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What is an e-rig or e-nail?

Hands in the forefront preparing to do a dab from a Puffco Peak in a sunny setting
(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Short for “electronic rig” and “electronic nail,” e-rigs and e-nails are devices that make dabbing cannabis concentrates easier by providing exact, consistent heat. 

Traditional dabbing is done by heating a nail with a butane torch. Nails are attachments placed in a dab rig, which are heated and allowed to cool. Then dabs are placed in the nail and inhaled. Nails are similar to a bowl in a bong, except for concentrates.

It can be difficult to get the proper temperature to vaporize concentrates when dabbing with a torch. If the nail is too cold, the concentrate won’t melt fully, and if it’s too hot, it might scorch the dab and ruin its flavor. Additionally, it can be hard to get the same correct temperature again and again.   

The benefit of e-rigs and e-nails is that they can be set to specific temperatures, giving the dabber more control and consistency throughout the experience. 

There are many different types of e-rigs and e-nails, all from different companies and all utilizing different designs and technologies, but they all heat concentrates electronically and without the use of a torch.

Read more on the differences between e-rigs and e-nails below.

What is an e-rig?

puffco peak pro on black background
The Puffco Peak Pro. (Courtesy Puffco)

A standard dab rig is a water pipe used to inhale concentrates—it’s similar to a bong, but for concentrates. An electronic rig, or e-rig, is a full rig that heats dabs through electronic means and is powered by a battery that needs to be charged through a standard wall outlet. An example is the Puffco Peak Pro, pictured above. 

The entire rig is electronic and can be set to specific temperatures, depending on the consumer’s preference. It is a full rig and not an attachment, as is the case with e-nails.

What is an e-nail?

person enjoying a concentrate dab using a MiniNail e-mail with plugged in set-up
A MiniNail e-nail. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

A standard nail is an apparatus that sits in a dab rig; it is heated with a torch and dabs are dropped into it for inhalation.

An electronic nail, or e-nail, takes the place of a standard nail. It is an attachment that fits onto a traditional glass dab rig with a cord going to a temperature control box, as seen in the MiniNail, pictured above.

Some e-nails have batteries and some need to be plugged into the wall when in use. As with an e-rig, e-nails can be set to exact temperatures.

A standard glass dab rig is still required with an e-nail, but this setup allows the consumer to get rid of a standard nail and torch.

Benefits of e-rigs and e-nails

Exact temperature control

As far as the consumption experience, using an e-rig or e-nail will allow the dabber to dial in the temperature to an exact setting, whether that be low temps for more flavor, high temps for big clouds, or anything in between. Some devices have temperature presets, while others can be set to an exact degree of temperature.

Consistency

Once you find the temperature you like, you can heat the device to that specific temperature again and again, at the flip of a switch. When using a torch, it’s difficult to get the exact same temperature repeatedly, and getting consistent dabs usually involves using a temperature gun, which adds more gear to your setup.

Safety

Using a torch is more dangerous than using an electronic device because they have an open flame. 

Torches also use up fuel quickly, and dabbers who use them constantly need to buy butane and also properly dispose of empty cans. 

Drawbacks of e-rigs and e-nails

Price

The main drawback to these devices is price. Most start at $200 and go up from there, so they require a bit of an investment. 

Each brand of e-rig or e-nail is very different and is almost its own form of consumption because each utilizes a different design and technology. Not only do you need to invest in using an e-rig or e-nail, but you have to invest in a specific device because they are all so different.

Their high price makes it difficult to test one out; usually you need to find a friend who has one to try it. 

Portability

Not all e-rigs or e-nails are very portable, and dabbers often have to have a setup in their house devoted to a device. Some are portable and come with a carrying case, but there is always a concern that an expensive device can break in transit.

Additionally, some e-rigs and e-nails need to be plugged in to operate, limiting their range to wherever there is an electrical outlet. All e-rigs and e-nails at least need to be charged, so you’ll have to make sure the battery is full so it doesn’t die in the middle of a session.

Cleaning

E-rig and e-nail devices can be a pain to clean. E-rigs can’t get fully soaked in alcohol because of their electrical parts, and e-nails often have many pieces that need to be taken apart and soaked, and then put back together. Be careful not to break your dab rig when removing an e-nail.

In the end, if you are a dedicated dabber and have tried out a certain e-rig or e-nail and like it, it is well worth the price to invest in one. 


Pat Goggins contributed to this article.