Both dab rigs and bongs utilize water to filter and cool down a hit. The main difference between the two is that dab rigs are mainly used to vaporize wax concentrates, while bongs are used to smoke dry herbs out of. Both come in a variety of different sizes, styles, and materials.
Bongs have a water chamber with a downstem, an elongated tube and a bowl that can be lifted to carburate the unit and clear out the smoke. Dab rigs are similar in that they also have a water chamber and can be cleared out by removing the nail. Most dab rigs are specially made to house percolators and other unique forms of air dispersal.
This breaks up the vapor and spreads it out which further cools down the hit through the water and can filter out any remaining impurities, leaving behind a rich and flavorful vapor hit. Bongs can also have similar filtration attributes, though most will find them to be much simpler in design by having a water chamber and main stem.
Dab rigs are predominantly used to collect vapor from wax concentrates. Not all dab rigs come with a removable nail, though most do. This is so that the nail can be easily cleaned or replaced as some can crack over time through repeated heat exposure. This is especially true if the nail is made from either quartz or ceramic.
While dab rigs can also be used to smoke dry herbs, it is highly discouraged as this will severely impact the flavor of a dab hit. Unless you meticulously clean out your dab rig each time before taking a dab, you will end up with a burnt and impure flavor. Some people are okay with cleaning out their dab rigs for this purpose, especially if they have nothing else to smoke out of.
Unlike a bong, dab rigs are used to gently heat up material to a point below combustion. The truth here is that wax does not necessarily burn but melts instead. The extreme heat from the nail allows the wax to release aromatic compounds that accumulate to form vapor for a hit. This is how a dab rig operates and is not meant for burning dry herb material.
Using a dab rig to smoke dry herbs can be a valid way to consume your cannabis if nothing else is around. The more you use it for this purpose, the dirtier it will become and the more often you will have to thoroughly clean it if you want to still have those flavorful hits. While using a dab rig to both dab and smoke can be a great way to save money without having to buy a separate unit, it is less than ideal.
Dry herb material will break down into ash and stick to the sides of the water chamber. Add to this the fact that some dab rigs have very small holes for percolating, and you will end up with particulate matter that cannot be easily removed from these small spaces. Some dab rigs are so elaborate that they can only really be used to vape wax from.
The good news is that if you have a dab rig that is simple in design with a removable nail, you can easily convert it into a bong to have a decent smoke session. Always make sure you clean out your dab rig afterward as leaving it that way for extended periods of time will only make it harder to clean out later.
The first thing you want to do is make sure that your dab rig is simple enough to accommodate the inevitable bong water filled with particulates without getting clogged up. Dab rigs with small holes used to percolate the water are bad choices to smoke out of as these small holes will clog very easily with smoke residue.
If you have a dab rig that can switch out a nail for the right type of bowl, you’ll be in business. Always make sure the bowl fits into the dab rig. Since dab rigs usually use torches to heat up the nail, it would be a rather bad idea to use the same torch to light up your bowl. The force itself can literally blow out the contents inside your bowl and incinerate everything without providing a good hit.
A simple lighter is all that you need, much like lighting a regular bong with. Once you clear out the chamber and are finished with your smoke session, immediately clean out your dab rig! Do not allow the sediment to sit there and saturate the water as this will only accumulate sticky gunk and residue that will be very tedious to clean out later.
Using a dab rig to smoke out of can be very easy and convenient. The risks outweigh the benefits, however, especially if your dab rig is elaborate or has a percolating feature, which most do. Unless your dab rig is made from silicone and can be easily taken apart for easy cleaning, it is highly advisable to reserve your dab rig strictly for wax.
If you choose to use your dab rig to smoke out of, make sure you switch out the nail for a bowl and are prepared to clean it out afterwards! The final piece of advice if you choose to use your dab rig to smoke is to use a screen every time you smoke. This will make your life easier when it comes time to clean out your dab rig.