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Dry Bowls & Dabs: The Two Uses Of Glass Water Pipes

Dry Bowls & Dabs: The Two Uses Of Glass Water Pipes

Posted by GLASSICS on Oct 4th 2020

While browsing our site you may see the terms "dry" and "concentrate" used to describe the two different ways our water pipes can be used. If you're unsure about what either of these things mean or would like to know some of the key differences between the two, this post should hopefully give you a better insight into these two distinct water pipe usages. 

Dry water pipes (such as Bongs and Bubblers) are those used to smoke dried herbs and leaves such as tobacco and require a bowl-shaped opening to house the plant material for smoking. With scientific pieces, these bowls are removable and have a male fitting which connects into the female fitting of the water pipe itself.

Concentrate pieces (or Dab Rigs) on the other hand, are used to vaporize/smoke concentrated essential oils and utilize a heated surface such as a nail instead of a bowl. These concentrate nails typically have a female fitting which attaches over the male fitting of the concentrate Rig.

Key Water Pipe Design Differences

When selecting a water pipe it is important to already have an idea of how you will be using it, as there are distinct design differences between dry and concentrate pieces which contribute to each style's specific function.

Dry Water Pipes

  • Tend to be larger
  • Maximize water filtration and diffusion
  • Usually include a female glass fitting for Bowl Pieces

Concentrate/Dab Rigs

  • Tend to be smaller
  • Employ simpler percs for minimal filtration and diffusion
  • Usually include a male glass fitting for Domes & Nails and Domeless Nails

When smoking dried herbs, such as tobacco, user's typically require more abundant hits to produce the same desired effects as a single dab of concentrated oils. These larger and smokier hits can be harsher than that of vaporized oils and therefore need more filtering and cooling to minimize discomfort.

Since concentrated essential oils have already been extracted from a plant material, there is less to be filtered out by the water and more flavor to preserve. Dab Rigs still utilize water to cool smoke/vapor but with less intensity to keep the unique flavor profiles intact. The smaller size of Dab Rigs also reduces the amount of internal surface area there is for smoke/vapor to cling onto, minimizing flavor loss.

Since preserving flavor is a major reason for using Rigs, it is also important to keep these two uses separate. Ideally you do not want to be using the same water pipe for both dry herbs and concentrated oils as mixing them hides these unique flavor.

Bongs, Bubblers & Dab Rigs

Now that we've had a chance to look at the major design differences behind these two functions, we'll explain how we've categorized our water pipes in the Glassics store with this in mind.

All of our water pipes fall into one of three categories: Bongs, Bubblers and Dab Rigs. Bongs are the largest of the three and utilize a female fitting for Bowl Pieces. They also tend to offer the most features such as additional percs, ice pinches and splash guards, making them ideal for dry herbs. Dab Rigs are the smallest of the three and utilize a male fitting for concentrate nails. These tend to have more minimal percs which preserve flavors better when using them with concentrated oils. Lastly, Bubblers are in the "Goldilocks zone" between Bongs and Dab Rigs with medium sizes and features but include female fittings like Bongs. This makes Bubblers ideal for switching between dry and concentrate purposes as they offer the best of both worlds.

Although we've broken down our water pipes into these three categories to make selection easier, each one can be used however you'd like with the option to convert between dry and concentrate using Adapters or non-traditional Bowl Pieces (female) and Domeless Nails (male). Visit our Accessories page to see all of our conversion options. If you'd like to know more about how to convert between these two uses, check out our other Blog Post, "How To Convert Between "Dry" & "Dab" Purposes"

Cleaning Differences

The last thing we will be looking at as far as differences between dry and concentrate pieces is the ease of cleaning each. The difficulty of cleaning a piece is largely dependent upon how often it is used and how frequently it is cleaned. As you would expect, the longer a water pipe goes without being cleaned, the harder it will be to return it to its spotless glory.

Not much is different when cleaning a dry pipe versus a Dab Rig other than the type of buildup that is found in each. You will still want to clean both styles the same way, with either hot water or a mixture of a solvent (to break down waxes and oils) and an abrasive material (to physically scrub them away).

With dry water pipes, the type of debris that collects inside your chamber is usually a darker mixture of waxes, ash and solid plant matter, among other things. Concentrate buildup tends to be lighter in color and is made up primarily of waxes and oils with little to no plant matter present.

The waxes and oils in each of these buildups are what cause debris to cling to the inside of your glass water pipe. This means that dry buildup will strip away from your glass more easily as it is only partially made up of these "sticky" substances. Cleaning a concentrate Rig may sometimes take longer because of this extra stickiness and viscosity. Other times these waxes and oils glob up and congeal together and can be evacuated by simply using hot water. Again, a lot of this depends on the frequency of cleaning and the style of water pipe being used. More details on how to clean your pieces can be found in our other Blog Post, "Three Simple Ways To Clean A Glass Water Pipe".

Hopefully this post has helped outline some of the major differences between these two distinct smoking styles. If you feel we've left anything out or have any additional questions regarding this topic, feel free to contact us at