Your dab nail is an essential part of every dabbing setup, and without it, you can’t enjoy your favorite concentrates. Much like the bowl slide on a bong, the nail on your dab rig is where you vaporize your extracts. However, the key difference is that dab nails aren’t pulled away from the rig to clear the hit. Instead, they’re designed to provide a stationary vaporization surface that helps maintain continuous airflow within your rig, which ensures full flavor and a smoother hit.
What is a dab nail?
Dab nails come in all shapes and sizes and go by a few different names, including nail or banger. They’re specifically designed for taking dabs, and can be made from titanium, quartz or ceramic. Regardless of the material they’re made from, they all do the same thing: provide a surface for you to heat and vaporize concentrates. A dab banger or nail slides into your rig, where it can be heated with a torch or attached to an e-nail to get hot enough to vaporize a dab. Once your nail is warm enough, just drop your dab in using a dab tool, cap it with a carb cap, and inhale your vaporized concentrate.
What materials are dab nails made from?
Dab nails come in all shapes, sizes, styles, and materials. However, they can usually be lumped into three main categories that can be used with torches and e-nails: titanium, quartz and ceramic.
A quartz nail, also known as a quartz banger, is the most popular material for dab nails, and for good reason. Made from quartz, these nails excel at heat retention, preventing any heat stress from affecting the rig itself. Quartz nails outshine glass and other alternatives due to their ability to withstand higher temperatures for longer periods and cool down more quickly. Although they can still break if mishandled or heated improperly, quartz dab bangers are straightforward to clean and do not compromise the flavor of your concentrates like other materials such as titanium.
Ceramic nails are exceptionally delicate and prone to cracking under intense heat or accidental drops, similar to glass. They require more time to heat up compared to other materials, but they retain heat for much longer than quartz or titanium, making them ideal for bigger dabs on larger rigs. The longer-lasting heat also makes your dabs less wasteful by evenly distributing heat for enough time to vaporize the whole glob. Ceramic nails are one of the easiest to clean, although they may introduce their own flavor to your dabs, which most users find unpleasant.
Titanium nails are extremely versatile, so they may be more expensive than quartz, ceramic or other materials. These nails are typically adjustable and can be used with a variety of rigs in different sizes. They heat up fast and retain their heat effectively, although they can be easy to overheat, which can burn your dabs. Similar to the issue with ceramic nails, titanium nails may add a slightly metallic taste to your dabs. However, higher-quality titanium nails are less prone to leaching than cheap ones.
What are the different types of dab nails?
While the term banger and nail are often used interchangeably, they’re actually two different things. Below we’re breaking down a few of the most common dab nail styles.
Dab nails are inserted into a dab rig. They usually contain a flat surface, commonly found on titanium and ceramic nails.
Like dab nails, bangers are also inserted into your dab rig. However, the term banger usually refers to a dab nail with a bucket design.
Auto-spinners work like any other banger by applying heat to the bottom. However, they’re exceptionally compatible with most accessories and terp pearls since they’re built with two directional airflow holes in the sides of the bucket. This style nail eliminates the need for a specialized carb cap and can be used with terp pearls and inserts.
Terp slurpers are different from other nails in that concentrates are applied to the dish-style bottom instead of into the bucket. With a marble valve and carb cap, terp slurpers create a swirling motion that delivers a highly flavorful low-temperature dab, minimizing waste. Although their multiple components make the cleaning process slightly time-consuming, they’re one of the more popular nail styles.
The channel slurper functions similarly to a regular slurper, but instead of a perforated dish at the bottom, it features a flat piece with ridges that guide the concentrates into the chamber through channels. This design not only provides improved heat distribution compared to the traditional slurper but is also more simple and easy to clean.
Angled nails require angled carb caps and are designed to push concentrates back into the nail and towards the neck, making them suitable for smaller dabs. However, they have a reputation for drawing excessive oils into the neck, which can be challenging to clean. Still, they remain popular due to their convenience and compact size in many dab rigs.
A flat top banger is a standard banger with a flush, flat rim that pairs well with flat-style carb caps, enhancing suction. It offers straightforward functionality, a deep bucket for accessories and flat-bottomed carb caps, and superior heat retention due to its thicker construction compared to angled nails.
Thermal bangers feature dual layers of quartz walls that create a separation between the torch flame and the dabbing surface, providing indirect heat for optimal low-temperature dabs. This unique design also prevents large dabs from accidentally entering the neck of the nail, making cleaning the banger a relatively easy task.
Core bangers, also referred to as core reactor nails, feature an extra-thick bucket bottom and a central puck of additional quartz, functioning similarly to a terp pearl. This added core enhances heat retention and distribution to improve the vaporization of your dabs.
Round bottom bangers share similarities with classic flat-top bangers, but their completely rounded bottom is a significant advantage as it minimizes residue and simplifies the cleaning process without any angles or hard lines. The rounded design also enables more efficient and precise heating, saving time on both heating and cooling.
Opaque-bottom bangers have faster heating properties compared to traditional clear quartz nails. They excel at heat retention, making them ideal for larger dabs without wastage or the need to reheat the nail during the dabbing process.
What size dab nail should I use?
Rigs can support any banger for dabs as long as they’re the same size and the opposite sex. The most common sizes for dab rigs and nails are 10mm, 14mm, and 19mm. Measure the opening on your dab rig and choose a nail in the same size. Just take care to ensure it’s the opposite sex. Male joints fit inside female joints, whole female joints have a slightly larger opening to fit around the male joint. For example, if you have a dab rig with a 10mm female joint, you’ll want to buy a 10mm male dab nail.
How do you heat up a dab nail?
Using a dab nail is pretty straightforward. At the most basic level, you just heat it up and let it cool down to your ideal temperature before dropping a dab inside and capping it with a carb cap. However, different factors like the material its made from, the size of the nail, the thickness of the nail, and the consistency of the concentrates you’re dabbing all play a role in how long you’ll have to heat and cool your nail. Ideally, you’ll want to take your dabs somewhere between 400 and 600 degrees. Using an e-nail may make it easier to get consistent results. However, you can also use a digital thermometer or a timer to find your ideal heat-up and cool-down times for your nail and your concentrates.