In this article we’ll look at carb caps, what is a carb cap, how they work, and whether or not you should invest in one. Do they actually improve your dab, or are they just another fad accessory for gullible stoners?
The art of dabbing is not yet a strict science. There is still a lot of experimentation with the best ways to dab, the right materials to use, the proper temperatures, and the best accessories. Thankfully, there are still some verifiable ways to improve your smoking experience and a carb cap is one of them.
What is a Carb Cap? Do I need one?
A carb cap is a lid for domeless nails and quartz bangers, it is used to control the airflow and to seal off the heat from escaping. “Carb” is short for carburetor. Like the carburetor in a vehicle, the carb of a smoking device controls air flow, and therefore the pressure, in a given space. Employing the carb on a glass pipe, for example, alters the pressure within the pipe, concentrating air flow through the bowl and reducing the temperature needed for combustion. The result is a stronger hit in less time with less effort.
Dab rigs do not feature traditional carbs. Carb caps are small, bell-shaped accessories with specially designed slits for optimum air-flow around and inside the cap. They fit over the nail after a dab has been dropped, altering the pressure around the smoldering dab. They usually feature a long handles which double as a dabber.
The purpose of regulating air flow around a dab, as you would using a bong or a pipe, is to concentrate the vapor and reduce the temperature required for the concentrate to vaporize. This brings us to the subject of low vs. high temperature dabbing.
Low VS. High Temperature Dabbing
It’s a common misconception that nails need to be red-hot before applying a dab. On the contrary, the optimum dabbing temperature is 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit, while red-hot titanium nails can be over 1,000 degrees.
Overheating your nail 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. Low-temperature dabbing helps retains these floral aromas and flavors.
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. 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 currently satisfied with your dabbing experience, there’s no reason to get a carb cap. They are not essential for dabbing, and you can successfully achieve quality dabs without them.
On the other hand, if you’re always 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 guess work and frustration out of finding that “perfect” temperature, and reduces waste left over on your skillet after a failed attempt.
Compared to other rig accessories, carb caps are incredibly low-maintenance, relatively inexpensive, and provide a noticeable difference in vapor quality and quantity. 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:
Glass or Titanium: Common carb cap materials are glass and titanium. The choice is mostly aesthetic, and most dabbers choose to buy a carb cap that matches their nail. Glass carb caps tend to be more artistic, while titanium carb caps are typically more austere. Always be sure your dabbing accessories are high-quality borosilicate glass or grade 2 or 3 titanium.
Size: Match the size of your carb cap 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.
Shape: Standard nails are just one option these days. Do you use a honey hole or a banger nail instead? Be sure to match the carb cap with your nail type or else it won’t fit properly.
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, it feels natural to use a carb cap after a few uses, and some smokers say it even sates 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.