Dabbing is on the rise, and it presents a different way to ingest weed, which is really just a different form of vaping. If you’re super into dabbing or looking to get started, and don’t want to buy a dab rig, (we all know glass breaks easily); perhaps there’s another answer. You can make a DIY dab rig with regular household items, in the privacy of your very own home. It’s pretty friggin easy… Read on for more information.
What’s a dab?
There’s smoking, which is done in different ways; bongs, pipes, joints, blunts. And vaping, which is also done in different ways; dry herb, oil, dabbing. Today, we’re focusing on dabbing. The difference between dab vaping and standard vaping, is mostly in the equipment used and what is being vaporized. Dabbing requires a smoking device called a dab rig, and is used for concentrates. Much like other forms of vaporization, this means heating the substance to a temperature which releases compounds, without burning the material.
Dabbing isn’t done with dry herb ever, it must be a concentrate. And unlike the vape pens and standard dry herb vapes, a dab rig actually looks like, and resembles, a bong. This kind of waterpipe is specifically meant for the vaping of thick oils and concentrates; and also uses the bong water filtration method to cool and filter the vapor. Like most bongs, dab rigs are made of glass. Unlike a regular bong, a dab rig employs the use of a nail (aka bangor). This creates different functionality from a bong.
Like a bong, a dab rig has a downstem, which is where the weed product is put for heating. However, instead of a standard bowl piece, it incorporates a ‘nail’; a thin, dish-like structure that goes inside the downstem. The nail is often made of quartz; but can also be made of titanium, ceramic, or glass. The nail is where heat is applied in order to achieve vaporization.
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Sometimes another piece is used with the nail, called a ‘dome’. This goes over the nail and works to evenly distribute the heat, and maintain the vapor. When a dome is used, the nail is heated with the dome put over it, and then the dome removed and the concentrate applied to the nail. Domes aren’t always necessary though, and those which don’t require them, usually have larger dishes, and a hole in the middle for the vapor to go through. A carb cap is another piece that is used in place of a dome.
A carb cap covers the concentrate during heating, and is then removed when the dabber is ready to take a hit. This piece can help regulate temperature and allows for dabbing at lower temperatures; which is preferable to some people, as it makes for a cleaner taste. Dab rigs also use percolators, a cooling device seen in many standard bongs. This makes for the bubbling action of the dab rig. There are several different deigns for percolators, like disc style, stackable, honeycomb, helix, and more.
How is dabbing done?
If the goal here is to help you with your own homemade DIY dab rig, then its best to know exactly what the setup is supposed to do. Understanding the mechanism is important in creating a DIY and workable version. With a standard setup, heat is applied in one of two ways; with a lighter (torch), or electric dab nail. For torches, butane is usually preferred, but this is personal preference. For an electric dab nail (e-nail), there’s generally a digital display to show precise temperature. This uses an electric current to heat rather than a flame.
To get down to basics, the whole thing works by heating the nail, and then applying the concentrate. This creates vapor, which is pulled through the water, and into the user’s mouth. Standard dabbing temps range from 315 – 450º F (157-232º C). A tool, called a dabber, is often required to get the product onto the dab nail, as the product is often sticky, and the nail gets too hot to touch.
If you’ll notice, it doesn’t matter which heating method is used, it’s never directly on the concentrate, as this could burn it. Since we’re not looking to burn anything, the nail is the part heated. And that heat is then used to vaporize the concentrate. Apart from this, and the angle of the downstem in the two smoking devices (bongs and dab rigs); they are nearly identical, and easy to confuse in a head shop when not paying attention.
DIY dab rig – Mason jar method
Maybe you’re not in a location where buying a dab rig is easy. Maybe you don’t have the money for a good one, or maybe you’re prone to breaking glass pieces and don’t want to add to the graveyard. Whatever the reason, you can actually make your own DIY dab rig, in the privacy of your own home. One of the most basic ways to do this is with a mason jar.
Options 1: DIY dab rig Mason jar materials: 1 Mason jar with a lid, 1 drill, 1 bendy straw, 1 plastic pen with ink removed, 1 titanium dab nail, aluminum foil, and 1 butane torch. The instructions go as follows:
- With the drill, make two holes in the Mason jar of the same size, which can fit a pen covered in tin foil with no extra space.
- Then wrap aluminum foil around the pen, and place into either hole to create a downstem for your DIY dab rig.
- Put the nail inside the pen and hold it in securely with more aluminum foil. Make sure you create a good seal.
- In the other hole, put in the bendy straw, and make sure its secure with more aluminum foil. Once again it must create a seal so air doesn’t escape. This is your mouthpiece. Some instructions say you can use a glue gun to seal it further, but this is personal preference as that can add more chemicals, especially when heated, (though realistically this is also an issue with using plastic parts like a pen).
- Next you’ll fill the Mason jar with water. Make sure to use the right amount of water so you’re not sucking it into your mouth, or with too little (which causes harsher, dryer hits). The water should cover the downstem’s bottom.
- Finally, put the lid on the jar, and use it by heating the nail, and applying the concentrate. This whole thing might only be good for a single use, but should you desire something more durable and longer-lasting, use glass rather than plastic and titanium. Those materials also make for a safer device with less fumes.
DIY dab rig – bong conversion method
Option 2: DIY dab rig bong conversion. This method employs a regular bong, which is made into a dab rig. Materials for this include: a bong, a bong adapter that fits your bong, and a nail that fits the bong’s joint. Follow these instructions:
- Find your adapter. You might have never thought about bong gender before, so now’s the time. It’s pretty basic; if you put the bowl onto the joint, it’s female. However, if the piece slides into the joint, its male. This isn’t terribly important except for it dictates which kind of joint and which kind of adapter. Joints can range in size between 10-18 millimeters or so, regardless of gender. You will most likely use a male-to-male adapter. Just make sure to get the right one, for whichever bong you choose to use.
- Get a nail that matches the joint size of the bong. Titanium isn’t the only option, but its generally the most preferable for how it conducts heat and offers some durability.
- Use it – carefully. Bongs and dabs have downstems at different angles. Bongs are usually 45º, whereas dabs tend to be at a 90º angle. The 90º angle is to ensure that concentrate doesn’t fall out during the process, which it can at 90º. Something to take into consideration when using this method.
DIY dab rig – plastic bottle, hot knife method
Option 3: DIY dab rig with plastic bottle and hot knife. This method necessitates the following materials: metal butter knife with thick handle, dabber or paper clip, plastic water bottle, scissors, electric stove or torch, and optional silicon dab mat. Follow these instructions:
- Take the water bottle and cut in half. You only need the top half, sans cap. In the bottom of this top half, make a notch which is where the hot knife goes, so make sure a knife can slide in with plenty of room.
- Then heat the knife with your electric stove or torch lighter, and put it on a flat surface or the silicon mat.
- Take the dabber or paper clip and use it to collect the concentrate and put it on the hot knife.
- Take the bottle and move it over the knife using the groove you made. The groove should be big enough that the knife doesn’t come into contact with plastic.
- Put your mouth on the mouth of the bottle, and inhale.
These are three popular (and easy-to-do) options for a DIY dab rig. You can search the internet to find other options if none of these work for you. These methods can be done in a matter of minutes, and with general household items for the most part; giving you a great ability for your very own homemade dab rig. Have fun and enjoy!
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