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E-Nails for Dabs: Are They Worth It?

June 9, 2017

When it comes to dabbing cannabis concentrates, the name of the game is all about achieving temperature consistency. Too cold, and the dab will pool at the base of the nail, giving off little to no vapor. Too hot, on the other hand, and one will be left with a dab that tastes and smells like hot melted plastic, scorched in a print of its own carbon dust.

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Traditionally, achieving optimal temperatures has been a job left to the butane torch, the most popular of dabber nail heating mechanisms. Torches work great at heating nails; however, they fail to provide a consistent temperature. This often leaves the dabber to play a waiting game each time, carefully trying to avoid a mistimed disaster. Perhaps the most intriguing answer to this dilemma has been the emergence of a piece of technology known as the e-nail, a device that harnesses electricity to ensure the perfect dab every time, no matter what.

What Is an E-Nail and How Do You Use One?

Commonly referred to as “electronic nails,” e-nails have been around for several years now, coming into existence shortly after the cannabis concentrate scene began taking off. However, popularity has been stagnant until recently as they used to be very pricey and difficult to come by.

The technology behind the electronic nail is simple. Units are typically comprised of a controller box which delivers heat through a coil that connects directly with the nail itself. These boxes allow for the controlled manipulation of temperature to the nail, granting its user the ability to regulate heat to their rig with the touch of a button.

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With an e-nail, dabbers can simply turn the unit on, set a desired temperature, and wait for the unit to indicate that it has reached said temperature before dabbing an unlimited amount of times without worrying about heat variability of any kind. E-nails function by providing an added level of control to the dabber, allowing them to use their rigs optimally to deliver consistent results.

The Benefits of Using an E-Nail

Aside from offering unprecedented temperature control, e-nails can also provide several other benefits. For one, they virtually eliminate having to rely on butane as a regular input. Although butane is relatively easy to come by, having to consistently maintain a supply is far from sustainable. In most cases, access to electricity is far more common than to a can of refined butane to fill a torch with.

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E-nails require very little power to operate and can last for hours, delivering endless dabs in the interim. For those who have been to cannabis festivals, most vendor booths that offer samples will do so with the accompaniment of a dab rig/e-nail setup. No other device can handle the sheer volume of dabs in such a short time frame, especially not a torch.

Potential Dangers of Dabbing With E-Nails

E-nails are not for everyone. In fact, there are times when having one is not recommended. These units are responsible for harnessing extremely high temperatures, upwards of 1000 degrees F and beyond. Operating an e-nail requires a certain level of responsibility and presence from the user. It is not recommended to leave these units on and unaccounted for, especially when around pets or other animals, children, or anyone who is not familiar with the technology.

These devices should also be used with extreme caution outside when exposed to the elements. E-nails are a fire hazard and should not be used around other flammables (including torches). All in all, these devices must be treated with the utmost respect and safety.

The Portable E-Nail for Dabs

Portability is another factor to consider when looking into e-nails. Although many units will travel easily, they are almost all restricted to electrical outlets (excluding portable vaporizers). In other words, you wouldn’t want to haul one of these out into the woods for a dab retreat. Save these occasions for the torch.

Lastly, although there has been a major shift in pricing recently that has made this technology more affordable to the everyday dabber, owning an e-nail still isn’t very cheap up front. On the low end, electronic nails sell for around $150 for analog units. High-end digital nails can easily cost over $700, with premium models reaching into the low $1,000’s. These higher-end models tend to offer greater temperature control and consistency. If you can get over the initial overhead, however, these units can save you much more money over time in butane cost alone.

Should You Buy an E-Nail? 

After weighing the facts, the question remains: is owning an e-nail right for you? Answering this will be a matter of personal preference. The technology is highly recommended for anyone who plans on enjoying cannabis concentrates long-term, and for those who wish to save money on butane costs over time.

E-nails are also terrific for social dabbers who plan to distribute lots of dabs over a long time span. For gatherings and events where there can be a supervised tasting station (such as festivals or trade shows), electronic nails are perfect to have around in order to keep the dabs coming.

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Flavor fans will also find incredible value in the temperature-maintaining consistency of an e-nail. There simply isn’t a better mechanism in existence for ensuring optimal temperatures.

On the other hand, these nails are not recommended for negligent dabbers, and should always be respected and used with caution. E-nails can also be costly up front and aren’t very portable. If you’re a novice looking to get into cannabis concentrates for the first time, it’s highly recommended you first outfit yourself with a torch. Although the e-nail deserves its place in every connoisseur’s dab station, one should always start with a torch and slowly work your way up the technological ladder.

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Patrick Bennett

Patrick lives with his wife and daughter in Denver, where he spends his time writing, photographing, and creating content for the cannabis community.

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