Choosing a Dab Nail

Nov 15, 2016
Choosing the Right Dab Rig

Choosing a Right Dab Nail

Dabbing, or smoking concentrates, is said to be the future of herbal consumption. Vaporizing concentrates delivers more of the active chemicals in herbs versus traditional smoking methods, without the carcinogenic smoke that comes with joints and burning flowers in bowls.

You may have used a dab rig over at a friend’s house or read about it somewhere on the internet. The simplest way to define a dab rig – also called an ‘oil rig’ – is that it is a glass water pipe that is modified to take a dab nail instead of the glass bowl commonly used to hold the bud.

Now, when it comes to dab nails – the part that actually gets heated up before the concentrate is placed upon it – there are lots of different kinds to choose from on the market. Made from materials like glass, ceramic, quartz, and titanium, dab nails are an essential component to your rig. If you really want to get fancy (or you have a fear of torches) you can use an e-nail.

With so many to choose from, all from different materials, which is the best kind of dab rig? For many, it lies in personal preference. While glass may be inherently the least expensive, it is also the most fragile and holds heat the least. An e-nail can be the most expensive, but allows you much more control over temperature.

Below you will find a quick run-down of the types of dab nails available, as well as some pros and cons of each type. This will hopefully allow you to make the decision of which dab nail is best for your needs.


Chances are that if you bought your rig at a head shop, it came with a borosilicate glass nail. Glass nails are great in that they preserve flavor and are easy to clean. The drawback is that they are extremely fragile. Dropping and overheating a glass nail can cause it to shatter – and they do not retain heat very well. Glass is one of the cheaper options when it comes to nails for your rig.


Like glass, ceramic is easily broken if you’re not careful. It also provides better flavor and is easy to clean like glass. Unlike glass, ceramic nails tend to hold onto heat a little better and are less likely to shatter when exposed to high heat. You may even find that you have to let the nail cool a little before putting the wax on it or you may burn the concentrate. Slightly more expensive than glass, but less expensive than other options.


The next step up, these nails are made of quartz crystal. More durable than either glass or ceramic nails, quartz nails can withstand high amounts of heat. A boon if you’re clumsy, quartz nails can withstand being dropped to the floor. Flavor-wise, a quartz nail has all the benefits that glass brings. The downside is that quartz tends to cool off fast. It cools down in about as much time as it took to heat it up. This means you have to be ready to apply the concentrate quickly before it cools.


If you are an every-day or regular dabber, titanium nails are probably the way to go. They are all but indestructible, withstand high amounts of heat, and retain heat really well, allowing you to take your time with your dab. Flavor-wise, some say that it departs a metallic taste onto the vapor, so it is definitely not on par with quartz or glass.

Electric Nails (E-nails)

Easily the most expensive, and often, least portable option, electric nails are the best when it comes to dabbing. A good rig will easily cost you a couple of hundred dollars, but the trade-off is that a torch and butane is not required. Another benefit to the e-nail is that you can precisely calibrate your nail’s temperature. E-nails can use either quartz or titanium components.

Other than material, there is another consideration when it comes to your dab rig nail. You’ll have to decide if you want a dome or a domeless nail. While the industry seems to have moved away from domed nails in favor of domeless, some argue that domed nails are safer and catch more of the vapor.

Domed Nails

These are awesome in the fact that they help gather the vapor and they cool things off a touch. The drawback of domed nails is that the domes are typically glass, which leaves them fragile. They can also be a bit fiddly as they need to be slid into place, adding an extra step in the dabbing process.

Domeless Nails

The industry as a whole has moved towards the domeless nails. Domeless nails mean fewer components to fiddle around with during your dabbing experience. The vapor is sucked through slits or holes into the rig. The huge plus is that these nails provide better airflow than domed rigs.

Now that you are aware of the different types of nails and some of their pros and cons, you can make the decision as to what is best for you. Depending on your dabbing habits, some of these nails might be better for you than others.

Happy Dabbing!

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