How to clean a dab rig
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- What you’ll need
- Cleaning your dab rig step-by-step
- Collecting reclaim
As dabbing becomes one of the most popular consumption methods of the modern weed market, the dab rig — a water pipe used for vaporizing cannabis concentrates — has become a staple of the modern smoking device lineup. A dab rig serves the same function as a bong, filtering concentrate vapor through water at its base. Dab rigs are typically smaller than bongs, providing less drag so the vapor travels to the lungs more quickly and retains potency.
A dab rig filters concentrate vapor through water at the base, then up the neck of the rig and through the mouthpiece. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Similarly to a bong, a dab rig filters concentrate vapor through water at the base, then up the neck of the rig and through the mouthpiece. In the place of a traditional bowl for smoking dry flower, the dab rig is connected to a dab nail or banger, where a dab of concentrate is placed to inhale the resulting vapor.
When regularly maintained, dab rig cleaning can be easier than bongs because the absence of combustion in dabbing creates less resin buildup. Dab rigs do, however, build up reclaim, which can clog your rig and hinder the flavor of each dab. They can also be difficult to clean when they have complex filtration features. Repeated use of a nail can cause carbon and reclaim buildup, especially if the nail isn’t cleaned regularly.
Below is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to clean and maintain a dab rig for optimal performance and vapor purity.
What you’ll need
Before you begin the process of cleaning your dab rig, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients and materials:
- 99% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
- Coarse sea salt
- One large sealable plastic bag or container
- Cotton swabs
Before you begin the process of cleaning your dab rig, you’ll need to gather the necessary ingredients and materials. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Cleaning your dab rig step-by-step
Step 1: Torch your nail
One of the simplest ways to clean a nail or banger is to heat it with a torch lighter until reclaim or residual carbon burns completely off. If buildup is minimal, torching a nail should clean it sufficiently. You can also try cleaning the surface of your nail with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab.
One of the simplest ways to clean a nail or banger is to heat it with a torch lighter until reclaim or residual carbon burns completely off. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 2: Remove the nail and put it in a sealable bag with alcohol
If torching your nail isn’t enough to clean off all carbon or reclaim buildup, place the nail in a sealable container or plastic bag and let it soak in alcohol. If you’re using a sealable bag, try adding salt and shaking the bag when necessary.
Place the nail in a sealable container or plastic bag and let it soak in alcohol. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 3: Pour the water out of your rig
Before you begin cleaning your rig, pour the old water out into a sink or drain.
Note: If you use your rig often, change the water out daily. Doing so will help prevent reclaim buildup and preserve the flavor and cleanliness of the vapor.
Step 4: Add alcohol
Fill the base of your rig with 99% isopropyl, or rubbing, alcohol. If a deeper cleaning is needed, first add coarse sea salt until it covers the bottom of the base.
Step 5: Shake your rig
Cover the holes of your rig, either with your hands or standard-size plugs or caps, if necessary, and shake the rig to loosen and dissolve reclaim buildup.
Step 6: Rinse the rig and nail
Once you’ve cleared the reclaim from your rig and nail, rinse them thoroughly with warm water. Lightly shake the rig as you rinse to wash away the remaining reclaim.
Once you’ve cleared the reclaim from your rig and nail, rinse them thoroughly with warm water. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Similarly to resin, reclaim can be collected and reused to make edibles, tinctures, and capsules. It can also be reused for dabbing, as it often retains some cannabinoids from the original concentrate.
Some dab rigs have “drop-down” attachments, which will trap reclaim and make it easier to collect. If your dab rig doesn’t have a drop-down attachment and you are forced to remove it using alcohol, reusing the reclaim is not recommended.
Remember, a dab rig needs regular maintenance for optimum performance. Change your rig’s water out often, and lightly clean your nail with a cotton swab after each dab. Regularly cleaning your rig means you’ll have to deep-clean it less frequently.
