Many years ago, when I entered the wonderful herbal world, smoking was the standard way to consume weed. If you could afford it, then a bong was the way to go. You can grind the weed, fill the bowl, light it, and inhale - simple.
It wasn't until much later that I learned what a dab or a cannabis wax was.
Both bongs and the dab rigs are a way of consuming cannabis, but they do so differently. They each have a set purpose. Bongs are used for dried flowers, while dab rigs are used for concentrates and waxes.
Bongs use combustion to release the cannabinoids. Dab rigs use heat to vaporize the wax/oil concentrate.
Credit for photo：helpingpot.com
Dabbing is a form of marijuana consumption that uses cannabis concentrates such as wax or oil. The process involves heating a nail with a blowtorch. When it is heated, wax or oil is applied, the wax or oil moves to the top of the nail, producing pure vapor. The user then inhales the vapor to create the ultimate vaping experience. You can also use a banger, which is a type of bowl that connects to the downstream of your dab rig. The bowl is heated, and the concentrated then added. A cap is often put on top of the bowl, controlling airflow so the vapor can be better drawn through the water pipe as you inhale.
Bongs are used for dry flower, such as tobacco, or cannabis. Be sure to grind up the plant material evenly for a consistent burn. The ground-up plant is then placed in a bowl connected to the bong. When lit, the smoker can draw the smoke created through the bong, which helps filter the smoke through water removing impurities and cooling the smoke for a smoother hit.
Bongs will have a bowl-shaped object that goes into the joint. This is to hold the dry the herbs or flowers so you can burn it with a traditional lighter.
For dab rigs to vaporize the concentrated oil or wax, you need a small nail or banger.
These are typically made from glass, quartz, ceramic, or titanium. They are attached to the downstream joint of the pipe. When heated, the wax can be placed on it and will vaporize by the heat, allowing you to inhale it through the pipe.
As bongs and dab rigs are both water pipes, they function in the same way. It's just the attachments you use with them that determine if the water pipe is classed as a bong or dab rig.
Bongs are used to smoke the flowers, put them in a bowl, light them with a lighter, and then smoke them. Dab/ Oil rigs use cannabis concentrates, commonly referred to as dabs, wax, honey, or oil. Read our cannabis concentrates all you need to know guide to learn more about different concentrates.
The more percolation, the better, right?
Well, not in the case of the dab rigs. Too much percolation reduces the effectiveness of the THC in a dab. If the vapor comes into contact with too much water, it will dilute the vapor's potency. That's why you usually won't see big or extensive percolators and recyclers on a high-end dab rig.
Bongs, on the other hand, benefit from more filtration. From diffused down stems to triple-stacked honeycomb perc, each filtration level makes the herb smoke cooler and smoother. This is why bongs tend to have larger chambers, more recyclers, and complex percolators.
The size marks the difference between dab rigs and bongs.
When smoking flowers or dried herbs, you'll typically want a larger glass pipe with larger percs and chambers for optimum filtration and cooling.
When smoking concentrates, you will want a smaller water pipe.
That's because when you combust herb with a lighter, the smoke can travel a long distance as it's thicker and denser than vapor. It's also at a much higher temperature.
When the concentrate is vaporized, it's at a lower temperature than the combustion of dry herb. A smaller water pipe ensures that the vapor reaches your lungs quickly without losing any flavor or potency and getting excessively diffused in water. A small dab rig is better suited to concentrate, and a large bong is better suited to dry herb.
Dab/wax rigs can often work out more expensive than buying a bong even though they are smaller. The reason is that in addition to buying a rig, you'll also need a dab tool and other accessories such as a torch, a nail or banger, and a carb cap. When you add all this up, it can become very expensive.
Online headshops such as Lookah offer a wide variety of bongs and dab rigs across a wide range of price points. There are affordable cheap bongs and dab rigs with basic designs up to heady glass dab rigs and bongs with artistic intricate design and features, making them a work of art as well as a smoking device.
If you want to smoke dried herbs, put a bowl on your pipe, and if you want to smoke concentrated herbs, put a nail or banger on!
However, we strongly recommend not using the same water pipe for both concentrates and dry flowers.
The reason is that the flavor you get from dried herbs is very different from the flavor from concentrate. Mixing the two types without thoroughly cleaning away all the residue left by the previous session usually produces an unpleasant taste and can make your smoking experience less pleasant. Using different parts will also make it easier to clean them. Using bowls with an ash catcher or removable downstem can make switching between wax and herb easier. However, for the purest flavors, a dedicated pipe for each substance is preferable.
Credit for photo: reason.com
If you want to buy a dab rig, you can easily get swamped by many types available. This can be intimidating when you're trying to understand terms like nails, domes, carb caps.
Like other smoking devices, dab pipes comes in low, simple, high-end, and mid-range versions. All of these have a set of additional features.
You can choose ceramics, titanium, quartz, or glass when it comes to the nail or banger. While you may prefer one material over another, your choice has little impact on taste. Instead, it only affects your nails/banger's maximum temperature and how long they will hold the temperature.
If using a dab rig for the first time, you may want to consider buying dome nails. Nails require little no maintenance but have low airflow. Dome-free nails require a lot of maintenance, but they are designed to provide more airflow. Domed nails are smaller in size and take less time to heat than non-domed nails. When buying the torch to heat your nail, choose to use butane over propane. Propane gets hot too quickly, making it hard to get the right temperature for your dabs.