The Difference Between Water Pipes and Dab Rigs

Posted by Jamie Pope on Feb 09, 2021

The Difference Between Water Pipes and Dab Rigs

The Difference Between Water Pipes and Dab Rigs

Venturing into the mystical world of herb, you’ve probably seen the plethora of glass and pieces to smoke out of. Maybe you’re a traditional paper kind of toker and prefer the grind, pack, and light method of smoking. Though dry herb is a classic way of toking, the new era of dabbing has been on the rise and may leave you, and many others, wondering what the difference is between the two. After all, they both hold water and function similarly, right?

Though, on a technicality, you are right. However, Cloud 9 Smoke Co is here to tell you how dab rigs and water pipes differ from each other! After learning the difference, the concept of water pipes vs dab rigs will be an absolute no-brainer to you.

So, what is the difference between water pipes and dab rigs?


Both water pipes and dab rigs are a means of consuming herb. However, water pipes are made for your favorite dry herb whereas dab rigs are designed for concentrates or oil use. Water pipes will combust your herb, or light your herb with the flame from a lighter, where you’ll inhale smoke to get the benefits your dry herb has to offer. Dab rigs use heat from a torch to vaporize concentrates, which you inhale to get the benefits of your concentrate or extract. Since these pieces use different heating elements to make different products ingestible, it’s great to know what pieces work well with water pipes and dab rigs to make these different processes work.

The Difference Between Water Pipes and Dab Rigs

Slides vs Bangers

Water pipes are designed to be used with slides, which you may know as bowls. A slide is the piece that holds your dry herb with a tiny hole at the bottom to provide air flow. Slides are made of glass and can withstand heat from a lighter just well.

Dab rigs differ from water pipes because they need a piece able to withstand the high heat from a torch to vaporize concentrates. Drum roll please! These pieces are called bangers, or nails, that can be made of quartz, ceramic, or titanium. A favorite amongst dabbers are quartz bangers because of their durability, heating properties, and their ability to give the cleanest, tastiest hits from any kind of concentrate.

Both slides and bangers are the vessels for your smoking material. Slides and bangers can have a male joint, meaning they fit into the female joint of your glass piece. A good way to think about it, is that your banger or bowl will slide inside the joint of your smoking apparatus. However, there are situations where a bowl or banger could be a female joint and made to fit male-jointed glass. The best way to figure out which joint you need is to take a look at the joint on your glass.

Does the joint taper at the end? If it does, your piece has a male joint and you need a female slide or banger.

Does your joint have a wide mouth? If it does, your piece has a female joint and you need a male banger or slide.

The Difference Between Water Pipes and Dab Rigs


Percolation has always been a favorite amongst water pipe and glass users. However, there are cases where too much percolation is a thing. Dab rigs with too much percolation can reduce the potency of your concentrates. If the vapor comes into too much contact with water, it may reduce the strength of your hit. Dab rigs usually come with one percolator to make sure this situation doesn’t happen during your dabbing experience.

Water pipes actually benefit from as much percolation a piece has to offer. The options for water pipe percolation ranges from diffused downstems, showerheads percs, turbine percs, and all the way to fancy double stacked percolators. Every level of filtration makes the smoke of your herb cooler and smoother.

Size Matters

Bigger is better, right? For most instances, yes, but between choosing a dab rig vs a water pipe size does matter. Dab rigs are best in smaller sizes because smaller chambers allow vaporized concentrates to travel as quickly as possible. This means your vapor won’t have time to lose potency or lose flavor; you’ll get the biggest bang from dabs with smaller pieces.

Water Pipes typically have the floor when it comes to the “bigger is better” mentality. Spanning out the pathway for your smoke with as many percs in between allows for optimal filtration. More bubbles means more surface area for smoke, resulting in calm, creamy hits.

Can I Use a Dab Rig to Smoke Dry Herb?

Here’s the short answer: for sure!

If you have a slide that will fit your rig, go for it. However, we don’t suggest doing so because the benefits of your herb will not be maximized through using a dab rig.

Before you ask, Cloud 9 Smoke Co suggests that you don’t attempt to use your hefty water pipe as a means to consume concentrates. The potency and flavor of your concentrates will be lost along the way. Honestly, the struggle you’ll put up to make dabbing work with a bigger water pipe is not worth the “reward.”

It’s a “No-Brainer” for me! The Difference Between Water Pipes and Dab Rigs

Now that you know the difference between water pipes vs dab rigs, you’ll be able to pick the perfect pieces and set ups to venture further into the mystical world of herb and toking. Here at Cloud 9 Smoke Co, we offer the best of the best selection of water pipes and dab rigs to make your smoking experience always 5-stars!

Here’s a quick rundown of the difference between water pipes vs dab rigs

  • Function
    • Water pipes use combustion to make your favorite CBD herb smokable
    • Dab rigs use high heats to vaporize your CBD extract or concentrate
  • Slides vs Bangers
    • Water pipes are designed to use glass slides, or bowls, to hold dry herb.
    • Dab rigs use bangers, or nails, made from quartz, titanium, or ceramic, to withstand high heats which will vaporize concentrates
  • Percolation
    • Water pipes are best for the most percolation possible
    • Dab rigs need minimal percolation, usually one perc, to optimize the benefits of your concentrate vapor
  • Size
    • Smaller is better for dab rigs
    • Go big or go home with water pipes

It’s time to get to selecting the water pipe or dab rig of your dreams. As always, if you have any questions or need assistance, our LiveChat team of Cloud 9 Smoke Co Pros is here to help. Happy toking!

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