Primary Considerations: Dab Rig & Nail/Coil Set
Considering the wide selection of enail accessories available today, you are probably a little confused on where to start. If you already have a dab rig, start with the nail and matching coil. If you don’t have a rig, start there and pick up something less than a foot tall with a 14mm joint and splash protection. Splash protection can include: recyclers/Klein bottle designs, vortex recyclers, or (baffling such as with the famous Fab Egg). From there you’ll want to consider the desired dab nail material.
Read more below about the difference between dab rigs and bongs, different nail and coil combos, and accessory considerations with dabbers, cappers, inserts, etc.
Dab Rigs Vs. Bongs
The biggest consideration with rigs vs. bongs is making sure there’s some sort of built in splash prevention (since rigs are smaller). Vortex recyclers accomplish this using a second internal loop inside the glass that makes the water fall back downward after it gets drawn up towards the mouthpiece. The vortex cone also acts as a splash guard that blocks the water from traveling directly up towards your mouth during the draw.
The main differences between a dab rig and a bong is the joint/stem attachment and size. Bongs normally have a diagonally-tilted stem, or even a lack of a stem altogether (which can be an issue with dab nails). The size of a bong is normally larger than a dab rig.
That being said, pretty much any piece that doesn’t splash you and has a 14mm joint to attach to the nail should at least function just fine. If it’s a heady bong you will want to separate the heat from the nail using a drop down or glass adapter of some sort. Most of the time you easily and cheaply find a glass adapter later to match various joint sizes together; but I would avoid 10mm unless you really love the rig because the air flow restriction can be a pain for cleaning and getting full draws. 14mm is pretty much the standard in 99% of all dabbing setups. 18mm nails pretty much always require an adapter to fit the rig.
Dab Nail Options
The many factors include: dish size, material/flavor/clean-ability, durability, and budget. Are you going to be dropping a lot of monstrous globs and snakes in, medium sized dabs, or “grain sized” smaller dabs? If so, the quartz banger holds bigger dabs than a dish style and is by far the most common dab nail material used. A dish style nail benefits from being able to change out the top dish to quartz or SiC. while keeping the durable Titanium on bottom. If you prefer smaller dabs this may work better than a full quartz bucket. Read on for more info. on material types.
Dab Nail Material Types
A variety of dabbing nail materials are available to choose from. It’s no wonder why you may be curious about all of the options out there. Some of it comes down to preference, but there are some functional differences to note. I prefer a quartz banger with a SiC insert dropped in for maintenance and flavor. Other popular material choices include quartz, Titanium, and Ti/quartz hybrids. Nail material preferences are mainly based on durability, heat transfer (shape and material), preferred dab size, flavor, and ease (or difficulty) of cleaning.
It seems like Titanium can be much harder to clean without the use of a torch. You can soak it in ISO like quartz, but it seems to be much harder to clean that way and could possibly tarnish or degrade the metal if soaked for too long. Silicone carbide (SiC) is by far the easiest dabbing material to clean with an e nail, since you can just turn it up to about 350F to produce sizzling water and gently lift up any crust you may have neglected to keep on top of.
In the most common case, the coil will be 25mm on it’s inner diameter and the nail will be 25mm on the outer diameter to match. In actuality, one of the two diameters should be slightly larger or smaller than 25mm so that they fit together without being too tight to risk damage.
The nail is often the one to be .5-1mm (about one grain of rice) under 25mm, but sometimes it’s a mix. The coil may be .5mm larger to accomodate a range of bangers, since quartz tends to expand when cooling from the production line. If the gap is much wider the heat will not transfer as well; but if it’s much smaller you then risk scratching or even breaking the quartz nail as it expands during heating cycles.
20mm Quartz Banger Nail:
A barrel shaped 20mm coil was the standard for years. This size is still preferred by some, however others like more surface area to get their “glob” on correctly. More surface area equals more of the dab reaching the hot surface at once, and a quicker, more even heat distribution. If doing larger dabs, using a 20mm banger may result in too little surface area to effectively and quickly heat that dab before it basically just dries up into an undesirable puddle on the dab surface.
25mm vs. 30mm Banger Comparisons
The larger bangers come in handy not only for more surface area, but for more the reduced cool down during the dab. It will take a much larger dab to phase a 30mm banger than a 25mm. Of course, there can be drawbacks with a more massive banger such as more weight. A larger banger also has a bigger heat coil, adding more weight/mass which can make a smaller rig slightly more likely to tip over if not positioned right.
