Dab Rigs Vs. Bongs – What’s the Difference?

Many years ago when I stepped into the wonderful herbal world, smoking was the standard way to consume weeds. If you could afford it, a bong was the way to go. You can grind the weeds, fill the bowl, set it on fire, and breathe in – it’s easy.

It wasn’t until much later that I found out what a swab or cannabis wax was.

Both bongs and swabs are one way to consume cannabis, but they do it differently. They each have a specific purpose. Bongs are used for dried flowers, while swabs are used for concentrates and waxes.

Bongs use combustion to release the cannabinoids. Swab devices use heat to evaporate the wax / oil concentrate.

Credit for photo: helppot.com

What are the main differences between DAB rig and bongs?

Dabbing is a form of marijuana consumption that uses cannabis concentrates such as wax or oil. A nail is heated with a blowtorch. When heated, wax or oil is applied, the wax or oil moves on the top of the nail and creates pure steam. The user then inhales the steam for the ultimate vaping experience. You can also use a banger, a type of bowl attached to the downstream swab. The bowl is heated and then the concentrated one is added. A cap is often placed on the bowl to control the flow of air so that the vapor can be better drawn through the water pipe when inhaled.

Bongs are used for dry flowers like tobacco or cannabis. Be sure to grind the plant material evenly for an even burn. The ground plant is then placed in a bowl that is attached to the bong. When lit, the smoker can draw in the smoke created by the bong, which filters the smoke through water to remove impurities and cool the smoke for a smoother blow.

Bowl piece or swab nail?

Bongs have a bowl-shaped object that goes into the joint. This is to keep the herbs or flowers dry so you can burn them with a traditional lighter.

In order for swabs to evaporate the concentrated oil or wax, you will need a small nail or banger.

These typically consist of glass, quartz, ceramic or titanium. They are attached to the downstream pipe connection. When heated, the wax can be placed on top of it and the heat will vaporize it so you can breathe it in through the tube.

B. Bongs and swabs are both Water pipesthey work the same way. It’s just the attachments you use with them that will determine whether the water line is classified as a bong or swab rig.

What is being consumed?

Bongs are used to smoke the flowers, put them in a bowl, light them with a lighter, and then smoke them. Swabs / oil rigs use cannabis concentrates commonly referred to as swabs, wax, honey, or oil. Read our Cannabis focuses everything you need to know Guide to learn more about different concentrates.


The more infiltration the better, right?

Well, not in the case of the swab. Too much seepage will reduce the effectiveness of the THC in a swab. If the steam comes in contact with too much water, the effectiveness of the steam will be diluted. Because of this, you typically don’t see large or bulky percolators and recyclers on a high-end swab.

Bongs, on the other hand, benefit from more filtration. From diffuse down stems to triple-stacked honeycomb perc, each filtration level makes the herbal smoke cooler and smoother. Because of this, bongs tend to have larger chambers, more recyclers, and complex percolators.


The size marks the difference between swabs and bongs.

If you smoke flowers or dried herbs, you usually want a bigger one Glass tube with larger percs and chambers for optimal filtration and cooling.

If you smoke concentrates, you’ll need a smaller water pipe.

This is because when you burn herbs with a lighter, smoke can travel a long distance because it is thicker and denser than steam. It’s also at a much higher temperature.

When the concentrate has evaporated, it will be at a lower temperature than burning dry herbs. A smaller water pipe ensures that the steam gets to your lungs quickly without losing taste or strength and being excessively diffused into water. A small swab device is better for focusing, and a large bong is better for drying herbs.


Swab / wax rigs are often more expensive than buying a bong, even though they are smaller. The reason for this is that in addition to purchasing a rig, you will also need a swab tool and other accessories like a flashlight, nail or bang and a carburetor cap. When you add all of this up, it can get very expensive.

Online head shops like Fifth Ave Green House have a wide variety of bongs and swab rigs for a variety of price ranges. There are affordable cheap bongs and swab rigs with basic design to heady glass swab rigs and bongs with artistically intricate designs and features that make them both a work of art and a smoking device.

Can dry weeds and concentrates be used on the same water line?

If you want to smoke dried herbs, put a bowl on your pipe, and if you want to smoke concentrated herbs, put a nail or bang on it!

However, we strongly recommend that you do not use the same water line for both concentrates and dry flowers.

The reason is that the taste of dried herbs is very different from the taste of concentrate. Mixing the two types without thoroughly removing all of the residue from the previous session usually results in an unpleasant taste and can make your smoking experience less enjoyable. Using different parts also makes cleaning easier. Using bowls with an ash catcher or removable handle can make switching between wax and herb easier. However, for the purest flavors, a special pipe for each substance is preferable.

Photo credit: reason.com

Tips for Buying the Best Swab Rig

When looking to buy a swab rig, you can easily get inundated with many of the types available. This can be intimidating when trying to understand terms like nails, domes, carburetor caps.

Like other smoking devices, swab pipes are also available in low, simple, high-end and midrange versions. All of these have a number of additional functions.

You can choose between ceramic, titanium, quartz or glass when it comes to nails or bangers. While you may prefer one material over another, your choice will have little effect on taste. Instead, it just affects the maximum temperature of your nails / bangers and how long they hold that temperature.

When using a dab rig For the first time, you may want to buy dome nails. Nails require little maintenance but have poor airflow. Dome-free nails require a lot of maintenance, but they do provide more airflow. Curved nails are smaller and take less time to heat up than non-curved nails. Use butane instead of propane to heat your nail when purchasing the flashlight. Propane gets hot too quickly, making it difficult to find the right temperature for your swabs.

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