Just a dab will do ya! As cannabis concentrates — shatter, wax, sugar, sauce, live resin, etc. — become increasingly popular, so too has a relatively new technique for consumption: dabbing. Dabbing can be defined as “the action or practice of inhaling small quantities of a concentrated and vaporized drug, typically cannabis oil or resin.” An essential component of the dabbing process is what is commonly referred to as the “dab nail.”

If you’re a little lost, don’t worry! In this educational blog post, we’ll dive into what a dab nail is, the different kinds of dab nails, how to use a dab nail and our opinion on the best type of dab nail.

What is a Dab Nail?

Used to vaporize cannabis concentrates, dab nails are the component of the more extensive dab rig setup that is heated to an extremely high temperature with a torch or electronic heater coil. A dab rig typically involves a nail, a chamber and a mouthpiece. After reaching an appropriate temperature, a dab nail can instantly vaporize a “dab,” or a small amount of concentrate, enabling users to inhale a tasty, potent vapor using the mouthpiece.

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Much like the bowl of a bong or water pipe, dab nails are used to deliver the vaporized dab (or combusted flower in the case of a bong) into the chamber for the user to breathe into their lungs. Users often enjoy dabbing using a dab nail because of the fast-acting, powerful high and more flavorful, terpene-rich experience.

Different kinds of dab rig setups require different dab nails and other dab tools and accessories, so let’s take a look at the most common kinds of dab nails so you can make a more informed decision.

What is a Dab Nail Made From?

What kinds of dab nails are there? Dab nails come in various shapes and sizes and can be made of ceramic, titanium, quartz or glass. But the most popular material used for vaporizing concentrates is quartz.


Made of silicon dioxide, a solid and clean clear crystal with the ability to withstand extremely high heat, quartz nails are less likely to break than glass and heat up much faster than other dab nails. Quartz nails are more durable than their glass counterparts and deliver an unaltered flavor, unlike other dab nail options.


Similar to quartz nails, a glass dab nail is easy to clean and performs well but is vulnerable to heat stress and can crack easily. Glass nails are inexpensive, faster to heat than quartz and retain heat longer, but they are not a great option for frequent dabbers due to their fragility.


Ceramic dab nails are typically more durable than a quartz or glass nail, but they can add flavor to your dab, which many users don’t prefer. Ceramic nails retain heat very well but can take 30-plus seconds to heat adequately. Unlike quartz or glass, ceramic dab nails will not glow orange, so it can be difficult to tell when the nail is too hot.


Easily the most durable option, titanium dab nails are more expensive than quartz, glass or ceramic nails. Consumers don’t need to heat titanium nails for long, and the long-lasting nails retain heat well. They are also exceptionally resistant to corrosion and rarely break. They can, however, add a metallic taste to the vapor.


The most high-tech option, e-nails — as the name suggests — involve an electrical component to boost convenience and enjoyability. An e-nail is automatically heated to the correct temperature by a ceramic coil connected to electric power — no guesswork involved! Just plug in and enjoy enhanced control over the temperature of your nail.

Some nails require a vapor dome that fits over the dab nail so that the vapor does not escape when dabbing, while most others are “domeless” and deliver excellent airflow and larger dabbing surfaces. Styles include:
Flat top
Angled top
Terp slurper
Round bottom
Opaque bottom

Given the new technique’s complexity and the number of dab tools and accessories involved to get started, dabbing can be overwhelming for most beginners. The following section will cover how to use a dab nail.

How To Use a Dab Nail

Once you have done it a few times, dabbing is easy, and dab nails are simple to use. Place your dab nail into the joint of your rig and ensure your rig is clean and ready for use.

Step 1: Heat Dab Nail with Torch

If you are using a quartz or glass nail, heat the nail until it is glowing an orangey red. The timing varies if you use titanium or ceramic, but 15-30 seconds will usually suffice. With an e-nail, enter your preferred coil temperature and wait until the nail reaches that temperature.

Step 2: Wait for Dab Nail to Slightly Cool

While this might seem contrary to common sense, it’s true: We must wait for our dab nail to cool down so we don’t singe our dab. Again, timing will vary depending on the nail material you have, but the ideal temperature for deriving the most flavor from your concentrate is about 300-450 degrees Fahrenheit. E-nails, on the other hand, don’t need to cool down since they are consistently heated to a precise temperature.

Step 3: Vaporize and Inhale Dab

The dab nail temperature is crucial: Too hot, and you’ll waste concentrate by scorching it or too cold where vaporization fails to occur. Once you’ve reached the ideal temperature, place the dab of cannabis concentrate onto the hot-but-cooling nail and begin slowly inhaling the vapor.

Step 4: Cap the Nail (If Necessary)

Much of the concentrate will not vaporize instantly, so you may need a “carb cap,” a dabbing instrument that slightly covers the top of the nail to improve the heat flow and the airflow direction for better intake. The carb cap will trap the heat in the nail throughout the duration of the dab, so users experience smoother delivery of taste, flavor and terpenes.

Step 5: Enjoy

After inhaling the cannabis concentrate vapor, exhale and enjoy your buzz!

Step 6: Clean the Dab Nail

One of the most critical but often overlooked steps in the dabbing process is cleaning the dab nail. Residue from dabs past can build up on the nail and change the flavor of your concentrate, so remember to clean your nail after every use for the most flavorful dabbing experience. Some people simply use a torch to burn reclaim residue from their dab nail, while others wipe the interior of the cooled nail with a cotton swab or go for an even deeper clean with rubbing alcohol.

Terrapin Recommends: The Best Type of Dab Nail
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to choosing the best dab nail for you. You need to consider the nail’s material and style, which concentrates you’ll dab and how much money you’re willing to spend.

If, after reading this guide, you still have questions about how to select the best dab nail, swing by a Terrapin Care Station Dispensary Partner in Pennsylvania and ask our knowledgeable budtenders! We’re always happy to help.

So, What is a dab nail? It’s happy dabbing!