How Can You Differentiate Between A Bong And A Dab Rig?

You may be familiar with the bong, but the dab rig is a much newer invention. Do you know the difference between the two? The two are easily mixed up, especially for a lesser knowledgeable audience. Additionally, you can easily use a bong as a dab rig and a dab rig as a bong.

However, this is not the best way to go for your smoking experience. When many people look at a dab rig, they see a bong and vice versa. We know how the two may confuse you as both water pipes utilize percolators to filter smoke. However, the two have significant differences, mainly depending on the functionality of each. At Daily High Club, we give you a deeper insight into the different types of bongs and rigs available, plus we advise you on what may best work for you, either as a beginner or an experienced smoker. Please continue reading to understand the key features of each and what sets them apart.

Nail Vs. Bowl

Of all the different characteristics of both, the nail vs. the bowl is probably the most important and distinguishable feature. When you decide to purchase either of the two, you must check whether the product contains a nail or a bowl. Further, the joint type is also crucial in determining whether you need a bong or a dab rig.

A nail is used for dab rigs, while a bowl is used for bongs. Nails require heating with butane torches and concentrates lowered on the top. Nails are mainly made of quartz glass, ceramic,  or titanium, which explains their higher prices. Many dab rigs end on a male joint, making it possible to use nails that sport female connections.

Bowls are not as complicated. You only need to pack it with your verb and ignite it with a standard lighter. Bowls are mainly made of borosilicate glass, making them cheaper than nails. Many bongs end on a female joint, while bowls sport a male connection.


Although some dab rigs and bongs share various functions, they also have significant unique functions. What you smoke out of your apparatus also sets the two apart. A bong is used for dry herb, tobacco, or flowers, while a dab rig is used for concentrates such as oil, honey, or wax.

Typically, dab rigs have two chambers for water flow, called recyclers. This feature allows constant cooling of your smoke; thus, your hits are smoother than those of a bong. The rig also has a splash guard, which prevents you from drinking the water as you take a hit.

Here is what a recycler looks like:

Percolators (or percs in short) are more common in bongs than in rigs. To add perc to your bong, increase your pipe’s size as percolators take up some room. Many people prefer the bong as they avoid over filtration of concentrates, which reduces your hit’s intensity and flavor. Here is a video of a percolator:

Size Matters

Dab rigs are generally smaller than bongs. Although there are reasons for this, numerous innovations have been made on the bong as we now have mini and medium bongs. The rig’s small size enables you to clear the chamber by pulling air through the nail. Bongs have carbs that prevent you from doing this.

Further, with a bong, you can slide out the bowl due to its big size. Small rigs maintain the vapor from clouding up too much and going stale. Therefore, low-temperature dabbing grows in popularity as concentrates have delicate flavors.

The size difference is crucial as in bongs. The herbs are combusted rather than vaporized. The smoke from a bong can travel the distance without dissipation. However, rigs offer potency with every hit as the vapor travels a shorter distance.


Generally, both products have a similar price range. However, dab rigs can be more expensive than bongs in many instances. Rigs require more accessories such as the nail, torch, Carb cap, dabber, among others. Depending on the quality of the products you choose to purchase, some of these accessories are very pricey.

Are they interchangeable?

Generally, yes. All you need is one bong and both a nail and a bowl. Therefore, if you want to smoke dry herbs, you insert your bowl piece, while if you’re going to inhale concentrates, add the dab nail.

You may use bongs to dab, Dab rigs to smoke flowers. With the right adapters, you can easily use one apparatus interchangeably. However, having two separate devices is advisable. Based on the costs of acquiring two pieces, it is understandable why you would consider using one apparatus for both concentrates and herbs. Although, you may want to reconsider your decision.

Mixing the two may result in an unpleasant taste and interfere with your smoking experience. Further, the processes are entirely different. While you vaporize concentrates, dry herbs and flowers undergo combustion. The smoke from these two processes is quite different. Dry herbs have dense smoke that can travel the mile in a bong, while concentrates have a lighter vapor that may quickly dissipate.

Cleaning will also be easier if you use two different pieces. Combustion of plant material makes a bong dirtier than a rig. The dirt also interferes with the taste of vapor from concentrates, yet cleaning before each hit of either substance is daunting.

Switching between concentrates and herbs ruins the reclaim, which you may want to collect after smoking.

Final Thoughts

Dab rigs and Bongs may look similar to an unknowledgeable individual. However, we hope that this article sheds some light on the difference between the two. The bottom line, it all boils down to preference. If you prefer smoking herbs and flowers, then a bong is the apparatus for you. If you prefer working with oil, wax, or honey, you want to get yourself a dab rig for maximum substance consumption. Choose what best suits you. Ensure you get your money’s worth by choosing the right dab rig or bong. Further, be sure to get the right accessories for each. Visit our website to find out more about various bong types and Dab rig options.

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