The great wide world of dab accessories can be difficult to navigate. To start, not all dab nails are created equally. From ceramic to spendy electric creations, this article will give you the rundown of the most common types of nails. We hope this helps you avoid low-quality products and find your new favorite piece.
Quick tip: As a general rule of thumb before trying any of these nails, never touch oil to a red-hot nail. This will cause your expensive oil/wax/shatter to burn and you lose much of the terpene (flavor molecules) and THC content.
When you pick up an oil rig at a headshop, it’s not uncommon for it to come with its own little borosilicate glass nail. Glass nails are great for flavor and easy to clean. But, they also have a major downside: they’re flimsy and cannot withstand high amounts of heat very well. If you’re extremely careful about how you use your torch, you can extend the life of your glass nail. However, if you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars, you can avoid any hassle altogether.
Ceramic is perhaps the next step up after a simple glass nail. Featuring better heat diffusing capacities, you don’t have to be quite as sensitive with your torch. When you touch oil to a ceramic nail, you may even realize that you need to let the piece cool slightly to avoid burning your wax.
These nails are theoretically easy to clean. Any residual oil can simply be reheated and flecked off with a pass of the torch. Like glass, however, ceramic nails tend to break easily. It’s game over once the nail gets any sort of chip or crack. Residual oil will start to seep in and your once lovely piece will begin to crumble.
When buying a ceramic nail, try to find one from a reputable brand like Hive. You’re significantly less likely to have any issue with your nail if you go high-quality from the start. Just don’t drop it!
These nails are made of Quartz crystal. The benefits of choosing quartz over a glass and ceramic nails are plentiful. A quartz nail has a much better ability to withstand high amounts of heat. This means that the nail will last longer overall and will not break as easily. Quartz is also more durable if you’re clumsy and accidentally drop the piece. For the record, they make countertops out of quartz. It’s a natural mineral. This stuff is built to last.
When it comes to flavor, a clean quartz nail has all of the benefits of glass. At times, ceramic nails tend to give off what I can only describe as a faint “pizza stone” type flavor. This is not present when using quartz. The quartz mineral really will not impact the taste of the dab at all, letting you experience the full range of terpenes.
The downfall of quartz is that it cools off fast. Once you heat your nail, you have to be quick to put it to use otherwise you risk dropping oil into something that won’t create a vapor.
Titanium (Ti Nail)
Titanium nails are perhaps the most common types of nails used by regular dabbers. Ti nails are pretty much indestructible. They do not break or crack. They can withstand incredibly high amounts of heat with great heat transfer. Titanium also retains heat extremely well, allowing you to take your time with your dab.
Some believe that using a Ti nail distorts the flavor of the oil, giving it a kind of metallic taste. Titanium is definitely not quartz or glass. If you are seeking to experience the full flavor and aroma of your product, a clean quartz nail might be better for you.
It’s important to note that titanium is actually a very specific type of metal. Unlike nearly every other metal, titanium has an extremely low outgassing rate. While other metals leech harmful gasses when heated to high temperatures, titanium does not. This is why you should never use any other type of metal when it comes to a dab nail. You put yourself at risk of inhaling off gasses that may be carcinogenic. The same applies for dabbers or dab tools.
Electric Nails (E-Nails)
E-nails are the cream of the crop when it comes to dabbing. But, a good one will set you back a couple hundred dollars. The primary benefit of an electric nail is that avoids having to use a torch. Electric nails allow you to precisely calibrate your dabbing temperature. This means you’re able to take high-quality, low-temp dabs every time. Dabbing at lower temperatures allows you to experience full terpene expression. E-nails also make burning your oil virtually impossible.
E-nails can use either quartz or titanium pieces. Other than price, the one downside to e-nails is that they’re a bit bulky. Not necessarily the best choice if you want something a little more portable and discrete.
Domeless vs Domed Nails
When selecting a nail for your oil rig, there’s another key thing you need to keep in mind: some nails are “domeless” and some require an extra piece called a “dome” or a “hood”. The difference between the two is really all about air flow.
Domeless nails: These nails have ventilation holes directly on the piece. They typically have better airflow than nails that require a dome.
Domed nails: When you use a domed nail, you add an extra step to the dabbing process. Before you take your hit, you need to slip on a glass “hood” which collects vapor. This dome is what enables you to pull the vapor through.
A carb cap is like a little hat for your nail. There are a couple of key reasons why carb caps are useful:
- If you accidentally take a dab that’s a little too large for you to handle, topping your nail with a carb cap lets you take a quick breather before you finish the rest of the hit.
- If the temperature of your nail is too low, your oil may just sit there and fizzle on the top. Popping on a carb cap prevents that oil from just burning away by capturing the heat and vapor inside. This means that you lose less of your expensive wax and you’re able to get the full dose of your dab.
When it comes to dabbing, rigs and accessories can get quite complicated. For more information on sizing, nail styles, and safety, be sure to watch the awesome video by Ruff House Studios above. The more you know, the closer you’ll be to finding the perfect piece!
What’s your favorite type of nail? Why do you love it? Share your thoughts with us on social media or leave us a note in the comments section below. We’d love to know what you’re using!