How Directional Carb Caps Work
Carb caps, now a staple of any dab rig setup, come in a surprising variety of materials and designs (including the increasingly popular bubble style carb cap). Overall they are lauded for their ability to enhance the quality of dabs, especially low-temperature ones, by restricting airflow into the rig while keeping the heated nail at the right temperature for dabbing. Limiting air’s entry into the rig to a small hole in the cap lowers the rig’s overall pressure and increases air circulation, meaning that concentrates can vaporize at a lower temperature into cooler, thicker dabs.
Dabbing Without a Carb Cap
Though carb caps might seem like just some additional accessory, there are a number of drawbacks to dabbing without one. Domeless dabs can be finicky when it comes to temperature, even resulting in the concentrate burning and creating smoke rather than vapor. Getting a domeless nail to stay at the right temperature can be difficult without a means of controlling the amount of cool air flowing onto it, so you’re more likely to need something like a laser thermometer gun to keep an eye on the heat.
Though these high-temperature domeless dabs result in a big punch, doing dabs this way can also cause a significant waste of concentrate and even mess with the condition of your nail. When heated too much, nails can burn concentrate and combust it into smoke and a resulting buildup of charred residue. At best, this material is frustrating to get off and necessitates more frequent nail cleaning (Here is some help with cleaning your banger nail). At worst, dabbing this way can damage a nail, especially a quartz nail, which can become “devitrified” by the burning and build up additional layers on its existing crystalline structure. This can make the nail cloudy and even prone to breaking, especially under the butane or propane torch flame that isn’t moved evenly around the nail during the heating process.
Taking high-temperature dabs with a carb cap, while not recommended by all dabbing aficionados, is easier than domeless high-temp dabbing: it’s less likely that concentrates will burn with a cap limiting the amount of oxygen making its way onto the nail.
Low-temperature dabbers work to avoid these high-temp problems but end up creating their own, admittedly lesser issue: concentrate waste due to lack of vaporization. Dabbing at low temperatures without a carb cap allows too much heat to escape and cool air to penetrate into the rig, meaning that nails can cool down past the optimal dabbing temperature and leave behind puddles of “undabbed” goo. This can be resolved using the Q-Tip Technique method of cleaning, or even just torching the nail, but both of these cleaning approaches result in a waste of expensive concentrate.
Carb Caps to the Rescue
Carb caps offer at least a partial solution to this problem. They keep the temperature inside the nail constant, meaning that there’s a decreased likelihood of concentrate cooling down and puddling because of low temperature.
While carb caps of all types can help facilitate vaporization, most only let air into the nail in one direction. They often create a specific air current that might miss some spots on your nail or banger. That’s where directional carb caps come in. Different kinds of directional carb caps are designed to be paired with a number of dab nails, including quartz bangers, thermal bangers, terp slurpers, and honey buckets. As opposed to regular carb caps, directional carb caps—including the popular ball carb caps/bubble carb caps—are designed to be moved around by the dabber to expose the whole nail to air.
Types of Directional Carb Caps
Bubble caps are often made from glass and look like an 8-ball was bisected by an open-ended pipe. Typically, the shorter end of the pipe gets put into the banger dish while the other end gets rotated around by the dabbers’ fingers to direct the airflow into the nail.
Other directional carb caps look more like tops (like the Puddle Pusher), with one wide end that tapers down to a point with a slit at the end for air. This tapered end gets put into the banger nail while the “top” sits on its edges. Like ball carb caps, these top-like directional carb caps can be moved around to manipulate the concentrate within the nail while it gets vaporized. These sorts of directional carb caps are also designed to be moved around by the dabbers’ hand, although this type of carb cap does require the spinner to get their hand quite close to the hot nail, something that clumsy types might want to be wary of when picking a carb cap.
Directional carb caps solve the few problems of basic capped dabs, namely concentrate waste that results from a stagnant airflow. Using a directional carb cap can help make your capped dabbing efficient, keep your nail looking fresh, and make sure that you don’t waste concentrate.