So you've decided to make the plunge and finally get your own dabbing rig. You might have checked out your local head shop or just simply browsed the endless offerings online. Regardless of what you did, you've encountered the words “dab nails” and might have walked away from the experience utterly confused by the odd nomenclature.
What are Dab Nails
A dab nails essentially functions as a “bowl” for your dabbing rig. A regular pipe bowl already has your herbs or tobacco already pre-loaded and direct heat is applied after. A dab nail works the other way around. The dab nail is heated first before inserting your dabber with concentrate of choice.
But why go through this difficult process? Why not just stick your concentrate in your favorite glass water pipe and be done with it? The answer is simple, temperature control and flavor. Applying direct heat to concentrates will be a complete waste by burning it all up. It is also dangerous to apply high heat and smoke from it. In contrast, using a well-heated dab nail allows you to get the most out of your concentrates.
Domed Nails vs Domeless Nails
A great option for first-time or beginning dabbers, most domed nails come with a female joint that goes over your dab rigs male joint. After heating up the head of the nail then inserting the concentrate, a dome is then placed over the nail preventing most if not all of the vapor from escaping. It acts very similar to a carb cap. The dome also makes this type of setup ideal for outdoor use where conditions can get a bit windy.
Domed nails are also more often than not, the cheaper option compared to domeless nails. They still come with a small caveat where you don't have as much surface area to dab with. This means you'll have to be content with smaller dab hits at a time. They also offer less compatibility with the variety of joint sizes that dab rigs come with. You're going to have to be more precise when selecting a domed nail with the right joint size to work with your current rig setup.
Considered an upgrade by most seasoned dabbers, domeless nails have a much larger surface area allowing you to take larger and longer hits. They take a bit longer to heat up due to the increased surface area but that also means that a domeless nail has the potential to stay hotter for longer, giving you more time to take additional hits without reheating the nail.
Another point to domeless nails is that most of these use a universal joint that can work with a large variety of dab rigs. This means what if you were to purchase a completely brand new dab rig with a different joint size, it might not be necessary to get a corresponding nail as the universal joint of the domeless nail should work just fine.
As for cons, domeless nails tend to be a little bit pricier than their domed counterparts, not to mention that the lack of a dome make them less than ideal in an outdoor scenario where things can get a little windy, affecting the airflow of the dab.
Types of Banger Nail Materials
If you fancy yourself a bit of a clutz, a titanium nail works wonders. It's the most durable out of all the nail materials available. Being the only type of nail that's truly drop-proof, titanium nails practically last forever and don't need as much TLC. Ti nails also retain heat a lot better compared to other types. This makes them one of the more convenient options to use as you won't need to reheat your nail as often as you would with a glass or quartz nail.
However, titanium nails need to be seasoned properly otherwise you'll end up with a slightly metallic taste accompanying your dab. This can be quite unpleasant depending on the quality of the titanium used. Titanium dab nails are also the most expensive option so budget oriented dabbers might find the cost of entry to using these a bit prohibitive.
Ceramic nails are known to produce some of the best flavors possible for your dabs. Their major downside is that they're very fragile, similar to glass. Heating up a ceramic dab nail needs to be done slowly and carefully as heating up the nail too quickly will invariably end up with the ceramic cracking or even shattering. Suffice to say that ceramic nails are not drop-proof either so special care needs to be used when handling these.
Quartz dab nails provide some of the best middle ground for vapers who are on a tight budget. Quartz nails are relatively inexpensive compared to titanium nails and they also produce great flavor when used right. While not drop proof as any quartz nail dropped on a hard floor has a strong tendency to break, they're great when it comes to rapid changes in temperature. They can definitely shatter or crack if it's heated up too much. You won't have to worry as much when heating up them which is what makes them one of the most ideal nail types for their inherent temperature control qualities.
How to Choose a Nail for Dabbing?
There are many factors that should go into your decision-making process for picking out the best dab nail for you. Do you tend to use your dab rig outdoors a lot? Do you share your dab rig with friends? If the answer to one of these questions is yes, then you might be better off with a titanium nail.
If your dab rig mostly stays at home and doesn't get passed around a lot, a quartz nail might be the best and most cost-effective option. Although you still want to watch out for the temperature, you usually get the best flavor from quartz. If you heat it up until it's glowing red, wait until it cools down a bit more. Just as long as you're confident that you won't drop it on your hardwood or tiled floors, a quartz nail can last pretty much forever when used correctly.
When choosing a nail, also pay special attention to the type of joint that your dab rig uses. You'll need to purchase a nail with a joint complementary to the joint you have on your rig. Joint size is also a factor and needs to be considered to get the best results out of your dab rig so make sure to get a nail that fits well into your rig.
Seasoning your Nail
- Insert your newly-bought titanium nail into the joint of your rig.
- Use your torch gun and carefully heat up the nail, making sure to apply heat evenly. If it becomes red hot, wait until it cool down a bit..
- While the nail is hot, use your dabber and evenly coat the inside area of the nail with your concentrate of choice. Repeat this step a couple of times with rest intervals of 3-5 minutes in between coatings to allow the nail to properly cool.
Why to Season?
Seasoning a titanium nail is the best way to avoid the metallic taste that results from exposing metals to high temperatures. When titanium dab tools are are created, the manufacturer uses oils to clean and polish them. This process helps it gets rid of all these oils. Seasoning the nail requires you to use the torch and heat it around evenly. Do this a few times at 20 second intervals.