Ceramic is one of the most popular materials when it comes to dab nails. On par with glass, titanium and quartz, ceramic is unique in its ability to hold onto heat for much longer periods of time. Unlike other materials that must be conditioned prior to use, ceramic is able to hold its own straight out of the box.
Ceramic is also inert, meaning it will not impart any odd flavors or chemicals from such high heat. Metal can leave behind a distinct flavor that is all but pleasant for the keenest connoisseur. Titanium nails also tend to oxidize over time, whereas ceramic will not oxidize, and they are better at dispersing heat.
Since ceramic is also one of the most common, it is one of the most affordable as well. The only real downside apart from being fragile is that ceramic takes a while to heat up compared to titanium and quartz. You will need a steady and even hand if you want to be able to properly heat up a ceramic nail as well.
As just mentioned, ceramic nails require the hands of an experienced user in order to be competently used. Timing is everything and no two ceramic nails will be the same as they will often range in thickness. It usually takes anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes just to heat up a ceramic nail, depending on how thick it is.
Therefore a steady hand is so important for creating an even heat distribution throughout the nail. Care must be taken not to overheat a ceramic nail. This is because, unlike titanium or quartz, you will not really be able to tell when it is ready by any visual cue. Other materials glow hot after being lit up by a torch, whereas ceramic will not.
For all these reasons, it is highly recommended that a ceramic nail be reserved for those users who are seasoned pros with dab rigs and nails. Top this off with the fact that you have to also let the nail cool down a bit after hitting it with a torch to avoid total combustion of your concentrate. It really is a trickier material to use in a dab rig, though it is one of the best if you can manage to use it properly.
Unfortunately, trial and error will be a main component of any ceramic nail user's experience. Heating up a quartz or titanium nail will reveal a hot glow which will provide a rough idea of how hot the nail might be. The fact that ceramic does not provide this feature makes it even more difficult to use.
You will want to factor in how hot your ceramic nail is, and then experiment with the torch anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes. You will want to evenly distribute the flame throughout the nail slowly. This will also depend on what type of torch you have as well. After you come to take a hit that fully melts and vaporizes without leaving anything behind or giving off a burnt taste, that is when you know you have got it right.
Try to maintain a count or a timer of some sort to give you a better idea of how long it takes to heat up your ceramic nail. Using a carb cap on top of this will extend the life of your dab hit since ceramic retains heat the longest. This will restrict airflow and aid in heat retention, making this a solid combo for any dab rig setup.
Using the right type of torch is crucial to knowing how long you should heat up your dab nail for. Propane torches differ from butane in that propane burns hotter and are much more powerful than their butane counterparts. These are ideal for ceramic since they take longer to heat up. Butane torches are known for being sized conveniently, though not as efficient as propane.
You will likely be using a large torch to use it with a ceramic nail. This is another reason why ceramic nails are better united for pros. If you were to try to use a smaller butane torch to light up your nail, it would either take the full 2 minutes or perhaps not at all. This is especially true if your ceramic nail is particularly thick.
Always try to stick with a propane torch when using a ceramic nail. Timing is everything and you will want to keep your temperatures around the 300 to 400 F mark every time you dab with a ceramic nail. Remember that adding a carb cap to the mix will retain these lower temperatures longer and make your dab hit much tastier.
It goes without saying that heating up a ceramic nail is not for beginners. If you want to try your hand at using a ceramic nail with little to no experience, you will be wise to at least have a competent user who has used ceramic before and knows how to properly heat up the nail before trying it out yourself.
Ceramic nails are excellent for professional connoisseurs who demand a high-quality nail that will not influence the flavor profile and will retain heat for longer periods of time. Unlike other materials on the market, ceramic is one of the most popular materials for a dab nail and will continue to be improved upon as technology advances.