Dab Nail Guide – The Complete Guide To Dab Nails

dab nail

Dab Nails 101- A Guide to Selecting the Best Dab Nail

“Dabbing” is the newest trend to sweep through the smoking world. Although the practice has been around for decades, it has only been within the last ten years that devices used to smoke dabs (“dab rigs,” also known as “oil rigs”) have been refined and perfected enough to garner mass appeal. 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 an “okay” and a head-blasting smoking experience.

dab rigs & dabbing

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 your stove top. The element makes contact with an ignition source and subsequently heats up. When you place a pot on the heated element, it also heats up, along with whatever food is inside it.

The dab nail works in exactly the same manner. When the dab nail (so-called because it's shaped something like a carpenter's nail ) makes contact with an ignition source (typically a butane torch), it heats up. Then, when you dab your oil or wax onto the nail, it heats up too, soon to be transformed into delightful vapor for you to savor.

Types of Dab Nails

nail

Because the dab nail must come into contact with a flame, it has to be made from a material that can withstand temperatures up to 1000 degrees*. The best materials for this, and which can easily be manufactured into the necessary shape are glass, ceramic, quartz and titanium. Here we'll expand on each of these four materials and their pros and cons so you can understand the differences and decide which type best meets your needs.

*Note: One thousand degrees is far too hot for dabbing. Most products are best consumed when heated to a temperature between 300 and 800 degrees, depending on type. However, since the temperature is hard to control and gauge when using a hand torch for heating, your dab nail should be able to withstand a higher temperature, just in case.

Glass Nails

glass nail

This type is the least expensive of all dab nail materials. Because glass is cheap, you can purchase a glass nail for under $5. In fact, a majority of low to mid-priced dab rigs on the market come outfitted with a glass nail, ready-to-use. Glass nails are sufficient for certain dab products, and your wallet won’t take a big hit. Plus, glass nails don’t 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 almost certainly become annoyed with your glass nail very 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 and become brittle which also affects overall performance.

Our final verdict on glass dab nails: Okay if you don’t smoke often, decent in a pinch and maybe for traveling. (Just don’t drop it on a hard floor.) Otherwise, you may want to investigate the other types of nails out there.

Ceramic Nails

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. Ceramic is very adept at retaining heat. Once you get it to the right temperature, it will linger there for a few minutes, so if you’re a slow dabber it won’t matter. Some users also claim that ceramic nails deliver the best flavor no matter what type of product you’re vaping..

The reverse of being able to retain heat for a long time is that ceramic nails take more time to heat up than glass or quartz so a bit more patience is required when torching.This also means that ceramic dab nails take longer to cool down and may still have the power to burn you several minutes later, so you have to be careful.

Additionally, ceramic has a bit of a love-hate relationship with heat. While it takes and keeps heat readily, it doesn’t like to be overheated, and yet it can be really hard to tell when you have gone a little too crazy with the torch. Unlike quartz and titanium, which turn an unmistakable bright orange when they get too hot, ceramic always looks fairly innocuous and can be very deceiving. Overheating not only scorches your product, over time it can cause heat stress to your nail, which may eventually lead to cracking and breaking.

Our final verdict on ceramic dab nails: Ceramic nails are slightly to significantly more costly than glass nails, and can be about the same or lower in price compared to quartz nails. That being said, they run in price from about $10 to up to $50. They 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 nail

If you know anything about quartz, you probably know that it is a good conductor of all kinds of things: heat, energy, electricity. So it’s no wonder that quartz has become a popular material for the manufacturing of dab nails. Quartz heats up quickly and can withstand much higher temperatures than glass, which is a positive quality if you like smoking certain kinds of oils and concentrates that require higher temperatures. Quartz is a neutral material when it comes to smoking, so it won’t alter flavor one way or the other. Plus, quartz won’t break like glass if you accidently drop it. It’s going to last longer and perform better, overall, than a glass dab nail.

