How To Properly Season Your Titanium Nail

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Keep it Natural

Although there is often a debate concerning the various methods of seasoning your dab nail, some methods work better than others. My opinion has always been to take a natural and balanced approach. Simply by using your titanium nail at low temperatures can build a natural seasoned layer, which serves not only as a protection against oxidation, but also as a way of enhancing the flavor of your medicated concentrates upon inhalation. By applying extracts at mild temperatures between (275-350 degrees Fahrenheit) you’ll be able to create an even, more balanced layer compared to extracts exposed to a higher heating intensity. Less is better in some cases. Dabbing large amounts of concentrates in one hit on an extremely hot titanium nail causes your dabs to vaporize instead of season. This is an important concept to retain while using dabs, especially when butane and propane lighters are involved.

Heating Retention Falsehoods

Borosilicate’s conductivity value is 1.14 W/(Mk), quartz’s value is 1.3W/(Mk) and pure titanium is 21.9 W/(MK). It’s easy to assume that titanium nails have a better retention to heat than borosilicate and quartz based on these numbers; however, this is simply not the case. Titanium can heat up your dabs much faster but they do not retain more heat. Case in point. If you heat titanium for thirty seconds using a butane torch and then heat a glass nail using the same method for the same amount of time, titanium will get much faster. The reason being isn’t because the glass couldn’t retain heat, but because the glass wasn’t heated for a long enough time, due to its low thermal conductivity value compared to that of titanium.  As a good rule of thumb, and based on thermal conductivity alone, it’s safe to say that titanium has a higher thermal conductivity than glass or quartz but not a better retainer of heat.

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Don’t Overheat Your Nail!

According to certain scientific sources, it’s ideal for titanium to be cooled just below its Leidenfrost point. Just in case you’re not familiar with scientific terminology, the Leidenfrost point refers to the lowest point that vaporization can occur on a surface, allowing for the entirety of that surface to be covered with vapor. Studies have indicated that water’s Leidenfrost point is approximately 339.8 degrees F on polished surfaces and 504.F on rough surfaces. Based on this info, we can conclude that a brand new titanium nail can be heated for about 20-25 seconds until it’s about 25% red hot. Applying dabs to a nail that’s between 350-400 degrees is the ideal temp for keeping flavor and under the temperature of releasing titanium oxide gas.

How To Effectively Clean Your Dab Rig

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It’s inevitable– dab rigs get gunked up after sufficient use and at some point down the road, every glass-owner needs to learn how to effectively clean their setup. A dirty piece not only looks and smells bad, it affects flavor and can potentially reduce the amount of vapor actually inhaled. Though there are several products marketed specifically for cleaning pipes, the best method is to use a safe, inexpensive polar organic solvent.

Cleaning The Nail

cleaning nailThe nail is the easiest part of the rig to clean but can be difficult to remove as the glass from your rig may have expanded into the nail creating a tight seal. Just lightly heat the nail at the base and gripping from the top using tongs (or better, forceps if you can find them) gently twist the nail loose.

Glass and ceramic nails need only be lightly heated (enough to liquify any offending resin) and wiped with a cotton swab. Titanium nails can be placed on a heat resistant surface (like stone or tile) and heated until glowing red which will carbonize any residue (like a cast iron skillet) and cause excess to flake away upon cooling (you might observe an attractive blue tint to the excess carbon).

Once your nail is hot, be sure to carefully use a cotton swab to clean the underside where the nail makes contact with your rig. Do not use your bare hands to hold the nail at point during the process… trust me, it’s hot (personal experience).

Cleaning The Rig

Regardless of how complicated your rig is, the two best solvents for cleaning glass are Acetone and Isopropyl Alcohol. Acetone can be purchased at the drugstore as clear “nail polish remover” and works almost instantaneously (it’s what chemists use to clean their glassware in the lab) but it smells and shouldn’t be dumped down the drain. Additionally, most nail polish contains “denatonium benzoate” which leaves a residue and is unpleasantly bitter when present even in a few ppm (parts per million) so additional washing with soap and water may be required.

Isopropyl alcohol, while not as vigorous a cleaner as acetone, can also be found at the drugstore as pure as 91% and makes for a great solvent which is very rarely tainted with bitterants like denatonium benzoate (though drinking isopropyl will definitely make you feel terrible). Simply pour it in your rig, shake and wait. A soaked cotton swab can be used for trouble areas. If your rig has particularly bad build up in a hard-to-reach spot, a little salt can be used as an agitator in addition to alcohol but in those situations it’s almost always more effective to resort to acetone (with a thorough wash afterwards).

Basically, isopropyl is for regular grime, acetone is for when you’ve been particularly neglectful. To finish up, let the solvent evaporate and then do a final rinse with water. If you rinse with water before all the acetone/isopropyl has evaporated, you may end up with while scaling on the sides from precipitate in the water. To remedy, just rinse with solvent and let it dry completely before rinsing with water again.

