dabbing without a nail

What you need to know about dab tools

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  1. Nails
  2. Percolators
  3. Heat source
  4. Dabbers
  5. Cleaning tools
  6. Storage gear
  7. Dab accessories
  8. Other ways to consume concentrates

Dabbing has taken the cannabis world by storm in recent years. The explosive popularity of concentrates has introduced not only a new method for consuming cannabis, but also an entirely new culture, vocabulary, and a range of specialized tools and components. This article will give you an extensive breakdown of the tools needed to dab like a pro and make the most of your encounter with cannabis concentrates.

Concentrates have introduced not only a new method for consuming cannabis, but also an entirely new culture, vocabulary, and a range of specialized tools and components. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Aside from the rig itself, nails are the most vital part of the dabbing experience. A nail is essentially a shallow dish that slides into the downstem of your dab rig, and is the component to which you apply heat and onto which you will drop and vaporize your concentrates.

There are two main types of dab nails you can use with a dab rig:

Nails with dome

These nails require the use of an additional piece called a dome, which slides over the top of a heated nail to help evenly distribute heat and retain vapor.

When you use a nail and dome, you heat the nail to the desired temperature, slide the dome over the top of the nail, drop your concentrate onto the hot nail, and pull in the vapor.

These nails require the use of an additional piece called a dome, which slides over the top of a heated nail to help evenly distribute heat and retain vapor. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Domeless nails

Just as the name indicates, domeless nails do not require the use of a dome. Instead, they feature a larger dish and an opening in the center through which the vapor travels into the rig.

Today, many dabbers prefer using domeless nails, since the larger dishes allow them to hit larger dabs. Using a domeless nail also tends to be a bit simpler than the process of heating a nail and then sliding a dome down over it.

In the absence of a dome, it is now very common to use a carb cap with a domeless nail. A carb cap rests on top of the nail while the concentrate is bubbling and vaporizing, and is lifted off the nail when you’re ready to clear the vapor. This creates a small chamber of heat that lets you dab effectively at lower temperatures for a cleaner taste.

The material of the dab nail is another critical factor to consider. Here are the primary options currently available to concentrate consumers:

Titanium nails

Titanium nails are metal, which means they heat quickly and retain heat well. They are also very durable and hard to break. However, after extended use, you may see titanium oxide buildups, which can impair the performance of your nail. Additionally, titanium nails are sometimes not medical- or food-grade products, which means there is always the possibility that the nail could leach harmful contaminants at high temperatures. This is why, if you decide to take the titanium route, many seasoned stoners consumers stress the importance of using a dab nail made of medical-grade 2 titanium.

Ceramic nails

Ceramic nails take the longest to heat up, but once they’re at the desired temperature, they tend to retain heat better than other types of nails. Unfortunately, cracks or breakage are more common with a ceramic nail due to the material’s inherent fragility. Because they are medical- and food-grade products, ceramic nails eliminate any concerns about harmful contaminants leaching into your weed vapor.

Quartz nails

Quartz nails, typically called quartz bangers, heat up quickly but tend to lose heat quickly, too. For that reason, it’s best to use a carb cap with your quartz nail. Like ceramic, quartz nails do not leach harmful contaminants and are very safe to use.

Quartz nails heat up quickly but also lose heat quickly, so it’s best to use a carb cap with your quartz nail. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Glass nails

Glass nails tend to be the least durable, as they can crack or even shatter at the high temperatures needed for dabbing. However, glass nails are usually the most affordable option, they retain heat relatively well, and are easy to use. But if you dab frequently, be prepared to replace a glass nail at some point when it breaks.