That being said, quartz does have one major drawback. Although it heats up quickly, it loses heat just about as rapidly. You have to be quick on the draw, so to speak, and get your product on there fast. It is also more expensive than glass and ceramic, so you’ll have to be prepared to shell out a little more, between ten and twenty dollars.

Our final verdict on quartz: Because they’re economical and perform relatively well, we recommend the quartz nail for the casual to regular dabber.

Titanium Nails

dab nail

There’s a reason why lots of high-performance stuff is made from titanium, and dab nails are no exception. It has a mind-blowing strength-to-weight ratio (super-tough but light in weight). It is incredibly durable, highly-resistant to corrosion (even if you live on a boat in the ocean), is non-toxic when heated (unlike other types of metals) and can withstand temperatures of 3,000 degrees or hotter (much higher than you can possibly reach with a hand torch). It heats up quickly and retains that heat for a long time, certainly sufficient enough time for even slow torches to get a decent dab on. So, as you may have deduced, titanium is, by far, the best of all of the afore-mentioned materials for making dab nails.

However, nothing is perfect, and even titanium has its drawbacks. For one thing, it does nothing to 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.

As you may have also surmised, titanium nails are the most expensive kind. This may be viewed as a good or bad thing according to your circumstances. For the economically-challenged user, titanium nails might be out of reach, price-wise. On the other hand, if a titanium nail outlasts several ceramic nails, it might be worthwhile to cough up the $25 to $75 it will require to purchase one.

Our final verdict on titanium: We recommend it for frequent dabbers who don't mind the slight alteration to flavor.

What About the Electronic Nail?

ELECTRONIC NAILS (

There is actually a fifth type of dab nail and that is the electronic nail. As its name implies, this type of nail 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 correct temperature.

Our final verdict on e-nails: Electronic nails are convenient, but they aren’t cheap. This type of convenience can cost into the hundreds of dollars. If you are a frequent smoker, the e-nail is probably a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, some hardcore smoking purists reject the electronic nail, believing that the torching is a crucial part of the overall dab experience. You’re as likely to be scorned as to be admired and envied for using an electronic nail.

To Dome or Not to Dome

domed nail
dab nail

Not only are there different types of nails, dab nails can also be “domed” or “domeless.” There is much debate over which type is better. We’ll discuss both types and let you draw your own conclusions.

Some nails come with a spherical, globe-shaped piece (dome) that fits securely over your dab rig nail. Here’s how the process works: you heat up your nail. You dab your product on. You grab your dome and fit it over the nail. This dome prevents heat loss, thus keeping your product at just the right temperature for consuming.

It sounds pretty simple, and it really is, unless you’re a dome-hater. Domeless nail fans grumble that the placing of the dome over the nail is simply one extra, annoying step (and heat is lost anyway between the time that you dab and the placement of the dome). Plus, it’s 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).

What dome-haters appreciate about the domeless nail is that it allows for a bigger bowl, and thus, bigger dabs. Depending on your rig model, you may be able to attach multiple joints to a domeless nail and share the experience with a friend.

Some users solve the problem of heat loss associated with a domeless nail with the use of a carb cap. This device reduces the size of the opening over the nail. It also produces suction action that subsequently lowers air chamber pressure, which ultimately lowers the boiling temperature of the oil. You get a better hit, all at a lower temperature. Then again, the carb cap is one more piece, and they aren’t cheap either.

So, clearly, there are advantages and disadvantages to both domed and domeless nails, and the use of carb caps. It all comes down to personal preference and taste. If you have the opportunity to try both types before investing in your own rig, take advantage of it. This is the only real way to gauge your own preference.

One more thing about dab nails: they can be male or female. Male nails must be paired with a female joint, and female nails must be paired with a male joint. Some dabbers will have a preference for one or the other. However, most dabbers will say that whether a nail is male or female has no effect on flavor or the overall experience. It’s simply a matter of personal preference for one style over the other.

