Enails vs. Torch: Which is better for dabbing?
As cannabis concentrate products capture consumer’s hearts and minds, the number of ways to consume them is growing.
The conventional “dab rig” is still a popular go-to method, devices designed specifically for concentrates like budder and sugar. Dab rigs require heating a metal, glass, or ceramic nail before applying small amounts of concentrates that combust on contact, a process typically done with a small blowtorch.
However, recent tech advancements have brought enails onto the scene, replacing the flame with electric heating mechanisms.
When it comes to using enails vs. torches with a dab rig, which one is best for you? Here, we’ll go through the benefits and drawbacks of each device so you can make the most educated decision for your next session.
What is a torch, and how it is used?
A torch is exactly as it sounds -- a small, handheld blowtorch used to heat your nail (also called a banger), which is the part of your dab rig where the concentrate is placed.
Dabbing torches come in a variety of sizes, strengths, and compatible gases; butane is common. Oftentimes, dabbing torches are mini torches or culinary torches applied for this purpose, and dabbers prefer smaller models for ease of use and safety.
Some torches allow you to control the size of the flame, while others are more basic and only have a single setting.
Dabbing torches are used with a traditional dab rig fitted with a bucket, also known as a banger, which is a piece designed specifically for use with concentrates like wax or shatter.
Turn on your torch (only after reading the safety instructions!) and apply heat to the nail until it’s red-hot.
Once heated, allow the nail to cool briefly; the precise time required to cool to an optimal temperature for vaporization may vary depending upon the material from which your nail is made. Then, drop your concentrate into the nail.
It’s important to note that your nail needs to be made of a material strong enough to withstand ultra-high temperatures; nails are typically made of titanium, ceramic, or our preference, quartz.
Using a torch: Benefits and drawbacks
As one of first ways to dab, torches come with several benefits, including:
More affordable: You can buy a basic dabbing torch for as little as $20. Other models with more features or of different sizes may cost more.
Straightforward: There’s no learning curve when it comes to using a torch. Make sure it has enough butane, turn it on, and heat your nail -- that’s it.
Doesn’t need electricity: Dabbing torches can be used anywhere at any time, without needing to charge them or hooking them up to an outlet. This makes dabbing torches a great option for portability.
Being the first doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best, though. Dabbing torches come with several disadvantages, including:
No way to control temperature: While some dabbing torches allow you to control the size of the flame, there’s no way to control the torch’s exact temperature output. It’s more than likely that you’ll heat your nail to temperatures way higher than necessary to release cannabinoids and terpenes. Plus, you’ll quickly burn through your material, creating a bitter taste closer to burnt toast than cannabis.
They can be dangerous: Needless to say, playing with fire isn’t the safest thing. Dabbing torches can reach temperatures as high as 2,500° Fahrenheit -- temperatures that can damage surfaces, burn through objects, and could even hurt someone when not handled properly.
Gas needs to be refilled: Torches need to be refilled with butane. If you run out of butane gas, you’re out of luck.
What is an enail, and how is it used?
Enails, short for “electronic nails,” are devices designed to replace dabbing torches. Instead of cranking up an ultra-hot flame, enails use a heating coil to heat up the banger.
Enails have two main components: a controller box and a coil which connects directly to the banger.
The controller box allows you to choose the precise temperature, and the coil heats to the exact degree you indicate. This has made enails a fast favorite among dabbers who prefer concentrates but struggled to keep the temperature of their blowtorches under control.
Enails are designed to make it easier to control temperature, making them especially useful for low temp dabbing, which preserves the flavor of the concentrate.
To use an enail, connect your enail to a power source or charge it if your model is rechargeable. Connect the coil to the banger, turn on the enail, select your temperature, and wait for the enail to indicate that the set degree has been reached. Dab as usual.
In recent years there has been a large push towards enails as they become smaller in size. Puffco Peaks has been one of the most popular due to that exact reason.
Higher-end models, such as the Puffco Peak Pro, have additional features that really allow a user to step up their dabbing game.
