What Is The Difference Between A Dab Rig And A Bong?

I have enjoyed cannabis for a long time already and I always love trying out new ways of consuming it. As of recent years, there has been a significant increase in the popularity of dabbing; especially in the legal states in the us where concentrate is very available.

Around three years prior to writing this post, I started doing some research and trying out all different kinds of dabs and concentrate to figure out the differences. I even made my own concentrate at home. In this post I want to share with you what I experienced, what I learned and answer all the questions you might have.

Below I provide you a table of contents so that you can jump straight to the content that you are most keen to know more about in case you don’t have enough time to read the entire post.

Quick Answers

What Is The Difference Between A Dab Rig And A Bong?

Dab Rigs and Bongs differ from each other in a lot of ways:

A dab rig uses dabs for smoking. This material is more potent compared to dry herbs. When smoking a bong, the buds are lit up in order to produce smoke out of it. In smoking dab rigs, the concentrate is placed on a pre-heated nail or banger. In terms of size, dab rigs are smaller. They are believed to lose less THC in the process of burning it due to a shorter distance that the smoke has to travel.

Regardless of what your choice is, choosing between a dab rig and a bong depends on user preference. Some prefer stronger flavors, some prefer a cleaner taste. If you prefer dab rigs, we wrote about the best places to buy dab rigs. But if you chose bongs, we wrote about the best bong brands for this year, too.

What Are Dabs?

When I first started my journey through the world of dabbing I didn’t know where to start my research from. Even though I have been smoking bud and hash for years and knew my way around a bong, I was not quite sure which articles actually talked about dabbing.

A dab is a concentrated form of cannabis. Hence, it is a lot stronger than any weed you have ever smoked before. Dabs can be as strong as 90% THC. For comparison, the average weed you can get these days has a THC content of around 10% to 15%. Top strains that are only available in legal states of the US or Amsterdam can have in extreme cases up to 25%.

Since When Are Dabs A Thing?

As there is archaeological proof that cannabis has been consumed by several ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and the Greeks, some sources claim to have evidence that concentrate has been used in those times as well. 

I don’t want to dive too deep into those speculations as there are several articles out there about this already. My favourite article is this one. Go and check it out if you like, but make sure to come back to learn more about rigs!

I personally think that it is very likely that those claims are true as production of primitive concentrates can be done with very basic tools and limited scientific knowledge. One of the first documented uses of cannabis concentrate in the present century dates back to the second world war where cannabis in concentrated form has been used aside LSD in biochemical interrogation programs.

Ideas from those programs have been adopted into the famous MK ULTRA program conducted by the CIA where drops of cannabis concentrate have ben applied to cigarettes and then were given to the interrogated individuals to decrease their cognitive abilities making them more prone to tell information they were meant to keep secret.

The first article published on the internet describing the production of dabs using the butane vaporization method was in 1999 on the online psychoactive library Erowid under the name "Hash Honey Oil Technique." Yet it took another 10 years for dabs to gain mainstream popularity resulting in availability of concentrate products in dispensaries in legal states of the US as well as in the Netherlands.

Today concentrated cannabis products approach domination of the American Marijuana industry by making up well over 35% of the entire market. Experts speculate that the concentrate market will hit the 8 Billion USD mark by 2022.

Dab Textures

Dabs can come in very different textures that range from rock hard, brittlely and dry to super sticky, wet and soft. There are different names for every different type of texture and appearance of dabs and I will explain them all so that you can express yourself like an absolute cannabis connoisseur from this day on.

Different Types of Dabs

  1. Shatter is the hardest out of all cannabis concentrates. It looks a lot like glass with a honey-coloured tint to it. It is usualy dry to the touch but can also be slightly sticky.
    As the name already gives away it shatters when you break it. It is one of the most popular textures of dabs due to the misbelieve of it being more pure or potent than other concentrates. 
  2. Crumble is a very dry form of concentrate. As it is very easy to break, it is one of the easiest to handle and thus another very popular form of concentrate.
  3. Budder is the easiest type of concentrate to handle and dose as its texture is very similar to butter. The only downside to budder is that due to its soft and sticky nature it can easily be sullied by dirt and dust when stored improperly. Make sure you keep it in a clean container.
  4. Wax is sticky in nature. It sticks to your hands like melted candle wax hence the name. As all the wax that sticks to your fingers will go to waste, I strongly recommend you using a dabbing tool. 
  5. Oil comes in a thick liquid form making it very easy to use. Quite commonly it comes in syringe-like tubes that will allow you to apply it straight to the nail of your rig.
  6. When speaking of Resin one describes a compressed form of the sticky trichomes that occur on top of the flowers, buds and leaves of female Cannabis plants. If you have a grinder with a trichome compartment at the bottom you have had this before, just in a powdery non-compressed form. This type of concentrate can also easily be smoked in joints, blunt or bongs with ordinary bowls mixed with standard bud or tobacco

What Are The Benefits Of Smoking Concentrates?

