For people who are new to the dab scene (you can learn a lot more in our dab guide here), all the accessories and tools can be a little overwhelming. One of the main differences with smoking dabs is the necessity of a dab nail that helps vaporize the concentrate so that it can be inhaled. Dab nails fit in the joint of your dab rig and come in a wide variety of materials and sizes, but once you understand the basics it’s very easy to get the right one for you. This article will give you all the details you need to know about the most common nails and the benefits and drawbacks to each type. First, the material is usually quartz, titanium, ceramic, and glass (borosilicate) and they can be domed or domeless.
Here at Dab Emporium, our nail of choice is quartz bangers for the simple reason that this produces the cleanest flavor in comparison to other nail materials. Quartz looks like glass but is actually a very strong crystal that can withstand a high level of heat. Because of its high heat conductivity, quartz heats up faster than other materials and is hot in about 5-10 seconds depending on the strength of your torch, whether its butane or propane and thickness of the nail itself. Quartz can range in price quite a bit, but even most low-cost quartz nails will work well and give you a good flavor, they just may not last quite as long, be as thick, or may have more varied airflow. Besides the banger, pictured here on the left, There are also other styles of quartz nails that are domeless, domed, honey buckets, and direct (like on a nectar collector). While quartz may not be as durable as titanium, most will last for many months/years and thicker ones can withstand some drops. To use a banger, you may want or need to use a cab cap, especially if take large low-temp dabs.
Titanium nails are another common type of dab nail and are popular because they are affordable, durable, have high heat retention, are versatile, and easy to use. Titanium nails can vary greatly in the result they produce, specifically from a taste perspective. One of the reasons titanium nails produce a strange taste is because of oxidation on the surface of the nail, which creates a passive oxide layer and when heated and mixed with concentrates, the reaction can alter the flavor. This is certainly avoidable if you season your nail properly or buy higher grade titanium nails, like grade 2 titanium nails. Another benefit to keeping a titanium nail is the ability to swap it between a variety of pieces if you have a big collection, titanium nails like the one picture can fit on any female joint sizes and same goes for a similarly styled male titanium nail. All that being said, even with the highest quality titanium nail, many people still prefer to use quartz for the ability to get the best taste and low-temp dabs. Titanium nails come in a variety of styles including domed, domeless, adjustable, universal, and other specialty styles.
Ceramic nails are probably the least common of the major nail types but do have some benefits like being easy to clean and having the highest heat retention. But, ceramic nails are fragile and heat up slowly and can also crack if heated in the same spot each time over extended use. Ceramic nails can also produce a taste that people do not enjoy, almost a burnt food type of taste that can be off-putting. Ceramic is also a very loose term and that can mean nails can vary widely in taste, heat properties, and other aspects. If you are into ceramic nails, the best bet is to spend the extra money and get a high-quality nail and take care of it very well. This will produce the best-tasting dabs and last the longest, getting the most for your money.
There are a lot of varieties within all of these nails and people have their own preferences, so get a couple nails or try to use other people’s and see where your own preferences take you. But, having a nice nail that you love is a huge step in the dab lifestyle. While getting used to a bunch of new and unfamiliar dab accessories can seem overwhelming, you will be able to navigate it all in no time.