How To Use A Titanium Dab Nail (Video)

What to Look for in a Good Dab Nail

Like any other product, you get what you pay for. In other words, there are lots of cheap dab nails out there that won’t break your wallet. However, they might not last long, either, and their performance may be sub-par. That being said, it’s not entirely necessary to purchase a high-end dab nail, either. You can find high-performance, quality nails in the mid price range (between $75 and $150).

Experts and frequent dabbers overwhelmingly agree on one important point: glass nails are the worst. They’re breakable and destined for a short life, and they are prone to overheating. True, they are cheap, but you might have to replace it so frequently that it would have been better to choose a better material.

In fact, if you are new to dabbing, we recommend trying out quartz or ceramic nails to start with, or, if you can spring for a bit more cash, a lower-end titanium nail. You’ll want to use each type several times in order to get an accurate feel and taste. Later, when you’ve settled on a preferred type, set out some real cash and invest in a higher-end nail in the material of your choice.

We also recommend purchasing US-made nails and avoid those coming out of Asia. US manufacturers adhere to higher standards of production, and the last thing you want to do is put a hot torch to a cheap device and have it explode. You also want to avoid having strange and potentially noxious or poisonous chemicals leaching into your product. This is much more likely to happen with products coming out of Asia.

We also highly recommend that you choose a proven brand name. Specifically, we like the following popular dab nail brands & suppliers for their high quality workmanship and dedication to the consumer experience:

Dank Tools, Dankstop, King’s Pipe, Grasscity, Black Leaf, Grace Glass, G-Spot, Dabinator, Hive EHLE, Highly Educated, Grav Labs, Honey Supply, Silika Glass


Our Top TEN Dab Nail Recommendations

In order to help you navigate the sometimes confusing market of dab nails, we’ve chose ten of our favorites. Our selections have been based on a number of factors, including material type, style, durability, flavor, heat retention, and value for money spent.

1

Oil Pan Domeless Titanium Concentrate Nail

Silika Glass - Hourglass Dab Rig

This domeless titanium nail is made from grade 2 titanium, making it durable and resistant to heat and corrosion. It features six inlets and heat sink ridges for cooling. It is versatile and able to fit 14.5mm or 18.8mm female joints. What we like best about this particular model is that it is reasonably-priced and makes an excellent choice for the user trying out a titanium nail for the first time.

Grade 2 titanium is considered the “workhorse” of the titanium industry. It has been so-dubbed because of its superb durability and resistance to corrosion. It is exceptional at conducting heat and it, plus it heats up quickly. It is strong, yet ductile, and can be fashioned into all kinds of shapes. All of these properties make it an ideal material for the making of dab nails. With its heat sink ridges and six vapor inlets and reasonable price tag, the Oil Pan Domeless Titanium Concentrate Nail is a notable performer and an excellent choice for users who want to experience what a titanium dab nail offers without having to spend hundreds of dollars.

GREAT FOR

Regular and experienced dabbers; those who are trying out a titanium nail for the first time.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range.

SPECS

Made from grade 2 titanium.

Domeless.

Heat sink ridges for faster cooling.

Six vapor inlets.

Fits 14.5mm or 18.8mm female joints.

Removable oil pan for easy cleaning.

OUR RATINGS:

Durability

Flavor

Heat Retention

OVERALL RATING

2

Female Domeless Quartz Halo Nail

Quartz Halo dab nail

What we like about this quartz domeless nail is its “halo” style arch. It’s a very unique design feature which has seven slits and acts as a pathway to the water pipe. It is priced relatively economically and would be a great starter quartz nail.

The unusual and unique “halo” top of this quartz nail acts as a pathway to the water pipe. Vapor is pulled up into the halo’s seven slits for more powerful flavor and better performance. Users who are dedicated to quartz will enjoy this twist on the standard quartz nail. It is reasonably-priced and not too out-of-reach for most smokers, a great step-up product when graduating from a beginner nail.

GREAT FOR

Newbies, regular users who have a preference for quartz.

PRICE RANGE

Low to mid-range.