Using an enail: Benefits and drawbacks
Here are some of the benefits of using an enail:
Precise temperature control: By far, the enail’s leading advantage over a dabbing torch is the ability to carefully control the temperature. As we explained above, precise temperature control is key to unlocking certain cannabinoids, preserving terpenes, and avoiding the burned bitterness that comes with scorching your concentrates to death. An enail is programmable to the degree, so you can fine-tune your session however you’d like.
Helps preserve flavor: The precise temperature control prevents your concentrates from tasting charred. By dabbing at the lower temperatures set by the enail, you preserve the delicate terpenes that are easily damaged by excessive heat.
Reduces thermal shock to nail: Heating up your nail too quickly can result in thermal shock, which is damage to an object due to a rapid and drastic change in temperature. An enail gradually raises the nail’s temperature, reducing the possibility that your nail will crack, warp, or otherwise sustain damage.
For all their benefits, enails has several drawbacks, including:
Needs a power source: Enails need to be connected to an outlet or other power source to work. If you’re not near an outlet, or if it isn’t charged, you won’t be able to use your enail.
Not easy to carry around: A traditional enail can be bulky and unwieldy, as the controller box and coil take up space. While there are smaller and more refined units available, it’s still yet another object to carry around if you want to dab on the go.
More expensive: Enails range in price depending on the brand you buy, but you can expect to spend more than $100 on an entry-level model. This makes enails a significantly more expensive investment than torches, although you won’t need to pay for gas refills like you would a butane torch.
As the technology continues to develop, portable enail devices that more closely resemble electronic vaporizers have emerged as alternative options. These devices are designed for portability but offer the same advantages as enails over the conventional blowtorch method.
Enail vs. Torch Comparison Chart
Still deciding between an enail and a torch? We took the main features of enails and torches and laid them out into this handy chart so you can better compare each one’s benefits and drawbacks.
Enail vs. Torch: which is better?
Heat is key to the dabbing experience! Just like consuming flower, dabbing requires a heat source to convert phytocannabinoids in cannabis from their acidic forms into their active form.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and the dozens of minor cannabinoids in cannabis are “unlocked” once they hit their boiling points. While each cannabinoid has a different boiling point, they typically fall within the 300°F - 450°F range.
Aromatic and flavorful terpenes are similarly heat sensitive, burning off when exposed to excessive temperatures.
As the available technologies evolved and the cannabis community learned more about heat’s role in the dabbing process, it became more clear that dabbing torches were simply too imprecise.
Blowtorches reach temperatures that are unnecessary for -- and even damaging to -- the integrity of your concentrates. As enails were developed and made their way onto the scene, they made it possible to dab at more precise temperatures, more effectively preserving cannabinoids and the delicate flavor provided by terpenes.
Going the next level with Puffco Pro's
Technology such as where the Puffco brand is going are solid email options. Puffco has done an amazing job of minimizing the size while incorporating all the little features one would imagine when it comes to a high tech enail. Some of the most positive benefits of the Puffco include:
-The sleekest design. It's small and can be carried around and used within a group with ease.
-Customizable temperature & Pre-set temp settings. Have the exact control down to the degree. This allows a user to never worry about nail cool downtimes to ensure the proper temp is met. Simply set it and go!
- Customizable lights make it so you can personalize the device whenever you desire!
-The ability to integrate through Bluetooth to connect with your phone. This allows all the customizable features at the touch of a finger.
Why does Think Higher pick enails like Puffco Pros?
While the choice you make is yours alone, we at Think Higher Caregiving are big believers in using enails because of their ability to control the temperature.
With an enail, you can preserve the flavors of the product during your session, which is especially important when consuming concentrates celebrated for their flavor. You’ll no longer need to heat concentrates beyond the boiling point necessary to activate them. Most importantly, enails are much safer to use than torches and butane: there’s no open flame or gas to worry about.
If you have questions about consuming concentrates or how to use an enail, our budtenders at Think Higher Caregiving are available to answer your questions. Contact Think Higher Caregiving or request an appointment at our Bozeman medical marijuana dispensary to learn more.