If you have a smaller rig, or a rig that’s just a little top-heavy, In this case you will want to take steps to keep the center of gravity optimized. The simplest way is to rotate the banger so that it’s closer towards the rig rather than extending away from the rig. The most preferred way to rotate the coil/nail back is with a drop down adapter. The adapter does double duty to also protect the rig joint from heat expansion (and possible cracking).
Of course a 30mm will also consume slightly more energy to get the larger banger heated fully; which may be a consideration for you. If switching the e nail off after each use, the difference will be much less significant.
Titanium Dab Nails
Even though quartz seems to be the most popular, there are some that still swear by Titanium products such as the Liger or Flowerpot. Ti lovers will tell you the heat transfer is faster. Some even prefer the flavor of titanium over quartz. Personally, I prefer SiC if I am going with anything but quartz.
Titanium heats up and cools down faster than quartz — leading to a “hotter” dab at times. This can sometimes seem more harsh depending on heat settings and delivery. There are some that will always swear by their Ti for flavor. Others just get plain tired of breaking their quartz every few weeks and need something more durable.
Grade 2 Ti
What is Grade 2 Ti? Grade two does not necessarily indicate any purity specifications. It is actually just a classification based on other material properties such as hardness and toughness. These are more to do with what forces they can withstand; not counting heat or chemical resistance. For purity ratings, look for the term “Medical Grade Ti”. This is the term that describes a Ti material with an extremely low impurity count. I personally prefer a hybrid Ti/quartz or SiC nail over using Ti, since the heated dab surface is quartz, but still has most of the durability of Ti. That way I can take advantage of the sturdy and easily adaptable base, yet have the heat and flavor characteristics of quartz.
Hybrid Ti/Quartz Nail:
The Ti/quartz hybrid is a handy nail which features the best of worlds. The Ti base has a screw body to accept a removable quartz dish on top, which allows for easy and cheap swapping of dab surface material. This also helps to provide easy access to the inside of the base when it comes time to clean out residue deposits.
Dabbers who are more accident prone or who enjoy packing their kit for on the go dabs might prefer the durability and straight shape of this nail. It’s disassemble-able form allows for easy cleaning and facilitates safer transport in Peli cases or other similar weatherproof cases.
Silicon Carbide Insert In a Bucket
A SiC insert in a banger bucket has been my go-to for a long time and I don’t imagine that will change anytime soon…
SiC stands for silicon carbide. This is not the same as silicone (with an e) that you see in dab mats. SiC is a unique ceramic material that stands in a category of it’s own. It looks, feels, and performs much more like it’s metal, but in fact it’s technically ceramic. You probably wouldn’t believe it’s ceramic unless you read about it in Wikipedia.
SiC has amazing thermal properties that allow it to take on and radiate heat faster than both quartz and Titanium and has a durability in between the two. The surface qualities make cleaning way easier than anything that has ever come before it. You don’t even need ISO — just filtered water and low heat around 350F.
Spinner Capper Tools
A good spin cap is important if you are trying to get your pearls whirling around that bucket. An optimal capper for spinning pearls will have either two holes or a perfectly aligned vortex pattern, such as the riptide capper by Gordo Scientific. The capper needs to have enough airflow, but also a tight seal on the banger rim. Other than that there are a few other considerations: read more here.
Above all, my favorite part about SiC is the Isopropyl-free (water) cleaning method works so much easier on SiC compared to quartz. I am still amazed how it still seems like new on the dab surface (although I have let some black deposits build up pretty bad on the outside of the nail, admittedly. After I do my easy cleaning procedure with a few drops of water and #lowtemps the silicon carbide comes out almost brand new again every time! Hands down it’s the easiest nail to restore near-perfect flavor that I have experienced so far. The only surface material type I have not tested is Sapphire. It’s just too expensive and delicate for my taste knowing that the flavor is not significantly better than SiC. Silicon carbide is the best balance between quality and price by a long shot, and the best kept secret in dabbing, by far IMO.
