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Intro to Concentrates: A Guide to Getting Waxy

by Julia Abney 10 Oct 2017
Intro to Concentrates: A Guide to Getting Waxy

Intro to Concentrates

Smokers are coming out of the closet all around the globe, even yielding their own TedTalks on the perks of herbal treatment. All this progress has invited a whole new level of innovation into the world of extracts, with an eye on body benefits and effectiveness. Concentrates hit the scene back in the sixties, but rigs and wax portables didn’t hit their stride until 2010. Rather than lighting dry herb on fire, dabbing is an ultra-efficient method that heats the herb’s extracted essence into vapor for a powerful effect more potent than traditional methods. Like any device, investing in a decent piece will save you a lot of cash and frustration on wasted material in the long run. There are a full range of how-to’s that will guide you through the motions, but we’re here to walk you through the make-it-or-break-it features of a quality concentrate piece. Let’s get started.

The most important terms and tools to use with concentrates:

  1. Heating Materials: titanium, ceramic, glass, or quartz.

  2. Essential Pieces and Parts: dome and nail, banger hanger, atomizer, or e-nail.

  3. Extras: concentrate pads, glass globes, and water diffuser attachments.

  4. Tools of the Trade: torch lighter, dab tool, and carb caps.

Heated Material: Nails, Atomizers, & Banger Hangers

This is the part of a rig or vaporizer that directly heats your concentrates, and what it’s made of can make or break the extract experience. When rips are missing the mark, this is the first place you’ll want to look. Be sure to match a vape’s threading and a rig’s joint size when upgrading components. You might upgrade for better heat retention, flavor, or durability. The nail, atomizer, or banger hanger that gets loaded with concentrates can come in one or a combination of the following forms:

Glass: When you buy a glass pipe, it’ll probably come with a glass nail or bucket (a.k.a. banger). Though borosilicate is designed to withstand the extreme temperatures of a torch, tried-and-true enthusiasts tend to exchange their glass nails for one of higher quality. Though quality glass can hold up against high temps, it’s not meant to retain the heat we like for waxy pleasure and end up needing to be replaced frequently.

Dabbing torch and domeless titanium nail on a water pipe

Pictured: Domeless titanium nail on a water pipe

Titanium: Titanium won’t break anytime soon and can retain the high heat necessary for concentrates. Most vape-makers use titanium for the super-sensitive coil in an atomizer to amp up durability; while glass enthusiasts may prefer a titanium nail because it rips hard and stands the test of time. Because titanium does retain heat so well, it can come close to burning your extracts – which leads many enthusiasts to pair it with a cooling water diffuser attachment which we’ll explain below. Titanium nails generally need to be "seasoned" before use.

KandyPens Gravity with dual rod quartz atomizer and ceramic dish atomizer

Pictured: KandyPens Gravity includes a dual rod quartz atomizer (left) and ceramic dish atomizer (right)

Quartz: Quartz can bring a touch of luxury to wax transformation with clean, commercial-grade delivery. It is nearly impossible to overheat, but doesn’t retain heat quite as well as titanium. The most notable result of using quartz construction is a rich, pure flavor. Quartz is most popularly spotted where it can be protected on the interior of a vaporizer, as it’s more durable than glass or ceramic, but less durable than titanium.

DopeBoo ceramic nail for dabbing

Pictured: Ceramic nail

Ceramic: Ceramic atomizers have a strong reputation for bringing clean, robust flavor to vaporization. Glass fans, however, may find that ceramic is too fragile to leave the interior of an atomizer. For this reason, it’s most popularly used in wax vaporizers.

E-nail & E-Rig: These self-heating devices ditch the torch entirely. The e-nail or e-rig electronically warms your legal concentrates with battery power, typically on a titanium nail that travels well. Most recently, e-nails are being adapted to work directly on your water pipe – such as the Grav Fire-Button. This device will get you 40 sessions between charges, reaching 500-900 degrees Fahrenheit with no butane necessary. A classic style e-rig is an entirely self-sufficient device like the popular Dr. Dabber Boost which includes a ceramic, quartz, and titanium nail for personal preference (and can be further customized by atty-ing up with different water diffusers!).

Dr. Dabber Boost eRig for wax
Pictured: Dr. Dabber Boost eRig (discover Dr. Dabber’s full wax lineup in use with the Blue Light Crew

Essential Pieces & Parts

This is where the dab process can seem overwhelming, but really isn’t so tough to grasp. Basically, rig owners will be concerned with dome (or domeless) nails and banger hangers. Vapers may want to look out for globe attachments and water diffusers.

