The carb cap is an innovative dabbing tool, first released in 2013, that makes it possible to dab marijuana concentrates at lower temperatures. This leads to a smoother, tastier, more pleasant experience than can otherwise be achieved.
What Is A Carb Cap?
A carb cap is a dabbing tool meant to be used with domeless nails on an open-air dab system. Carb caps come in many shapes and sizes, but all maximize true convection to efficiently vaporize cannabis oil. Made of heat-resistant materials, carb caps go on top of a nail, banger, or trough after the dab has been dropped in. Essentially, carb caps act as a lid on a boiling pot by containing the heat in the nail and restricting air flow.
Most carb caps feature a rounded end attached to a handle to prevent burning a finger, and feature a tiny hole that enables air to flow into the chamber to agitate the concentrate and direct it around the dabbing surface. Carb caps are compatible with everything from traditional quartz bangers to e-nails.
How Does a Carb Cap Work?
A traditional oil rig is a glass water pipe with a nail made of either glass, titanium or ceramic. The nail is heated using a butane torch or enail coil, and the concentrate is ‘dabbed’ onto it. This turns the concentrate into a potent smoke that is inhaled from the rig.
This is called an open system, in the sense that the concentrate is applied to the superheated nail while exposed to normal atmospheric pressures. Temperatures must be very high, often exceeding the point at which oils boil and smoke. This heat cuts down on loss of oil and completely combusts larger quantities.
The open-system approach works fairly well, at least in terms of providing THC and the unique hash oil experience. But it also degrades the flavor and quality of the smoke because the part of the dab that hits the nail first is subject to much more heat than the rest of the dab. This leads to a harsher taste, though the natural flavor of the oil still comes through to some degree.
A carb cap, also referred to as a ‘dab cap’, effectively closes the open system, changing the way the oil interacts with heat. The flavor improves and the smoke causes less irritation when inhaled.
In order to allow you to continue inhaling while using a carb cap, they all feature a small hole. This opening restricts air flow and provides a chamber in which to heat the concentrate. The small opening creates suction as it restricts air flow into the nail hole. This suction, in turn, lowers the air pressure inside the chamber to a level below normal atmospheric pressure. And this lowers the boiling temperature of the oil, allowing you to dab at lower temperatures than you would otherwise be able to.
As air squeezes through the hole in the carb cap, it creates a vortex that swirls around the chamber’s center column. This fluid motion creates dynamic and hydrostatic pressure, with the dynamic pressure lowest in the core of the chamber.
As a result, overall pressure in the chamber drops even further and cools the nail, the concentrate, and its smoke. At the same time, gravity pulls the dab down while the vortex provides centrifugal force that pushes the oil down even further. The process also changes the shape of the dab in a way that increases molecular interactions when the dab hits the nail. Altogether, these forces build an optimum chamber that leads to an ideal hash oil experience.
Benefits Of Using Carb Caps
Carb caps are essential for preserving the original chemical and aromatic profile of a cultivar. Many inexperienced users will heat their nail at very high temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. At certain high temperatures, cannabinoids and terpenes are destroyed, leaving behind a charred nail and harsh draw. Dabbing at lower temperatures (300-400 degrees Fahrenheit) can retain the strain’s intended flavor and aroma.
When dabbing at low temperatures, carb caps help retain heat for longer, so that users aren’t left with a puddle or with burnt oil. Carb caps restrict air flow, dropping the air pressure inside the chamber, which drops the boiling point of the concentrate. This means that users don’t need to torch their nails to be red hot to have a fuller and tastier experience.
Types Of Carb Caps
All carb caps are made out of heat-resistant materials like glass, titanium, and ceramic. Carb caps can range from simple, flat-top designs to more novelty and customized options. The most common materials used are high-quality borosilicate glass and titanium (grade 2). Each carb cap type has a unique function and design. Some examples of types of carb caps are shown below:
Flat Carb Cap – Flat carb caps feature a rounded end and a handle that can go on most bangers, buckets, or troughs. Flat carb caps are a step up from using household items to create a seal over the nail.
Bubble Carb Cap – Bubble carb caps provide users with maximum control over airflow due to their large carb stem and ball-and-socket design. They are especially suitable for flat-top nails.
Directional Airflow Carb Cap – Featuring a carb hole and an angled tube stemming down the cap, directional flow carb caps create a proper seal around a nail. When rotated or swiveled, they can direct the oil (and terp pearls) around the dabbing surface for improved vaporization.
Universal Carb Caps – Universal carb caps feature a hollow dome that fits over the top of irregularly-shaped nails like e-nails, castle-style nails, and most domeless nails.
Compatibility With Dab Nails
Getting a wrongly sized carb cap for a nail can provide a less-than-stellar dabbing experience due to improper airflow and heat retention. It’s crucial to select the appropriately sized carb cap to ensure that there is a proper seal around the nail. Due to the overwhelming selection of nails and carb caps, it’s difficult to know which one will fit a setup.
To find the ideal carb cap for a certain nail, users can consult our Compatibility Tool to select a nail and view compatible carb caps. Generally, flat top bangers and e-nails are compatible with bubble carb caps, directional airflow carb caps, thermal caps, and other flat-top caps. Slanted or stepper bangers can function with some flat carb caps or titanium banger caps with a slanted top. Hollow, universal carb caps are more compatible with nails that have a center stem higher than the sidewalls.