Many dab rigs include a percolator, often referred to as a “perc.” Also found in most bongs, these components elevate the performance of your water pipe by creating tons of bubbling action that leads to water filtration. There are so many styles of percolators on the market today, including:

  • Disk percs refer to any sort of disk-shaped percolator with a network of openings designed to create bubbles. Given their relatively compact shape and size, it’s easy to stack multiple disk percs into a single rig, allowing you to customize your piece.
  • Tree percs feature a number of separate arms, each with an array of small holes or slits. The numerous arms and holes create tons of bubbles, which translates into tons of filtration.
  • Shower head percs sit at the bottom of the downstem, submerged in the water chamber. Designed in the shape of a ring, this type of perc includes a series of small openings, just like a shower head. When vapor passes through these holes, they instantly create thousands of tiny bubbles for increased filtration.
  • Frit disk percs are made by bonding together a bunch of small glass particles into a disk-like shape. This process leaves behind numerous tiny openings throughout the disk, and these little openings create massive bubbling action — arguably more bubbling than any other type of perc. The only downside is that pulling through all those little holes requires some serious lung effort and they can easily become plugged by leftover reclaim.
  • Honeycomb percs feature holes cut in the same structure as a honeycomb and tend to produce more bubbles than standard disk percolators.
  • Inline/stemline percs work a lot like standard downstem percs, but instead of sitting at a downward slanted angle, an inline or stemline perc sits horizontally across the water chamber. This means that all holes in the perc are at the same level in the water, rather than some being higher up than others, thereby ensuring a more even filtration process.
  • Helix designs are percs arranged into multiple arms that tend to twist or wrap around each other inside the water chamber.

Percolators elevate the performance of your water pipe by creating tons of bubbling action that leads to water filtration. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Heat source

There are two primary ways to heat your nail: manually using a blowtorch or electrically using an e-nail.

When it comes to using a blowtorch, many recommend steering clear of propane torches and opting for a butane torch instead. The quality of the gas is one of the most common reasons people give for choosing butane. And while propane is a less refined gas, experts actually report that dabbing with propane is not significantly more dangerous than dabbing with butane, since you’re heating the nail before inhaling anything instead of inhaling directly off the flame.

When it comes to using a blowtorch, many recommend steering clear of propane torches and opting for a butane torch instead. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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With that said, propane can sometimes heat nails too intensely, potentially damaging the nail.

Aside from deciding between butane and propane, you can also select from full-sized blowtorches or mini-torches. In general, full-sized torches are a bit more cumbersome and difficult to use — especially when you’re feeling the effects of a deep dab session.

Finally, if you want to avoid the hassle of manually heating your nail, you can go with an e-nail vaporizer. These devices typically have a digital interface that lets you input precise temperatures , while also displaying the current temperature of your nail.


Dabbers are simple tools used to scoop out a dab of concentrate and then drop it onto the heated nail. You can get dabbers made out of metal or glass. Both are equally effective, but remember that if you leave a metal dabber on a hot nail for too long, it will also get hot, so be careful when handling.

Dabbers are simple tools used to scoop out a dab of concentrate and then drop it onto the heated nail. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Today, the most popular dabbers come as a combination tool with a carb cap on one end, and an extended handle with a scooper on the other end.

Cleaning tools

To keep your dab rig performing at peak levels, and to ensure the best possible dabbing experience, it’s important to constantly keep your gear clean. At the minimum, you’ll probably need the following cleaning tools for a traditional dab rig:

  • Cotton swabs to wipe out your nail. Give it a quick swipe after each dab.
  • Cleaning wipes for all glass components.
  • Pipe cleaners to clean the downstem and other glass cylindrical components.
  • Cleaning solution for your water pipe and percolator — you can use either a solution formulated specifically for water pipes or go with more makeshift options such as isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol or tea tree oil mixed with salt.

Beyond these basic cleaning tools, you can also purchase more specialized dab rig cleaning kits that contain specific cleaning tools designed for each component.

Storage gear

With so many separate components, dab rigs require some special storage equipment. And while there is a seemingly endless array of storage options and new products hitting the market all the time, there are a few essentials that every concentrate consumer should have.

When it comes to storing your glass pieces, it’s generally best to look for a sturdy case with plenty of padding and individualized space for each fragile component. These types of cases also make it very easy to transport your rig. Along with a lid that snaps shut tightly and securely, you can also opt for the added security of a lockable storage case.

For storing your concentrates, go with either silicone or glass storage jars specifically designed for dabs. Concentrates won’t stick to containers made out of these materials, making it clean, convenient, and easy to scoop out dabs when it comes time to consume them.

