As dabbing becomes one of the most popular consumption methods of the modern weed market, the dab rig — a water pipe used for vaporizing cannabis concentrates — has become a staple of the modern smoking device lineup. A dab rig serves the same function as a bong, filtering concentrate vapor through water at its base. Dab rigs are typically smaller than bongs, providing less drag so the vapor travels to the lungs more quickly and retains potency.  


Similarly to a bong, a dab rig filters concentrate vapor through water at the base, then up the neck of the rig and through the mouthpiece. In the place of a traditional bowl for smoking dry flower, the dab rig is connected to a dab nail or banger, where a dab of concentrate is placed to inhale the resulting vapor. 


When regularly maintained, dab rig cleaning can be easier than bongs because the absence of combustion in dabbing creates less resin buildup. Dab rigs do, however, build up reclaim, which can clog your rig and hinder the flavor of each dab. They can also be difficult to clean when they have complex filtration features. Repeated use of a nail can cause carbon and reclaim buildup, especially if the nail isn’t cleaned regularly. 


Below is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to clean and maintain a dab rig for optimal performance and vapor purity.

What You’ll Need

Before you begin the process of cleaning your bong, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients and materials:

  • 99% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • One large sealable plastic bag or container
  • Cotton swabs

Cleaning Your Dab Rig Step by Step

Step 1 — Torch Your Nail

One of the simplest ways to clean a nail or banger is to heat it with a torch lighter until reclaim or residual carbon burns completely off. If buildup is minimal, torching a nail should clean it sufficiently. You can also try cleaning the surface of your nail with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab.

Step 2 — Remove the Nail and Put it in a Sealable Bag with Alcohol

If torching your nail isn’t enough to clean off all carbon or reclaim buildup, place the nail in a sealable container or plastic bag and let it soak in alcohol. If you’re using a sealable bag, try adding salt and shaking the bag when necessary. 

Step 3 — Pour the Water Out of Your Rig

Before you begin cleaning your rig, pour the old water out into a sink or drain. Note: If you use your rig often, change the water out daily. Doing so will help prevent reclaim buildup and preserve the flavor and cleanliness of the vapor. 

Step 4 — Add Alcohol

Fill the base of your rig with 99% isopropyl, or rubbing, alcohol. If a deeper cleaning is needed, first add coarse sea salt until it covers the bottom of the base. 

Step 5 — Shake Your Rig

Cover the holes of your rig, either with your hands or standard-size plugs or caps, if necessary, and shake the rig to loosen and dissolve reclaim buildup. 

Step 6 — Rinse the Rig and Nail

Once you’ve cleared the reclaim from your rig and nail, rinse them thoroughly with warm water. Lightly shake the rig as you rinse to wash away the remaining reclaim. 

Collecting Reclaim

Similarly to resin, reclaim can be collected and reused to make edibles, tinctures, and capsules. It can also be reused for dabbing, as it often retains some cannabinoids from the original concentrate. 


Some dab rigs have “drop-down” attachments, which will trap reclaim and make it easier to collect. If your dab rig doesn’t have a drop-down attachment and you are forced to remove it using alcohol, reusing the reclaim is not recommended. 


Remember, a dab rig needs regular maintenance for optimum performance. Change your rig’s water out often, and lightly clean your nail with a cotton swab after each dab. Regularly cleaning your rig means you’ll have to deep-clean it less frequently.