Smoking weed is a fairly simple process; one might even say intuitive. The wide world of concentrates, on the other hand, can be fairly mind-boggling for the virgin dabber. After laying out the concentrate container, dab rig, torch, and dabbing tool for the first time, you’re likely to feel like you’re preparing to do some particularly sadistic dental work. You may even make a rookie mistake like dropping a dab onto a red hot nail, leaving it to evaporate into a tiny dab ghost. But don’t let those early mistakes haunt you. Dabbing is just science (and, no, not rocket science). To show you just how simple it all really is, we’re going to get out our microscopes and take a good, scrutinizing look at ceramic nails to find out why we use them, how they figure into the dabbing process, and how they stack up against other nail types.
The Best Attributes of Ceramic Nails
When smoking concentrates, the nail is the heated platform where you drop your dab hit with the aid of your ever-faithful dab tool. There are a variety of nail types from which to choose but some of the most common are ceramic nails. Why would someone choose ceramic over quartz or titanium, other than that unmistakable pristine aesthetic? Ceramic nails have the propensity to hold heat much longer than their peers which is especially good if you’re planning for repeated dabs in a single session. Using concentrates can often lead to some (literally) sticky situations so another selling point of nails crafted from ceramic is the relative easiness of cleaning the nail. If you’ve got any residue on your nail, you can just fire up that torch again and brush the dust away with the flame. Ceramic varieties are also renowned for providing a better taste than the unseasoned titanium nails.
Where Does Ceramic Fall Short?
However, the ceramic nail is not without its shortcomings. Probably the most obvious is that, though not quite as delicate as glass nails, models made from ceramic are somewhat fragile. Therefore, it’s crucial to heat your nail evenly to avoid stress cracking; a process which we’ll describe in detail shortly. Even the minutest of cracks in ceramic are fatal as heated concentrates soak into the damage, compromising the nail and causing rapid deterioration. Dropping a ceramic piece can also lead to irreversible damage, obviously. Ceramic can require a little patience during the heating process (especially for those of you who are used to dabbing with titanium nails). However, if you heat a nail made from ceramic properly, the taste can be reward enough.
Properly Heating Your Ceramic Nail
Proper heating of a ceramic nail can be a bit of a challenge for the uninitiated but there’s really nothing to it. If you’ve heated a glass nail, the ceramic variety won’t even rank as a challenge. However, if you find yourself caught in a daze and start to heat your nail unevenly, you’re on the fast track to heartbreak or, at the very least, nail break. Due to the properties of thermal expansion, few ceramic pieces can survive uneven heating, but it’s an easy fate to avoid. Begin by heating the nail with the tip of the flame, sweeping it across the entire top surface of the nail. The torch should stay in motion as the heat gradually intensifies with specific attention paid to keeping the flames evenly distributed across the surface of the nail. Depending on the quality of your nail and your torch, you’ll continue this process for around 45 seconds before removing the heat and allowing the nail to cool enough for you to drop the dab. It may seem like a lengthy heating process but just look at it as the price of not having to season your nail (like you would with a titanium variety). You don’t want to drop a dab on a nail that’s too hot so, if you’re feeling comfortable enough, hold your hand over the nail to feel the intensity of heat radiating off of it. If you can’t hold your hand above the nail because of the heat intensity, then it still needs to cool before you drop that dab.
The Importance of Carb Caps
Depending on your dabbing style, you may feel like your ceramic nail needs a little augmentation to get it operating at its peak performance. In most cases, this will mean purchasing a ceramic carb cap. Let’s face it; even the dabbing masters sometimes grab a chunk of wax with their dab tools that ends up being a little overwhelming. But if you’ve got your carb cap handy, you can just put that lid on your nail and stop wasting your concentrates as if they’re offerings to the gods. The carb cap stops your wax from evaporating into the heavens while you regain your composure before coming back for your finishing move. Likewise, sometimes you let your nail cool a bit too much, cooking your dab so that it simply wastes away into the atmosphere. Carb cap to the rescue, obviously. Some dabbers won’t even attempt ceramic nails without a trusty carb cap on hand.
Alternatives to Ceramic
Of course, ceramic sometimes just isn’t your style. A lot of those new to dabbing come in through the glass gate, since most dab rigs come equipped with glass nails. While glass is decent as far as flavor is concerned, glass nails are often far too weak for extended dabbing. When that first glass piece cracks, it’s typically time to go for an upgrade. If you’re not feeling ceramic, you may enjoy quartz nails. Losing a quartz nail to heat stress isn’t unheard of but it’s uncommon. It can take a long time to heat quartz as well but if you want ruggedness with decent flavor, you can’t go wrong with a quartz banger. Titanium nails are forged from a metal that is considered safe in high-heat applications. These are easily the most durable of nails, though they require a fair amount of seasoning before the flavor doesn’t taste like it’s been compromised. Titanium nails are also porous so they can be more difficult to clean than ceramic nails. Some dab aficionados have even invested in ceramic models that work with e-nail coils for guaranteed balanced heat application and reliable longevity.
While people have been smoking concentrates for ages, dabbing as we know it is relatively new. Cannabis Culture
began profiling the dabbing scene as early as 2005 so with this knowledge being around for only a little over a decade, feeling overwhelmed by the process can be forgiven. However, once you’ve acquainted yourself with some of the terminology and the basics, you’ll find dabbing is a subject which you can really dig your nails into…and yes, we mean ceramic nails.