You are in the market for a dab rig but are unsure as to what to buy. That is a common predicament. The market for dab rigs has exploded in recent years, with lots of new and old companies making incredible devices for unbelievable prices. But what are the things to look for in dab rigs?

Thing 1 – A Dome

The dome is the (usually) glass cover that goes over the end of the nail to contain the vapour produced by the nail. This is a little bit more fiddly than just having a nail but it does improve the amount of vaporized concentrate your lungs are receiving, and it improves safety. Having a dome means there is no exposed tiny, hot nail to catch yourself on.

Thing 2 – Value

Value is not the same as price. Cheap dab rigs can present good or bad value, depending on the quality of its construction and ease of use. Equally so for expensive ones. The things to look for in dab rigs are the compromise between quality construction and price, and the durability of the device.

Thing 3 – The Torch

When you buy a dab “kit” you can get a torch included. This is a “set fire to things”, not an “illuminate things” kind of torch, of course. There are some dab rigs with built-in torches, which can be extremely convenient until they need replacing or cleaning, when they can be extremely inconvenient. A small torch lighter will do, as will a crème brûlée torch, it is up to you.

Thing 4 – Nail Material

This one is totally down to preference. Glass is cheap but breaks very easily and does not retain heat so well. Ceramic is slightly tougher and contains heat better but still not brilliantly. Quartz has barely any heat retaining capacity but is more durable than glass. Titanium is fantastic, it is basically unbreakable and retains heat extremely well. It is just more expensive

Thing 5 – E-Nail?

One of the things to look for in dab rigs is a high quality e-nail. This is a battery powered nail that heats up through electrical induction, not flames. For the safety conscious, the e-nail is the one to go for. They are also supremely convenient and easy to use, giving an unprecedented level of temperature control.

Thing 6 – Safety

Can you operate the device safely? Are there adequate hand-holds for gripping it safely while you apply the heat? Does it look like you will drop it easily? Or will the bits fall off when they are incredibly hot and melt their way through your t-shirt?

Safety is no laughing matter, when you are dealing with 800 degree flames and hot bits of metal, you have to know what you are doing and how to do it properly. Some devices are better than others for safety. A domed nail is safer than a naked nail, a large chamber is easier to grip without accidentally burning yourself, and the material the nail is made from can change the safety profile of your device substantially. Borosilicate glass can crack and shatter, leaving you with potentially dangerous, very hot pieces of glass flying through the air.

Thing 7 – Design

The very simplest of dab rigs are just a nail, a chamber and a mouthpiece. Heat the nail, add the dab etc. However, if you want to, you can get very complex with a dab rig. Add in extra chambers, tubes, condensers, percolators, ice chambers; you end up with something that can deliver what is to some the ultimate hit. Not much compares to a cool, smooth toke on a dab rig that is well configured.

It is hard to tell the proper design for a dab rig, there are so many options available. One of the best ways to tell if the design is successful without having to try it first is to take a look at the reviews. Pick a product like a Dr Dabber or Headdies dab rig and check out what people are saying about it. If it is all positive, especially in the long run, you know you have encountered a design that works.

Thing 8 – Cleaning

Dab rigs do not leave much residue behind because they vaporize the concentrate so quickly. However, after some time they do clog up with what is known as reburn. This is a sticky, black goo that is the collection of everything you didn’t inhale. To clean the dab nail, heat it as hot as possible and give it a quick scrub with a steel brush. For the rest of the device, use isopropyl alcohol when the rig is cold (careful, it’s extremely flammable) or hot soapy water and a bit of elbow grease.

The more complicated your dab rig, the more frustrating it is to clean. Multiple chambers and percolators looks good and gives a very good hit, that is true, but they can be irritating to clean. So bear it in mind that every few weeks you are going to have to take the whole thing apart and clean it.

Thing 9 – The Percolator

Percolators are a fantastic addition to a dab rig. The vapour that comes from a dab rig is very hot, hotter than any other kind of vaporized material. This means that without a long pathway, the dab hit can be tickly or too much for some, less seasoned pros. By percolating the vapour through a cool liquid, the hit is much smoother, creamier and cooler. This is basically the best way to hit a dab rig.

Thing 10 – Style

Of course, if you are putting some serious money down on a dab rig, you want one that appeals to your own sense of style. Happily, there are some amazing artists, designers and craftspeople working in the cannabis world who make incredible dab rigs for people. You might be looking for the small, understated dab rig. There are plenty available. If you are looking for a bombastic, psychedelic, totally fabulous blast of color, you can get those too. Some dab rigs are closer to art than to anything else.


This list things to look for in dab rigs is only what this author has experienced and knows about, there are probably other factors that can influence what you buy and why. The thing to look out for is your own preferences. If you think it looks and feels good, then it is probably the one for you.

When using a dab rig, please be careful. They are an excellent way to hurt yourself, so follow the safety instructions.