Bongs vs. Dab Rigs – What’s the Difference?

Dab Rigs vs. Bongs - Which One Is Best
September 3, 2019 By Kyle Broussard

So, you’ve heard a lot about dab rigs. All your friends swear by them, and prefer them over bongs, but you can’t quite tell the difference between the two. 

You want to figure out what is the difference between bongs and dab rigs, and which one is best for you. 

Don’t worry, when dabbing first came onto the scene, we had dozens of questions about dab rigs and how they compared to bongs. 

So, we wanted to create a resource that covers everything you need to know about Bongs vs. Dab Rigs in order to help you figure out which one is best for you. 

In this guide, you will learn: 

Alright, let’s get started. 

What is the Difference Between Bongs and Dab Rigs? 

The main differences between dab rigs and bongs are: 

  • Design
  • Price Point 
  • Function 
  • Features 

For the most part, they can be interchanged. By simply adding dab rig accessories to a bong, or bong accessories to a dab rig, you can very easily smoke your piece multiple different ways. 

Let’s go a bit more in-depth about the main differences between water pipes and dab rigs.

Bongs vs. Dab Rigs – The Complete Breakdown

We decided to compare dab rigs to bongs based on five basic categories: 

  • Design 
  • Price Point 
  • Function
  • Variety

There are other factors that differentiate the two, but these are by far the most important ones that should influence your decision.  

1. Design – What Does it Look Like? 

Bongs 

There are dozens of different types of bongs. For the most part, a majority of them are made from glass or borosilicate glass. However, there are also ceramic, silicone, plastic, acrylic, and other types of materials bongs are made from. Generally speaking, bongs are made out of a wider variety of materials because they do not need as many complex parts for cooling and filtering smoke. 

While there are tons of bong designs, a majority of water pipes include the following pieces: 

  • Slide 
  • Diffused Downstem
  • Base 
  • Glass or Quartz Bowl
  • Ice Catch 
  • Percolator 

To explain each of these pieces and how they requires its own guide entirely. For more details on the anatomy of a bong and how it works, check out this comprehensive guide.

For the most part, bongs are between 6-24” tall, with the average height being between 6-10”. Most middle of the line designs have slight percolation, but relatively no recycling, and include a straight tube design that is less compact than many dab rigs. 

Bongs are smoked by placing your herb in the bowl, whereas dab rigs have more complex accessories that are superheated in order to melt extracts. 

Overall, bongs are usually less complex than dab rigs, but some higher end ones can be extremely complex, with dozens of features for percolation, and specific shapes for diffusion.

Dab Rigs 

Dab rigs also have dozens of designs, each with their own specific functionality and creativity. For the most part, dab rigs are made out of glass. Although, recently silicone dab rigs have been emerging on the scene as a more durable, easier to clean alternative to traditional glass rigs. The primary reason that dab rigs are not made from some of the materials that bongs are is because of the high temperatures and rapid temperature change they must sustain, and the need for extremely good percolation and diffusion (filtration and cooling) of the smoke.

The majority of dab rigs include the following parts: 

  • Dabber Tool 
  • Percolator 
  • Diffused Downstem 
  • Nail or Banger 
  • Dome 

On top of that, you will also need a dab torch in order to smoke them, as dabs require an insanely high temperature to melt. 

Generally speaking, dab rigs are more compact than most bongs, usually standing only around 8-10” tall or shorter. They also tend to have multiple chambers, or recyclers in order to rapidly cool the smoke and filter it before it reaches you. 

There a few different ways to smoke a dab rig, and you can also easily convert them to bongs by adding a glass bowl attachment. 

2. Price Point – Which is Cheaper?

For the most part, bongs and dab rigs are priced relatively similarly. Usually, the price of a piece depends on a few things: 

  • Size 
  • Material 
  • Design 
  • Time 
  • Features

The longer something took someone to make, the more expensive it is. The more complex it is, the more expensive it is. Pretty simple. Overall, if you took a bong and a dab rig of equal size, thickness, and with similar features, they would probably cost about the same. 

However, ceramic, plastic and silicone bongs will usually be cheaper than glass dab rigs, as you might have guessed. For the most part though, bongs and dab rigs run around the same price, and you can find great ones in the $50-$150 range easily. 

3. Function – How Does it Work? 

This section could be an article all on its own, so we will try to keep this section brief, and link out to some comprehensive guides on how each work. 

Basically, the most noticeable difference between dab rigs and bongs is the way they work, and how they are used. 

Bongs

Bongs are meant for dry herbs. This means that they need a much lower temperature in order to ignite the herbs. They also do not need to retain the heat in order to continue heating the herbs once they are lit, oxygen takes care of this. 

Simply pack a bowl, fill your bong with water, attach the bowl to the slide, and attach the slide to your downstem. Then, light it up, fill the body of the bong with smoke, pull the bowl from the slide to eliminate the vacuum, and take a fat hit. 

Want to learn more about how to smoke a bong and how they work? Check out some of these helpful resources we created: 

Dab Rigs

Dab rigs, on the other hand, require a lot more work in order to get going. Depending on the type of dab rig accessory you use, there are a few different ways to smoke, but they all involve heating a nail or banger up in order to place extracts on, which are then turned to vapor and inhaled. 

