How to Choose the Best Dab Nail

by Julia Abney May 22, 2018 5 min read

How to Choose the Best Dab Nail

A Step-by-Step Guide to Concentrate Nails

Photo: Anatomy of A Concentrate Rig

We all remember that special day: you’re coming home from the smoke shop (or your DopeBoo package has just arrived!), dab rig in hand, excited to try it out at home and see how it performs. But, you might be a little saddened to discover that the most dab rig makers include a mediocre glass nail, expecting you to upgrade the nail to your preference.

Some rigs, like the extra-thick borosilicate Famous Brandz Snoop Dogg POUNDS Spaceship and Battleship, mark their top-shelf quality by including a quartz bucket nail alongside the standard dome design:

Snoop Dogg POUNDS Spaceship Dab Rig in box
Snoop Dogg POUNDS Spaceship Dab Rig pieces standing

Not sure where to start when shopping for a new nail? We’ve created a useful guide to dab nails so you can be confident in your next nail. When shopping for dab nails, you can break down your search by a few simple categories.

What do you need to know about dab nails?

  • High quality nails are most likely to be made of: Quartz, Ceramic, or Titanium.
  • E-Nails electronically heat and replace the torch.
  • The most popular kinds of dab nails are: domeless, bucket (a.k.a. banger), or dome and nail.
  • Cutting-edge nail designs include: Boo Glass, ELEV8 and Skilletools.
Bolt Pro E-Nail Review

For every type of nail, it's best to season it before your first use --

How To Season A Dab Nail:

  1. Place the nail into your dab rig.
  2. Heat the nail.
  3. Using a dab tool (not your fingers!), cover the entire nail with a trace amount of concentrate and let it soak into the nail. The best thing to do here is use the claim from your reclaim catcher (i.e. the gunk that builds up in your bong that you probably don’t want to dab again). It’s easier to part ways with your claim than with fresh concentrate.
  4. Let the oil heat up on your nail and cover the entire nail. Allow it to cool down for a few minutes.
  5. Enjoy your new seasoned nail!

Pictured: Quartz Daisy Nail & Custom Creations Carb Cap Dabber


This section has the same considerations as choosing whether you want a quartz, ceramic, or titanium heating chamber on your dab pen vaporizer. Most rigs come with a standard glass nail a dome and nail design. It's surprisingly inexpensive to upgrade your experience by choosing a shape and material that complements your flavor and maneuverability preferences.

Quartz Dab Nails:

DopeBoo glass quartz dab rig nail


  • More durable than glass.
  • Heats faster than glass, titanium, or ceramic.
  • Holds on to heat longer than glass.
  • Clean, pure construction.
    (Commercial or Food-Grade)
  • No lingering aftertastes.
  • Retains heat for less time than ceramic and titanium.

These looks just like glass nails, but they’re much more durable -- they even make kitchen countertops out of quartz! Quartz nails heat faster than glass, titanium, and ceramic nails. These top-shelf nails also hold onto heat longer than glass for nice even inhales. The quartz nail is also less likely to crack under the pressures of torch-hot heat than your average glass nail. The premium feature of a quartz nail is its pure, food-grade delivery. In some cases even commercial grade! This means no lingering aftertaste, just fresh robust flavor. Just like a chef seasoning their favorite wooden spoons or cast iron pans, seasoning your quartz nail will help the nail both last longer and give it great flavor. See how above.

Ceramic Dab Nails:

DopeBoo dab rig ceramic dome
  • Retains heat the longest of all nails.
  • Clean, pure construction.
    (Commercial or Food Grade)
  • Full, robust flavor delivery.
  • Particularly ideal for low-temp dabbing.
  • May crack with rigorous use.
  • Modern, clean-lined aesthetic.
  • Longest heat-up time.

These types of nails do take the longest to heat, but much like your mom’s favorite skillet, once they’re heated, they’re good to go. They retain heat the longest out of all nails (titanium, quartz, and glass), and they’re definitely a step up from glass nails. These do have a certain flavor they exude when dabbing--it’s neither bad nor good (much like the flavor effect of a mug on coffee), but you might want to try using a friend’s ceramic nail before getting your own to make sure you’re down with the extra flavor. Be careful with ceramic nails though: they’ll drop if you break them, and they can crack over time. The key to making sure they don’t break? Buy high quality ceramic nails made with food-grade ceramic. Remember too: you must season your ceramic just like you would a quartz nail!

Titanium Dab Nails:

DopeBoo dab rig titanium dome
  • Brief heat-up time.
  • Retains heat a long time.
  • Oxides with age. Won't crack.
  • Least breakable of all nails.
  • May have metallic taste if not properly seasoned.

You might buy these simply for the cool factor. These titanium nails are super durable; in fact, they’re least likely to break out of all types of nail materials. While they don’t hold heat very well, they heat incredibly fast and won’t break even at the highest temperatures. Make sure to season titanium nails too, and be prepared for…an interesting taste with titanium nails when dabbing. One thing to note about seasoning these: while ceramic, glass, and quartz nails only need a trace of oil to season them, you can think of titanium nails like a fine iron skillet--they absorb oil quickly and will need more claim to start them off right.

Best selling dab nail shapes and sizes


DopeBoo domeless nails

Domeless Nails: Do you dab every day? This is the style for you. Domeless nails are much easier to use, just place your wax and go! While they don’t retain vapor like a domed nail might, their myriad other features make up for this problem: the dish on domeless nails is typically bigger, allowing you to place more dab. Worried about how to make the vapor last longer with a domeless nail? Add on a carb cap and you’re good to go. A popular twist on the domeless nail design is an equally high-functioning angle cut nail.

DopeBoo domed nails for dabbing

Domed Nails:  This is the more standard style of nails. Your starter glass nail that originally came with your bong was probably domed. These nails take more effort to use, as you have to heat them, place dab, then cover with a dome. The dome that covers the nails will help keep vapor in more, but also, it’s already hard enough dealing with a hot nail and placing your treasured, expensive concentrate on it: having to add a dome on top of it increases the chances of you dropping something or mishandling it. Domes tend to break more and might be just another thing to clean up.

DopeBoo banger or bucket for dabbing

Banger or Bucket:This is our favorite choice for the neat freaks out there (we support you!). A banger nail, often called a bucket because it looks like one, is typically made of quartz. It’s a type of nail that has a little bucket in which to place your concentrate. What’s great about quartz bangers is that they’re so much easier to use than a domed nail, and quartz buckets are super easy to clean up. The concentrate stays where it needs to and won’t leak out (yes, that can happen with a regular nail). You’ll want to get a carb cap with a banger since they’re domeless.

DopeBoo e-nails for dabbing

E-nails:These electronic nails are taking the water pipe world by force. No more butane torches? We’ll rip to that. This tool offers precisely controlled temperatures, fast heat-up time, durable portability, and they never run out of butane! You can find wall-powered and battery-powered e-nails. An e-rig is also an excellent option for e-nail lovers.

What’s your favorite nail? Are there other unique shapes you’ve found that weren’t listed above?
Let us know!
Browse this guide on ways to Upgrade Your Dab Rig.

Julia Abney
Julia Abney

Julia, a flower child hailing from Spain, discovered her love of fresh herbs years ago when she accidentally became head of product at a farm in Oregon. She promises to not bias her guides too much towards vaporizers, but no guarantees!

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