingredients that either can’t withstand the heat or could even leach chemicals into your wax. And clean your banger thoroughly every time you use it to keep the flavor of your wax fresh.
A dab tool or pick to protect those fingies
Your starter dab kit won’t be complete without a dab tool or pick, also sometimes called a dabber. This is a small implement that you’ll use to apply your dab to the heated banger. You don’t want to do this with your fingers—that banger will be HOT (anywhere from 350° to 700°) and it will burn the shit out of you.
Dab tools may be made of quartz or titanium, and can look like a little scoop (for oil or wax) or a pick (for wax or shatter). Some also are double-sided, with the tool on one side and a carb cap on the other. (More about carb caps shortly.)
A torch to heat things up
To superheat the bucket of your banger or the top of your titanium nail, you’ll need a small butane torch. A lighter won’t cut it! You need something that emits a steady, hot flame.
You can use a crème brulée or culinary torch if you have one, although it may be a bit underpowered and it could take longer to heat your banger to the proper temperature. For best results, get a torch specifically designed for dabs.
Do not use a propane torch for dabbing. Propane burns far too hot and could damage your quartz banger, or even oxidize a titanium nail. Butane is more refined and burns much more cleanly than propane. Propane may also have a stinky additive called ethyl mercaptan, which is not something you want to be inhaling while you’re trying to smoke a tasty dab. Plus, propane is usually more expensive than butane.
So leave the propane to Hank Hill. Stick to a butane torch.
Optional: A dab mat to keep things clean
You can 100% dab without a dab mat. But it’s a nice accessory to have to keep your burnstation tidy. A dab mat is simply a non-stick, heat-resistant mat, usually made of silicone, that you can use to protect the surface around your dab rig. It provides a barrier between your banger and your work surface in case you drop your hot banger or spill any oil. Plus, it can absorb the shock if you knock over your rig.
Optional: Accessories to customize your dab experience
Once you have your basic starter dab rig kit, you can begin customizing it with accessories. One of the most common is the carb cap. In fact, some might say that the carb cap is more of a necessity than an optional piece of equipment.
After heating your nail or banger and adding your concentrate, place your carb cap over the top. This is to keep your vapor from just…floating away. It also helps to retain heat, so you get a more thorough vaporization of the wax or shatter. They come in a huge variety of styles, from simple “lids” to more complex pieces that let you control airflow. Our Yo-Yo Carb Cap, for example, can be maneuvered around the top of your banger to aim air for more efficient vaporization.
Another accessory is the banger insert. This is a small quartz tray that makes it easier to smoke low-temperature dabs. To use, add your dab to the insert, heat the banger to temp, and then drop the insert into the banger. The extra layer of quartz between the heat and the concentrate will keep the temperature cooler inside your banger for low-temp evaporation.
To start building your dab rig kit, you can pick up individual pieces or get a bundle. GRAV’s® Dab Starter Kit Bundle includes a rig, banger, cab cap, and drop mat. Just add a torch and a dab tool and you’re ready to go.