If you are new to the glass smoking accessories world, bongs and dab rigs can be difficult to tell apart. In many ways, these tools are very similar. The biggest difference between a dab rig and a bong is what’s being smoked out of them. Simply stated, a bong is designed to smoke tobacco and dab rigs are designed to smoke concentrates. To understand what distinguishes the two, let’s look at the differences between a bong and dab rig.
Why The confusion?
First off, let's look at why it’s easy to get confused between the two. At first glance, many dab rigs and bongs look the same because they are made from glass. Their attachments can look also similar. These tools both use water filtration which means they both have water bowls. In some cases, both bongs and dab rigs have ice catches that are used to add ice to further cool your smoke or vapor. It’s easy to see how bongs and dab rigs can be confused with each other.
The Key Differences Between a Bong and Dab Rig
The first difference you may notice is the size. Bongs can range from small-sized, similar to a bubbler, to large table-sized extravagant pieces. For many, bigger is better when it comes to bongs. The longer the smoke path, and the more percolators, the more filtration you get. Also, the more surface area that has to pass through the water, the more it cools the smoke before it reaches your lungs.
Dab rigs on the other hand are more compact than most bongs, with the average being 8-10 inches in height. This is because the vapor from the concentrate can dissipate in the water. This means you want to inhale the vapor faster from a concentrate than you normally would with tobacco using a bong.
Bowl vs Nail or Banger
We've now discussed a little bit about how each tool is designed for its intended smoke. Furthermore, a bong has a bowl where you put your dry tobacco. To use it, you simply pack your bowl, fill your bong with water, make sure your slide and downstem are attached, light it up so your bowl fills with smoke, and take your hit.
A dab rig has an attachment called a nail or banger, these are usually made out of ceramic, titanium, or quartz. These materials are designed for higher heat than a bowl. It’s here that you would put your concentrate to heat up. To use it, you would fill your dab rig with water, put your nail or banger on the joint, then heat your nail or banger until it's hot enough. Then you'll place your concentrate on the banger using a dab tool, letting the concentrate melt. Finally, while doing this, you inhale to take your hit.
One other key difference between these two tools is what you use for your heat source. With a bong, you can use a lighter to heat your dry tobacco. Dab rigs, on the other hand, require a much higher temperature to melt the concentrate, so you would use a torch or e-nail.
Are These Tools Interchangeable?
Because these tools look similar, you may be asking, is it possible to use a dab rig for a bong and a bong for a dab rig? The short answer is yes. However, this may not be the experience you want depending on what you are using. To turn a dab rig into a bong, you need a bong with percolation to provide a solid diffusion. As long as you have that, just change out your glass bowl for a quartz banger or dab nail and you should be good to go.
Note, shorter bongs do not help the dabbing process, and using a bong without percolation will make the experience less than enjoyable.
It’s much easier to turn a dab rig into a bong than the other way around. Dab rigs must have percolation to cool the smoke when using them as dab rigs. Because of this, even though they lack a diffused downstem or a slide, using a dab rig as a bong still offers a smooth hit. That said, all you need to do to turn your dab rig into a bong is find a glass bowl attachment to fit your rig.
One Better Than the Other?
Ultimately this comes down to personal preference, style, and what you like to smoke. Here at DracoGlass, we love all of the bongs and dab rigs we stock. We sell both bongs and dab rigs at affordable prices so try both and decide for yourself.