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How to Dab for Beginners

Dabbing is the process of rapidly vaporizing dabs, also known as concentrates, using a dab rig, e-rig, or dab pen. In this article, we’ll concentrate on traditional dabbing with a dab rig. There’s a learning curve to dabbing; if you’ve never done it before, it might be useful to ask a friend who dabs or read this guide.

When dabbing, keep the following factors in mind:

  1. Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis, so a little goes a long way— flower has 10-25% THC and dabs have 35-90+ percent.
  2. When dabbing, make sure the nail is not too hot; if it is, you’ll burn terpenes and most likely have a hard time inhaling the dab.
  3. Dabbing uses really hot temperatures so be careful handling parts.

What exactly is a dab rig? And how does it work?

A dab rig is a water pipe used to vaporize concentrates. It resembles a bong with a chamber for conserving vapor and instead of a bowl for flowers like in a bong, it has a nail or “banger” for concentrates.

Many nail shapes exist, one of the most popular being a banger, which resembles a bucket and is commonly constructed of quartz or borosilicate. In order to vaporize dabs, nails must be able to withstand temperatures approaching 400-600°F for extended periods of time.

Dab rig setup: Tools you need to smoke shatter and wax

The dab rig comprises of a few essential supplies that are required to extract the concentrate from the container and breathe it into your lungs. Dab technology is always changing, and new products and add-ons continuously emerge, but a typical dab setup necessitates the following core components.

Dab rig

A dab rig is a water pipe that cools dab vapor before it enters your lungs. It resembles a bong, though it has a fitting for a nail instead of a bowl. Dab rigs are available in many forms and sizes, although they are generally shorter than bongs.


A nail, also known as a banger, is where dabs or concentrates are vaporized for inhalation, much like a bowl for a bong. The typical nail is a quartz banger in the form of a bucket. Quartz, ceramic, borosilicate glass, and titanium are all used to make nails because they must endure extremely high temperatures.

Nails come in a variety of sizes, with which they slide into the dab rig: You’ll need a 14mm nail if your rig has a 14mm stem for example. They also have male and female connections, so you’ll need the corresponding attachment.

There are also E-nails and other electronic options.

Carb cap

When inhaling, a carb cap is placed over the hot nail after the dab is put in to assist with airflow when breathing. To use the term with bongs, most bong bowls may be pulled out to let in or block air while breathing, to regulate airflow; a carp cap does the same and allows you to cover or expose the banger while inhaling.

Because the nail gets extremely hot while dabbing and you don’t want to touch it, a separate tool is needed to make contact with the nail, hence a carb cap.

Although they are not required, we strongly advise using a carb cap to assist control airflow. Combination carb cap/dab tools can help you minimize the amount of dab equipment you have to carry around.


For heating nails, many individuals use a butane torch or other kitchen torch.

Keep in mind that butane cans will be required for this. E-nails eliminate the need for a torch but can be really expensive.

Dab tool/dabber

To get the dab out of its container and into the hot nail without making a mess, you’ll need some sort of tool. You don’t want to drop a dab in with your hand because you don’t want to get your hand too close to the heated nail and the dab is extremely sticky.

Dab tools come in a variety of forms, including scoop, pick, shovel, paddle, and more. Pick a shape based on the concentrate’s texture and consistency— for example, runny dabs could need more of a spoon-shaped tool.

Dab mat and timer (optional)

A dab mat serves as a clean and debris-free space to dab; it goes beneath your rig or dab container. It’s not necessary, but it may be nice. You can make a big mess with dabs if you’re not careful and they aren’t the easiest to clean.

A timer is often used by dabbers to ensure that the nail is heated to the right temperature consistently. Some dabbers, on the other hand, only rely on their sense to determine if the correct temperature has been reached.

How much to dab

It can be difficult to measure a dab. THC concentrates differ among extracts, so a small amount of diamonds may be considerably more potent than a slab of shatter. The majority of dabs have a total THC content of 60-90%, with a few topping out at 90+%; some solventless concentrates can even be less than 50% THC.

How to dab

When dabbing, temperature is extremely important. If a nail is too hot, you’ll burn terpenes, ruin the taste, and most likely end up coughing. The secret to success is to gradually build up the heat without scorching the terpenes until they’re ready for dabbing.

Generally, you want to dab between 545-570°F, but many will say that you should dab at as low of a temperature as possible to preserve terpenes and flavor.

When your rig is ready and your dab is loaded onto a dab tool, you’re ready to dab. If you’ve never dabbled before, sitting down may be a good idea.

  • Step 1: Aim the torch at the bottom of the nail and turn it on. The majority of people heat their nails to a crimson red before they begin to glow.
  • Step 2: Turn off the torch after the nail is hot. Quartz nails should be cooled for around 45-60 seconds, while titanium nails should be cooled for 10 seconds (a timer comes in useful here).
  • Step 3: When you’ve reached the proper temperature, apply the drop to your nail with your dab tool and start breathing slowly. To remove all of the concentrates from the dab, rotate the tool in your nail.
  • Step 4: Using a carb cap, cover and uncover the nail while inhaling to regulate airflow.
  • Step 5: Exhale and enjoy!

How to regulate dab temperature

There are a few ways to check and control the temperature when dabbing with a torch:

  • Timer
  • Experience
  • Infrared temperature gun

When dabbing, a lot of dabbers utilize a timer. Try heating the nail with a torch for 30 seconds and letting it cool for 60 seconds before applying the dab to the nail as a test. This is only an estimate, so you’ll need to play around until you get something that works best for you.

Dabbers who don’t use a timer typically just rely on their experience and feel the heat coming off a hot nail with their hand. This is more difficult to accomplish than using a timer, and it’s less accurate.

You may also use an infrared dab temperature gun, which uses a sensor or laser to measure heat. Prepare your dab, then heat your nail with the temperature gun pointed at it. It will tell you the precise temperature, allowing you to add the dose at the correct time.

Cold-start dabbing

Cold start dabbing, in contrast to hot dabbing, decreases the loss of terpenes and flavors. It’s also a type of low-temp dabbing.

A dab is placed in a cold nail first and then heated. The dab will melt at a much lower temperature than classic dabbing, resulting in a more aromatic and terpene-rich hit for the user. Cold-start dabbing is also great because you don’t have to wait for the nail to cool as much after each hit.

Dabbing cold will keep your hardware in better shape than traditional dabbing. You’ll minimize the chance of breakage and reclaim building up by heating your banger less.

The major drawback of cold-start dabs and low-temp dabs, in general, is that they often don’t vaporize all of the dab put on a nail, leaving char, residue, and oil. All of these should be removed and disposed of so that your next dab can begin on a clean surface and give you access to the full flavor of your next dab.

How to cold start dab

To cold-start dab:

  • Step 1: Load a dab into a clean nail
  • Step 2: Cover the nail with a carb cap
  • Step 3: Heat the banger with your torch until it begins to bubble and change into a vapor
  • Step 4: Turn off the torch and start inhaling while rotating the cap to increase airflow
  • Step 5: Exhale and enjoy!

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