Basically, whether you have a banger or nail, the process is the same, with some small variations. Essentially, the process goes like this: fill your dab rig with water, put your nail or banger on the joint, then heat your nail or banger until it is hot enough. Then, take your dabber tool with extract and rub it on your nail or banger until it is melted up completely. While doing this, inhale in order to take a hit. 

Obviously, the process is a lot more complex than this when you break it down, but for the sake of keeping this article short, we wanted to condense it to show you the differences between smoking a bong and smoking dabs. 

Want to learn more about how dab rigs work and how to smoke dabs? No worries, we created these helpful resources to get you started: 

4. Variety – What Different Options Do I Have? 

Both bongs and dab rigs have a wide variety of designs based on function and creative appeal. 

Bongs 

In terms of variety, bongs have a slight edge, just because they have been around a lot longer than dab rigs. To name just a few types of bong designs, here is a small list: 

  • Straight Tube 
  • Beaker Base 
  • Round Base 
  • Scientific Glass 
  • Multi-Chamber
  • Inline  
  • Etc… 

Most bong designs differ in terms of the shape of the body, the shape of the base, the size of the bong, and the way the smoke is filtered within. Some bongs are simpler, with less working parts, while others are quite complex with spinning parts, multiple percolators, and multiple chambers for the smoke to pass through. 

Want to learn more about the different types of bongs? Check out this comprehensive guide we created to help you find the best one for you! 

Dab Rigs 

While dab rigs do not yet have as many unique designs as bongs, they are certainly not far off. On top of that, rigs are constantly being reinvented and altered in order to provide smoother smoking experiences, more durability, and more portability. 

To name just a few types of dab rigs, there are: 

  • Recyclers 
  • Inline 
  • Multi-Chamber 
  • Mini Rigs
  • E-rigs 
  • Portable Rigs 
  • Etc… 

The design possibilities are virtually infinite, and due to the need for increased cooling and filtration, a lot of dab rigs are actually far more efficient at making a smooth smoking experience than bongs are – which has caused a lot of people to purchase dab rigs, then convert them to bongs. 

On top of variety in design in terms of shape, dab rigs also have tons of different ways they can be smoked. I am of course talking about the way the dabs themselves are heated and melted. For instance, there are: 

  • Ceramic Nails
  • Titanium Nails 
  • Glass Nails 
  • Quartz Nails 
  • Quartz Bangers
  • Domed Nails 
  • E-Nails 
  • Etc…

Just to name a few… Each of these have their own pros and cons, and should be treated, cleaned, and used in certain ways to get the best results. 

Can Bongs Be Turned Into Dab Rigs? 

Yes, however, this can provide a smoking experience that is less smooth than you may expect in some cases. As long as you have a bong that offers solid percolation and diffusion, you should be fine to change out your glass bowl for a quartz banger or dab nail. However, if your bong is a little on the small side, or offers little to no percolation, you may find smoking dabs from it to be a distasteful experience. 

One thing you can do in order to convert any bong to a dab rig is to purchase a percolator or ashcatcher attachment, which can easily be hooked up to a dab nail or banger for a smooth smoking experience. 

Want to learn more about how to turn your bong into a dab rig? Check out some of these amazing dab rig accessories that can help you make the transition, no problem.

Can Dab Rigs Be Used As Bongs? 

Yes. In fact, more and more people seem to be purchasing dab rigs and using them as bongs, ourselves included. The reason for this is because dab rigs have to have tons of percolation in order to cool the smoke – making them extremely smooth if used as bongs. Another reason is that most rigs are small and compact, yet still built from durable glass. They also usually come in universal joint sizes, so they fit to just about any attachment. 

Overall, turning your dab rig to a bong is as easy as finding a glass bowl that fits your rig and attaching it. While most rigs lack a diffused downstem or a slide, this is made up for with extra percolators in the body and multiple chambers for cooling the smoke. It can even help to prevent breaks which can happen when pulling a slide or bowl from a bong. Lastly, most dab rigs even come with glass bowls, which makes it even easier to use it as a bong without having to purchase any additional accessories.

We highly recommend that for anyone who enjoys both dabbing and bongs to purchase a dab rig with a glass bowl attachment.

Want to learn more about turning your dab rig into a bong? This guide has everything you need to know about the best bong accessories

Are Bongs Better Than Dab Rigs? – Our Final Take

Honestly, this all depends on your personal preference. Some people prefer taller, beefier bongs over smaller, more compact pieces. While others prefer more versatile, smaller pieces that can be easily taken on the go, and that offer the dual function of acting as a rig and a bong with no problem. 

Overall, if you are the type of person who enjoys both bongs and dabs, you are better off purchasing a high-quality dab rig with a glass bowl, so you can easily change the way you smoke with very little hassle. 

It also depends on your budget. For some people, they like to keep their pieces separate and collect beautiful pieces of glass. In this case, it may make sense to purchase a bong and a rig separately. 

At the end of the day though, dab rigs can change to bongs easier than bongs can change to dab rigs. As a result, we have to give dab rigs the W on this one for being more versatile. 

Where to Find the Best Bongs and Dab Rigs 

Looking for some great deals on some of the best dab rigs and bongs on the market? Check out our online headshop for all of the Stoner gear you will ever need, including: 

Thanks for reading! We hope that this guide helped you to understand more about the difference between bongs and dab rigs, and helped you to make a choice on bongs vs. dab rigs to find out which one is best for you. 

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below, and someone from the Stoner community will get to them right away. For even more dank deals, cannabis content, and updates on the latest gear, be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter!  

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