This is where the dab process can seem overwhelming, but really isn’t so tough to grasp. Basically, rig owners will be concerned with dome (or domeless) nails and banger hangers. Vapers may want to look out for globe attachments and water diffusers.

Pictured: POUNDS “Spaceship” Rig

The POUNDS “Spaceship” is an excellent place to start (and end) your adventure into concentrates. It’s crafted from extra-thick borosilicate and includes a quartz banger hanger and glass dome/nail so you can decide which attachment works best for you without committing to one or the other. Watch it work here.

Dome & Nail: Here’s how this works – you torch your nail until it glows red, then slide the dome right over it. A pinch handle like the one pictured above can be super useful in sliding the dome on and off when high heat comes into play. Once you’ve popped the dome on top, tap your extracts right onto the nail through the dome’s hole with an inhale. You can see vapor swirling inside the glass walls to make sure everything is going smoothly. Some people prefer a “domeless” nail, but use at your own risk – these are much more likely to result in accidental burns.

Pictured: Pulsar Dual Function Water Pipe (dry herb on the left, dome for concentrates on the right)

Banger Hanger: Also affectionately known as the bucket. A lot of enthusiasts eventually transition their routine into the banger hanger for ease of use. All that’s required with this attachment is to heat the bucket with a torch till it glows, then tap your extracts in the contained space while you breathe in.

Banger hanger dabber

Pictured: Banger Hanger Pipe

Glass Globe: The glass globe attachment works a lot like a dome fitted for a portable vaporizer. Instead of matching the proper joint size in millimeters, the globe screws in based on thread size (510 thread being the most universal). Globes may be preferred to a classic atomizer design for higher capacity and fewer clogs.

 Pictured: Glass Globe Vaporizer Attachment

Concentrate Pads: Also called “liquid pads,” many high end devices like the Herbalizer and even the Classic Volcano now include this accessory for your concentrates. They typically sit atop the dry herb screen to keep it from getting clogged with the stickier material; they let you use your favorite vaporizer with extracts in the same way you would with ground material.

Water Diffusers: The convenience of e-nails and e-rigs have made them an instant hit, yet many concentrate fans still desire the cooling-soothing sensation of water diffusion in glass attachments. So many people love this feature that Dr. Dabber, Pulsar, Cloud Vapes, and Pinnacle have all included water atties standard to their devices.

Glass globe vaporizer attachment for dabbing and concentrates

Pictured: Dr. Dabber Boost paired with upgraded water diffuser

Tools of the Trade

Once you’ve lined up a rig or vape with the parts and materials you like best, there are just a few tools you’ll need to get the ball rolling. Of course, if you’ve opted for an e-rig you’re all set to start getting waxy right away!

Torch: After some trials and tribulations, most wax-fans end up with a quality butane torch featuring a single stream. Propane tanks tend to present more hazards than they’re worth, and multi-stream torches don’t deliver the same direct heat that brings concentrates up to peak performance. Don’t forget you can ditch the torch entirely with an e-nail or e-rig device.

Dr. Dabber concentrate tools

Pictured: Dr. Dabber Budder Cutter Tools

Dab Tool: You can find a variety of artistically-inclined loading tools, but most devices will include a stainless steel tool for your convenience. If you’re looking to kick it up a notch, Dr. Dabber’s Budder Cutter kit (above) gives you everything you might need to load up for waxy endeavors.

Dr. Dabber Cab Cap Tool

Pictured: Glass Carb Cap Tool

Carb Cap: Last on the list – the carb cap. This usually has a nail shape “dabber” on one end and a flat surface on the other. You can use it to “cap” the top of your bucket or dome, so all the vapor goes through the water pipe instead of drifting upward. Many devices include a carb cap, but a lot of enthusiasts come up with their own make-shift tool like using the bottom of an aluminum grinder they already have on hand. Check out this video tutorial for capping your wax.

That’s A Wrap!

Not as complicated as it can seem. At its essence, concentrates require a quality heating element, a tool to heat it with, and a tool to load your extracts. Once you’ve nailed down the basics, you can start to kick it up a notch with artsy attachments and next-level technology. Don’t forget our list of Autumn Essentials to add fall-weather vibes to your concentrate regemin.

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