Torches, Nails and Domes
The hot knives approach worked well for decades, but it was still innately rudimentary. The knives that were used tended to permanently stain black from the heat, and it was difficult inhaling the vapour from the knives without some sort of secondary contraption, like the top-half of a 2-litre pop bottle, placed inside the user’s mouth in order to contain the vapour as it steamed off the knives. The science of hot-knifing wasn’t entirely perfect: stainless steel didn’t seem like the healthiest metal to be inhaling off of and the plastic bottle jammed in the user’s mouth didn’t necessarily promote ease-of-use or professionalism.
As Shatter, Wax and Rosin took over the mainstream of cannabis concentrates; newer, more versatile methods of consuming the extracts became prevalent. These newer styles incorporated a water bong into the process, which helped cool the concentrated vapour as well as enabling larger hits. In the beginning, there were a few different versions that required a butane or propane torch and a pivoting metal tray, known as a ‘Swing-Skillet”, but the first benchmark of the evolution of dabbing was the “Nail”.
Referred to as a “Nail” because of its similarities in appearance to an actual carpenter’s nail, this method of inhaling the cannabis concentrates quickly replaced the “Swing-Skillet” style. Used in conjunction with a “Dome” to encapsulate the vapour and direct it downwards into the water bong, the nail style quickly became popular. The user would heat up the tip of the nail with a butane or propane torch until it was red-hot. After waiting for it to cool down a little, the user would place a “dab” of concentrate to the top of the hot nail, vaporizing it instantly downwards into the bong and along the airflow created by the user’s lungs. The dome, placed around the nail immediately after torching and before inhalation, helped contain the vapour to the bong and lessened the chance of it vaporizing into the air.
While an improvement on the “Swing-Skillet” style, the dome-and-nail approach still left a lot to be desired. One major flaw with this approach was that the concentrate had a tendency to drip down the nail and solidify, resulting in wastage and a dirty bong. Larger dabs had trouble vaporizing all at once, and as a result, left hardened, tar-like resin, know as “Reclaim”, all along the nail and glass joint. Something needed to be done to address the wastage.
Domeless Nails and Domed Nails
The “Domeless Nail” was the logical successor to the dome-and-nail style. This method combined the dome and nail by incorporating a dish around a hole, which led down into the water bong. Now, the user would heat up the domeless nail with a butane or propane torch and when ready, easily drop the concentrate into the dish without worrying too much about wastage. The hot dish would vaporize the concentrate and the hole in the centre of the dish would draw the vapour into the bong along the airflow created by the user inhaling. The nail itself also experienced a profound change in design, evolving into something that looked much more like a bolt than a nail. However, the term “nail” was firmly engrained into the cannabis lexicon and the name stuck, and hence the “domeless nail” came into existence.
Another trend that began with the dome-and-nail style and continued into the domeless nail method was using different materials for nails. While Quartz nails had become the norm with the domed style, nails made out of titanium and ceramic were also popular. Users seemed to prefer one to the other in terms of taste and flavour, but it was entirely subjective. Just as important, was the durability and changeability of the nail. The quartz was obviously the most fragile of the three, while titanium was certainly the strongest.
Another benefit of the titanium and ceramic domeless nails was their ability to be manufactured to transform from male to female and to be able to be used with six different sizes of glass joint. The glass joints refer to the point where the bowl or nail connects with the bong. They tend to come in six sizes: 10mm; 14mm; & 19mm, either male or female. While not all domeless nails had the ability to change, the importance of transforming quickly became clear. The ability to transform allowed the domeless nail to be nearly universal in its usability and the idea of one nail fitting only one size quickly became a thing of the past. If you spent $50 or $60 on a 6-in-1 Titanium or Ceramic Domeless Nail, you would never need another one again.