Although they may look dissimilar, bongs and dab rigs are actually similar in purpose. They serve to help smokers enjoy their weed in different ways, and understanding the basics of each will give you a greater appreciation for all things cannabis.
Sure, you may have seen pictures of bong and dab rigs before, but did you know that they aren’t the same thing? Although they look similar enough, there are a few key differences between the two.
Bongs and dab rigs are similar yet have key distinctions. Keep reading to learn more about the difference between bongs and dab rigs.
Herb vs Concentrate
To compare and contrast dab rigs with bongs, it is critical to understand the contrasts between herbs and concentrates. Herbs are unprocessed cannabis including raw flower, kief, or hash–anything you would put in a spliff likely falls under this category.
On the other hand, concentrates are less common and thus require a more involved process to produce, which usually happens outside of parts of the US. To make concentrates, resin is extracted from where cannabinoids are produced and stored in a cannabis flower’s trichomes. Then, as its name suggests, it is concentrated into one product. Although different types of concentrates have their own unique appearance and consistency (e.g., being off-white to yellow), they typically sleek or rock-hard in texture.
Herbs typically contain up to 30% THC, while concentrates can have up to 80% THC or more. This means that you need a much smaller amount of concentrate to get high.
Dab Rig vs Bong: Design
Dab rigs and bongs are essentially the same thing: water-filtered machines that function slightly differently to allow them to handle different substances.
Dab rigs and bongs have very similar constructions. Both contain a downstem leading into a water-filled chamber. To cool the smoke/vapor, one or more percolators may be present. Lastly, there is a neck connected to a mouthpiece from which you inhale.
Bongs typically have an open neck that you put your mouth directly on, while dab rigs usually have a small extension with a mouthpiece coming out from the side.
Although dab rigs and bongs have a similar overall design, there are some common differences between the two. Dab rigs tend to be smaller than bongs, and bongs vary more in terms of shape, size, design, and internal components.
Bongs come in many shapes, including beaker-shaped and rounded water chamber. They’re also made of a variety of materials, like acrylic, borosilicate glass, enamel. On the other hand dab rigs generally are crafted from borosilicate glass as it can stand higher temperatures better.
The main distinction is that bongs often have more add-ons. These can be ice catchers and an array of percolators and filtration systems. Dab rigs usually contain one percolator and will not come with ice catching components.
So, what’s the real difference?
Bowls vs Nails / Bangers
The fundamental distinction between a dab rig and a bong is in the apparatus in which you combust or vaporize your cannabis.
Bongs = Bowls
The bowl is at the end of the bong where you put your weed. You then light it on fire and inhale from the mouthpiece to draw the smoke through the water and into your lungs.
Bowls are typically constructed from metal, with a layer of disposable gauze (fine metal mesh) on the surface to hold your weed in place. You use a regular lighter to directly ignite the cannabis when using a bowl–they’re uncomplicated and get the job done well.
Dab Rigs = Nails or Bangers
Dab rigs have a nail or “banger” attached to them. Even though they might look alike, nails are usually smaller and made out of titanium. On the other hand, bangers have a bowl-like shape that is more traditional and can be constructed from different materials like quartz, titanium, or glass.
A nail or banger does not need a gauze; instead, you place concentrates directly onto its surface. Similarly, with a bowl you apply the flame directly to your herb mixture, but with a dab rig, you heat up the nail/banger using a blowtorch until it is quite hot. Then–using a dabber tool–place only small amount of concentrate onto the heated surface and watch it change into vapor as you inhale!
Dab Rig vs Bong: Function
Bongs and dab rigs might seem similar, but they actually function in quite different ways. With a bong, you set the herb on fire, which then releases smoke for you to inhale. Dab rigs work by vaporizing the concentrate rather than burning it. This produces mostly vapor for inhalation purposes.
To put it simply, dab rigs and bongs vary in how they are used, but the concept is ultimately the same. Dab rigs have electric options that heat without a blowtorch, though they come at a higher cost.
Dab Rig vs Bong: Smoke / Vapor Quality
There are many factors influencing the quality of your hit, such as:
- Quality of cannabis product
- Quality of bong/dab rig (including accessories)
- Cleanliness of equipment
- Level of heat applied
The two most important factors when it comes to the taste of your weed are the quality of the herb or concentrate, and the quality of the bong or dab rig. A tiny device with no percolators is never going to taste great. Likewise, poor-quality flower or concentrate will never be delicious either. But are herbs or concentrates superior?
Dried Herb vs Concentrates: Which Offers a Better Hit?
It would be unwise to make any solid claims here because it all boils down to personal preference. That being said, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing smoking experience with high-quality weed and supplies.
Another great thing about concentrates is that, if made correctly, they can taste amazing. If all the desirable terpenes are present and vaporized at an ideal temperature, you’re going to have a much better experience than with other methods. Furthermore, because there’s no plant matter and it’s vaporized rather than combusted, the flavors won’t be ruined.
In light of this, some argue that the vapor from concentrates provides a smoother experience than smoking out of a bong.
Dab Rig vs Bong: Safety
Please be cautious when handling these materials, as getting cut by shattered glass while under the influence would not be a desirable outcome.
Well-made products will be resistant to wear and tear, heat, and should also be able to take a few knocks without breaking.
People sometimes put their borosilicate glass bong or rig in the freezer before using it to cool the smoke. However, this is not advised as there is always a possibility that they will shatter when you get to lighting up. If you want super-cold smoke, get a bong with an ice catcher instead.
While neither dab rigs or bongs are categorically better or worse, some people argue that dab rigs may be more dangerous because they’re exposed to higher temperatures. That being said, as long as they’re made with good materials, there shouldn’t be any problems. The greater danger usually comes from misuse of the blowtorch.
Dab Rig vs Bong: Price
The price of each device can differ greatly.
Acrylic bongs are cheaper than other types of bongs, making them a great option for smokers who don’t have alot of money to spend. However, as you upgrade the design and materials, they can become quite expensive—reaching into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Bongs offer more choice in terms of price than other smoking devices.
Although dab rigs typically cost more than bongs, you can still find affordable options. However, as with bongs, the prices of dab rigs can quickly escalate.
Should You Get a Dab Rig or a Bong?
Many people’s main worry will be the cost.
While in an ideal world it might be great to have both, we also need to consider what’s actually accessible to us. Another big thing to think about is whether we have the resources needed for each type of product. A dab rig might look nice, but do we have a place nearby that sells concentrates? Even if there was a place to buy them, could we afford them? For some people, concentrates are not going to be realistic option financially or logistically, so in that case a bong would offer more utility.
If you can buy or make your own concentrates, then a dab rig is definitely worth the investment! Dabs offer such an incredible experience that it’s well worth shelling out some cash for a good quality rig.