One of the biggest trends in cannabis right now is dabbing. Dabbing is an effective way to vaporize and consume a variety of cannabis concentrates, and it requires a specialized piece of equipment called a dab rig.
Crafting a homemade dab rig can be a fun project or way to consume concentrates without breaking the bank. Below, we'll cover some basics around dabbing and explain how to make your own homemade dab rig, along with how to convert a bong into a dab rig.
What is a dab rig?
A dab rig is used to vaporize cannabis concentrates and can be referred to by other names such as an oil rig or concentrate pipe. Dab rigs are similar to bongs in some ways but different in others, and can be considered an extension of a bong that's specialized for concentrates.
Rather than using a bowl for cannabis flower, a dab rig requires a glass, quartz, ceramic, titanium nail, or banger, the platform the concentrate is placed on. A butane torch is used to heat up the nail before the concentrate is applied, and a long slender tool called a dabber is used to place the concentrate on the nail.
Dab rigs vs. bongs
Compared to the bong, the first modern iteration of a dab rig only recently debuted in the early 2000s. Although relatively new to the cannabis world, rigs have already become beloved staples in the culture and come in as many varieties of shape, size, design, and quality as the bong. While some dab rigs and bongs may look alike, the physical characteristics of the rig usually hint at what it is optimized for.
Dab rigs tend to be more compact than bongs, as a smaller chamber allows the vapor to travel to the lungs quicker and with less drag which helps improve flavor. Another differentiating characteristic is that dab rigs will typically use 10 - 14 millimeter female joints while most bongs utilize 14 - 18 millimeter male joints.
Dab rigs also tend to have their downstems situated at a 90-degree angle, whereas bong downstems tend to sit at a 45-degree angle, further distinguishing the two from each other.
Like bongs, dab rigs come in a wide range of prices and styles that can be as simple as needed or as ornate as an artist can craft.
Crafting homemade dab rigs
For the exact reasons you might make a homemade bong, you might also want to try your hand at a homemade dab rig. To start, dab rigs, and the concentrates associated with them, tend to have a higher upfront cost than the average bong and flower combo, so making one at home can serve as a cost-saving measure, too.
Another reason for making a homemade bong could be the unavailability of other options. If your rig just broke, is lost, or you just don't have access to any other gear, fashioning a homemade rig could be a viable, yet temporary, solution. And just like homemade bongs, homemade dab rigs are not to be used long-term, as smoking out of materials like plastic and certain metals can lead to lasting health effects.
But life's too short not to experiment and try things. Even though it shouldn't be a daily piece, it's still fun to break monotonous routines and create a homemade dab rig with household items.
How to make your own mason jar rig
Time needed: 20 minutes.
A popular method for crafting a DIY dab rig is using a Mason jar. Similar to other homemade bongs in construction, the Mason jar dab rig is a fun experiment that results in a unique and entertaining device.
- Grab your materials.
You will need a Mason jar with a lid, a drill, a bendy straw, a plastic pen (emptied), a titanium dab nail, aluminum foil, and a butane torch.
- Drill two holes in the lid of the Mason jar.
Make sure they are lined up and roughly the same size, which should allow a foil-covered pen to fit snugly.
- Wrap the pen in aluminum foil.
Then, place the pen into one of the holes you drilled. This will be the downstem for the dab rig.
- Place the nail into the pen.
Secure the nail to the lid with more aluminum foil to ensure a good seal.
- Place the bendy straw in the other hole.
Secure the straw tightly with more aluminum foil to ensure no air escapes. This will be where you will inhale, so a tight seal is key to a good hit. If you have a glue gun, you could also use that to seal any holes.
- Fill the jar with water.
Not too much or you'll inhale water and not too little or else you'll have very harsh and dry hits. Enough water to cover the bottom of the downstem is plenty.
- Fix the lid onto the jar.
While most homemade smoking devices are fairly flimsy and typically single-use, if fitted with proper glass — rather than plastic and titanium components — a mason jar rig could be reused with proper cleaning and maintenance. With that said, nothing will ever beat glass rigs specifically made for dabbing.
Other ways to make a DIY rig: convert your bong
If you're lacking a proper dab rig but have an extra bong laying around, a bong can be converted into a dab rig if needed. In order to be converted from a bong to a dab rig, you'll need to do a few things first:
- Get an adapter. Most likely, a male-to-male adapter will be needed to change the bong's gender and joint size. A quick way to tell the size of your bong's joint is if it's bigger than the width of your pinky, it's probably an 18-millimeter fitting and a 14-millimeter if it's roughly the same size.
- Choose your nail. There are several materials to choose from, but titanium nails tend to be the most commonly used and are preferred for their durability and heat conducting properties. When choosing a nail for your rig, be sure to choose one that matches the size of your bong's joint.
- Be cautious of your bong's design. As mentioned above, while dab rigs usually have downstems set at a 90-degree angle, bongs tend to have a downstem situated at a 45-degree angle, which will have your nail sitting at an angle that is more prone to concentrates falling off when heated — so be careful.
While not crafted for this purpose, a bong conversion is probably the most cost-effective and healthiest way to craft a homemade dab rig. Not to mention with the right adapter and nail, you're essentially getting two devices out of one.
However, the design of a dab rig is specifically made to make dabs an enjoyable experience. If you're taking dabs out of a bong and smoking flower out of a rig, you will still get high, but the experience will be much more different than intended and likely less enjoyable than if you were using the proper equipment. It's recommended to have separate, dedicated pipes for flower and concentrates.
If you're lacking a proper dab rig, you may have many of the components for these homemade devices laying around.
Creativity is encouraged when it comes to crafting new pieces and pipes but being cautious of what materials you're using is also important since long-term use of these homemade devices could lead to potential health risks. Aside from potential risks, the benefits include cost savings, convenience, and the charm involved with smoking a handmade piece. Overall, homemade dab rigs are a fun choice if you're lacking proper resources or if you just want to switch things up and try dabbing a different way. Regardless of what you choose, if paired with high-quality concentrates, you're in for a fun project and novel experience.