Shopping for a dab nail is easy, right?

Just find one that’s cheap and presto, we got ourselves a new tool!

Well, not so fast, there’s a bit more to it than that. Concentrates can be rather expensive, and the last thing we need is a cheap dab nail that’s going to ruin our much beloved and expensive shatter, wax and rosin extracts.

Finding the perfect piece can be a bit of a nuisance, therefore, this guide can remove the trial and error element of shopping for a dab nail, making the dabbing process easier than spreading hot butter on toast!

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what makes a dab nail tick, and which is best suited for your rig. 


First, Match the Rig Joint Size

The first step in choosing a dab nail is finding out your rig’s joint size. While it would be great if every dab rig had the same measurements, we don’t live in a perfect world.

Since the invention of dab rigs themselves, the technology, while not much, has progressed. Rigs were almost always accompanied by a glass dab nail and were often built in without the option to buy a new one. This caused problems as the cleaning process becomes virtually impossible – if it breaks then a completely new rig will need to be purchased. Talk about frustrating and inconvenient.

How to Determine Rig Joint Size

Dab Nail - Match Joint Size
(Photo by Ashley Fraser from Postmedia)

Thankfully we live in a new day and age. To start finding your rig’s joint size, we need to see if it’s a male or female input. If you’re a little confused by this, then Wikipedia and grade school science is your best friend here.

Now that we’ve gotten the anatomy out of the way, it’s time to see what size the joint is. In theory, they can be any size, but the most common are 10mm, 14mm and 18mm.

10mm will generally be for very small dab rigs, which are easy to spot out. 14mm are essentially used for the medium size ranged of dab rigs. To see if your joint size is 14mm, see if a dime will fit in the opening. If not, then you got yourselves a 14mm.

18mm are designed for the larger scale dab rigs. If your piece requires an 18mm dab nail, well odds are you’ll be able to tell right away.

Now that the joint size is out of the way, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty – the actual dab nail itself.

The Dab Nail Family

Dab nails are a dime a dozen these days as they come in different shapes, sizes and materials, so determining which one is right comes down to a few factors. We’ll go over the positives and negatives of each with some tips before making a purchase.

Glass Dab Nails

The previous king of dab nails was of the glass variety. Reigning supreme! Simply, not many options were available, given the industry was just beginning to take flight. That is until cannabis concentrates began to experience a flight in popularity of their own – which then propelled the equipment used to consume them, like the variety of dab nails.

Glass Dab Nail

Glass dab nails are cheap, which is great if you don’t vape often. The downside is they can chip and break easy. As well, clogging them becomes a problem, therefore they’ll need to be replaced often if used on a regular basis.

Ceramic Dab Nails

You could say ceramic dab nails are “middle of the pack” when it comes to popularity and quality. Ceramic itself retains heat very well, which makes it a great option. It will stay hot enough to take a dab for over a minute, while other options are closer to 30 seconds or slightly less.

Just like the glass dab nail, it does have its drawbacks. Ceramic is very fragile and can break even easier than glass. As well, they’re susceptible to rapid temperature changes that can easily crack the tool.

With this said, ceramic dab nails are still a great option for those who are occasional dabbers and don’t plan on bringing their rigs into the freezing cold right after heating them up.

Titanium Dab Nails

titanium dab nail
(Photo from Cannabis Culture Headquarters)

Titanium dab nails have been making waves since they first entered the playing field. Their durability is unmatched and they can reach desired temperatures really quick, making it a perfect option for those who don’t have all day to get their torch on.

When you own a titanium dab nail, a huge positive is that you might never have to purchase another one again. However, those who are looking for a top tier concentrate experience may veer away from these. Titanium tends to taint the taste, and with concentrate connoisseurs, the flavour and terpene profile is extremely important.

In addition, unlike the previously mentioned options, titnaium isn’t food grade, but rather graded on it’s quality build. That’s why it’s important to only purchase grade A titanium dab nails as the lower tiers may be hazardous to our health over a prolonged period of time. Not to be taken lightly.

Quartz Dab Nails

The new kid on the block, while also being the gold standard, quartz dab nails have taken the dabbing world by storm and are hands down the best. Their flavour retention is unmatched, leaving terpene profiles virtually intact.

But that’s not all, quartz heats really quickly, ranging within 15 seconds, making your dab almost instantly ready. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, quartz dab nails are not the most expensive out there, being a whole lot cheaper than its titanium counterpart.

(Photo from Weedlist)

The downside, however, is that they tend to be on the fragile side, but manufacturers are in the midst of making the quartz thicker to solve this. As long as you take good care and don’t play a game of ‘quartz catch’, it’ll be fine!

Domeless vs Domed Nails

The difference between domeless and domed dab nails is very little! Domeless provides plenty of ventilation, potentially causing it to lose heat easier, but that’s not a fact and is still debated. Alternatively, domed nails require a separate piece called a dome, which collects the vapor. Quite frankly, it’s an extra step that’s inconvenient!

Which Dab Nail Should You Choose?

With the dab nail family explained, the process of choosing one will be a heck lot easier. The differences may be subtle, but it’s key in making the most informative decision to make the most of your dabbing experience. Not to mention, it’ll likely save you cash in the long run!

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our guide on how to buy a dab nail. Now, grab that trusty rig of yours and get to dabbing!

Best of luck!