The use of dab rigs and vaporizers has become extremely popular and commonplace over the last couple of years, with users of each product swearing by their respective effectiveness. While there may not be a clear-cut winner between the two methods, both have their own distinct characteristics.

Vaporizers heat the air around cannabis to extract THC. Many vaporizers use cannabis concentrates, which can be in a solid form (wax or butter) or a liquid form (vape cartridges). Dab rigs use cannabis concentrates such as wax, butter, shatter, or crumble, and heat them directly to extract THC.

Conduction vs Convection Vaping

One of the biggest differences between dab rigs and wax vaporizers is how they utilize heat. Dab rigs heat wax through a process called conduction, while vaporizers utilize convection to heat oil.

Dab rigs use a heating method called conduction.[1] Conduction involves applying a heat source directly to the item being heated, which in this case would be a cannabis concentrate. This method heats wax very quickly. However, conduction heating has been known to potentially burn wax if it becomes too hot. This can lead to an unpleasant burnt taste and smell when using the rig. While some believe that using dab rigs is a healthier to smoking, the combustion process present in dab rigs often still produces chemicals harmful for your body.[2]

Vaporizers on the other hand use convection to heat concentrates. Convection does not involve directly heating an object, but heating the air around it instead. This can help to reduce the chance of anything burning, ensuring that you aren’t met with any unpleasant tastes while using. Convection heating is great at heating everything equally and efficiently, which is why it is a popular form of heating in vaporizers. Compared to conduction, convection heating is also healthier for your lungs, since harmful chemicals are less likely to be released through burning.

Heat is Important

When using both of these devices, always be mindful of the amount of heat you are applying to your concentrate.[3] Too much heat can not only “burn” your cannabis, but it can also release dangerous chemicals as we discussed earlier.One of these chemicals is a carcinogen called benzene. Carcinogens are substances that have the ability to cause cancer. This carcinogen is found in relatively low numbers in cannabis, but it is still dangerous and can be present depending on the temperature of the heat applied to your cannabis concentrates.Benzene can only be released when cannabis or a cannabis concentrate is heated at anything over 365 degrees Fahrenheit. No matter which device you use, try to keep your heat under this temperature to ensure that your body and lungs stay healthy.


As a general rule, most dab rigs are more potent and have stronger effects than vaporizers.[4] One dab can oftentimes amount to several hits off of a standard vaporizer, which can lead to a very intense experience, especially if one isn’t ready for it.

Vaporizers are normally less potent than dab rigs, making them better suited for casual, everyday use. Vaporizer users don’t have to worry about having too intense of an experience when using, as they would deliberately have to take many hits to match the effects of a dab rig.

Neither a higher or lower intensity is naturally better than the other, it all just comes down to user preference and the situation. For someone relaxing at home with no immediate plans, a dab rig might be preferable to achieve a stronger effect. For someone out and about but still wanting to use, a quick hit from a vaporizer can be perfect. One solution is to possibly own both devices, so you can have options and be prepared for any mood you may have. This may not be feasible for everyone, but it is something that might be worth looking into if you can manage it.


A major factor behind the boom of vaporizers has been their portability and ease of use. Most can easily fit into a pocket and their designs are often simplistic and discreet, allowing them to be used in public without garnering too much attention.

Traditional dab rigs can be quite large and bulky, taking up a decent amount of room. They are definitely not easy to take with you when you go places, especially when compared to vaporizers. These dab rigs are far better suited staying at your place of residence and being brought out whenever you decide to use it. Many dab rigs are also have a great deal of glass in their design. This may not seem like a problem to most people, but all it takes is one accidental drop for your entire rig to be destroyed.

However, dab pens also exist, which are very similar in size and shape to most vape pens. These pens have the portability that dab rigs do not, while still having the same potency as most rigs.Dab pens can provide what some may consider the best of both worlds of each of these options, which is why they have become very popular. While dab rigs can be fragile, dab pens are far more hardy and won’t be rendered useless if dropped, similar to vape pens.

Key Takeaways

Dab rigs and vaporizers have their own special uses and advantages. Neither is “better” than the other in general. If you are looking for a healthier option that you can casually use in almost any setting, vaping concentrates might be the right option for you. Vaping is simple to do and can be taken anywhere. If you would prefer a more intense experience, you would be better suited choosing a dab rig. A dab pen might be an option as well if you want the portability that most vaporizers have. No matter which device you choose, make sure and do your research beforehand to ensure that you have the experience you desire.