Additionally, many concentrate jars can be stored inside odor-proof storage boxes. These are an excellent addition to a dab storage kit, as they give you a neat, discreet, and organized place to store your concentrates in a single location. As a bonus, many storage boxes also include holders for storing dabbers and dabber/carb cap combination tools.

Dab accessories

The popularity of dabbing has given way to a new niche industry of dab accessories. And while there are numerous highly specialized accessories on the market, some of the most helpful and important include:

Oil reclaimers

A reclaimer is a glass attachment that fits between the nail and the water chamber, where it collects any runoff concentrate, as well as any concentrate that condenses out of the vapor. After enough reclaim oil builds up, you can either scrape it out or apply some gentle heat, melt it, and let it drip out.

Either way, lab tests have found that reclaim oil is very potent, typically containing between 40% to 50%, THC as well as high levels of at least four other cannabinoids. Additionally, because reclaim has already been heated, it’s fully decarboxylated, making it an excellent ingredient for cooking or baking applications.

Dabbing multi-tools

There are a number of multi-tools on the market, all relatively similar to one another. Typically, they include a number of dabbers and scrapers, possibly a small carb cap, cleaning tools, and other handy gadgets like tiny flashlights, scissors, and tamping tools. Having a good multi-tool on hand can make the process of dabbing a bit more convenient and streamlined.

Dab mats

Dab mats might not seem like a necessary addition to the tool kit, but they actually make a notable difference. Most dab mats are made out of silicone, giving you a slip-proof place to set up your rig and making it very easy to clean if any concentrates or other substances drip onto the mat.

As you become a more experienced dabber, and as you figure out your preferred dabbing setup, you can start hunting around for more specialized accessories to personalize your experience further.

Other ways to consume concentrates

Using a full-sized dab rig isn’t the only way to enjoy cannabis concentrates.

You can also hit dabs using a nectar collector, dab straw, or honey collector. These are relatively simple devices consisting of a quartz or titanium tip; a body made out of glass or silicone, which may include a small water chamber, percolator, or reclaimer; and a cylindrical mouthpiece made out of glass or silicone. After heating the tip, you slowly drag it across a dab, inhaling the vapor as you set the device in motion.

Similarly, vape pens are another incredibly popular concentrate consumption alternative to full-size dab rigs. Most models include a small glass cartridge filled with cannabis oil and a heating element made out of either metal or ceramic. The cartridge then screws onto a battery, which provides power to the heating element and allows you to vaporize and inhale the oil.

Vape pens have rapidly become a mainstay in cannabis culture, as they are incredibly discreet, clean, and easy to carry and use. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Both nectar collectors and vape pens are noted for their ease of use and portability. Vape pens in particular have rapidly become a mainstay in cannabis culture, as they are incredibly discreet, clean, and easy to carry and use — all while delivering a potent product.

What you need to know about dab tools Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Nails Percolators Heat source Dabbers Cleaning tools

8 Simple Ways to Smoke Wax without a Dab Rig

Smoking concentrated cannabis is on the rise, and many smokers love to use their wax using dab rigs. However, dab rigs are not the only tools that one can use to consume marijuana concentrates. While using a rig is really fun and efficient, there are many reasons why you should learn other ways of enjoying your waxes and oils.

It could be that you want a “more” convenient way of smoking dabs, especially if you love having a taste of your marijuana while on the go without attracting public eyes. Your dab rig could get damaged or you may be unable to buy a rig because of state laws. Whatever the case may be, it is worth the effort to learn more than one methods of smoking dabs.

This piece will teach you eight different ways you can use to smoke wax without using a dab rig. This includes the pros and cons of each method. But before then, what are concentrates and how are they different from herbs?

What is Wax?

A wax, marijuana concentrate, or dab is a highly potent form of cannabis that is consumed for medical or recreational purposes. Concentrates typically look like butter or honey. They come in different forms. Some of the favorite ones include wax, oil, shatter, budder, crumble, rosin, etc.

Important of a Dab Rig

While there is a need for learning alternatives ways of smoking wax, the benefits of using a dab rig are too great to be ignored.

