What's a Carb Cap Used For?
It’s easy to see carb caps as a simple add-on for a rig, just another piece to have on hand for a different dabbing experience. After all, what’s the difference between dabbing domeless and using a carb cap but just an extra piece of glass to maneuver around? It turns out, when it comes down to the realities of dabbing (especially at low temperatures), that carb caps play crucial part in the user experience.
It might be unclear at first: what’s a carb cap used for? How big could the benefit be of adding in some little glass accessory? Domeless dabbing is popular, after all, so why bother with an additional mechanism when you can just blast the nail with a torch and get on with the process? Some people want to keep their setup cost down and some simply don’t want to bother with the mechanics of an expanded rig, but once you look into the science of what makes the best dab you’ll realize that a carb cap is an essential part of any dabbers’ accessory collection.
A lot of the benefits of carb caps have to do with heat retention. No matter what kind of a dab you’re taking, whether it’s high- or low-temperature, it’s important to maintain a consistent heat within the nail in order to fully vaporize the concentrate without burning it. Different styles and materials, like ceramic nails or quartz thermal nails, require different heating and cooldown periods to reach the perfect dabbing temperatures. No matter what the nail looks like or is made of, a carb cap will help keep it at the optimal dabbing point for longer.
Like a lid on a pot, carb caps keep the heat inside the space more constant so that you can take a long and flavorful pull at even low temperatures. It keeps the dabbing space from losing too much heat by preventing cooler outside air from making its way into the rig past the nail and through the joint. This kind of cold air can bring down the temperature of a nail to the point where the concentrate doesn’t fully vaporize, leaving behind either a messy puddle, some stuck-on wax or a whole banger joint full of reclaim. And, of course, it can be annoying to get a nail to the exact perfect temperature only to lose the right amount of heat to a sudden influx of colder air.
Sure, you can blast the nail and dab at a higher temperature to avoid having to later maintain a steady heat with a carb cap (although carb caps can keep even high-temp dabs steady). But for people who want to dab in the 300-450 degree Fahrenheit range and take advantage of the taste benefits of vaporizing concentrate over combusting (smoking) it, carb caps are the best way to keep a carefully cooked container of concentrate from needing to be reheated as much. Heating a nail for a shorter amount of time means a lower likelihood of the nail breaking or, in the case of a quartz piece, devirtrifying and forming extra layers on top of its existing crystalline structure (a process which clouds the quartz and makes it weaker). Hitting the concentrate at a lower temperature on the nail also keeps the nail from building up charred residue of concentrate that gets burnt but not used up. Naturally there are a host of solutions to cleaning your dab rig, but why bother having to deal with these messy issues if you can avoid them by just using a carb cap?
A separate problem solved by the use of carb caps is airflow. Extra oxygen dilutes the taste of a dab and the molecules that make up dab vapor and smoke. By changing the ratio of air-to-vapor, it is possible to get thicker and fuller pulls, even at low-temperatures. And because using a carb cap keeps the nail warmer for longer, there’s no reason to rush with the dab and gulp in a bunch of air with it. Instead, carb caps have a narrow entryway to let in a small stream of oxygen that heats up and boils the concentrate as a result of the low pressure created within the rig. This boiling point is lowered with a carb cap, meaning that you can take advantage of the lower range of temperatures to create a big, vapor-filled dab without all of the sticky, burnt drawbacks of a high-temp pull. Even nails that have been allowed to cool down for too long can deliver a smooth pull with the use of a carb cap, something that is simply impossible with a domeless nail.
Carb caps are simply a crucial purchase—not just for low-temperature dabbers, but for anyone who’s hoping to keep their nails warmer, cleaner and more functional for longer.