Dabs, Dab Rigs, and Wax — Oh My! What Are The In’s and Out’s of Dabbing?

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The relaxation of marijuana laws is slowly spreading around the globe. Methods of getting high become more and more mainstream as well as increasingly creative. Dabbing, which isn’t a new method of getting high, has skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade and many smokers are experimenting with it — now than ever! This GreenMed guide to dabbing will teach you everything you need to know. Stop by the GreenMed shop to have your dab kit delivered straight to your door!


What Is Dabbing?

Sometimes mistaken as smoking crack by those unfamiliar. Dabbing is a method of smoking THC to get high through the use of a dab rig. Dab rigs are small bongs with specialty bowl pieces called nails. Dabbing is entirely legal in places where marijuana usage is permitted.

Due to the advancements made in extracting THC and other cannabinoids, dab waxes are on the rise in the market recently. So, what are dabs? These concentrates come in so many extractions known by many names: wax, budder, slabs, crumble, hash, butane hash oil (BHO), Rick Simpson oil (RSO), and on and on! Pick your preference in form of concentrate, and melt it over a heated nail. Inhale the resulting vapors, and there you dab it!

Dabbing yields in a very powerful high. John Stogner, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, has states that “…at a minimum, dabs are four times as strong as a joint, and the high is administered all at once.”

Producing Dabs

So what’s a dab again? Dabs are a marijuana concentrate melted to get high. With the explosion of the market, today users can find concentrates known as wax, shatter, budder, crumble, butane hash oil (BHO), etc. BHO is what most people will think of first when referring to dabs. The primary difference between all these is the method used to make them, which can be dangerous. That’s where dabbing gets it the first significant hazard.

The most common is concentrate to dab with is BHO. Butane Hash Oil gets its name because of how it’s made. This process usually involves putting liquid butane gas through a tube containing cannabis plant matter. This crystalizes the cannabis resins, which are then collected as the butane exits the tube. The butane is then blasted quickly to evaporate it and leave behind just the resin. Some purge their oil in a vacuum chamber. This entire process produces the final product: BHO.

Though there are companies who sell setups for making your dabs at home, amateurs are highly advised against attempting to make them! This process can be hazardous –considering the fact you’re dealing with volatile, flammable, potentially-explosive substances. Watching a video or pouring over an online forum isn’t likely to make you a true expert enough to successfully make your dabs.

Even if you manage to make your dabs, homemade dabs are difficult to test for quality or purity. Sometimes called “dirty oil”, homemade dabs may have chemical remnants, contaminates, or too many residual solvents. This could be a significant health hazard to anyone smoking these dabs.

Don’t take the risk! Buy your dabs from a reputable source and enjoy your high without worrying if you’re ingesting chemical remains.

What is a Dab Rig

So now you’ve got your concentrates, but what do you need to use them? For this, you need a dab rig or water pipe, nail, dome, torch, and dab tool.

Water Pipe

For your water pipe, you can use a generic bong, but it is easier to simply buy a dab rig for the best performance and quality.


The nail, after heating, is where the wax drops into before becoming vapor. Normally where the bowl piece would be in a classic water bong. Nails come in various materials such as glass, ceramic,  but the best to use are quartz and titanium.


The torch is used to heat the nail and then the wax is dropped onto the nail to be melted and vaporized. electronic nails exist, eliminating the need for a torch — but they are costly! Any torch will work. Find one you’re comfortable with and works easiest for you and your budget.


The next piece is optional yet essential, the dome. It’s used to cover the nail and trap the vapor while you’re dabbing. Once you’ve dropped the wax into your heated nail, a lot of smoke is going to escape out the top. Cap your nail with a dome or DIY glass piece to get the most out of every dab, and not waste your wax!

Dab Tool

The final piece of your dab rig that we’re talking about is the dab tool itself. This is a tool that you use to put a small bit of concentrate on the hot nail. It’s a stainless steel tool, and variations are abundant and cheap. The main difference between types of dab tools being the shapes on the ends. Again, any stainless steel tool will work, so pick something that works for you.

Best Dab Rigs

When choosing a dab rig, there are a million options. Where to begin when you’re shopping? Instead of telling you which specific rig to buy, we want to tell you some things to consider when exploring your options and choosing the best dab rigs for you.

Durability and size is probably the most important thing to consider when you buy a dab rig. Common sizes sold for dab rigs are 10, 14, and 18 millimeters–each with a male a female type. The sex of the pipe determines the type of nail to get, and the size of the pipe affects the airflow. For a better dabbing experience, go with the 10-millimeter rig. Smaller rigs have more restriction, which is ideal for dabbing. Proper care of the nails means either male or female is fine. Determine which is your personal preference and never be afraid to ask for your vendor’s advice and recommendations for you.

If you want to experience the full flavor of the vapor, consider a smaller mouthpiece for your rig. As we mentioned before, smaller dab rigs make for a better experience and produce more flavor. A smaller rig combined with a smaller mouthpiece will give you the best dabbing setup.

Water filtration is a must! A daily-use dab rig works best with a water filtration system. If it doesn’t, you may regret that sooner than you think! Unlike with traditional herb, less percolation is needed for concentrates. In fact, the less percolation, the smoother the hit you can take. Two and four hole percolators are ideal for dabbing because it cools the dabs without chopping the water.

Average Cost of a Dab Rig

When choosing a dab rig, there are many options available on the market. They can range anywhere from $40-200+ USD and go even higher (we’ve seen up to $400!), depending on the materials used and the style you choose. Electronic nails will set you back a small fortune, but if that suits you then go for it! We discussed how titanium nails are typically the best option, but keep in mind that will come with a cost. Explore the market and see which dab rigs meet your wants and your wallet. There is certainly something out there for everyone!

Potential Risks of Dabbing

Though there haven’t been major scientific studies on the hazards of dabbing just yet, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge some of the risks involved with dabbing. Dabbing safely is not a concern if you know your limits and dab smartly.

Homemade Dabs

Going back to making your own dabs, the major hazard there is the risk of an explosion or combustion during the extraction process. Another hazard that home dab-makers face is impure concentrates or “dirty oil.” Ingesting chemicals can be a major health risk but easily avoidable with dabs from reputable sources.

Dab Overdose?

Dabbing gives you a much more powerful high. The concentrates are inarguably stronger than smoking a joint or vaping from a pen. This makes the risk of overdose higher, especially for those unfamiliar with dabbing.

There has never been a case of anyone dying from overdosing on marijuana. Nonetheless, overdosing is a real thing. Symptoms of overdosing vomiting, paranoia, a panic attack, racing heart, and even passing out. This is easily avoidable by knowing your tolerance levels and knowing how much you can hit from your dab rig. Weed beginners or dabbing newbs may be unaware of the much higher concentration of THC and overdose quickly. The best recommendation for an accidental overdose is to sip some water and go to bed.

Dabbing can be easily be done safely. Please use common sense, buy quality products from licensed vendors, and know your tolerance and limits.


Dabbing is a complex and fun way to get high. It’s a different experience and uses specific equipment, but the result can be so satisfying. Many say it takes them back to their first experiences smoking weed. Who doesn’t love a little throwback? When dabbing, go about it the safe way, and you’ll have the best experience. If you’re a beginner, keep in mind how strong the concentrates are to avoid accidentally overdosing. GreenMed is your source of information and service for cannabis simplified. Now go forth and dab!






None of the authors, administrators, or anyone connected with GreenMed, in any way whatsoever, can be responsible for your use of the information within links or directly from these web pages.

Laws regarding recreational marijuana are constantly changing! Always consult your local authorities or attorney for professional advice!


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