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What is a Dabber


General Introduction

Dabbers, aka dab tools, are the utensils of the wax and concentrate community, and they are used in combination with a nail to consume concentrated products such as shatter, crumble, hash, and other concentrated forms of marijuana. They are perfect for those who enjoy potency, safety, and efficiency when consuming wax. The purpose of a dabbing tool is simple: they bridge the gap between your extract and the nail you will be using. Dabbers are small tools used to scoop wax and burn it on the nail of the piece you are using, as the extreme heat needed to burn the concentrated product requires a separate tool to apply safely. These handy accessories can come in many different shapes and sizes, and initially it can be difficult to decide what kind of dabber is best for you. So what kind of dabber is right for your collection?

Different Types of Dabbers

There are many different varieties of wax and concentrate available ranging from modern hydrocarbon extracts such as shatter, crumble, and sugars, to traditional hash blends and sifts. Just as you would never eat your cereal with a fork, correctly pairing the type of concentrate you normally consume with the best dabber tool will make dabbing a much easier and hassle-free experience.

To demonstrate, ballpoint dabber tools are perfectly designed for breaking shatter apart without wasting or being unable to keep it attached to the dabber. These styles of dabbers consist of a handle tipped with a miniscule ballpoint tip. As effective as they can be with more stable and hard varieties of concentrates, they are poorly suited to work with crumbles, sugars, and more malleable variants of concentrate. Some examples of dabber tool pairings include using scoop-tipped and spoon-shaped utensils to handle sappier and less stable concentrates, as ballpoint and sharp tips would not be able to cradle these consistencies as easily. CO2 distillates, live resin oils, and crumbles will benefit from a spoon or paddle-shaped dabbing utensil as well due to the ability to actually scoop the mud-like substances. With a larger surface area, you can more easily and safely use hard-to-handle waxes that pointy and ballpoint tools cannot.

Some of the different types of dabbers you will come across include:

Glass Dabber

Glass dab tools are a common pick among smokers due to the colorful variations and custom shaping possibilities that can be discovered at smoke shops across the country. Compared to titanium, glass does not retain heat as well, but this does not really affect glasses ability to provide a handy and aesthetic utensil. Glass dab tools are able to cool off quickly after dabbing, making them a beneficial for the risk-averse. However, this can be annoying for the frequent dabber due to the need for constant re-heating and cleaning. While its heat aversion can be seen as benefit in some cases, wax hardens on glass much quicker, which can coat the piece, dirty it, and waste concentrate. It is also difficult to put precise amounts of concentrate on glass dabbers, making it difficult to be thrifty with your wax and the get the perfect size dab. Glass users love to talk about how awesome their custom new dabber is, demonstrating the fun and customization prospects of owning a glass tool. 


Titanium Dab Tool

Strong, sturdy, and reliable, titanium dabbers are a favorite pick for frequent users. This resistant form of dabber comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and is much less prone to snapping or being broken compared to glass dabbers. They are able to hold more heat and are consistently reported to be most compatible with quartz nails, as they provide clean and perfect temp dabs. In addition, titanium dabbers have easy cleaning and maintenance routines, enabling you to keep your gear looking fresh sesh after sesh. One of the only drawbacks of titanium is a potential slight metal taste associated with dabs, although this can somewhat be avoided with correct temperature and nail techniques. Titanium scoops and shovels are the best options for heavy hitters looking for the best product to handle their knockout hits, and these dabbers will get your dabs to the right temperature faster than any other.

Ceramic Dabber

One thing is commonly agreed regarding ceramic and dabs: It is one of the best materials for preserving the flavor of your dab while simultaneously being able to reach the high temperatures only titanium could previously achieve. These dabbers are great pairs for titanium and quartz nails, as they help to smooth the flavor of the dab and mask any hints of metal present while dabbing your favorite strains. Ceramic has a stronger durability than glass and quartz, but is not quite as strong as its titanium counterpart. This style of dabber is great for those looking for a unique and clean option, and are willing to sacrifice some durability for this function. 

