Dabber tools are the utensils of the cannabis concentrate community. Their purpose is simple, they are the liaison between your extract and the device or rig you will be consuming the oil from. Dab utensils are available in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. Each design has its pros and cons, and choosing the right one for the job can be tough, especially if you don't know what you're looking for.
To pick out the right dabber tool for you, consider the following questions before making a purchase.
What Type of Concentrate Will You Be Dabbing?
There are many different concentrate varieties on the market today ranging from traditional hashes and solventless sifts to hydrocarbon extracts such as shatters, butters, and sugars. Much like choosing the right utensil to use at the dinner table, pairing a dabber tool with the consistency of your concentrate is a smart place to start.
For example, ballpoint dabber tools are fantastic for breaking shatter apart into smaller pieces. These styles of dabbers consist of a spear outfitted with a tiny ballpoint tip no larger than a small peppercorn. As effective as they can be with more stable varieties of concentrates, they're equally ill-equipped to scoop up a sappier variety.
A few examples of concentrate and dabber tool pairings include using scoops and spoon-shaped utensils to handle sappier and less stable varieties of concentrates. Live resin oils, CO2 distillates, and any wax that crumbles or sugars up will benefit from a spoon or paddle-shaped dabbing utensil. These styles of tools offer a much broader surface area that works better with hard-to-handle waxes than pointy tools.
Needlepoint and ballpoint tools work very well with shatters because they are able to break a slab down to manageable dose with pinpoint precision. Shatters are notoriously pesky consistencies to dab on account of their brittle nature. Being able to control a clean break with a precise tool is paramount. Ballpoint dabbers also work well with some waxes, and are terrific at transporting partially melted solventless dabs to a screen or nail.
What Type of Dab Nail and/or Rig Will You Be Using?
Nails come in three main varieties: quartz, titanium, and ceramic. While there are a few other assortments available, these three styles pretty much dominate the market. Almost any rig you choose for enjoying your concentrates, whether it’s a tabletop dab rig to portable vape pens and everything in between, will have the option for at least one of the three core varieties.
Choosing a dabber tool to match your hardware is a wise move for several reasons. First, some rigs come outfitted with individualized tools. One element to a dabber tool is a carb cap. These caps are designed to be placed on top of a nail to control and suppress airflow, thus allowing a nail to maintain optimal vaporization temperature while the concentrate sublimates. Not all dabber tools come equipped with carb caps, and no single carb cap is universal. Some tools that contain caps are designed to fit certain nail sizes, and will be too large or small for others.
Just like nails, dabber tools vary in their consistency. Some tools are fashioned out of titanium, whereas others are made of ceramic and borosilicate glass, quartz, etc.
Pairing the right tool with the right nail is important. For instance, using a borosilicate dabber tool on a quartz nail is much more preferred than using that same dabber tool on a titanium nail.
Dabber tools can vary in size as well. For portable options, such as having a tool to help load a vaporizer pen, smaller varieties are available. Lugging around a full-sized
dabber tool for a vaporizer pen can be cumbersome. If a portable tool doesn't come included with your pen, try looking for something pocket-sized. Consider bringing along a tool capable of packing more than a single dose into your portable device. Choose a tool with a greater surface area, such as a spoon, which is capable of loading the entire pen in one scoop.
What Size Dab Will You Be Taking?
Dabber tools are the closest thing available to being able to dose cannabis concentrates that are typically packaged and distributed in gram/half gram (500mg-1000mg) portions.
Unfortunately, the only way to measure a dose more accurately would be to purchase oils and distillates packaged in cartridges or syringes. If dosing is important to you, try to find a tool that can deliver you a dose proportionate to your individual tolerance. There are dabber tool sets available that have variable for dosing ease. Spoons and paddles are great for dosing waxes and butters, while pointy tools make for easier dosing on shatters and “pull-n-snap” style sappy varieties.
The next time you find yourself on the market for a dabber tool to complement your rig or smoking setup, ask yourself the three questions we outlined above. Knowing the types of concentrates you plan to use, the dabbing rig or device you plan to use, and your individual dosage will help you to pick the right tool for the job.