How to Pick the Best Dab Nail
When new to dabbing, it can feel overwhelming looking online for information to get started. The terminology can be confusing and it seems like everyone you see is using a vastly different setup. Add in that you’re using a butane torch and it makes sense you’re apprehensive! To help guide others as they delve into the world of concentrates, we’re going to break down the most imperative piece of the setup: The Dab Nail.
Dabbing has evolved over time and the material options, as well as styles of nail, have expanded to include multiple options and combinations. Currently, the three common materials used for dabbing legal oils and concentrates are quartz, titanium, and ceramic.
- Quartz is currently the most common material used to make dab nails. It heats up faster than other materials and produces the purest flavor possible from your concentrates.The cons are that it also cools down just as fast as it heats up, and it is fragile. Extreme temperatures and short falls are enough to crack these quartz dab nails.
- Titanium is the most durable dab nail material and will never break due to overheating or dropping. While they take slightly longer than quartz to heat up, they stay heated longer giving you more time at optimal temps. Unfortunately titanium dab nails can sometimes give your legal concentrates a somewhat metallic taste, so if you’re particular about taste, this may not be the nail for you. Remember that all titanium is not medical/food grade so you must get a grade 2 or above only.
- Ceramic dab nails stay heated longer than any other material. While they take the longest to heat up, the consistent temperatures make it great for sharing dabs, or just taking a huge one for yourself. The flavor produced is only second to quartz and some debate if one is better than the other. Ceramic is the most delicate material and can crack from overheating and extended use easily. Similarly, if dropped these nails have a high probability of breaking.
These materials can be constructed into various different style dab nails that can be used alone or with attachments. There are lots to choose from, and it all comes down to what works best for you and your budget.
Domed vs Domeless
This used to be a big question for new dabbers, but domed nails are now mostly considered an outdated concept that have been largely replaced by their domeless counterparts. This transition was mostly due to the desire for bigger, lower temperature dabs. More research into legal flower discovered that the boiling point of some of the integral components vary, but most linger in the 300 degree range. Dabbing above these temps combusts the concentrate, burning up what’s responsible for taste as well as some of the other fun effects.
Many people had previously believed they needed to have their nail red hot before taking a dab, but not only is this harmful to your equipment, but also the flavor and potency of your concentrate — not to mention the harshness on your throat. While it is possible to achieve low temp dabs with a domed setup, it is much more difficult, especially for new users.
Domes fit over nails after they’ve been heated to create a contained area for the vapor when you take a dab. Domeless nails are designed more as a dish and work best with a carb cap. A carb cap is an added dab accessory that has a hole in it to help create a vortex in the chamber of your nail that lowers the pressure within. This allows you to get low temp dabs that taste amazing! Though typically less expensive than a domeless nail, domed nails take a backseat to domeless for several reasons. Domeless nails are easier to clean, more user friendly, and you can take much larger hits at lower temps.
E-nails vs E-rig vs Traditional Dab Rig Setup
E-nails were a huge innovation for smokers as it brought a new level of control to dabbing. The traditional method of dabbing involved a trial and error process with your equipment until you found the sweet spot. It worked and still works, but e-nails are able to heat a dab nail with electricity rather than a blow torch. Not only is this safer, but they’re able to keep constant, precise temperatures for longer periods of time.
The first generation of enail has a coil that fits around the nail and is wired to a control box where you can designate your desired temperature. It was a step in the right direction and gave a new level of control to the dabbing experience. The only issue is this setup is bulky, needs space to be set up, and it’s difficult to travel with. To remedy these issues, the next wave of contemporary dab rig was developed and changed how the world viewed dabbing.
Electric dab rigs, e-rigs, smart rigs, handheld dab rigs, they go by many different names, but caused a shift in dabbing technology. By combining the electric heat source with the dab rig, not only did it modernize the process, but introduced dabbing to a broader audience, as traditional rigs/e-nails can be intimidating to new users. These sleek devices consist of the base/powersource and the connecting water attachment. Though not as precise as some e-nails can be, there are usually multiple heat settings to choose from and interchangeable bowl type pieces to customize your smoking experience.
While portable smart rigs took the industry by storm, some smokers wanted to go back to their artistic heady glass, but still wanted to ditch the butane. This sparked the cordless e-nail. They come in varying shapes and sizes and offer a similar experience to an e-rig, but using your own glass. Now you can find cordless enails of varying shapes and sizes to choose like the G-pen Connect and the Lookah Q7 to work with your rig.
While the initial investment into an enail or smart rig can be expensive, not only do you no longer have to buy butane, but you’ll have the ability to customize your dab experience.
Common Dab Nail Styles
While this won’t be all encompassing, here are some of the common types of dab nail you may see online and here in our own shop. Always keep in mind the joint size, joint gender, and angle when purchasing a dab nail as they may not be compatible.
Quartz bangers are the current standard and are what comes with most oil rigs bought in store and online like here at Badass Glass. A banger is a style of dab nail that has a bucket that extends out and away from the joint. There are several styles of quartz bangers and I couldn’t begin to cover them all, but you usually see slanted cup bangers and flat tops as pictures here.
These common nails extend up where a dish is placed on top with a hole for airflow in the center. Those who love big dabs often choose to go this route as the longer consistent heat allows for no waste.
The great thing about these nails is that they fit any size and any gender while being practically indestructible. While they can be slightly expensive, you’ll literally never need another one.
That’s the rundown on dab nails. The technology has come a long way, but there’s beauty in the basics. A dab torch and oil rig can be just as good as an e-rig. There’s no wrong option here and it all comes down to preferences and budget.