There are many reason for choosing concentrate over bud or hash. One of them is that people like to smoke something stronger than ordinary weed. This might be either due to the person’s high tolerance, or the desire to get a stronger high without having to inhale too much smoke.

Even though there is no scientific proof for this as of now, concentrates are believed to be better for your lungs as only the THC is inhaled and less carbon dioxide from burning other parts of the plant. Furthermore, concentrate smoke is very easy on your lungs and doesn’t feel anything as scratchy as smoking bud out of a bong. Another big advantage of concentrate is that its smoke is almost scentless.

What Are The Side Effects Of Smoking Dabs?

Concentrate and ordinary marijuana share the exact same side effects. The most common ones are paranoia and hallucinations as well as lapse in judgement and impairment of decision making. Individuals with existing mental issues are at risk of developing schizophrenia. 

How Are Dabs Made?

All methods for making concentrate are in some way similar. First, the buds or even other parts of the female plant get cut up similarly to when you would smoke it. Then a solvent is added to them. This, in most cases, purified butane or some sort of alcoholic solution. The THC binds with the solvent, pulling it out of the leaves, buds and stems of the plant leaving you with a solvent-THC mixture. The last step is the removal of the solvent resulting in almost pure THC.

What Are Dab Rigs?

Dab rigs are also known as oil rigs or vapor rigs. A dab rig is a special type of bong used to smoke cannabis concentrates like wax or oil. Dab rigs have many things in common with ordinary bongs such as the chamber, tube, and percolators.

The main difference between dab rigs and bongs is that dab rigs have a nail instead of a bowlFurthermore, they are usually smaller in size.

How Do I Smoke With A Dab Rig?

  1. Fill some water into the dab rig. Your aim is to fill enough water to submerge the downstem so that you hear a bubbling sound when you inhale from the tube. Don’t fill in too much water or it will be too hard to suck in the smoke and water might splash into your mouth. Just test it before you actually smoke from it.
  2. If you are using a titanium nail and its brand new you have to season it to ensure your dab doesn’t taste like metal. If you aren’t using a titanium nail you can skip this step.
    Simply heat your nail for a couple seconds and apply some ordinary cooking coconut oil to it with your dabber.
    This will fill the pores of the nail. Repeat this step 3 times. Allow the nail to cool down in between. Wipe the nail clean.
  3.  Prepare your dab by applying some concentrate onto your dabber tool. Remember that you are using concentrate. It wont take much for a decent hit.
  4.  Heat the nail using the blow torch. Always point the flame away from the bong or the heat will crack the glass! Once the nail turns red you can turn of the torch.
  5. Wait until the nail is not red anymore. From the moment the nail turned back to it’s original colour you wait 20 seconds.
  6. Apply the concentrate to the nail by touching the nail with the part of the dabber that is covered in oil.
  7. Immediately put you mouth on the top of the tube ensuring you don’t leave any gabs and start breathing in slowly and constantly. Don’t stop until there is no more smoke in the chamber.
  8. Breathe out
  9. Clean nail and dabber by heating it with the torch to burn off remaining residue.

What Are The Dab Rig Types?

Just as with ordinary bongs. there is an immense amount of varieties to choose from and just as with bongs, there is a lot of different percolators that can be built into a dab rig. Percolators filter the smoke making it smoother and easier on your lungs when you inhale it. I won’t go into detail about the different types of percolators in this post as I already did this in another post.

Simply click here to learn everything you need to know about percolators. Just make sure you come back to this page so that you don’t miss out on the best dab rigs!

One great variety if not the greatest of oil rigs is a recycler and in cycler dab rigs. Those have an extra tube that leads parts of the smoke back into the main chamber. The advantage of this is that the smoke won’t stop moving during your rip and thus can’t go stale. Also, it will run the smoke through the percolator a second time resulting in extra diffusion and filtration.

With recycler and in cycler rigs you will always have the freshest hits!

There are other dab rig varieties a stoner could check. In recent times, heady dab rigs are a hit because of its design and aesthetic value. 

Heady dab rigs are not only functional, but they also evoke a sense of style and quirkiness that could become a conversation starter for your circle of friends or even strangers that you choose to share your dabbing experience with. 

We wrote about the best heady dab rigs and you can check that one out right now.

What Are Carb Caps?

What is the Science behind carb caps? What exactly does this accessory provide to the dabbing experience?

Carb caps are dabbing accessories that restrict airflow an trap heat in domeless dab rigs and bangers. They allow concentrates to vaporize at a lower temperature to preserve the quality and flavor of concentrates.

Discovered in 2013, Carb Caps are made out of glass, quartz, and titanium. These materials allow the carb cap to withstand high-temperatures during dabbing so it doesn’t break or melt during the process of dabbing.