How to clean a dab rig Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What you’ll need Cleaning your dab rig step-by-step Collecting reclaim As
Three Ways to Clean a Dab Rig
By The Evergreen Market
How to Clean a Dab Rig
I get asked all the time about the best ways to clean a dab rig, and I would say there are three different, yet effective styles to cleaning a dab rig. The best way simply depends on your level of comfort. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of all three methods, and also some pro tips and tricks to ensure your dab rig will be looking its best. Let’s get started!
• Stove, Kettle, or Microwave
Intermediate and Advanced Method:
• Isopropyl Alcohol (85-99%)
• Stove, Kettle, or Microwave
• Rock salt
• Small microwave-safe container
Steps to Clean a Dab Rig
- Preparation: Using a stove, kettle, or microwave, heat up about 2 cups of water. It’s okay to bring to a boil, but let it cool a bit before working with it! You can also hold the piece over the steam to help loosen up the gunk. For the advanced method, use a microwave-safe container to carefully heat up ISO (4oz. = 15 seconds)
- Adding Liquid: Carefully add warm water to the piece, or if following the intermediate or advanced methods then add the ISO and some rock salt.
- Shake it up: Covering the mouthpiece and nail space, shake vigorously! If particularly dirty, keep at it a while and you’ll be sure to see the gunk start to come off.
- Discard & Rinse: Pour out the dirty solution, and rinse with cool water. Repeat steps 1-4 if necessary, and enjoy!
Cleaning a Dab Rig the Easy Way
The first and easiest way to clean a dab rig, is to simply use hot water. My pro tip is to use the steam that rises while the water is boiling to loosen the gunk on the piece. Hold the piece over the pot or the neck of a kettle (which can reach into where your banger attaches), and use the steam to loosen the reclaim. I recommend you bring the water to a full boil, remove from heat, and then let it sit for about one minute.
Of course, be careful when handling glass and heat! As long as you’re using decent quality tempered glass you should be fine. Now, add the hot water to the piece and shake it vigorously. Shaking the piece takes a little finesse` as you’ll need to cover both the space where the nail goes as well as the mouthpiece. When dumping the water out try to do it in one swift motion while the oil is sitting on top of the hot water. If you do a slow pour the oil can get caught on the glass and you will have to re-boil water to release it from the side
Salt & Alcohol for more Dab Rig Cleaning Power
The intermediate cleaning option also involves boiling water and letting it sit for about a minute. While it is resting add some cold ISO (aka isopropyl alcohol) to your piece. Anything above 85% ISO should do the trick efficiently. To take it up a notch add some pieces of rock salt as well. Shake vigorously then add the hot water to the piece.
The ISO combined with the rock salt will help if you have a bunch of reclaim built up in your piece. The rock salt helps cover surface area and the ISO helps the hot water remove the reclaim from the side. The rock salt also helps to take the reclaim out of the piece when you do the fast pour. We don’t want you to be stuck trying to clean a dab rig out twice to make it crystal clear. Finally, rinse with cool water.
Clean Dab Rig: Achievement Unlocked
The most advanced method of cleaning your rig would be to lightly heat the ISO. This is the most advanced method because overheating the ISO in the microwave can cause the ISO to mildly explode (which we encourage you to avoid). I would heat no more than 4 fluid oz. for 15 seconds. If you use less than 4 fluid oz, please be sure to halve the time in the microwave. Add the mildly hot ISO to your piece and swish it around.
If your rig is super coated with reclaim, use rock salt as mentioned in the intermediate method above. This will be the most efficient for instantaneous removal of reclaim build up. The warm ISO seems to work great. I usually rinse my dab rig out with this method twice and have it sparkling like brand new. Finally, don’t forget to rinse the ISO out of your glass with cool water before putting it back to use.
If you’re thinking about getting into dabbing we recommend checking out our blog on selecting the right dab rig for you by clicking here!
Written by: Dylan Buhl, Educator/Asst. Store Manager at our South Renton location
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Curious about cleaning your dab rig? Evergreen Market educator, Dylan Buhl, covers three dab rig cleaning methods, beginner to advanced, to improve dab taste