How to Choose the Best Dab Rig Nail For You
Dabs are one of the most popular and enjoyable ways to consume cannabis concentrates today. If you’re in the market for a dabbing setup to call your own, you may want to know a thing or two about choosing the right nail.
A nail serves roughly the same purpose as a bowl piece for a bong; it receives your hash oil, sublimates it, and feeds the vapor into your rig for you to inhale. Like bowl pieces, nails come in many forms, each variety offering a slightly nuanced experience from the other. Choosing a nail to fit your needs will come down to dialing in a piece that works with your rig, schedule, palate, and ultimately your preferred experience.
Before choosing a nail that is right for you, let’s go over a few important things to know.
There is a nail out there designed to fit just about any rig. The most important step in finding the right nail for your rig is to choose one with a corresponding joint size. Think of the joint as the piece that allows your nail to “slide” into the stem of your rig. If your rig has a 14mm stem, you’re going to want to buy a nail with the same sized joint in order for a proper fit.
Alternatively, make sure that your joint and stem are opposites. Just like with bongs, joint types can vary between “male” and “female.” If your rig has a male joint, you’ll want to buy a nail with a female joint and visa versa.
Some older fashioned nails do not contain male or female joints and are instead designed to slide into a down stem. Typically these types of nails are designed to complement dab rigs that have been manufactured to include a “dome,” or an alternate piece designed to channel vapor from the nail and into the rig. Dome and nail setups are very traditional and were some of the first available options for dabbers. These nails still exist today and are a great option for rigs with smaller joints as well as rigs with matching domes.
An alternative to the traditional dome nail is a “dome-less” variety. Domeless nails are characterized by their special engineering that allows them to utilize separate “carb caps” to channel vapor into your dab rig. They’re are a great option for dab rigs that do not come with matching domes. These types of nails also tend to offer more surface area for dabbers who wish to vaporize larger quantities.
Dab Nail Types
Nails are manufactured using a variety of different materials. Some are better for heat retention, whereas others are better for flavor. There is no such thing as a fundamentally superior nail material, so choosing the right one for you will come down to preference.
Below are the three most popular nail types and how they differ from each other.
Titanium (Ti) nails have been around since the inception of dabbing and have been proven to provide consistency and durability that is practically unmatched in any other variety. When paired with a heating element such as a torch, titanium nails heat relatively quickly, typically exceeding dabble temperatures (around 550-650F) after about 30 seconds of indirect contact. After being removed from a heating element, a well seasoned Ti nail will retain heat for anywhere from 20-40 seconds before dropping below a viable temperature for sublimation (the point where a concentrate rapidly changes from a solid to a vapor almost instantaneously without transitioning to a liquid first).
There are two major downsides to Ti nails. The first is that titanium, unlike other varieties of nails, are graded based on quality of material and are not food grade. That being said, it’s incredibly important to always purchase grade A titanium, which is the quality needed to ensure that nothing dangerous occurs over time with continual exposure to very high temperatures. Lower-grade Ti nails can develop titanium oxide buildup over time and have been known to be manufactured with inferior and potentially carcinogenic byproducts.
Second, Ti nails tend to yield less flavor out of your dabs. For those who are seeking an optimal flavor profile, Ti may not be the best option as terpenes tend to degrade more when exposed to this material.
Ceramic nails offer a few advantages over the Ti option; however, this variety does come with its setbacks. Unlike titanium nails, ceramic nails are food grade and generally safe at all manufacturing levels. While ceramics take much longer to heat than Ti, their heat retention is much better. Ceramic nails will remain at a viable temperature for dabbing well over a minute after the application of a heat source. If you’re planning to share your rig with a friend or find yourself in a colder environment, ceramics are the perfect fit.
The downsides? Ceramic nails are incredibly fragile and can crack or shatter for many reasons. They are susceptible to rapid temperature changes and may crack when exposed to heat or cold. These nails can also shatter on contact if dropped onto a hard surface.
Furthermore, ceramic nails only offer a slightly more robust flavor profile than Ti. After “seasoning” a ceramic nail, which basically refers to heating your element enough times to achieve a consistent temperature duration, flavors become much more pronounced.
For those of you who seek the ultimate palate experience, quartz nails rank among the top of the list for flavor retention. These nails have the ability to deliver flavor in ways Ti and ceramic varieties can never achieve on their best days. Typically less expensive to manufacture, quartz will also come at a lower cost to the consumer than Ti.
When it comes to heat retention, quartz will fade faster than ceramic and Ti. However, quartz can heat in almost 10 seconds, making it the fastest variety of material to heat.
Although slightly more durable than ceramic, quartz nails still have the tendency to break on contact. While heat isn’t so much of an issue with quartz, fragility is still a concerning factor. Fortunately, higher-end quartz nails are designed with thicker material to circumvent potential breakage.
There are other types of dab nails available on the market as well. Electronic nails (e-nails) are a great “torch-less” option for those who do not wish to dabble in blue flames and butane. Alternatively, there are other nail varieties that are emerging which can retain better flavor from your concentrates without compromising on heat retention and durability.
As dabbing continues to grow in popularity, new and innovative nail options will continue to drive the market, creating even more enjoyable experiences for the extract enthusiast.