Now let’s look at heating coils:
Before we go any further, we absolutely need to hammer down wiring compatibility. If you are buying a full set, don’t worry — they will match. However if you are buying part of a set here and the other parts there, it’s very important to match the wiring order between the two plugs. So if you already have either a dab nail, heating coil, or e-nail controller and/or ever replace one part or another, the plug’s wiring order must match. This means the wires connected to the 5 pins on your XLR plug for the heating coil need to be the same as on your e-nail controller. Even though they look like the heat coil and e-nail should match, often times the wires are switched around and this can make bad things happen. To find your wiring order, check out this XLR plug matching guide.
Flat Heating Coils:
Pictured (left) is a flat coil, which is normally seated directly underneath a dab surface and wedged in between that and the bottom of the nail body like a hamburger. The coil is sandwiched in-between the Ti nail and the SiC dish on top of the nail. Normally a fastening nut is screwed into a center post which goes through the middle of the flat coil shown here. Flat coils seem to be preferred over barrel style heat coils by many enail owners. This is because a flat coil heats the bottom surface much more directly than a barrel style e-nail coil. Since heat rises, this is the most direct and efficient method of delivery for heat through the dab surface.
Axial Style Coils
Most dabbers today seem to default to bangers. The barrel style with bottom wraps works the best for a banger. This barrel style coil is sometimes called axial style (even though that just means round). The axial style barrel coil have bottom wraps which directly heat the bottom of the dab surface, along with the side walls. A standard barrel coil will work just fine as well; but you will be turning the temps up just a little bit more to get everything vaporized (unless you have the “waste it to taste it” philosophy).
Barrel vs. Axial Style Coils
If you just can’t decide between Ti and Quartz you can always have both! The “hybrid” style features a rugged base that’s adaptable for different quartz or SiC tops. One main advantage is that the tops are relatively cheap and easy to replace.
Also, if you plan on upgrading your dab rig in the future and are currently using something other than a 14mm female joint, this nail is reversible between male and female connections and fits a range of glass joints from 14mm to 18mm.
Replacement parts are inevitable in the long-run, although with regular cleaning this heavy duty dab nail should last much longer than a pure quartz banger.
For budget users that want to get the most flavor (and clean-ability) for their money, the SiC hybrid Ti is my favorite hybrid dab nail. I’ve been using mine for almost a year and it still comes almost totally clean after a super quick water-treatment (see instructions here.
Don’t get me wrong; the quartz Ti hybrids are a great solution for those seeking the durability and heat transfer of metal and you can always upgrade to the SiC dish in the future if you so choose.
NOTE: These hybrid nails typically use a flat coil; although some axial coils may also fit with some careful considerations.
A capper tool comes in as the most highly recommended “extra” dab accessory. It’s the easiest and cheapest way to upgrade your dab experience by far. It is also commonly overlooked by beginner dabbers. I can’t see myself ever going without one; which would seem like a huge waste of product.
Glass caps make the dab vaporize faster and keep it from escaping from the bucket. Increasing vacuum suction makes liquids boil at a lower temperature, so less heat needs to be applied for the same amount of vapor to be produced.
For this reason, capper tools are the single most important dab accessory to have for successful low temp dabs! Not only does a cap allow you to preserve terpenes and keep them from escaping; but also reduces consumption of concentrates and energy. Using lower temps opens up more ability to dab only the best parts while leaving lipids and less desirable plant matter behind.
Most importantly, you need a dabber tool. This is one of the enail accessories that is very difficult to go without unless you only do shatter “layups”. In my opinion, it’s worth it to find a good dabber and capper combination tool for the convenience of not having to switch tools mid-dab. This isn’t really a must-have. You can easily get used to using two separate tools. It just means one more enail accessory on the dab table; but for some people, that’s their jam! The functional reason you may prefer two separate tools is to have a more specialized capper. The flat lollipop capper, for example, does not seal quite as well as a bubble capper normally can. Some other combinations may lack the function that say a riptide capper might be able to offer with terp pearls — which the lollipop can’t.
Dab Tool Selection Tip:
If your dabber tool is made of glass, it’s best to have a thin point on the end. Otherwise, the dab will want to stick onto the colder surface and just melt/stick to the side of the tool. This can get a little wasteful and frustrating.
A metal tool that I really like which is sort of a best of both worlds tool would be the Happy Daddy “Grindson“. This not only has a pointy end but also the flatter end is great for collecting rosin. I personally think they should call it the “Rosinson”; but “Grindson” does fit since it’s a good tool to clear kief out of a grinder.
