what is a dabber tool

What you need to know about dab tools

Copy article link to clipboard.

Link copied to clipboard.


  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

Image lightbox


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

Image lightbox

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

Image lightbox

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

Image lightbox

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

Image lightbox

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

Image lightbox

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

Image lightbox

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

Adults only (21+)

This website contains adult material and is only suitable for those 21 years or older. Click Enter only if you are at least 21 years of age.

How to Choose the Best Dab Tool

As a canna-connoisseur, you’ll be the first to know that the way you consume cannabis matters. Maybe for you, it depends on the occasion: perhaps you like to start your day off with flower, save an edible for midday, and leave the dabs for the evening wind-down. Whichever it is, if you’re dabbing often – you’ll likely already know that concentrates, just like other forms of cannabis, can come in all shapes and sizes. From gooey sauce to sticky shatter, the way you consume concentrate matters!

Knowing the differences between concentrate types is a great first step, but making yourself familiar with which dab tool works best with each type is just as important. This is why we’re breaking it down for you in this blog: read on to figure out which dab tools and accessories work best for your #dabstyle.

The dab tool, while often overlooked, is an important little piece that can make or break your dabbing experience. Put simply, it serves as the middleman between rig and extract. Dab tools come in different sizes, shapes, and materials that are chosen based on the consistency of your concentrate: think of it as you’d use a spoon for your soup instead of a fork.

There are a variety of different types of dab tools out there for you to choose from, but the two most common ones are scoop-style dabbers and dabbers with sword-like blades. Your perfect tool will depend on the consistency of the concentrates you usually prefer to use with your enail, so in the section below, we’ll break down all the different kinds of tips types out there.

The Right Dab Tool for You

Since quality, terpene-rich concentrates are always an investment, using the right tool will make sure that you’re not losing any of your precious cargo!

If you’re usually a fan of sharp shatter, we recommend using a sword or blade dabber to easily cut through your dabs and measure out more precise amounts when separating. Leafly writes that when dabbing, “Shatters are notoriously pesky consistencies to dab on account of their brittle nature. Being able to control a clean break with a precise tool is paramount.” The more precise you can get – the better.

This is why, when you’re breaking apart shatter, a popular tool amongst our fellow dab-heads is the Ninja Sword Dabber. This features a sharp edge that when warmed up, allows you to cut perfect amounts of shatter out; even into neat little squares. To heat up simply put the Ninja Sword Dabber against the MiniNail heater coil for a few seconds allowing it to warm up. This is super convenient for when you’re working with a less delicate, more condensed shatter -but won’t go too far for other varieties.
If sauce is more your jam (see what we did there), we recommend using a scoop-style dab tool that lets you shovel your sauce into the dish and avoid any messy residue or wasted product when you’re using sap or distillate. Scoopers are also super convenient if you’re using more dry concentrates such as:

  • Crumble, sugar, or diamonds
  • Live resin oils
  • CO2 distillates

Scoopers or spoon-shaped tools will have a bigger surface, and overall a “broader surface area that works better with hard-to-handle waxes than pointy tools.”

Jack of all dabs? Not to worry, MiniNail has got you fully covered. Our unique MiniNail™ Tower Tip Pack features five different and interchangeable tip types that you can easily screw onto your multi-tip or Space Dabber tool. The Tower Tip Pack includes:

  • Ninja Tip
  • Ball Tip
  • Shovel Tip
  • Bent Flat Tip
  • Extended Flat Tip

Optimizing Your Dab Tools

If you find that you’re an avid dabber and use your e-nail kit often, consider getting a tool that gives you the best of both worlds by combining the tool with the carb cap. Not only is it a built-in heat protector for your peace of mind, but is a convenient way of keeping your equipment together so nothing gets left behind. Pairing up your favorite dab tool with a heater coil guard or stand can help you make double sure that you avoid any accidental contact with the high temperatures!

“The tool and carb cap combo is my go-to anytime I’m dabbing on my electronic nail. It consolidates my accessories and makes sure my carb cap is never out of reach. The carb cap fits perfectly over the dish of my e-nail and the subtle scoop on the end allows me to collect hash whether it’s sticky or stable.”

As a general rule of thumb, when you’re shopping for a dab tool you’ll either be using one that’s made out of glass, stainless steel, or titanium. As a safety precaution when comparing titanium dabbers, always double-check that it’s made out of lab-certified Grade 2 Titanium. With MiniNail, you can be sure that all of our titanium products are always checked and tested for the ultimate safety standards.

For more MiniNail accessories, check out our enail kit accessories and add ons. Happy dabbing!

What is the best dab tool? This blog covers how to choose the best dab tool for you. MiniNail offers a wide variety of dabbers and carb caps for every type of concentrate.