What is a Dab Nail?
Although the practice of dabbing experience has become common place it seems as if the ways in which we do it are in a constant state of innovation. From the first dab rigs featuring a titanium pad, to dab nails, to new products such as quartz bangers and terp slurpers today’s dabber has a gamut of accessories to use. Now there are even specialty products that can read the temperature of your quartz banger nail! In this article we will touch on the many dabbing accessories, how they work, and what might be best for you given the current state of your bong collection.
When you look at a typical dab rig, it is made up of three basic components – the mouthpiece, a chamber, and the dab nail. The dab nail is placed in the joint of the rig and is the component that is heated to extremely high temperatures. Once it reaches the proper temperature, a dab nail can vaporize a small amount of concentrate instantly. Think of the dab nail like the bowl for a bong. While they are heated at different points in the process, both are used to place your concentrate and to feed the vapor into the rig for the user to inhale.
Why dabbing might be right for you
In the beginning, cannabis oils were simply infused with dry herb as a way to drastically increase the THC content and send the smoker to the moon. While this is still a totally acceptable way to enjoy your cannabis concentrates, you are still smoking them and putting your lungs in a position where burned plant matter can still affect them. For those whose lungs react in a negative way when smoking, the vape-ability of dabbing may be of interest to you.
The main advantage of dabbing for most consumers is that the effect is much stronger and cleaner than what you’d expect from a vaporizer or a joint. Because it is effective and fast acting, dabbing can also be an effective way to treat acute symptoms for medical marijuana patients. Comparing single inhalation for single inhalation, dabbing beats other techniques in terms of delivering higher doses of cannabinoids and terpenes.
This means that higher dosages that can be tough or impossible to achieve by smoking flower alone are achievable via dabbing. Of course, for patients who rely on cannabis to manage chronic pain, nausea, seizures, and other medical conditions, this is incredibly valuable.
So for people who need the medical benefits of cannabis at stronger doses but don’t really seek out that high feeling, we recommend dabbing. These users can find a new way to apply a single dab to knock out symptoms but not lose their mental sharpness.
Another serious benefit of dabbing is that it’s healthier than smoking. This is because the concentrates you are vaporizing contain cannabinoids and terpenes, but no other organic plant matter. It’s the other organics that create that smoke, and the smoke is the part to lose. Vaporization is milder and less irritating for both your lungs and your neighbors—meaning it’s also less smelly, despite delivering more flavor.
Looking at dabbing vs smoking in focus, think of it this way. Purity is the big difference. The best flower you’ll find is never going to be more than 30% THC, right? There will be plenty of inactive metabolites, chlorophyll, and other stuff burning up and sitting in your lungs as smoke. These compounds are stressful for the lungs, for your body’s overall health, and lack medicinal benefits.
Well-made, pure cannabis concentrates offer consumers a pure, clean pure product free from plant matter that’s easier on the lungs. Dabs eliminate the bad stuff while still delivering everything you want, the cannabinoids and terpenes.
Tools of the trade
The first glass bongs made specifically for this purpose were called “oil rigs” and were made by a group of passionate glassblowers who sought out a better way to enjoy their high-quality concentrates. A glassblower who goes by the name “Hashmasta Kut” is widely known as the first to think up a way to use metal wire-wrapping to secure a simple titanium pad below an airway. With this simple set up you simply use the wire “swing” to move the pad into a convenient position to heat up the titanium pad with a butane torch, once it’s heated you move it back into position and dab. You can also buy a swing attachment that easily connects to your bong via a male joint.
However simple and historically significant in the history of dab rig history, this method comes with it’s setbacks. For one the titanium pad isn’t ideal for holding a large dab, and if too hot it’s flat-construction can send vaping oils flying which could land on your table or even worse your arm. It is also pretty easy to potentially burn yourself on the titanium pad which can be an experience that sends you to your local hospital and not to another galaxy like you hoped.