It is efficient

Anyone who has ever used an electronic dab rig would testify of the efficiency it offers. For instance, a carb cap allows you to enjoy your cannabis at lower temperatures, giving you a more efficient experience. This is because the carb cap is like a seal. It not only helps to restrict the air pressure but also helps to cool the vapors.

Tasty flavor

Vaping wax and oil at lower temperatures helps to extract the best flavor from your materials. As earlier stated, using a dab rig with a carb cap enables you to achieve this goal. You will never lose the taste of your wax, and this gives you an enjoyable dabbing experience.

No harshness

Smoking a joint is way harsher than using a dab rig. In fact, there is little chance of experiencing harsh smoke with a rig unless you dab at extremely high temperature. As long as you stick to lower temperatures then you won’t be getting throat irritation, nor unnecessary coughs throughout the dab session.

How to Smoke without a Dab Rig

1. In a Bowl or Bong over Cannabis or CBD

This is practically the easiest method to smoke concentrates without a dab rig. Here you just load the bowl with your herbs as usual and then add your wax on top of the weed. Next is just to light up the weed as you would normally do and smoke away.

Not many people are familiar with it but there are also CBD hemp flower. The bud comes from the cannabis plant but contains primarily of CBD. Some have no THC while others have the minimum THC requirement for hemp. Using CBD flower is a good way to mix with your wax. This can be added a benefit since CBD can be a vital supplement for the body.

Using CBD, you can easily make sure you don’t smoke without a dab rig. For example, if you buy rick simpson oil, you can simply take the oil as-is. No need for heating anything up or inhaling it.

  • It is stress-free and does not require any special skill. Just smoke as usual.
  • You must combine herbs and concentrates. Having just one of both is useless
  • It can be wasteful as you are unable to regulate how much concentrates to use neither does it extinguishes itself once you light it up.
  • This method alters the flavor of your wax. You wanted to do some dabs, but you will be doing both herbs and concentrates.
  • It is a great idea to freeze your wax for about 10 minutes before use, especially if the concentrate is sticky or has melted. This will help solidify it so you can easily place it on top of your bowl.
  • Try not to take the lighter too close to the bowl as this could quickly melt your dabs. The idea is to let the wax melt into the weed slowly.

Wax in a Joint

2. Roll it Up

This is another method to smoke your dabs without a rig. You will need some of your favorite herbs, concentrates, and rolling papers.

You just need to spread the weed on the rolling paper as usual and add the wax in the middle, ensuring that it doesn’t get too close to edges of the paper. Nicely roll up your joint and light it up, though you may find the rolling a bit difficult because of the sticky nature of the wax.

  • Easy to use if you already know how to roll joints and blunts.
  • This isn’t an efficient way of smoking wax. The joint will burn weirdly and you will lose quality smoke.
  • You won’t get the real taste of your concentrates.
  • Rolling kief makes things less messy.
  • Use a roach.

3. Dab Pen or Electric Nectar Collector

My love for dab pens knows no bound because they are the most convenient and discreet way for enjoying wax without a rig, especially for vapers who loves staying under the radar while on the go.

Dab pens have become very popular today, and they are quite affordable. There are sold both online and offline and even in states where smoking is illegal. Although vape pens are more expensive than your regular rolling papers, they offer great benefits compared to smoking joints and blunts.

Vaporizers are straightforward to use because they are electronic devices that do not require special knowledge. You just need to know how to power it on/off and how to select a preferred temperature or voltage.

There is another option, electric nectar collectors. Electric nectar collectors are fairly new but they are really efficient. They are touch dip coil which means they go vertically onto the wax. As the dip coil gets hot and touches the concentrates, it turns into vapor as it inhales.

How to Use It

To begin, turn on your dab pen. Usually it is 5 quick clicks and you will see a light flash. Open your mouthpiece or chamber to expose the coil. Take your dab tool, scoop up some wax and place it right on the coil.

Close the mouthpiece and press the power button. The coil will start to heat up and your wax will melt, turning into vapor.