Carb Cap Dabber

This style of dabber can come in any available material, shape, or size. The main difference in these products is that it has a carb cap integrated into the design, a piece used to cover the domeless nail and capture all of the vapors while taking a dab. Instead of reaching for and exchanging the dabber for a carb cap mid-hit, you can conveniently finish off your dabs like a pro with a carb cap and dabber hybrid. Titanium carb cap dabbers normally just have a circular appendage attached at the bottom that can screw on and off, while glass and ceramic carb dabbers have the caps directly attached to the main piece. By adding a carb cap dabber to your repertoire, you can enjoy your dabs to the fullest extent. 


Sharp & Flat Dab Tools

Needlepoint and ballpoint tools work very well with shatters because they are able to break a hard slab down to a manageable dose with pinpoint precision. Shatters are notoriously irritating consistencies to dab on account of their brittle nature. Being able to control a clean break with a precise tool is very important, as most smokers can recount the first time a fresh slab of shatter exploded at the point of their dabber. Ballpoint and flat dabbers also work well with various consistency of wax, as attaching it to the flat wall of the dabber allows for easy scooping and transporting of partially melted dabs to a screen or nail.


How to Use a Dabber

While there are many tips and tricks you are bound to hear from fellow dabbers, the process itself is straightforward. Your dabber will have some sort of end piece; a point, shovel, ballpoint, etc., and this is where you want your concentrate to stick. When handling shatter, it is important to be careful and precise, as being forceful and pressing too hard can send your precious wax flying across the room. 

Once the wax is attached to the end of the dabber, you should heat your nail (based on the material of your nail this time will vary). Once the nail reaches the desired temperature, while inhaling, apply the dabber to the inside of the nail in a circular motion and ensure all of the wax melts into the nail. You should see the wax completely melt into the nail from your dabber. Once all of the wax is off of the dabber, remove the dabber and cover the nail with a carb cap if applicable, and continue to hit until all of the smoke is cleared. Be careful to let the tip of the dabber and nail cool before touching once the dab is done. 

How to Clean a Dab Tool

Dabbers can be conveniently and easily cleaned. For titanium, quartz, and ceramic pieces, cleaning can be achieved by simply heating the piece with your torch and burning off excess wax coats. It is recommended that dabbers be cleaned after every hit to ensure clean and continually tasty dabs. A piece of cloth can be used to wipe off the dab tool while it is still hot to completely remove any reclaim wax. Glass pieces are best cleaned by placing the dabber in isopropyl alcohol and salt, and then rinsing and repeating as necessary.

Tips & Tricks

For the clever and resourceful, dabbers can also be used as universal tool for cleaning, maintenance, and more. You can turn your dab tools into super tools by using them to clean, clear, and optimize your smoking other smoking accessories. Dabbers can scrape and clear out dry herb vapes, bong bowls, and glass pipes. Normally, they have fine or shovel-shaped tips ideal for clearing clogged bowls and canals. Also, breaking up herb and lining joints/blunts perfectly can be tedious and require an extremely steady hand to complete, something a fine-point tool could easily facilitate. Use your dabber to perfectly pack and line your rolls by carefully edging the flower inside your roll before rolling, and by keeping it packed tightly throughout the process. Finally, cleaning out hard to reach areas of bongs, pipes, and rigs during cleaning can be very difficult and waste exorbitant amounts of cleaning products. Dabbers are great for physically removing those tough to remove stains and resin build ups that are caught in the creases and cavities of your favorite pieces. 


Domeless Nails & Dabbers

Domeless nails are popular for their various models, ability to handle bigger dabs, heat up faster, as and reduce the risk of getting burned. Domeless nails are the popular choice for frequent dabbers that are looking for easy and efficient dab sessions. Dabber tools are very commonly used with domeless nails because of the open-faced design and the need for a carb cap to capture all of the vapors produced by this style of nail. While domed nails are great for casual users who are not sharing or repeatedly taking dabs in a session, domeless nails are the best choice for their ease of use with a dabber and consistent hits. This nail category is frequently seen with any type of dab tools due to how easy it is to place wax in on the nail without coming close to being burned or losing wax.