Dabbing is nothing without a nail, and that's not hyperbole. It's where your concentrate transforms from nondigestible material to a vaporized wonder. It's where cannabis goes from static to kinetic. It really is where the dabbing magic happens.
But with so many different types of dab nails to choose from, how do you know which ones are best? Here's the lowdown on the various types of dab rig nails, and the pros and cons of every one.
What Is a Dab Nail?
A dab nail is the part of the rig that you heat up with a butane torch lighter. This is where the cannabis concentrate (whether wax or oil) goes to vaporize.
Nowadays, dab nails come in a variety of forms and are crafted from a number of materials. Typically you'll find:
- titanium, glass, quartz or ceramic material
- domed or domeless nails
- e-nails or standard dab nails
The style of the nail can greatly alter the dabbing experience, so it's important to be privy to the nuances (that is, if you're down for a premium toking experience).
Titanium Dab Nails
Titanium-crafted dab nails are the OG. They were around at the dawn of dabbing, and show no signs of skipping town anytime soon.
Pros: They're highly durable, quick at heating up and maintain optimum temperatures consistently. They run the mile.
Cons: If you skimp on quality, you may encounter a little something called titanium oxide, which can be dangerous to your health as well as the wellbeing of your dab rig. Otherwise, potential metallic flavor disturbance is the only other con.
Glass Dab Nails
Glass dab nails are a common occurrence and for good reason. Here are some pros and cons of this style.
Pros: The glass nail helps maintain flavor integrity, so if you're working with intricate concentrates, you'll be appreciative of this factor. Moreover, they're supremely easy to clean.
Cons: On the downside, glass isn't the best at holding high heat; if you're not careful, you may find yourself with a broken nail that needs replaced long before the rest of the rig.
Quartz Dab Nails
Quartz is a lovely crystal, whatever the form. When used as a dab nail, it really shines (pun intended).
Pros: Quartz material acts similarly to glass, but without the high risk of breakage. This is a hearty crystal that can stand the heat. Like glass, it's easy to clean, giving you one less bit of maintenance to fret over.
Cons: Unlike the titanium variant, quartz has trouble maintaining high temperatures, so you'll have to work harder to achieve a stable heat.
Ceramic Dab Nails
If you like ceramic tiling and art, you'll be happy to know that this material has yet another purpose to flaunt. As part of the dab rig package, ceramic really comes to life.
Pros: This material is also easy to clean, which can go a longer way than you may realize. So long as it's of high quality, you don't have to worry about heat fractures.
Cons: If you drop your ceramic nail by accident, you can say goodbye to it! It's highly fragile on contact, and lower shelf variants may not stand the heat as well as other options.
Domed Dab Nails
You'll know if a dab nail is domed at first glance. Should the rig be domed, there are a few things you can expect.
Pros: Domed nails tend to be a part of more affordable rigs. Moreover, they trap vapor super effectively, so you don't have to worry about wasting any. Because of this, the vapor also ends up being more potent. All the while, you protect your hand from being burnt atop the high-heat nail.
Cons: You need a bit more patience with domed nails because they take a little longer to reach optimum temperature.
Domeless Dab Nails
A domeless nail is one without a surrounding (or sides). As opposed to the domed variants, this option has pros and cons of its own.
Pros: When using a nail without sides, you can take even bigger dabs, which may be perfect for some stoners. They also heat up quicker, and the concentrate has less of a chance of burning.
Cons: If you're a beginner to dabbing, you may want to stick with the domed variants. Additionally, if you want to hold onto all that vapor, domed may be the way to go.
It's official. We've made it to a time where even dab nails are electronic! Here's what to expect with this style.
Pros: They heat up on their own, without the help of a torch. They're temperature controlled, and allow you to take dab after dab without running the risk of burning the concentrate. They can literally maintain temperatures for hours.
Cons: To be frank, they're expensive. But if you're ready for the investment, go for it. Otherwise, be careful not to burn yourself; you need to be aware of the consistent heat since you're not manually heating it up.
Standard Dab Nails
If you're planning on sticking with the basics, a standard dab nail might be for you.
Pros: They're much more affordable than an e-nail, and for many, that makes all the difference! You can also get really cool styles from a number of glass blowers or rig designers.
Cons: They're just not as nifty as e-nails, but they sure as heck get the job done.
While your own circumstances will determine just what kind of nail is best for you, there are some options that are better than others. If you're a beginner, go for domed and a standard nail. By the time you're an expert, you may be ready for a domeless variant or even an e-nail!
As for the materials, titanium and glass are also great for beginners. As you go along, try out quartz and ceramic and see which ones suit your fancy.
Hitting the Dab Nail On the Head
The dabbing industry began more than a decade ago and has since taken off in ways we never imagined. It only makes sense that the nail itself would be such a lucrative aspect of the dab rig.
Once you define your priorities, you'll know which type of dab nail suits you best. In the meantime, there's no harm in trial and error, especially when it means dabbing away to determine what's best.