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A Comprehensive Guide on How to Dab

| Madison Gillespie
A dab rig is the most important aspect of the dabbing setup. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to dab along with a few tips you should know about.

If you've spent a few years in the cannabis community, chances are you've encountered dabs. The technology for concentrates is growing, expanding access to diverse dabbing products.

Today, getting into dabbing is easier than ever. If you seek a potent cannabis experience beyond traditional flower, dabs might be for you!

Preparing dabs may seem intimidating if you've never done it. However, it's not complicated at all, especially when you compare it to the straightforward 'light up and go' process with regular flower.

Let's explore what you need to know to enjoy concentrates or extracts.


A 'dab' is a term for cannabis products created by extracting or concentrating the plant through various methods. The result can be crumbly wax, hard crystals, or viscous oil.

While production methods differ, the outcome is consistent: highly concentrated THC compared to flower.

To 'take a dab,' place the waxy substance on a hot nail (explained later), melting it to create inhalable vapor through a small water pipe.

Many dab users value the concentrated terpenes, providing diverse taste and smell choices with potential health benefits varying between strains.


  • Torch

To prepare a dab properly, use a blowtorch as a regular lighter's flame won't heat the nail sufficiently. The lighter is not hot or precise enough, and you might burn your finger before the nail is ready.

  • Rig or Bong

Next, you'll need a water pipe, and both a dab rig and a bong function similarly. However, you must have a nail to use either.

While a dry herb bong is usable, it's relatively impractical. Bongs filter out tar and debris from dry flower smoke, but vapor doesn't contain these substances. For dabs, a smaller water volume suffices for a smooth hit.

Also, any flower residue in a bong affects the flavor of a dab taken from the same piece. For the cleanest experience, it's generally recommended to use separate water pipes for dry flower and dabs.

  • Nail

There are various choices when selecting a nail for your rig. The key factors are determining the size, male or female joint, and a perfect fit into the down-stem for effective vacuum creation.

Casual or first-time dabbers can use a less-expensive glass or metal nail, which, although breakable with frequent use, offers decent durability and budget-friendly options.

Regular users should consider premium options like quartz or titanium, known for durability. Having a backup is advisable due to the stress on the nail from the blowtorch.

If you choose a titanium nail, improve taste by "seasoning" it. Heat it up and place it in cold water. This process also aids in cleaning the nail after use.

For maximum ease, electronic nails heat themselves up. However, this convenience comes with considerably higher costs.

  • Dabber

The dabber is the tool you use to scoop up your concentrate and place it on the nail. Usually, they are made of metal, but you can find ones made from other materials, even some that are artisanally crafted.

A dabber is easiest to use if it has a notched/widened tip on the side that you pick up the dab with. This will help to gather up the wax in its container and onto the dabber, rather than something with a needle-tip which will just break it apart and push it around.


Once you've got all your dabbing gear, all you need to do is get your dabs. Talk to your local bud-tender about your preferences and they can tell you all about each of the different forms of concentrate and which they'd recommend to you.

Whether your priority is ease of use, flavor, or potency, there will no doubt be something for you. Generally, for beginners, an easily malleable and less-messy type of dab such as shatter or wax is the easiest to use without any waste.


Today, there is a wide variety of dabs that you can find, each with its own set of pros and cons. Here are some of the types you can find:

  • Wax: A soft and pliable waxy substance
  • Hashish: Dust from flower is compressed into a solid
  • Crumble: A bit less sticky and soft than wax, and easily breakable
  • Sap: A much softer extract, runs similarly to a thick honey
  • Shatter: The hardest form, with a glass-like texture. One of the easiest to use and most widely-available options you'll find


Now, let's walk one step at a time through the process of taking a clean dab.

  • Preparation:

First, you'll want to get all your items set up around you for easy access. Fill up your rig with water, make sure your nail is clean, grab your torch, dabber, and, of course, your concentrate. It's easiest to get your dab ready on the dabber at this time as well.

As far as the amount of water needed for your rig, there is more than one answer, but mainly it depends on the size of your rig. You will want to have enough water to cover the bottom of the down-stem so all vapor runs through the water, and little enough that none splashes into your mouth while taking a hit.

Once it's everything is set up and in reach, it's time to get started.

  • Heating Up Your Nail:

Next, light up your torch and begin heating up the nail. It's important to heat it up at an angle perpendicular to the rest of the rig, so that you don't hit the glass with the flame and risk breaking the glass.

Keep the flame on it until the nail is glowing orange. If your nail has a dome, open it up now. Wait about 10 seconds for a titanium nail, and 30-40 seconds for other types. You'll want to let it cool down to avoid overheating your concentrates and ruining your hit.

  • Place Your Concentrate:

Once the nail has cooled to your preference, grab your dabber and place it on the nail. Run it around the inside of the nail's walls and floor in a circular motion until the dab has melted into the chamber. If you've got a dome on your nail, close it to prevent any vapor from escaping before you've completed evaporating the whole dab.

Once the oil has all evaporated, you're set.

  • Inhale & Exhale:

After inhaling your entire dab, remember that dab vapor is highly potent. It will not only hit you fast but also hit you hard.Thus, there is no reason to try and hold the hit deep in your lungs - this will only make your exhale more unpleasant.

  • Post-Dab Cleanup:

Once you've exhaled your hit and cleared up your throat with a few coughs, simply use your torch to evaporate any remaining residue left on the nail. This will prevent it from becoming sticky with resin that will decrease the quality of your dabs and make your rig a mess.


Now you know how to enjoy a dab from start to finish! Once you have all of the equipment you need, you should have no issues getting a proper dabbing experience. Simply follow these steps and you'll be a pro in no time.

Looking for some great glass or dabbing/smoking accessories? Check out the top-of-the-line inventory of American-made rigs, water pipes and more at Giggle Glass.