Dab Nails and Domes

“Dabbing” is the practice of smoking cannabis concentrates with specialized glass (“dab rigs,” also known as “oil rigs”) If you want to know more about dabbing read our Dabbing Essentials blog here. Dab rigs use bangers or nails instead of the bowls used for dry herb.
This blog focuses on nails and the various types available. Anyone who dabs regularly will tell you that the dab nail is the most critical part of the rig, and can be the difference between a mediocre and a mind-blowing smoking experience.
What is a Dab Nail?
A typical dab rig is made up of a few basic components: a mouthpiece (which may or not be removable depending on the style), a chamber (where all the magic happens) and the dab nail. This is the part that heats your product. You can compare it to the heating element on a stove top. The element heats up from an ignition source  (usually electrical or gas). When a pot is placed on the heated element, it also heats up and cooks the food inside it.
The dab nail works in this way, it makes contact with an ignition source (typically a butane torch unless it is an e-nail), and heats up. Then, you add concentrate oil or wax onto the nail, it heats up too so it is transformed into delightful vapor to dab.
Types of Dab Nails
A dab nail must typically come into contact with a flame of a butane torch; therefore, it has to be made from a material that can withstand temperatures up to 1000 degrees for safety reasons (most dabs require 300-800 degree temperatures, so 1000 ensures the material can withstand the heat). The best materials for this are glass, ceramic, quartz and titanium. Dab nails can be electric (e-nails) which require no butane lighter to heat. Also, nails can include a spherical bulb called a dome. In this blog we discuss everything there is to know about nails from materials, to domes.
  • Glass Nails
This type is the least expensive of all dab nail materials. Glass nails are sufficient for certain dab products, and they will not alter the flavor of your product. However, glass nails are considered the most inferior type of dab nails, and if you are a frequent dabber, you will become frustrated and upset with a glass nail fairly quickly. Although glass is an adequate heat conductor at lower temperatures, it can shatter at the very high temperatures required for use with some types of smoking substances. Glass nails also tend to build up residue with time that is extremely difficult to completely clean away. This residue can eventually affect how the nail performs. Glass nails also tend to chip, crack, fracture and become brittle which also affects overall performance.
Glass is sufficient only if it is not used very often, or it can be used in a pinch or maybe short travel trips (almost as a disposable option). But if you dab regularly, and want your nail to last, this is the most inferior material available.

  • Ceramic Nails
The next step up from the standard glass nail is one that is made from ceramic. Ceramic is superior to glass in a number of different ways. Some dabbers claim that ceramic nails deliver the best flavor no matter what type of product you’re vaping. Ceramic is, also, very adept at retaining heat. Once you get it to the right temperature, it will linger there for a few minutes, so you needn't rush to dab. The downside of this is that the ceramic nail may still be very hot several minutes later, so you have to be careful when removing or touching it. Furthermore, ceramic nails take more time to heat up than glass or quartz so a bit more patience is required while torching.

Ceramic nails take and keep heat readily, but it should not be to be overheated. Unlike quartz and titanium, which turn an unmistakable bright orange when they get too hot, ceramic has no indication of over heating and can be very deceiving. Overheating not only scorches your product, over time it causes heat stress to your nail, which may eventually lead to cracking and breaking.

Ceramic nails do offer great performance in proportion to their cost, so ceramic is an ideal choice for the casual-to-regular dabber. Just be mindful of not overheating, and don’t drop your nail because, like glass, ceramic is likely to shatter on impact.
  • Quartz Nails
Quartz is a good conductor of all kinds of things: heat, energy, electricity. Quartz heats up quickly and can withstand much higher temperatures than glass, which is a excellent quality if you like smoking certain kinds of oils and concentrates that require higher temperatures. Quartz is a neutral material so it will not alter flavor one way or the other. Plus, quartz is stronger than glass, and won’t break if you accidentally drop it. It’s going to last longer and perform better, overall, than a glass or ceramic dab nail.
Quartz does have one major drawback. Although it heats up quickly, it loses heat rapidly. You have to be quick to get your product on the heat fast. It is, also, more expensive than glass and ceramic. 
  • Titanium Nails
Titanium has a mind-blowing strength-to-weight ratio (super-tough but light). It is incredibly durable, highly-resistant to corrosion, is non-toxic when heated and can withstand temperatures of 3,000 degrees or hotter (much higher than you can possibly reach with a butane torch). It heats up quickly and retains that heat for a long time. Titanium is, by far, the superior option of all materials used for dab nails.

Titanium does not enhance the flavor of your product, and many dabbers say it actually gives it a more or less-noticeable metallic taste, depending on what you are smoking. Also, depending on frequency of use, a titanium nail may eventually oxidize to the point where its performance is hampered.

Titanium nails are the most expensive type of dab nail so its only recommended for regular or frequent dabbers.
  • E-nails
The electronic or "E-nail" is a type of nail that does not require hand-lighting with a butane torch. The “e-nail” actually consists of a quartz or titanium nail with a heating device built in. With an electronic nail, there is no guesswork. The nail automatically heats up to the perfectly correct temperature.
Electronic nails are convenient, but they are expensive. If you are a frequent dabber, the e-nail is probably a worthwhile investment. However, some hardcore smoking purists reject the electronic nail, believing that the torching is a crucial part of the overall dab experience.
Dome or Dome-less Nails
Not only are there different types of nail materials, dab nails can also be “domed” or “dome-less.” Some nails come with a spherical, globe-shaped piece (dome) that fits securely over your dab rig nail. The dome goes over a heated nail, and prevents heat loss, thus keeping your product at just the right temperature.

A dome is a personal choice. Some dabbers feel the placing of the dome over the nail is an extra, annoying, frustrating step as heat is lost anyway between the time that you dab and the placement of the dome. For some its one more part that needs to be cared for, washed, broken or potentially lost (it’s a small piece so it gets lost or misplaced easily). A dome limits the amount of oil or concentrate that can be used, so a dome-less nail allows for bigger dabs as well.

Some users solve the problem of heat loss associated with a dome-less nail with the use of a carb cap. This device controls the air flow and creates suction which lowers the air chamber pressure. This lower air pressure, in turn, lowers the required temperature to boil the oil. With a carb cap, you get a better hit, at a lower temperature making a dome needless.
If you have any questions about dabbing, dab rigs or dab nails, hit us up! because we love weed, do you?

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