What Are The Different Types Of Carb Caps?

Despite being aesthetically pleasing, carb caps also have different types that serve different purposes. The most common types are directional flow carb caps, bubble carb caps, and standard carb caps.

  1. Directional Flow Carb Caps – This type of carb cap creates a seal on banger-style nails. A directional flow carb cap is equipped with a carb hole that allows the escape of air faster. Rotating a directional flow carb cap will push down the oil around the walls of the bucket to vaporize it on the base of the dab rig.
  2. Bubble Carb – Cap For flat-top bangers, a bubble carb cap is a kind that you might want to use. They also push down the oils from the walls but because of their shape, the user has more control of the direction where the oil goes. Chasing is easier as a bubble carb cap also has a stem that goes through the top to the base for air control.
  3. Standard Carb Cap – The most basic out of the three, standard carb caps provides the user with a cap and a handle. Usually made of titanium or quartz, this kind of carb cap is more functional than aesthetically pleasing.

What Are Bongs?

Bongs are water pipes used to smoke weed. The term bong is derived from the Thai word “baung” which pertains to the bamboo tubes used to smoke weed in the earlier days. 

To easily remember what bongs are, keep in mind that they should always have four main parts: water chamber, neck, downstem, and herb bowl. As described in this article, bongs are simpler than dab rigs. It does not need a lot of attachments and detachable pieces to work. With the 4 parts mentioned above, the bong works as how they were intended to.

The difference in using a bong compared to a dry pipe or rolled weed is its ability to filter out impurities from the smoke. As the smoke passes inside the bong, the water acts as a filter that cleans out the smoke. In return, the smoker could experience a smoother hit compared to a dry and harsh feeling when smoking a dry pipe.

What Are The Different Bong Shapes?

Bong shapes could be differentiated by how their base is shaped like. The most common bong shapes are straight tube, beaker base, bubble base, and percolator bong. There are 12 bong shapes in total but these 4 are the most common ones in the market today. You can check out the other bong shapes through this article we wrote about choosing the right bong.

There are different bong shapes not only because of aesthetic purposes but also because of intended function. For example, bongs with a beaker and bubble base are more stable compared to straight tube bongs and percolator bongs. The wide base found in a beaker and a bubble base bong allows glassblowers to construct taller bongs because they are sure that they will be stable regardless of their height.

Aside from that, taller bongs with longer necks like straight-tube bongs and percolators allow the smoke to travel in a straight path. This ensures that the flavor still is intact as it gets inhaled by the smoker. A straight, long path also cools down smoke better allowing a smoother hit which is less harsh for the smoker’s throat and mouth.

What Are Bongs Made Of?

There are 4 common materials used in making bongs. These are glass, ceramic, acrylic, and silicone.

Out of the materials mentioned above, glass takes the top spot. It has become a trend to make bongs out of scientific-grade borosilicate glass. The material itself delivers the smoke without any added aftertaste. You taste what you burned, as they say. Although glass breaks upon strong impact like falling from the top of a table, it is still invulnerable to minor bumps and accidental tipping. If you prefer the best taste of smoke, go for the glass-made bongs.

Ceramic bongs are almost the same as glass bongs. Their difference is that ceramic bongs are sturdier compared to glass bongs. Aside from that, there are users who say that ceramic bongs sometimes have a weird aftertaste. That aftertaste greatly affects the user experience. But overall, ceramic-made bongs do not stray far from glass-made bongs.

For clumsy beginners, acrylic and silicone bongs are the best picks. They get the job done but they also provide extra security that you don’t have to buy a new bong every time it topples over or gets bumped into something. Although these are not the best materials to rely on for the taste of smoke, they are good primary investments if you are still trying out which bong fits the best for you.

How Do Bongs Work?

A bong begins work as soon as the material in the herb bowl gets lit up. As the buds catch fire, they produce smoke. That smoke travels through the downstem into the water chamber. As the smoke circulates, the water filters out impurities in the smoke leaving only a clean and potent taste for inhalation. As soon as the smoker is ready, the smoke then travels up to the neck out to the opening for inhalation.

What Is An Ash Catcher?

Much like dab rigs, bongs also have attachments. With that in mind, ash catchers are the most common attachments. But what are ash catchers for?

Ash catchers are bong attachments that keep bongs cleaner for a longer time. Literally, on its name, ash catchers catch soot and ash from getting into the main water chamber. This process allows the user to not clean the bong after every use and clean only the ash catcher attachment for convenience. We all know how tedious cleaning a bong is, right?

Some ash catchers even have added features like percolators. This type of ash catcher adds an extra level of filtration process which in return provides a cleaner taste. We have further explained this through an article we wrote about the best ash catchers. The article also includes a guide in choosing the right ash catcher for you.

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