SPECS

Made of high-grade quartz.

Domeless.

Fits male joints.

Unique “halo” design.

Features seven slits.

Available in 14mm or 18mm.

OUR RATINGS:

Durability

Flavor

Heat Retention

OVERALL RATING

3

Hive® Regular Element Domed Nail

hive dab nail

This econo-priced ceramic nail is super-affordable and an ideal choice for those just starting to experiment with dabbing. Ceramic enhances the flavor of your dab. It comes in both 10 mm and 14 mm size and is made from medical-grade ceramic so you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals or leaching problems.

This nail is perfect for the smoker on a budget. Although it is slightly more expensive than “economy,” it is well within reach for most smokers. Besides being highly affordable, the fact that it is made from medical-grade ceramic means that it should last for a long time (provided you keep it clean and don’t drop it on the floor) and that you get a good return for your investment. Those who are sold on ceramic as the only material of choice for nails will not be disappointed with this model.

GREAT FOR

Newbies, ceramic nail-lovers, smokers on a budget.

PRICE RANGE

Low.

SPECS

Made from medical-grade ceramic.

Element style.

Domed nail (dome must be purchased separately).

Non-corrosive.

Excellent heat retention.

Available in 14 mm or 10 mm.

Fits male joints.

OUR RATINGS:

Durability

Flavor

Heat Retention

OVERALL RATING

4

Pulsar Elite Series Pro Portable 3 In 1 Enail

Portable 3 In 1 Enail dab nail

This unit is strictly for the serious dabber who likes the convenience that only an e-nail can offer. The price is definitely high-end, but comes with, literally, everything you could possibly want. This includes a dry herb nail and a wax nail, as well as a slew of other parts and accessories, plus a one-year warranty.

Electronic nails eliminate all of the guesswork associated with smoking, which is why many serious, frequent users prefer them. The user has complete control over heating temperature, and all guesswork is eliminated. This leads to a perfect vapor each and every time. This particular device can be adapted for use with a variety of different product forms (dry herb, wax and oil) so it’s extremely versatile. Although it’s not cheap, the sheer number of accessories and parts you get with it, plus the one-year warranty, means you get superb value for dollars spent.

GREAT FOR

The serious dabber, those who prefer the convenience and accuracy only an electronic nail can provide.

PRICE RANGE

High.

SPECS

Electronic nail.

Manufactured with a patented convection air flow system.

Non-combustion heating chamber.

Provides ten minutes of vape time.

Features a smart control system.

Comes with accessories including packing tool, dabber, cleaning brush, power adapter, glass cover and mouthpiece and more.

Can be used with dry herbs, waxes and oils.

One year warranty.

OLED display.

OUR RATINGS:

Durability

Flavor

Heat Retention

OVERALL RATING

5

DualiTi Anodized Titanium Hybrid Nail

DualiTi dab nail

This particular model is at the higher-end of mid-range priced nails, and the reason we think it’s worth investing in is because of its coating. It’s made from grade 2 titanium, which is great in and of itself, but it has the additional benefit of an anodized coating. This helps to address titanium’s only big weakness, which is that it’s prone to corrosion. The anodized coating greatly impedes the corrosion process, meaning you get more life out of your titanium nail. Plus, it’s purple. PURPLE!

So even though this nail is a little bit pricier than other titanium models, you can rest assured that you are getting great value for your money. Also, it’s purple, which is kinda cool.

GREAT FOR

Regular dabbers, dabbers looking for a “step-up” from a beginner nail or low-end titanium nail.

PRICE RANGE

Mid to high.

SPECS

Made from grade 2 titanium.

Strong and durable.

Good conductor of heat.

Quartz dish.

Purple anodized coating.

Fits 14 mm or 18 mm.

