Deciding which are the best and worst dab nails is straying into the world of subjectivity. As you might have found out by now, there are plenty of dab nail materials available and almost rabid support for each.
Do not worry, this discussion of the best and worst dab nails is non-partisan and as objective as possible. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have a good sense of which are the best and worst dab nails, with a good idea of which direction you should go in next. We did the research so you don’t have to.
First of All, What is a Dab Nail?
If you have got this far without knowing what one is but don’t want to admit it to yourself, don’t worry – it happens to us all. A dab nail is a piece of metal, ceramic or glass that is heated to very high temperatures so that it can instantly vaporize a small lump of concentrated (usually cannabis) extract (dab). This vapor is then inhaled by the user for the desired effects, whether they are recreational or medicinal. Simple.
The Glass Dab Nail – Pros and Cons
Glass is used in many dab rigs primarily because it is cheap. You might be thinking, “Cheap is good”, but what about its dabbing qualities? Glass is an excellent insulator of heat, but it does not retain the heat very well. This means that when you are using your torch to heat the nail, you have to get it really hot and then put the torch down, grab the dabber, insert it and vaporize your dab before it has cooled down. This can take some practice and can be very frustrating if you waste a lump of dab on a too hot or too cold dab nail.
Time for an obvious statement: Glass is delicate. It might be cheap, but it does not last. The constant expansion and contraction of the glass in the heating process can cause them to crack, as can dropping them, or tapping them.
Pros: cheap, easily replaceable
Cons: breaks easily, does not retain heat well
The Ceramic Dab Nail – Pros and Cons
Ceramics are non-metallic solids which remain hard when heated. Thank you, dictionary. The heat-resistant properties are extremely useful for dab rigs – they won’t burst into flames or crack because of the heat.
Ceramics are very delicate, however. They are usually made of fired clay and, if you have ever dropped a plate even 1 inch onto a table and seen it crack, you will appreciate the ease with which ceramics can crack. They are just about as delicate as glass when in a dab rig.
Another issue with ceramic is that it can be overheated quite easily. How long you blast your dab rig for makes a big difference to how your dab vapour tastes and feels. By overheating your nail, you can destroy many of the terpenes and cannabinoids that make vaping with a dab rig such a pleasure.
However, ceramics hold onto their heat better than glass (though only slightly) and are usually very cheap as well. The same problems can occur as with glass. Given how easily they smash, ceramics often end up being more expensive in the long run than other types of dab nail.
Pros: cheap, easily replaceable, better heat retention than glass
Cons: breaks easily, barely worth the money
The Quartz Dab Nail – Pros and Cons
Finally, an acceptable material to make a dab nail from! Quartz is substantially tougher than glass, being harder to break and crack than ceramics as well. It can look cool too.
Unfortunately, quartz is a worse thermal insulator than glass, so it immediately donates all the thermal energy you have spent time and effort putting into it right into the environment as infrared light. This is how all dab nails cool down, but none of them are quite as eager to be cool as quartz. Poor quartz, it just can’t handle the heat.
How long you blast your dab rig for makes a big difference to how your dab vapour tastes and feels. However, with a little practice, you can get using a quartz dab rig down.
Pros: fairly cheap, tougher than glass or ceramic
Cons: bleeds heat like a dying animal
The Titanium Dab Nail – Pros and Cons
At last, the best material for a dab nail. Titanium is one amazing material. It is a metal that does not readily oxidize (rust), so it stays shiny and nice for a very long time. This makes it a dream to clean.
But wait, there are more amazing virtues of titanium! As well as being basically inert, it is incredibly strong. That is why they make bits of space ships and Formula 1 cars out of it. Your dab nail is not going to stop working because the titanium nail is broken; you could smash the entire unit to little bits and still find the nail intact.
So, it is tough and doesn’t rust, but does it retain heat properly?
Yes, yes it does. Titanium holds its heat better than any other material we have seen on a dab rig. This gives the user ample time to get their dabber loaded and pressed against that dab nail, making the whole experience less frantic and much more enjoyable.
There is a downside to the incredible heat retention: It is easy to overheat. When you dab with a nail that is too hot, the dab will burn and not oxidise. This tastes horrible, wastes your precious cannabinoids, and messes up the dab rig.
Titanium is also expensive. Probably cheaper in the long run than glass, ceramic or quartz, however.
Pros: amazing heat retention, super strong, shiny
Cons: expensive, can be overheated
The E-Nail – Pros and Cons
The e-nail is a relatively new creation. It required development in batteries so that they weren’t the size of bricks before it could be used properly, so with all the innovations in battery technology recently, the e-nail has become possible.
E-nails use quartz, ceramic or titanium nails (so a range of the best and worst dab nails) in the same way that a regular dab rig does, except that the nail is heated up either with an element inside the nail or through electrical induction of the nail itself. This means you can control the voltage, and therefore the approximate temperature, of the nail.
Using a dab rig without a mini-flamethrower is much, much safer. It is also extremely convenient and gives a level of control over the temperature of the nail that is almost impossible to attain with a torch lighter. The falling price and improving quality of e-nails almost guarantees that they have a solid place in the future of dabbing.
What the best and worst dab nails are is up to you. It is clear that we prefer a titanium nail on an e-nail dab rig, but that is just an opinion. The affordability of glass is what draws some to use them, as with ceramics. Quartz is an improvement and some people prefer the speed they need to use the rig with. Overall, however, the best is clearly titanium. It is tough, durable, retains its heat better than anything else.