Why Do You Cap a Dab?
Back in the day, before there were e-nails and before the increasing availability of quartz bangers, dab rigs would come with domes. These little globes would be placed around a heated dab nail to contain the vapor coming out of the rig and keep it from escaping. They worked fine, but dabbers were eager for a new experience and the market found itself suddenly turning against the use of domed nails. Domeless setups began to grow in popularity, with the quartz banger nail gaining unrivaled ubiquity as the basic go-to for a new dabber’s setup.
While these nails alone certainly did the trick, especially at high temperatures, more and more people began to find themselves interested in reaping the benefits of unwieldy domed nails without having to pull off and put on a sticky dome midway through the dab. Thus came about the popularity of the carb cap, which has now become a staple in the dabbing community. Carb caps act to replace the practice of placing fingers or hands over domeless nails to keep the air out—something which, though it does a job similar to a carb cap, puts your hands at risk of burning.
Like domes, carb caps contain the vapor cloud but do so completely because, unlike globes, they do not have an open top. Instead, carb caps have small air intake holes meant to control the amount of cool external air that gets pulled onto the nail and into the rig.
High temperature dabbers generally prefer not to use carb caps, but the result can be combustion of the concentrates rather than vaporization. Dabbing in the high-temperature range can result in what is effectively just smoking out of a dab rig. But for high temperature and low temperature dabbers alike, a carb cap can keep a dab at the temperature where it’s designed to be, which is below the smoking point. Read about the differences between smoke and vapor.
Carb caps are most popular amongst low temperature dabbers who are looking for a way to maintain the heat on their nails for a longer, vapor-filled pull. This is the first fundamental reason to cap a dab: to keep the heat of the nail consistent for longer so that you don’t have to re-fire it or have issues with it cooling down. Too cool and a nail will just leave a puddle of residue or reclaim behind in the piece. It’s frustrating to go through the whole process of lighting up and cooling down your nail to the perfect dabbing temperature, even if you’re using a laser temperature gun, just to have the nail immediately lose most of its hard-earned heat.
With a capped dab, you can take your time when hitting the rig and even vaporize concentrates at lower temperatures. This is because carb caps create a low pressure system once the rig is being pulled, which lowers the boiling point of the concentrates and results in a fuller hit of vapor. You might find that bangers can heat concentrates for longer because of this, creating vapor once they’ve cooled down to the bottom of the 300-450 degree Fahrenheit temperature range that’s best for low-temp dabbing.
The application of too much oxygen can actually change the taste and contents of a dab, and carb caps help to keep the air intake to only what’s needed to vaporize the concentrate. The air that does make its way in becomes heated enough to boil away and vaporize most of what’s left of the concentrate, making the Q-Tip technique to clean a nail less necessary after every hit. If you’re fussy about keeping things clean, a capped dab should be your go-to method for hitting a rig. You should also get in the habit of cleaning your entire dab rig on a consistent basis.
Another added benefit to the shift in airflow is a change in the circulation within the rig itself. The low-flow air movement created by the use of a carb cap results in dynamic and hydrostatic pressure at the center of the rig’s largest chamber. This pushes down the pressure in the chamber even more than the vacuum-like suction created by the limited intake. This circulation and the resulting lowered pressure means cooler vapor. Specific designs, known as directional carb caps, allow you to control this airflow to hit every nook and cranny. DankStop even makes a Puddle Pusher Carb Cap!
There are a number of reasons to cap a dab, and when put all together they result in an upgraded experience from a domeless dab. Whether you’re a high temperature fan or prefer to dab in the lower temperature range (learn about the differences between them), a carb cap can help increase the circulation in your rig, cool down your vapor, reduce the amount of unvaporized concentrate, prevent it from burning, and result in an overall stronger, more full toke. Carb caps aren’t difficult to master and come in a wide variety of designs to fit every dabbing preference. With just a little bit of finesse you can quickly be on your way to a whole new realm of dabbing.