How To Clean a Dab Rig

Posted by Cody on Dec 12th 2021

Dab rigs are a great way to smoke cannabinoids without having to worry about what you’re inhaling. Using a dab rig with resins or shatter will give you a strong and smooth smoking experience, free from other chemicals or paper smoke.

A dab rig is kind of similar to a bong in shape and function: your CBD product is placed in a bowl, heated to combust it, and the vapor is drawn through water to filter it before it’s inhaled. Where they differ from bongs, however, is what you smoke in them.

Dab rigs are used with small amounts of cannabis concentrates, such as shatter, waxes, or resins. These are heated in a bowl (or nail, as it is also known), and the vapor is then pulled through water to filter it. Dab rigs are a much cleaner and smoother way of smoking cannabis products without inhaling any unpleasant or harmful additives in the vapor.

Like other water pipes, a dab rig needs to be cleaned regularly. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, you may struggle to clean it properly or even damage your rig. Luckily, this guide has got you covered.

This guide will walk you through some different methods of cleaning a dab rig, as well as looking at which method is most effective.

Why Do Dab Rigs Need Cleaning?

There are several things that make having a clean dab rig important. Not only does a dirty rig reduce the quality of your smoke, but it also creates several health risks.

Cleaning your rig regularly prevents the growth of bacteria around the mouthpiece. Cleaning the mouthpiece between every use is important so you aren’t putting old bacteria back into your mouth. Bacteria also builds up in the water - dirty water with a film on the top is a sure sign that your rig needs cleaning.

A proper clean also removes any built-up residue and dirt that has collected in the bowl or on the nail. While there are much fewer pollutants through a dab rig than other forms of smoking, small amounts of dirt or ash can build up on the glass, particularly in the nail. Residual pieces of your smoking product (known as reclaim, which can be removed and reused) can also stick to the inside of your rig over time. Cleaning helps remove these to improve the airflow and quality in your rig.

It also improves the taste and feel of the vapor. A clean rig keeps the vapor smooth, without any unpleasant tastes that come from dirt and residue. Not only is the quality of the vapor improved, but it is also much cleaner and safer to inhale.

How Do I Clean My Dab Rig?

There are a couple of different methods you can use to clean a dab rig. Some of these take longer than others, but will be more effective at sanitizing your rig.

The most common method of deep-cleaning a dab rig involves soaking the pieces in isopropyl alcohol and salt, then rinsing them off in water.

First, heat up the nail to melt and loosen any reclaim or unburned residue. Once the reclaim is gone, remove the nail from the rest of the rig. Fill a Ziploc bag with isopropyl alcohol, and put the nail inside. Add some coarse sea salt, seal the bag, and give it a shake to remove any tougher buildup.

From there, empty the water out of the rig. Add a layer of salt to the base, and fill it with isopropyl alcohol. Being careful to cover both the mouthpiece and the hole for the nail, shake the rig to clean the interior.

Now, empty out the alcohol and rinse all the pieces out with warm water. Make sure you completely rinse out all the alcohol, as this can be harmful if inhaled.

Let your rig air dry, and it’ll be ready to go!

If you don’t want to use rubbing alcohol, you can do a less thorough clean with hot water alone.

Using a kettle, pan, or microwave, heat up some water until it is hot but not boiling. Once it has cooled enough to avoid the risk of shattering your rig, pour it into the base. You can also add some salt for a more effective clean. While the rig is soaking, soak the nail in the water.

Once the water has cooled down a bit, give the rig a shake (again, make sure to keep the holes covered). Empty the water and rinse.

This is less effective for cleaning a rig than using alcohol, but is much faster and doesn’t require any cleaning chemicals.

Stubborn dirt and residue can be tricky to get rid of. That said, it’s definitely possible with a little bit of work.

You can remove tough buildup of reclaim in the nail by heating it up. Much of the residue will melt and can be collected for reuse. Any bits that are left need a little more effort. Soaking the nail and the rig will help loosen or even dissolve the leftovers. You can use a Q-tip or an old toothbrush to scrape away any remaining pieces.

Alternatively, you can put the pieces in the freezer. This will harden any stickier pieces, making them easier to dislodge.

It can be hard to get stubborn dirt out of your rig without using alcohol or other cleaning methods. Hot water alone may prove ineffective against tough dirt and residue. That said, it is still a decent method of keeping your dab rig clean between proper washes.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your dab rig clean is key to a good smoking experience. Making sure you maintain your rig stops any unpleasant tastes, as well as making the smoke smoother and cleaner. Whether you’re doing a full deep clean with rubbing alcohol and salt, or giving it a quick bath in hot water, using these methods will keep your dab rig in top condition.

Don’t settle for a bad experience - keep your dab rig clean and your smoking smooth.