Unlike bongs, dab rigs are a relatively new device in the world of cannabis consumption. While they look and function very similarly to bongs, there are slight variations in design that differentiate the two that we’ll get into deeper water. We’ll also be sure to touch on some of the companies killing the dab rig game as of late, such as ZOB Glass, Goo Roo Designs, Mathematix Glass, and plenty more. However, we’re aware that dab rigs and dabbing, in general, are still relatively new concepts to many and so we find it important to offer up some insight into the history and advancements in technology that has allowed dabbing to become as popular as it is today.
First, what is dabbing? No, we aren’t talking about the dance. It’s not 2015 anymore, guys. We’re talking about the act of melting and vaporizing a small amount of cannabis concentrate on a heated surface (Usually a piece of quartz banger fixed to the dab rig) and inhaling the vapor produced by that process through water for filtration and cooling purposes. This has been going on in some form or another for hundreds, if not thousands of years. However, “dabbing” as we know it today is still a relatively new concept. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though. Before we get into specifics about glass, let’s talk for a minute about what cannabis concentrates are and where they come from.
The origins of cannabis concentrates began with ancient Chinese, Indian, and Persian cultures using the cannabis plant for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Eventually, harvesters of the sacred crop began to make what we now call hashish or hash. Hash is basically the trichomes, resins, and oils from the cannabis plant gathered together separate from the plant material itself. To separate the resins and trichomes, ancient hash makers would often roll the buds and branches between their hands until there was a thick, sticky buildup on their palms and fingers. Then they would scrape the sticky buildup off of their hands and smoke it. Today, most hash is made by introducing buds to ice water which freezes the trichomes which are then agitated until they fall off, and the remaining mixture is filtered and dried. No dirty hands needed.
While old school hash was the first cannabis concentrate on the block, and ice water hash is still fairly popular today, when you talk with someone about dabbing in 2021 its most likely going to be centered around one of two main concentrate categories. Butane Hash Oil (BHO) or Rosin. There are others, like distillate which utilizes a similar process to that of distilling alcohol, and of course, there is full melt hash, but BHO and rosin definitely dominate the market. These two categories are similar but different in one main way. In order to make BHO, you need a solvent. Hence the “B” for butane. Rosin, on the other hand, only requires plant material or hash, along with high pressure and low heat. There are people on both sides of the fence on this subject, but the fact remains the same. They both get you crazy baked. We’ll explain a little more about each and let you be the judge.
Butane Hash Oil or BHO has a lot of different names on the shelves. Shatter, budder, crumble, diamonds, sauce, htfse, plus a few more. All of these products are essentially made the same way, besides one or two late steps that determine the product’s final consistency. All BHO starts with cannabis in an enclosed chamber. A large amount of solvent is introduced (usually butane but propane and other stripping agents are sometimes used as well) to the cannabis, stripping the active ingredient, THC, from the plant matter. The liquid butane and cannabis oil mixture is then drained, strained, strained some more, and put into a vacuum chamber to purge the remaining butane from the product. What’s left after that is BHO.
Rosin is a little bit different and there are a couple of different categories within the rosin realm to get into. Flower rosin and hash rosin. Flower rosin is made from the flower or buds of the cannabis plant, whereas hash rosin is made using previously collected trichomes or kief off of the cannabis plant without the plant material itself. Other than that, the process to make both products is pretty much identical. With flower rosin, buds are taken and pressed into a small puck. That puck is then placed inside a large piece of folded parchment and put onto what is called a rosin press. A press is exactly what it sounds like. It is a machine that puts extreme amounts of pressure, combined with low heat to extract the plant’s natural oils and THC. This product is called “rosin” and can immediately be consumed. With hash rosin, the process is the same except the puck is made of pressed kief or hash before the pressure and heat is applied.
Now that you know what they are and how they’re made, and you’ve gotten a crash course in cannabis concentrates, let’s get into what you came here for. The glass. Dab rigs have taken many shapes and sizes throughout their relatively short period of existence thus far. The same goes for the specific part of the rig on which your concentrates are directly vaporized. It’s often called a nail, or a banger. However, the first versions of this essential piece of dabbing equipment were a bit cruder than the ones we have today.
The first example of a heating element made strictly for dabbing with a glass dab rig was called a “swing set” and it was basically a small, round, flat piece of metal (usually titanium) that would be heated until red, then swung under an open tube attached to the joint of your dab rig. You would touch your concentrate to the hot metal, it would evaporate, and as you inhaled, the vapor would be sucked up into the open tube, through the water, and into your lungs.
Today, thank goodness, setups like the one we just described are less and less common. As dabbing became more popular, improvements on the heating element used to dab came quick. Soon, the swing set was replaced by what was called a nail. The nail is called a nail because it is shaped like a nail. Big and flat on top with a long rod that can sit in the joint of your rig. The top of the nail would be heated red, then a glass dome would be placed around it to catch the vapor, and you could then touch your concentrate to the top of the nail while inhaling.
While the “nail” was a vast improvement over the original setup, dabbers still weren’t happy with the clunky design. Eventually, the banger was introduced and changed the dabbing game. The banger looks like a bucket with a thin curved tube coming from one side near the top that stretches down and fits perfectly into the joint of a dab rig. This is still considered the best nail to use. There have been other advancements such as the electric or E-nail that keeps your nail at the perfect temp with no torch and the more open style terp slurper, but bangers still outsell them both by a longshot.
With the perfect nail for dabbing, you’re going to need a dab rig that can keep up. But what does the perfect dab rig look like? To be honest, there is no correct answer to that. It’s really a matter of preference. However, there are a few things to keep in mind while picking the perfect piece for you. Dab rigs, while similar to bongs, are not bongs. Bongs are made to smoke weed with. That means that the amount of water inside, the size, along with many other things are going to be different than they are with a dab rig. For example, with a bong, you want more water so that your hit can cool off more. With a dab rig, while you still want a cooling effect, the less water you have in your rig, the better your hits will taste.
Some of the companies we work with are absolutely killing the dab rig game right now. ZOB Glass has been cranking out scientific style heaters since the late 1990s. Mathematix Glass has some of the coolest, most unique rigs you’ve ever seen. Ever done a dab out of a duck? Well, you can! Another company killing it with their dab rigs is Goo Roo Designs. From insane-looking scientific rigs to basic beaker style pieces, they have something to offer anyone looking to score a quality new piece.
If all of this sounds a bit confusing, don’t stress just yet. Here at Brothers With Glass, we have the best lineup of dab rigs you could ask for, and we have experts that can help you figure out what rig works best for your needs. We also have something for any budget, so take your time, relax, and find that special piece that’s calling out to you. We hope that this read has taught you a little bit more about the world of dabbing and dab rigs and hopefully aid you in your search for that one special piece that perfectly fills out your collection. Here at BWG we strive to provide our customers with all of the facts they need to make an informed purchase. That, along with our amazing service and an unbeatable selection of American-made glass is what makes us stand out from the crowd.