Bong vs Dab Rig

Bong vs Dab Rig

Bong vs Dab Rig - What’s the difference?

Bongs and dab rigs may seem similar, but the truth is that there are plenty of differences between the two. At the end of the day, both are just tools, and like all tools, they serve special functions based on their designs. Learn more about the difference between bongs and dab rigs in this quick guide.


The main difference between bongs and dab rigs is their generalized purpose. Bongs and water pipes are designed for use with dry herb. Dab rigs, on the other hand, are made for use with vaporized concentrates. Can you use a bong to smoke concentrates? Absolutely. Can you use a dab rig to smoke dry flower? Sure! But keep reading to learn more about the differences between these two pipes and why it’s better to use them for their intended purpose.


The size of a piece greatly impacts your smoking experience - for better or worse. For bongs, bigger is usually better. You want plenty of surface area for the smoke to travel so you can get a big, cool hit. Anyone who’s ever smoked from a small bong can attest to the difference. For this reason, bongs are typically 8” or taller.

Dab rigs tend to be much smaller. That’s because unlike herb smoke, which loses very little potency inside a bong, concentrate vapor actually sticks to the glass while you rip. More glass means less potency. Another reason dab rigs tend to be 6” or shorter is because you don’t need the same lung-busting hits from concentrate as you may from flower. The most flavorful and potent dabs come from small dab rigs.

Bowl Pieces vs Nails

Bowl pieces and nails are both the “receptacles” for your smoking material. Bongs use bowl pieces, which are exactly what they sound like: bowls with a hole at the bottom to load your herb. Bowl pieces tend to be male fitting, meaning they fit into the female joint of a bong. Pack your bowl and simply light the material with a cigarette lighter to start toking.

Nails are a bit different. Dab rigs typically feature female joints, meaning the nail fits over the male joint. Although nails come in a huge variety of styles, the functionality is the same. First, you heat the nail using a torch or e-nail. Next, draw or drop your concentrate around the inside of the nail. Once concentrate hits the heated nail, it instantly vaporizes and can be pulled through the rig.


More percolation is always better, right? Well, not in the case of dab rigs. Remember when we said that dab rigs should be smaller than bongs to reduce the amount of surface area that vapor has to travel over in order to reach your lungs? Percolation works in much the same way. Too much percolation can actually reduce the potency of a dab. That’s why you usually only see one percolator in high-end dab rigs.

Bongs, on the other hand, benefit from as much percolation as you can afford! From diffused downstems to triple-stacked honeycomb percs, each level of filtration makes herb smoke cooler and smoother. No matter how many percolators are in a bong, any small loss in potency is worth the huge boost in flavor and smokablity.


When it comes to smoking out of a bong, you don’t need much. A bowl piece, a lighter, and some herb is all you really need to get started. Of course, you also need a bit of water to fill the bong and maybe a bag or two of chips.

Dabbing’s a bit different. To dab, you need a nail, a torch or e-nail, dab tools, and optionally a carb cap. Torches and e-nails heat your nail more quickly and uniformly than a lighter. Dab tools help you apply your concentrate to the nail when it’s time to smoke. Finally, carb caps are optional accessories that help control the flow of vapor and let you get the most out of every dab. As you can see, dabbing is a bit more complicated than smoking herb from a bong.

Smoking from the “Wrong” Pipe

Like we said in the beginning, there’s no reason you can’t smoke herb from a rig or concentrate from a bong. Both are technically water pipes and get the job done.

It’s important to note, though, that you need to switch out the bowl piece/nail first. That means using a nail with your bong or a bowl piece with your rig. This gets tricky because rigs use male joints while bongs use female joints. If you’re hellbent on smoking the “wrong” material out of your piece, be sure to pick up the right adapter for the job. These allow you to use your existing bowl piece or nail with the rig or bong of your choice.

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