Chances are you’ve probably heard about the new trend in the glass industry - oil rigs. Now that legal concentrates are starting to catch on, there’s been a surge of new, creative pieces geared specifically for waxes and oils.
If you’ve never tried smoking legal concentrates or oils, you may be asking yourself what the fuss is all about - rightly so, as even the process of concentrate use can seem mysterious and perhaps a tad hardcore. For starters, concentrates are vaporized, not combusted like your typical legal herbs. This means that oil rigs do not need as much filtration or space for the smoke to cool down. This also means that, in the long run, high-quality concentrates smoked using high-quality materials will cause much less damage and discomfort than inhaling combusted smoke from legal herbs.
Now that you’re up to speed on the basics of concentrate use, you need to know how to get them in your body. If you’ve never gone through the whole process of using concentrates, it can appear to be complicated. In reality, though, it’s actually pretty simple. Let’s start by determining what supplies you need to begin.
First, you’re going to have to have a piece to smoke out of.
While there are plenty of oil rigs out there, even your regular old water pipe that you’ve been using for dry herb can work with the appropriate accessories. All you’ll need is an accessory to attach to your water pipe that can vaporize the concentrates… But unfortunately, nothing is easy as that. There are so many different accessories that one can use - but here is a brief list:
These are the most common, and the cheapest, facilitators for smoking concentrates. Most oil rigs come with a glass nail, so chances are if you’re first starting out, a glass nail will be what you use. They have the benefit of being a natural material to heat up and vaporize off of, meaning that they are one of the cleanest ways to hit legal concentrates. But unfortunately, after being exposed to extreme heat time and time again, glass wears out and will eventually crack or splinter. If you’re looking for something that will last you a while, glass nails are not the way to go.
First things first when it comes to titanium - make sure you buy grade two titanium or better. You want to make sure that whatever alloy you’re using is high quality so that it does not release any dangerous chemicals from being superheated over and over. That being said, even a high-grade titanium nail will oxidize, creating a white, powdery substance (TiO2, or titanium dioxide) and turning the nail red, blue, or even gold. This is normal and nothing to worry about, but cleaning off the titanium dioxide every once in a while may be a good idea. Many concentrate connoisseurs reject titanium nails because it is believed that many of the subtle flavors of concentrates are lost due to the high heat and less than chemically inert material, but it is mostly a matter of personal taste.
One good thing about titanium is that it lasts forever. Nothing that any human could do with their bare hands could really damage a high-quality nail.
A newer option on the market is nails made of high quality ceramic. Many concentrate users will swear by their superior taste, which is a positive side effect of using a completely chemically inert surface. This means that no matter how much heat is applied, the nail will not release any off-gases. Ceramic nails retain their heat for a much longer time than any other nail material on the market, which can be great when using concentrates in a group setting.
Unfortunately, even the best quality ceramic nails can be broken or cracked, by either being dropped or overheated multiple times. Although a high-quality ceramic nail can handle very high temperatures, low-quality ceramic nails can be dangerous when heated due to cracking or shattering. Ceramic quality is usually determined by touch or appearance - if it is very smooth and free of bumps or surface indents, it is most likely a high quality nail.
Quartz nails are like the stronger, more accomplished cousins of glass nails. Quartz nails, unlike glass nails, last longer and are even more flavorful. High-quality quartz is actually non-crystalline, amorphous silica - meaning that quartz nails aren’t made out of the typical quartz crystals you might be familiar with. Because quartz, like glass and ceramic, does not emit off-gases when heated, you can get a more flavorful concentrate hit without having to worry about potentially inhaling harmful byproducts. Quartz also heats up much more quickly than glass without the potential of breaking due to the heat. Though do be advised that quartz nails CAN break from overheating or from a certain degree of force - such as, say, being dropped, thrown, or kicked.
When you’re looking to diverge from using a nail with your concentrates, a healthstone might be just what you’re looking for. Typically consisting of a glass vapor joint and a vapor stone, healthstones are used by placing concentrate directly on the inert carbon vapor stone and using a butane torch to vaporize the concentrate right off the stone.
When using a healthstone, you’ll want to make sure the vapor stone is made from high quality materials - a low-quality healthstone can easily break when introduced to high temperatures repeatedly. However, even with a high-quality vapor slide such as one from Healthstone Glass, you have to be careful not to use the torch in the same spot every time - otherwise the glass joint may crack or break. It’s certainly a convenient alternative to regular nails, and because the vapor stone doesn’t require an incredibly high-temperature flame to heat up, heathstones can be used with smaller torches that produce smaller flames. One downside of using a healthstone is that the butane from the torch ends up being inhaled by the user, which can make the taste less than ideal. All in all, I would recommend healthstones to an experienced concentrate user who may want to shake up their routine, but not to someone just getting into the hobby. Always start with the basics!
E-NAILSIf you’re a dedicated concentrate user and you’re tired of having to buy butane for your torch all the time, then an e-nail might be just what you’re looking for. Though there are many varieties of e-nails, they typically consist of a base that plugs into an outlet and a long cord with the nail attachment at the end of it. However, there are a couple portable e-nails as well, such as the Yocan Thor, which are battery powered and do not need to be attached to an electrical source.
E-nails are heated via electricity and typically have a digital or analog display that tells you what temperature the nail is set at. As soon as you turn the nail on, it will continue to heat up until it reaches the temperature that you have set. It also doesn’t take long to heat up, and stays heated for as long as it remains on. This makes it perfect for passing around in a group without having to worry about the pomp and circumstance of heating your nail with a torch.
One of the downsides of using an e-nail is that it can be dangerous if you’re using one with an open coil. However, some e-nails do have a safety feature that will turn the machine off if it is on for too long or if the temperature is too high, such as the very advanced Galaxy E-Nail. If you’re one that complains about having to heat up your nail every time you want to smoke, consider switching to an e-nail!
OTHER CONCENTRATE ACCESSORIES
Even though nails are the main necessity in smoking concentrates, there are a few other items that might make the experience more convenient and enjoyable.
Carb caps are an integral part of using concentrates - so integral, in fact, that we’ve made an entirely different article demonstrating how and what they are used for! For those that are looking for the short and sweet version, though, here you are: carb caps are used to evenly vaporize your concentrates when taking low-temperature dabs as well as to save any vapors off the top of your nail if you take too large of a hit. Though this is the simple explanation of a carb cap’s function, check out our article linked above for more information on the cap’s significance!
If you’re not using a domeless nail, you’ll need something to keep the vapor from being lost off the top of the nail. That’s where domes come in. Domes are used with glass, quartz, and even titanium nails that don’t have holes for airflow within them. Domes make sure that the vapors produced by your concentrates can be easily inhaled, reducing any sort of waste in the process of dabbing. Short and sweet, right?
Dabber tools are essential to using concentrates. Typically made of titanium, this long little rods are used to take concentrates and apply them to the nail, allowing for vaporization on the super-heated surface. Dabber tools can also be used by the enterprising smoker to gather reclaim from the walls of a rig, though this is not always possible.
-Of course there are plenty of other accessories not covered in this article - skillets, bangers, vaporizers - but these are the basics you need to get started on dabbing. Check out our other articles in our knowledge base for more information on the dabbing, smoking, and any of your other glass-related needs! And if you can’t find the answer to your question there, you can always drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our Live Chat feature during our regular store hours. Thanks for reading, and happy trails!