This being said, almost all methods of dabbing have serious risks since you are using a dab torch to heat what you’re going to dab on to an extremely hot temperature. Always make sure that the area you are dabbing in is free of any potentially flammable items, and NEVER dab under the influence of other drugs such as alcohol as it may impair your ability to use a bong and dab torch
Titanium, Glass, Ceramic, & Quarts Dab Nails
In an effort to keep vapor and flying oil contained, the glass dome attachment was made. This device spurred the movement of glassblowers using male joints instead of female joints as the main connection point for the downstem. The glass dome then connects to the water pipe with’s it’s female joint. In what may seem like an ingenious innovation, an object that looks like a nail is placed inside the male joint and is held in place using paddles on the nail. The glass domeis open-ended at the top to allow users to reach their dab-tools inside to reach the nail once heated. This firstly prevents the user to inadvertently touch the hot nail, and the dome also helps catch some of the escaping vapor to get as much out of the dab as you can.
While the domes are almost always made of glass, the nail can be made from a variety of different materials that each boast their own advantages. Glass Nails offers an economic solution, but borosilicate glass doesn’t do well being heated to high temperatures on an regular basis and will break at any given point in it’s lifespan. In an effort to make a more durable solution Titanium Nails were innovated using a specific type of titanium which produces no harmful off-gassing that could damage your lungs. When the market for these items became flooded with cheap options that in-fact did contain other metals whose fumes are dangerous when inhaled, Quartz Nails began to be made using quartz that can be blown and shaped like glass but can reach super-high temperatures so they can be used for thousands of sessions. Most recently, in an effort to create a more affordable product that emphasized the ability to enjoy terpenes Ceramic Nails were created, these can crack easily if heated to much but if used correctly can last for thousands of repeat sessions and can be easily cleaned.
Domeless nails were made in order to reduce some of the effort that is required from a domed-nail and feature a single connection to the downstem connected to a larger heating plate than you would normally find on a domed-nail. To contain the smoke after applying your concentrate you apply what’s known as a “carb cap” on top of the nail to ensure the vapor doesn’t fly away. Some even have a specially designed airway that you can position to better vape your oils. There have been many interesting approaches to the domeless nail from the simple to the complex. Check out the futuristic Dab Halo we have available on our website, it is a truly unique quartz domeless nail that uses a specially designed tube that sits above the nail to capture the vapor.
The rise of the E-Nail
As dabbing became more and more popular as a healthier alternative to smoking, those with serious medical conditions began dabbing. As mentioned earlier using a dab torch has serious risk and requires serious dexterity, making the practice impossible for those with mobility issues. Task Rok, the founder of Highly Educated Titanium heard this call and began the process of research and development that brought us the first ever e-nail (or e-rig). In short, an enail is a piece of dabbing hardware consisting of a dabbing device that is connected to an electronic controller box that has the job of providing consistent heat to the nail using an electric coil. The electronic nature of them means that in addition to providing heat at a consistent temperature, the digital gauge on the controller box gives the dabber the ability to set a precise temperature to ensure that concentrates are being vaporized and not burned which is extremely important for those who are seeking the beneficial effects of vaping cannabis oil. Like many domeless nails most all e-nails connect to your rig via a 14mm male or female connection.
If you’re looking to take your dabbing experience to the next level with this high-tech solution, check out our available e-nails on our webstore!
Club Bangers & Terp Slurpers
Even with the creation of the e-nail, the use of a butane torch continued to be the most accessible method for dabbing due to it’s low cost barrier of entry. With the creation of the quartz domeless nail, glassblowers continued to play with domeless designs in a proverbial space-race of innovation. During this period in the state of Washington, a young glassblower by the name of Quave created the solution that would forever change the image of our minds of what a concentrate nail is. What began with the creation of some of the most innovative glass bongs the world has ever seen the Klein Recycler and the Faberge Egg, Quave did not stop there. His pieces became the first to be included with what he called the “Club Banger” which was a hand-blown quartz cup that was attatched to the bong via a 10mm male joint.
