What is a Carb Cap?
A “carb” is short for carburetor, and like the one you would find in a car, it helps control airflow and pressure within a space. Carb caps for dab rigs are a pivotal dabbing accessory that effectively operate in the same manner, even sharing the nickname. Acting as a lid to trap heat and vapor within your nail, the cap helps enhance your dabbing experience for a fuller concentrate flavor profile — but how? In this article we’ll take a closer look at carb caps (What are they? How do they work?) and help you decide if you should invest in one. (We think so!)
How do Carb Caps work?
As mentioned above, a carb cap is a lid used to regulate airflow and pressure by preventing heat from escaping the surface. Made of heat-resistant materials, the caps are meant to fit over domeless nails and bangers to essentially create a chamber for vaporizing concentrates. A small hole placed in the top of the carb cap allows you to inhale with ease and creates a suction that changes the way your concentrate vaporizes.
This suction lowers the air pressure inside the banger or nail and in turn lowers the boiling point of the concentrate within it, allowing you to dab at lower temperatures. But why would you want to dab at a lower temperature?
Low vs. High Temperature Dabbing
It’s a common misconception that nails need to be red-hot before applying a dab. This is actually detrimental to not only your equipment, but also the flavor and potency of your concentrate — not to mention your poor throat. The optimum dabbing temperature is between 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit, while red-hot titanium nails can be over 1,000 degrees.
Overheating your nail ti insane temperatures destroys some of the active ingredients in your concentrate, and you’ll get a smaller, less efficient hit. It also negatively alters the taste, destroying the more delicate, flowery notes of concentrate vapor. Heating for extended periods can also lead to nail damage, and can cause quartz bangers to shatter or fracture if repeatedly exposed.
Many dabbers like to heat their nail until it’s red-hot, then wait a few seconds for it to cool to a more sensible temperature. The problem with this is that the nail is rapidly losing heat, and the optimum temperature doesn’t last very long. Sometimes your concentrate will not completely vaporize, and you’re left with half-melted wax on your skillet.
Finding the perfect medium is tricky and requires experience and focus. You often see dabbers doing the wrist test when determining if the temperature is suitable. Carb caps help by creating an ideal environment for your dab. The carb cap captures vapor as it rises, and creates a vacuum around the nail, reducing the temperature needed for your dab to vaporize. That means that even though your nail is cooling, the concentrate will still be suitably heated to vaporize and be inhaled with no sticky left-overs. You get fuller, stronger hits, just as you would using a bong or a bowl.
But Do I Need One?
If you are content with your dabbing experience, there’s no reason to get a carb cap. They are not essential for dabbing. You can successfully achieve quality dabs without them, but you’re not maximizing the potential of your hit. I remember when I bought my first one and it really does transform your dabbing experience.
If you’re looking for a way to improve the taste of your dabs, or if you’re interested in low-temp, efficient dabbing, a carb cap is an excellent accessory. It takes the guesswork and frustration out of finding that “perfect” temperature, and lets you keep temperatures longer to more completely vaporize your wax.
Compared to other rig accessories, carb caps are incredibly low-maintenance, relatively inexpensive, and provide a noticeable difference in vapor quality and quantity immediately. If you suffer from anemic low-temp dabs, this is your solution. We do recommend getting a carb cap that doubles as a dabber, though, as they make awesome multipurpose tools.
Picking the Right Carb Cap
Would you like to add a carb cap to your dabbing collection? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Material: Carb caps must be made of heat resistant material that can withstand the high temps of your banger. Common carb caps are made of quartz, glass, and titanium. The choice is mostly aesthetic, and most dabbers choose to buy a carb cap that matches their nail. Always be sure your dabbing accessories are high-quality quartz, borosilicate glass, or grade 2 or 3 titanium.
- Size & Shape: Make sure the size of your carb cap matches with the size of your nail for the best fit. Too much or too little space between the nail and carb cap will give you poor results. Standard nails are just one option to choose from these days.
Directional Flow Carb Cabs - This type of carb cap is best used with banger style nails. An angled tube extends out from the middle of the cap and is able to push oil around the bucket for peak vaporization.
- Bubble Cap - These types of carb caps work better with flat top bangers. They also are used to push oil around the bucket, but due to their shape they give even more control.
- Standard Carb Cap - Titanium or Quartz - These caps are made to be more functional than aesthetic pieces, but they do have fun designs. The hole or holes are typically placed on top of the cap with handles protruding from the middle or side.
Like rigs themselves, carb caps can look simple or complex. Artistry typically doesn’t affect the functionality of a carb cap, so long as it is properly sized and the air flow is not obstructed.
Low-temp, efficient dabbing is made much easier using a carb cap. They’re simple to use and keep clean, and they usually double as a convenient dabber. Unlike other accessories, after a few dabs it feels natural to use a carb cap. Some smokers making the switch to concentrate dabbing even say it replaces the urge to ‘pull out the slide’ after a hit, like you would with a bong.
If you’re seeking an advanced dabbing experience, full of all the rich flavors, aromas, and potency you’ve come to expect, this accessory is a no-brainer. Now you know what a carb cap is, check out our full selection of carb caps, including those for honey holes, bangers, troughs, and more.