It was probably the first ‘modern’ dab rig so despite its crudeness, at least it led to an incredible new market for marijuana concentrate users. Before the advent of the advanced rig, there were various methods of consuming concentrates. The hot knife technique got the job done but with a lot of pitfalls.
The Swing Skillet was something of an upgrade but dabbers only got comfortable with the advent of the Nail and Dome. Today, we have domeless rigs and e-nails that heat up the nail automatically. If you are an experienced marijuana concentrate user, you’ll know the importance of butane in the smoking process. You need it to extract the potency of an herb before it becomes a concentrate, and to fully extract the potency of the concentrate while you are using it. Although you can use a typical pipe, it is unable to withstand the intense heat of a butane torch while normal lighters can’t vaporize wax. Basically, the only thing you’ll achieve is to clog up your bowl and dirty your pipe while wasting a ton of extract. Methods such as the Hot Knife were used to increase efficiency but they were dangerous and hard to master. Attempts at DIY rigs played a major role in creating today’s expertly crafted pieces.
The conductive materials used to vaporize wax became the nail while the tube put over the heated concentrate to control vapor became the dome and carb cap. The dab nail is central to the operation of any rig and there are several different options on the market which we review below. This is strong by the standards of glass and is also one of the least expensive nail options. However, it is still glass and its very nature makes it too fragile for nails. Glass nails are by far the easiest to break which means you have to replace them regularly. Also, glass doesn’t retain heat as well as the other options on the list. Therefore, it either won’t get hot enough to vaporize your concentrate in the first place, or else it won’t remain hot for long enough to finish the job. This material has a couple of things in common with glass; it is cheap and easy to break. However, it retains heat far better but once again, you’ll have to replace them relatively often. This material is significantly more durable than either glass or ceramic and as it doesn’t get excessively hot, you should enjoy a decent dabbing experience. While quartz is almost impossible to overheat, it also doesn’t retain heat for long so while you can heat your wax, it won’t create much vapor. This is an exceptionally strong and durable material but is also very light. A titanium nail is almost indestructible so it will probably outlast your dab rig. The metal heats up quickly and retains heat better than glass, ceramic, or quartz. It is the best of the four material options but its main flaw is that it overheats quickly. As a result, it can burn your wax rather than creating vapor. Consequently, experienced dabbers tend to combine titanium nails with water diffusers. This is a convenient option and relatively new to the marketplace. Rather than lighting the nail with a torch, you can relax and let the e-nail heat up the dab using electricity. As well as heating up rapidly, e-nails allow you complete temperature control and you can customize it to the concentrate you’re using.
E-nails are expensive and you have to be close to a power source. Also, traditionalists believe that using the torch is an integral part of the dabbing experience. In the end, if you have money to spend, an e-nail is an excellent purchase. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, domed nails hold in a greater level of vapor than their domeless counterparts and because they are smaller, they heat up faster. Domed nails are also safer but a bit harder to use than domeless. They are easier to use but more hazardous and less attractive looking than domed nails. A male nail is placed inside the intake tube while a female nail is placed outside the intake. Some users claim there is a big difference in the dabbing experience between the two while other users don’t notice anything.
Although dabbing looks and sounds like a complicated process to the uninitiated, it is very easy and there are only a few parts you have to worry about. Aside from the nail and dome, the rest of a rig consists of a couple of pieces depending on the design. It is normal for the glass part of a rig to have an intricate design as you will see in our list of dab rig reviews below. Experienced users believe that the shape of a rig impacts the flavor. For example, an oblong or oval bowl is said to deliver concentrated vapor.