Cannabis extracts are sticky, potentially messy, and can be challenging to work with. A proper dab tool, or dabber, is essential for any dab session. Here’s what to look for in a dab tool.
What is a dab tool?
A dab tool is a small, handheld wand used to safely and effectively get your dab from its container to a hot nail when dabbing. They can resemble a dentist’s tool—one end has a specific shape for handling dabs, and some shapes work best with certain concentrates.
As dabs are small amounts of concentrate, a dab tool allows you to precisely dose and apply dabs so you don’t make a sticky mess and so your hands stay well away from a hot nail.
How to choose a dab tool
Dab tools come in many different styles and materials. They can be hand-blown glass pieces, or metal wands with a carb cap on one side and a blade on the other.
Whatever you’re using, it’s important that a dab tool is heat-resistant so it doesn’t melt or degrade when it comes into contact with a hot nail.
They should also be made of inert materials, such as titanium or glass, that won’t flake off into the dab and ruin its flavor or composition. The most common dabber materials are titanium, stainless steel, glass, ceramic, or quartz.
It’s also important to have a shape that matches the consistency of the dab—runny concentrates like sauces and sugars will need a scoop, whereas taffy will likely need a blade or paddle to cut off pieces. Blades are also good for breaking off chunks of shatter, or you may prefer a ball tip.
Dab tool styles
Here’s a selection of different types of dabbers.
Scoop dab tools are great for sticky concentrates such as waxes, budders, and crumbles, and can sometimes be used for isolates like crystalline THCA and CBD. A good scoop will function like a small spoon, allowing you to shovel up a dab and drop it into a nail. Scoops can have a bit of a blade on the tip to cut into solid concentrates and break off just the right size of dab.
Tool & carb cap combo
A carb cap is essential for controlling airflow when dabbing. A combo tool has a dabber on one end and a carb cap on the other.
With a combo you can scoop up a dab and put it in a nail, and then flip it over to cap your dab instead of reaching for a separate carb cap. This will cut down on your amount of dab gear. Combos fit nicely over e-nails.
Glass tools can be custom, hand-blown pieces and are usually aesthetically pleasing, whereas metal tools can seem more functional. Glass dabbers are easy to clean but can also break easier than metal.
The smooth surface of rounded glass can make handling certain concentrates difficult, unless they have a scoop or blade on one end, but they are great for sticky forms like live resin and sugar. Glass tools are also nice if you have an expensive heady glass piece and want to avoid potential scraping with metal tools.
Blades and paddles
A happy medium between a straight tool and a scoop, blades and paddles are extremely versatile. They have a bit of a scoop as well as a sharp edge to cut thicker concentrates. These are great for slicing off part of a rosin patty or dividing up some thick taffy. Paddles are also good for viscous materials that can be both gooey and solid.
Dab tool kits
If you’re not sure what kind of dab tool you need, you can get a kit that has a wand with different attachments that screw onto it. These kits allow you to try all kinds of dabbers to dial in your dabbing routine, including scoops, spatulas, picks, shovels, blades, paddles, and more.
There are also dab multi-tools, which look like a Swiss Army knife for dabbing. More compact than a kit, be sure to fully clean a tool before closing it up.
If both of those seem like too much, double-sided dabbers can give you two different types of dab tools. Just be careful one side is cool and clean before you switch to the other.
Will Hyde contributed to this article.