Keep It Clean

Once you’re taking a dab from your freshly cleaned piece, you’ll probably want life to be that way all the time (this is understandable). Though it may take a little training, its important to remember that regular maintenance goes a long way towards keeping your rig clean. Change the water every time you sesh and try not to let your rig develop a solid layer of slime in between cleanings. Remember, dabbing isn’t like smoking– all that resin inside your rig is decarboxylated, re-condensed hash oil that didn’t make it into your lungs. A clean rig develops less build-up!

If you are ready to upgrade your rig, or would like to add another dab rig to your collection, take a look at these dab rigs for cheap.

Your First Dab Rig: What You Should Know Before You Buy

your first dab rigSo you’ve taken a few dabs and decided you want a setup of your own– welcome to the wonderful world of dabbing! Just as concentrates have evolved over the last few years, so too have the pieces with which to enjoy them and the sheer number of options available can be intimidating if you’ve never owned a rig before. In this article, we’ll explain the basic mechanics behind dabbing and arm you with all the knowledge you need to enjoy picking a dab rig that will serve you well for years to come. Let’s get started!

The Basicsdomeless-titanium-nail-oil-rigjpg

Your standard dab rig these days will consist of three parts: a glass piece, a heating element (called a nail), and a torch lighter with which to heat your nail. When done properly, dabbing is more akin to vaping than smoking because very little of your concentrate actually combusts. As a result, many of the characteristics that make a piece good for smoking make it a poor choice for dabbing. As opposed to cooling smoke, cooling vapor causes it to condense back into liquid form which leaves you with an abundance of “reclaim oil” along the sides of your piece– while still potent to a significant degree, reclaim is unpleasant to dab and many people dispose of it. To avoid this, the ideal rig is small and has minimal diffusion to allow most of the vapor to enter your lungs.

Bonus: small simple dab rigs also tend to be cheaper… economic and efficient. But before you go choosing your piece, you need to think about the most important part of your rig– the heating element aka the nail.

The Nail

At the heart of your dab rig is the nail; it sits on your piece and after heating it with your torch, it heats your concentrate above the point of vaporization. Depending on your preferences, you have four choices of material: quartz (fused silica), glass (borosilicate), ceramic, and titanium. While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence floating around the internet, the science behind these materials is well understood. The truth is, your choice of material will have minimal, if any, effect on flavor. Rather, the material will affect how hot your nail gets and how long it stays hot.

As a chemist and experienced glass-blower, it’s hard for me to recommend a glass (borosilicate) nail since it doesn’t retain heat well and is guaranteed to break at some point– sometimes by shooting a hot chunk directly in your direction. The coefficient of thermal expansion on ceramic nails also means they too will break eventually, though they’re more likely to do so in a less dramatic fashion. The leaves two real options: quartz and titanium.

Titanium vs. Quartz

quartz and titanium nailYou can’t go wrong with either and it all comes down to preference. When picking your first rig, I recommend getting a Ti nail because they’re impossible to break and they stay hot for longer. The problem with Ti nails is that they can be overheated to the point that they start to burn some of your concentrate. Even when this does happen, the combustion is still minimal compared to smoking but this is why its a good idea to pick a rig with just a little water diffusion. Some people have suggested that you can overheat your nail to the point of generating toxic levels of Titanium oxide but rest assured– the nail would need to be a white hot 2,100°F… 500 degrees above the point at which your borosilicate glass piece will begin to melt into a flaming pool on your coffee table– don’t worry about it.

While it’s nearly impossible to overheat a quartz nail, they do cool down quickly which can lead to taking cool hits where you essentially melt the concentrate without vaporizing much of it. It’s as frustrating and disappointing a way to waste your expensive concentrate and as a result, I tend to recommend sticking to a Ti nail until you’ve become more comfortable with setting up and operating your rig.

Dome vs. Domeless

It might seem counterintuitive but I recommend you get a domed Ti nail for your first dab rig. The Ti nail gets up to around 800°F and when you’re really, really stoned, it’s nice to have something protecting your hand (or other things) from accidentally touching your hot nail. Domed nails are also smaller which allow for less heating time.

Torch

You’re going to need torch to heat your nail and that torch should use no fuel other than butane. Propane gets too hot too fast and is just generally a bad thing to keep around the house. You can go to home depot and grab something in the pluming section but I recommend getting a smaller torch with a more manageable flame so you don’t end up heating up the glass on your piece too… which leads to another good point: choose a piece that gives you room to heat your nail (you want the nail to extend out an inch or two). If you find yourself too intimidated by the torch, you’re not out of options! You might consider getting a pen vape or an e-nail.

To Each Her Own

While I recommend a small water pipe with a domed Ti nail as the ideal first dab rig, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and by all means if you enjoyed your experience using a different rig, you should do what makes you happy! There’s no wrong answer when it comes to what you like.