  • It is efficient and convenient to use
  • It is budget friendly
  • Offer discreetness, meaning you can use it in states where cannabis is illegal.
  • Battery operated
  • Make sure you take out some time to read online reviews about some quality and long lasting vape pens before buying one, especially if you are planning to vape regularly.
  • Wax on a Healthstone

4. Healthstones

Another effective way of vaporizing dabs without a rig is using a healthstone. But what the hell are healthstones?

A healthstone or a lazy man’s dab rig (as it is commonly called) is a ceramic product designed by an multiples companies. Healthstones are compatible with bongs, bowls, and pipes. They do not release harmful chemicals when heated, thanks to their 100% inert build materials.

It is quite easy to use. Just insert the healthstone to your bowl and scoop in some concentrates on top of the healthstone. Use a hand torch to heat until it combusts. Then take a draw from the mouthpiece.

  • It is easy and very efficient
  • You can use healthstones to smoke concentrates with friends
  • You could hurt yourself if you’re not careful enough. Do not touch the stone or bowl after heating it up.
  • Don’t use the torch directly on the healthstone. The flame should be about 2” from the wax.
  • Not all bowls and pipes are compatible with healthstones. Don’t try to force the stone into your piece.

5. Eating it

Sound strange? Well, eating your concentrates won’t kill you, but will get you really high. But wait, don’t start eating until you decarboxylate your wax. Why? In order for your body to be able to digest the wax, you first need to convert the THCa in the concentrate to THC. It is important you figure that out before you eat your wax. I recommend that you watch some videos on youtube.

  • No smoke
  • The materials needed are easy to get
  • You might get extremely stoned if you’re not careful
  • You may not like the taste, especially if it’s your first time.
  • The experience is not the same as actually smoking dabs. Edibles metabolize different than smoking it.
  • Put the decarboxylated concentrate into pill capsules to avoid the weird taste in your mouth. Or you could try making some wax edibles.

6. Hot Knives (Not Recommended)

While hot knives or knife hits are very easy to use and effective for smoking wax, it makes one feel like a desperate weed junkie. You only need two butter knives, your concentrates, an empty plastic bottle (cut off the bottom) and a heat source (a torch or stove).

Now to use this method, make sure the plastic bottle (with no bottom) is readily available by your side. Heat the two knives to make them very hot, drop some wax on them, and press them together. This action will vaporize the concentrate, then use the plastic bottle as a funnel to trap the vapors and inhale.

  • It is one of the easiest ways to smoke wax without a dab rig. You can do this in any kitchen.
  • Doing this alone or for the first time can be quite difficult
  • I do not recommend this method. It makes you look like an addict.
  • Using knife hits is a lot easier when it involves two people. So call your buddy to join you in the fun.

7. Car Lighter (not Recommended)

This is not recommended. However, if you are truly in need and you can’t use any of the other listed alternative ways of smoking wax without a dab rig, then go on and try this method. All you need is a car lighter, a car, and a plastic bottle with the bottom cut open.

You need to heat up the car lighter until it becomes super hot, then hold the bottle just halfway above the lighter (make sure there is no direct contact). Now scoop in some concentrates onto the red coil. Inhale the vapors through the bottle just like the hot knives method.

  • It can do the trick.
  • You will end up having a gross sticky lighter
  • It is cumbersome. You have to battle with holding the coil, the bottle, and putting dabs onto the coils.
  • It is dangerous as you risk hurting yourself with the lighter


8. Aluminum Foil (Not Recommended)

I also do not recommend using aluminum foil to smoke concentrates, even though can actually vaporize your wax and get you high. Just like the hot knives and the car lighter ways of dabbing without a rig, this method will make you feel like a sick weed junky.

  • Can get you pretty stoned
  • Makes you look desperate


So there you have it – eight simple ways to smoke wax without a dab rig. While these methods are effective and can get you high, you must consider your safety before using any of them. Try as much as possible to avoid using hot knives, a car lighter, or aluminum foil.

Only use them if you are very desperate and have a taste for danger. Overall, using a vape pen wins the trophy, especially in terms of convenience and usability.

What is your favorite way of smoking wax without a rig?

8 Simple Ways to Smoke Wax without a Dab Rig Smoking concentrated cannabis is on the rise, and many smokers love to use their wax using dab rigs. However, dab rigs are not the only tools that one