Dab Tool Selection Tip 2: Insert Height
Keep in mind the height of your insert matters if you have a capper (or want to get one) that has a rotating air spigot of some sort (like a bubble or directional style capper tool). It can get too tall. Also, it works better if the top of the insert does not reach past the intake hole inside the quartz banger.
Inserts: Quartz, SiC, Ruby
Inserts perform at least two important functions. The first is helping to keep a banger clean for longer, since it is removable. If you are into high temp dabs and are using an enail you’ll find that the steady heat contributes too dry, crusty build-up, which ruins the flavor if not regularly cleared. With low temp dabs this is less of an issue as long as it’s q-tipped after the dab. With new materials like SiC (silicon carbide), you can get away with a lazy cleaning regimen because the dab won’t stick to the surface nearly as easily. When it does, it’s easily removed with just sizzling water at about 350F.
There are many premium dab surfaces out there today. The good news is you don’t need to replace the whole nail. Just pop one of these in and you just extended your cleaning by a whole lot! The insert can be removed using a tweezers after the dab so you don’t have to wait an hour to make sure it’s cool enough to handle..
Many people overlook the advantages of this simple but effective enail accessory. Pearls/beads are one of the most slept on enail accessories that I’ve seen yet. They are super cheap compared to getting a full insert and really up the performance a surprising amount!
The funny thing is I have a feeling that the low cost may also be why there’s less hype about them. Dab tech’s best kept secret (;
Read more here about how to spin dab pearls and how to use them. Find out why people use terp pearls and why they are the best and easiest addition to upgrade your setup.
Holders, Bands, and Stands For E Nail Accessories
These are items that on one hand are not crucial (say in dire situations or desperate circumstances), but if you want to make all of your enail accessories work together perfectly, read on. You will need a way to hold the coil up on the banger and keep it from falling off during use. Those who are switching to an enail setup and are planning on their torch accessories with enail accessories need to make sure that they have a safe way to hold the coil to the dab nail. This obviously is important to nail down first but if you have a thin wire tie (copper, steel, something decently strong like that) or a simple vegetable bag tie you can use that. Instead of buying a specialized pin-fastened banger you can just MacGyver something around the house! It’s fun!
Axial Banger Coil Holders: Ties, Bands, Clips, and Pins
The quickest and easiest way to hold your coil to the banger is to use a twist tie. The paper, or plastic cover is fairly easy to strip off, giving you a free banger holder next time you stop by your local grocers and buy that mango-a-day to terp up your entourage effect. There are also now many professional versions on the market, but I would stay away from the built-in solutions (like the side arms on the bangers).
They need to be positioned really precisely in order to make decent contact and if you were to put the arm in the perfect place you basically then wouldn’t be able to fit the coil on without breaking the arm back off or making a removable arm. It has to with the geometry of it and a little hard to explain. The best solutions are removable and/or adjustable banger bands/holders, and clips. These allow you to strap your axial coil right up to the banger stem. You can even use more than one to get that perfect, leveled fit.
Q-Tip Enail Accessories
If you already topped your budget out on all of the enail accessories above; but still need a q-tip caddy, don’t worry about that. Althoughq-tip holders are great for quick access, you can easily make your own DIY q-tip holder out of recycled materials. It’s easy to make a quick q-tip holder out of a pop top dispensary container that you normally get your flower in. Just “decapitate” the top, rinse, dry, and pop in your tips! “Presto-Change-O”!
Capper, Dabber, & Nail Stands
Stands and holders are great to have so you always have your dab tools in one spot and ready to grab at any time. You can save some time running reclaim off of the table or other dab station surface, because the enail accessories can be kept elevated to keep from touching other objects. Save time torching by leaving one nail soaking, one being used, and two ready to be switched out.
Dab Mats, Pads, and Coasters
The main purpose of a dab mat is to have a nice soft base to set down your enail accessories. Some rigs have a small base and tip over easily. You may want to get a mat that is big enough to absorb some impact in the event that your glass does tip over. A silicon pad can also take some heat from a hot nail for a very short period of time (depending on how hot). Besides holding your enail accessories and concentrate products, the secondary purpose of a dab mat is to protect your table from oil drips, smudges, and stains. The third purpose is of course the extra heady aesthetics that some dab mat artists have created for their signature works. Check out the rad and original art work of Roilty for a prime example of what I’m talking about!