OUR RATINGS:

Durability

Flavor

Heat Retention

OVERALL RATING

6

Dual Quartz Banger Nail

dual quartz banger dab nail

If the banger is the next step in quartz nails, the double banger is the next step up in the forward progression. After all, two are always better than one! This model provides all of the benefits of a quartz nail: unadulterated flavor, superb heating properties and easy cleaning. Plus, you can use both bangers at once. Finally, all of this comes at a very reasonable and affordable price. Not only that, but you get a lot of choice with this model. It is available in male or female and in two different sizes.

GREAT FOR

Quartz nail users who want a different quartz experience.

PRICE RANGE

Low.

SPECS

Made of quartz.

Available in male or female.

Fits 14 mm or 18 mm.

Features double banger.

OUR RATINGS:

Durability

Flavor

Heat Retention

OVERALL RATING

7

Highly Educated V3 Adjustable Titanium Nail

Adjustable Titanium dab nail

Don’t mistake its simplicity for plainness. The V3 Adjustable Titanium Nail made by the Highly Educated Company is made of the best grade of titanium for use in a dab nail. Besides having the perfect level of heat conductibility, ductility and strength, this nail is also adjustable. Fully extended, it measures two inches, but can be adjusted to your preferred length. We appreciate the fact that this nail is versatile yet still reasonably-priced.

GREAT FOR

Regular and experienced dabbers.

PRICE RANGE

Low to mid-range.

SPECS

Made from grade 2 titanium.

Fits 18 mm.

Adjustable.

OUR RATINGS:

Durability

Flavor

Heat Retention

OVERALL RATING

8

Diamond Knot Quartz Nail

Diamond Knot Quartz dab nail

We added the Diamond Knot Quartz Nail to our Top Ten list for a few reasons. First, we appreciate the fact that it is available in both male and female styles as well as in three different sizes, so you get lots of options with this model. We also like the fact that it is made with AFM quartz, which is radio-quality quartz. The “diamond knot” construction of this quartz nail isn’t just for aesthetic value. The series of “knots” or “fins” provide more surface area for flavor to develop. You’ll be blown away by the taste you’ll get with this uncommon design. If you are a regular quartz user, this nail is a “must-try!”

GREAT FOR

Regular dabbers, quartz nail lovers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range.

SPECS

Made of AFM quartz.

Available in male or female.

Available in 10 mm, 14 mm and 18 mm.

Unique “diamond knot” design.

OUR RATINGS:

Durability

Flavor

Heat Retention

OVERALL RATING

9

Ti Omni Nail with Quartz Dish

ti-omni dab nail

Although pricey, this is a nail that the elite dabber may wish to aspire to. Its dual-material nature provides the best of both worlds: the strength, durability and versatility of titanium and the smooth, mellow flavor that only quartz delivers. We really like the fact that the quartz dish can be easily screwed on and off. This makes the Santa Cruz Shredder super-easy to clean in comparison to the standard one-part titanium nail. Additionally, the salt shaker design optimizes airflow.

GREAT FOR

Experienced and elite dabbers.

PRICE RANGE

High-end.

SPECS

Made of grade 2 titanium with quartz dish.

Female joint.

Fits 14 mm.

Unscrewable two-part construction.

“Salt shaker” design air flow.

OUR RATINGS:

Durability

Flavor

Heat Retention

OVERALL RATING

10

Quartz Honey Bucket with Male Joint

honey bucket dab nail

Although pricey, this is a nail that the elite dabber may wish to aspire to. Its dual-material nature provides the best of both worlds: the strength, durability and versatility of titanium and the smooth, mellow flavor that only quartz delivers. We really like the fact that the quartz dish can be easily screwed on and off. This makes the Santa Cruz Shredder super-easy to clean in comparison to the standard one-part titanium nail. Additionally, the salt shaker design optimizes airflow.

GREAT FOR

Regular dabbers, quartz nail lovers.

PRICE RANGE

Low to mid-range.

SPECS

Honey bucket style nail.

Domeless.

Made of quartz.

Available in 14 mm or 18 mm.

Male joint.

Honey bucket design with swing arm.






OUR RATINGS:

Durability

Flavor

Heat Retention

OVERALL RATING

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