Now the market on quartz bangers has exploded and a wide variety of options are available, including the “thermal banger” which features a jacketed design which helps the user better manage the high heat. Like domeless nails quartz bangers can be used with carb caps, and you can also use small marbles known as “terp pearls” that help move your oils around the dish to better vape the the cannabis concentrate.
The Terp Slurper is the latest and greatest in quartz nails created by glassblowing legend “JP” the founder of Toro Glass. This new style of quartz banger is an extremely effective twist on an old concept that ensures less wasted oil, regardless of dab size. As the cannabis concentrate drips down to the dish, precision slits at the bottom allow air in creating a vacuum to push your dabs back into the middle region. The airflow helps percolate the shatter, wax, or resin as the puddles and bubbles flow upward. Upgrade your terp slurper with terp slurper marbles as mentioned above for an even better experience.
Nectar Collector & Dab Straws
If you’re looking for a truly unique, low cost, and efficient way to enjoy dabbing consider getting a nectar collector or dab straw. Also known as honey straws these are portable dab rigs made with efficiency in mind. Most nectar collectors and dab straws are equipped with a straw style mouthpiece, a body (sometimes featuring a small bubbler) and a titanium or quartz tip. The most common types of portable nectar collector dab rigs are glass Nectar Collectors and Dab Straws.
The Nectar Collector was conceived in the backwoods of Oregon as a tool to simplify the process of using concentrates in the rugged conditions of mountain life. In its most humble beginnings, the first Nectar Collectors were simple straws; glass pipettes purchased from the chemistry supply shop. In summer 2011, world class glass pipe maker Kristian Merwin first created a prototype named the “Honey Badger Straw”. Several months later and after some serious R&D the design for an in-line, water cooled, spill proof vertical bubbler was innovated.
With the addition of water filtration the concept was complete.
What is the best nail for dabbing?
After learning about the history of dabbing and what methods became popular over time, you might be asking yourself what is the best solution for your current situation. Here’s what you need to consider first off.
Joint Size: No, we aren’t talking about joints for smoking silly! the glass fitting that is used for attaching your bowl to your bong which is known as a joint. Glass joints range in sizes depending on what your bong was designed to do. Most pieces for smoking flower are made with 14mm or 18mm female joints, which is the size compatible with most flower bowls. Dab rigs on the other hand either feature a male joint or a female joint but more often they come in the smaller 10mm size which is better suited for small oil rigs.
Adapters: Depending on what accessory you purchased or inherited from a friend, you might need to purchase an additional adapter to make sure it’s compatible with your bong or bubbler. Some adapters even move the nail away from the joint in the case it’s too close to the mouthpiece. Luckily for you, Grasscity has a wide variety of adapters so you can find the perfect one.
If your bong features a male joint and you are looking for an inexpensive solution, purchasing a glass dome and a glass or ceramic nail might be the best option for you.
If you have a bit more in your budget and your piece has a female joint, a domeless nail with a carb cap (quartz or titanium) might be the best option.
If money is no issue, and you’re looking to seriously invest in your dabbing experience, a high-quality thick quartz banger or terp slurper will not only have you enjoying more terp-filled dabs but also use your cannabis concentrates more efficiently due to their ability to vape efficiently at lower temperatures.
If you have issues using a dab torch, or you simply want to ensure you are always dabbing at the same temperature and not burning your dabs. An e-nail might be the best way to go.
Other accessories you should consider
Your local headshop should also carry the following items, if not you can always find them online here at Grasscity!
Dabber: If you are using something not specifically made for dabbing you should seriously consider buying a dabber made of glass, quartz, ceramic, or titanium. As mentioned previously in the article, a lot of metals produce harmful fumes when heated to high temperatures. We understand that in a pinch you might want to use something you can find around the house, however your health comes first!
Terp Timer: If you are going to be using a dab torch you might be looking for a way for know when is the best time to take a dab. With a terp timer you can do just that! After torching your banger, place the terp timer under your banger using the laser to align it properly. The timer will beep when your banger has reached the right temperature. Now you can enjoy your dabs at the temperature you desire.