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A Brief History of the Dab Rig

The dab rig may be all the rage today, but these specialized concentrate vaporizers have a long storied history. In fact, there’s been a huge evolution in dab rig design in the past few decades, from one off DIY contraptions to commercial mass production. So, let’s take a look at a brief history of the dab rig.

Dab Rig Origins: Hot Knives

While the exact origins of vaping cannabis concentrates may stretch back earlier, most agree that the act was first popularized in the 1960s and 70s with hot knives. This involves heating up two steel knives typically with a cooking stove, placing hash or concentrate between them, and then pressing the knives together and inhaling the vapor directly. Although rudimentary, hot knives remained popular right through to the late 90s.

Swing Skillets or Vapor Curves

As cannabis concentrates grew in popularity during the late 90s and early 2000s, artisanal bong makers began to create attachments that were specifically tailored to handle cannabis oils. These “swing skillet” or “vapor curve” attachments consist of a titanium heating pan that hangs below a curved glass tube and can be considered as the first prototype dab rigs. However, this was long before any kind of mass production and these one off custom creations remained niche within the cannabis community.

Glass Dome and Nail

The first major development in the dab rigs evolution came in the form of the glass dome and nail. Whereas skillets where DIY built attachments, the dome and nail became the first mass produced concentrate vaporizers. These sculptured glass pieces can be thought of as the precursor to the modern banger and carb cap and function in a very similar way. However, they were still niche products as dabbing had yet to capture the wider public's imagination.

The Modern Dab Rig

Moving into more recent times the dab rig evolved further into what we see today. The concentrate scene exploded in the 2010s and became a huge part of cannabis culture. As a result, more and more specialized dab rigs began to hit the market. While titanium nails initially emerged as a popular choice, it was the quartz banger and carb cap that came to dominate the modern dab rig scene. Further advancements have come in the form of complex rig constructions with the addition of vortex chambers and ever more elaborate designs, and today, the dab rig has become a widely available specialized tool for consuming concentrates.

The modern dab rig is the culmination of decades of home grown innovation that has given us the perfect concentrate vaporizer. No longer are they DIY solutions but fully fledged dab specific devices that are accessible to anyone, which is why dabbing has become so popular.

Next article Cannabis Concentrates And The Rise Of Dab Culture


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