10 Essential Smoking Tools for Concentrates
Torches, dab rigs, carb caps—if this lingo is dizzying to you, then you should read about how to make the most of your THC-potent concentrates.
Think of how it feels to exhale a puff of flower. (If you know, you know, but we’ll explain.) There’s the aroma lifting off the buds as you pack the bowl or roll up a joint. As you take a hit, there’s a little harshness from the cannabinoid-filled smoke, followed by the lingering flavors of the terpenes. Now, think of that flavor multiplied by five.
That is what it’s like to smoke concentrates—a truly potent expression of the cannabis plant that allows you to smell and feel the unique differences strain-to-strain. The secret to a successful sesh: you need a totally different set of tools to consume concentrates.
Accessories matter when it comes to “dabbing,” the term for flash vaporizing concentrates at a high temperature. To properly enjoy concentrates in all their standalone glory, it takes specific tools and materials that can handle these consistencies and temperatures. Wherever your cannabis journey leads from here, these are the essential tools to get you started.
Essential Smoking Tools for Concentrates
Basic dab rig
In order to enjoy cannabis concentrates, you need a dab rig, e-rig, or dab pen. A basic dab rig is essentially a bong made for smoking concentrates, with a water chamber that cools down the vapor before it hits your lips and a special kind of bowl made for gooey dabs instead of ground flower. And just like bongs, there are thousands of variations and optional appendages to enhance feel and flow of every inhale. This iridescent cutie from Burning Love is a perfectly simple, streamlined piece for beginners that comes with a matching “banger”—a type of bowl for concentrates.
This is the umbrella term for bowls designed for smoking concentrates that fit into dab rigs. Bucket-shaped “bangers” are the most common style, usually made of quartz. A “terp slurper” is another type of nail, featuring a different shape that aims to waste less concentrate each sesh. Nails can also be made out of high-temperature materials like borosilicate glass, ceramic and titanium.
Dabbing concentrates is not about combusting plant material, i.e. smoking flower. Instead of lighting the cannabis on fire, you’re heating up the nail to the point that just touching the concentrate on the bottom of the bowl vaporizes it (that’s where that “flash vaporization” term comes from). Instead of heating up a chamber, then puffing off of that stored vapor, you’re getting a fresh vapor hit with each inhale. This is why an electric torch lighter is necessary (or a culinary butane torch, if you’ve got one on hand). Keep in mind that lighters like these require a personal stash of butane cans as well.
There is more than one way to do the dab. You can eliminate the need for a torch by using an electronic nail like this one, which is connected to a metal conductor that allows you to heat the bowl to your preferred temperature. This simplifies the number of accessories you’re dealing with each inhale and eliminates the need to buy butane for refills.
You know that hole in the side of a traditional pipe that you cover with a finger to get your bowl cherried? That’s called a “carb,” and dab rigs have an optional accessory that serves a similar purpose. Once you’ve heated the nail and dropped a dab of concentrate on it, you can hold the carb cap over the nail to regulate the amount and steer the direction of air. This is more of a pro accessory—it also works to maintain the temperature of the nail, allowing the dabber more time to finish—but if you’re interested in a more controlled hit, just remember that these too must be made of high-temperature materials like quartz, borosilicate glass, or titanium.
You can simplify even more with a totally electronic dab rig that heats its own nail. This is a hyped up space with a lot of big brands vying for attention, but one an honest caveat in regards to shopping for an e-rig: the whole industry is still figuring all this vaporizer tech out, and these babies aren’t cheap. It’s a big investment for which research and Reddit browsing pays off.
This is a term for portable-slash-handheld e-rigs that allow you to smoke loose concentrates of your choice (as opposed to a vape cartridge you’d buy at a dispensary). A similarly active cannabis space where the options are expensive and difficult to distinguish—but perhaps still the best bet for those prioritizing low maintenance concentrate experiences without a ton of other accessories needed.
This is one tool that every concentrate consumer needs. Often called a “dabber,” this broad variety of metal or glass tools is designed to handle high temperatures. They have to be able to touch the torch-heated nail without burning up themselves, without wasting the high-value concentrate that sticks to whatever it touches.
On that same note—no-stick, no-melt silicone is a dabber’s best friend. There’s little chance that any of your existing nug jugs or jars make sense for storing your sticky concentrates, so silicone containers like these are a must-have in your kit. The material allows for an airtight seal without the risk of shattering glass and ruining your goods, and when kept in a cool enough place, every bit of the goopiest of concentrates can be easily scraped up and out of the container with your tool.
Everything that touches your concentrates will get sticky, so it’s wise to keep everything on a non-stick mat. Your coffee table will thank you later.