How to Use a Banger Nail
Dabbing can seem intimidating to someone who isn’t used to dealing with concentrates, but luckily there are easy ways to ease into the practice that won’t scare off someone who’s never dabbled in dabbing. The most foolproof way for beginners to hit a dab is by using a banger nail, which features a bucket-like container for the superheated concentrate to vaporize within before flowing into the dab rig through a connecting joint. These kinds of nails are considered to be the most popular for a reason; their simplicity isn’t to be underestimated, and with a little bit of knowhow and some tips under your belt you’ll be dabbing properly in no time.
Nearly all banger nails are made out of quartz crystal, largely because it is resistant to high heat and holds an even temperature easily without shattering. This is not to say that quartz doesn’t break—it can break by being dropped, of course, even though it is a little more resilient to regular bumping around than some types of glass. Some quartz nails have a thicker base to help prevent heat fractures as well.
Quartz can also break as a result of being heated incorrectly, which is something to keep in mind when you’re warming up your nail. Banger nails are heated with the use of butane or propane torches, generally to the point that the nail becomes red-hot. This usually occurs at around 800 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important to keep the torch moving evenly around the bucket nail when you’re heating it in order to prevent something called devitrification, which is the process by which quartz builds up additional crystalline layers that cloud the crystal and eventually cause it to be susceptible to breakage. This can be avoided by moving the torch around and not simply targeting one area the whole time. A good rule of thumb is to torch the banger for 20 seconds on the bottom and then 20 on each side of the nail (for a total of 60 seconds) so that it gets red-hot without causing heat stress to the quartz. For a more complete guide regarding heating time, click here.
Once the nail is heated, a cooldown period commences. How long you let the bucket cool really depends on what kind of dabbing you’re trying to do, if it’s high or low temperature. High-temp dabbers generally hit the nail at around 600 degrees Fahrenheit, a point that can be accurately determined with the use of a laser temperature gun. High-temp dabbing is known for its effectiveness at creating big hits but has drawbacks including increasing the likelihood of burning the concentrate. This can waste concentrate and even damage the banger at worst, and require loads of additional cleaning at best. Luckily we have a guide on how to clean your quartz banger nail.
Low-temperature dabbers generally prefer to let their nail cool down to roughly 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit before hitting the banger with concentrate. Low-temp dabs tend to create cooler vapor while being kinder to the surface of the banger itself and being less likely to waste concentrate by burning it. Burning the dab can cause smoke instead of vapor.
Whenever you decide your nail is at the right point—whether that’s 600 degrees or 350—lower the dab tool holding the concentrate onto the dish and swirl the tool around so that the concentrate gets evenly distributed along the bucket’s bottom as you inhale.
At this point, dabbers generally pair carb caps with their quartz bangers in order to keep the temperature within the banger stable and the pressure inside the rig low (which helps vaporize concentrates at lower levels). Carb caps help to create a thicker pull and keep vapor from escaping the dish and cool air from entering the rig. Using a carb cap isn’t difficult; just bring the accessory down on the banger once you’ve placed the concentrate inside while inhaling the way you would normally. Check out exactly why you should always cap a dab.
Cleaning a banger nail is a crucial part of using the nail and keeping it fresh. The suggested method is what’s known as Q-Tip Tech, which involves swirling a cotton swab around a freshly hit banger nail to soak up leftover concentrate. This way there is less likelihood that the unvaporized concentrate will get burnt when the nail is heated to 800 degrees for the next dab. It’s important to do this right after dabbing because if the cotton swab hits at too low a temperature its fibers will come off into the concentrate rather than pulling the melted puddle away. Keep in mind, of course, not to place the cotton swab on a dish that is too hot to avoid fire.
Once you get the hang of using a banger nail you’ll quickly understand why they’re so popular amongst both beginner and experienced dabbers. Though there are a host of dab rig nail options, a quartz banger nail is a solid bet when it comes to finding an accessory that is reliable and easily usable with nearly any dabbing setup you can put together.