As a general rule — where dabbing or almost anything else is concerned — you should do whatever works for you and not worry too much about the next person’s opinion. Having said that, if you dab off anything other than quartz you need to seriously reevaluate your life and figure out why you don’t love yourself enough to get a proper banger for your dab rig.
Whether sparking up a torch or turning on an e-nail, you need to decide which material you want to heat and dab off of, and you have three choices: titanium, ceramic or quartz. As with most multiple choice questions, if you blindly guessed “C,” you got it right. When it comes to getting the cleanest, most flavorful hit, it’s all about low-temp dabs and when it comes to low-temp dabs, it’s definitely all about quartz.
Of all the materials available, quartz heats up and cools down the fastest, making it ideal for low-temp torch dabs. It generally takes 10 seconds or less to heat a quartz banger evenly and less than a minute for it to cool to the ideal temperature for a perfect dab. There are situation-specific benefits to the other two options — obviously nothing beats titanium on durability — but when it comes to enjoying high-terp/low-temp dabs, there’s no question that the choice is quartz.
OK, So What’s a Banger?
Now that you know quartz is the way to go, let’s talk about how a banger differs from a nail. As the name suggests, a dab nail has a flat, sometimes slightly recessed heating surface perched atop a thin stem. The original nails were the centerpiece of a dome rig and were generally made of titanium, adding to the nail-like appearance.
A simple banger evokes a tiny glass basketball hoop, if the hoop was a closed-bottom bucket instead of a net. The pole supporting the hoop, in this case, is a stem that fits into the dropstem of a dab rig. The stem can be internal or external, meaning it either fits into or over the access point for the dropstem on your rig. As a general rule, go for a dab rig that accepts internal stems to avoid getting melted oil dripping on the outside of your rig.
The physical design makes a banger the superior choice for taking larger dabs, because where a nail has only so much surface area to accommodate your dab, a banger is basically a bucket.
There are numerous variations on the banger, including a popular but less common type known as a “trough” banger. Envision a barrel turned on its side with a long strip cut out of the side facing upwards and you’ve got the basic idea. Some find it easier to keep a trough banger clean, but ultimately the style is up to you.
Regardless of the physical style, even the most meticulous dabbers find it difficult to maintain a quartz banger indefinitely using Q-tip tech (swabbing the nail after each hit with a Q-tip to absorb the leftover melted material), so many have started using quartz inserts. These fit inside your banger and absorb its heat through conduction. They can either be preloaded and placed inside a banger before heating or dropped in after heating. It takes some practice getting used to it, but the inserts greatly extend the life of your banger.
Even though they are by definition “domeless,” a banger really needs a carb cap to fully deliver a low-temp dab. The type of cap used is generally a matter of personal preference, and the options range from simple paddles with a hole for airflow to “directional” caps that allow airflow to be directed manually.
The latest evolution in banger and carb cap combos is the introduction of “terp pearls” or “terp twisters,” quartz beads placed inside the banger that — when paired with a vortex carb cap — spiral around the banger rapidly, agitating the liquified concentrate and maximizing vapor production.
Another less common (but cool and kind of useful) riff on the standard quartz banger is the use of thermochromic quartz flakes that respond to torch heat by changing color. Not only does it look cool, but it can also be used as a visual cue for when your banger is at the ideal temp for a dab.
And, as with any borosilicate glass product for consuming cannabis, there are several high-end expressions for lovers of “functional art glass” who simply can’t stand to spend less than a rack on a rig. To be fair, if you just blew upwards of $100,000 for a Fab Egg at auction, you might as well drop the extra $400 or so on an authentic Mothership Honeypot set with a hinged swing banger. Thankfully for the rest of us, a simple quartz banger can be purchased for much closer to $20, and with proper care, it can last for years.
There are dozens of variations and styles, but if you want to really appreciate the terps in your dab and enjoy the cleanest, most accurate expression of them, the quartz banger is king.
5 Types of Bangers
There are too many physical variations on the quartz banger to list them all, but here are five that capture the possible spectrum the quartz banger can encompass. These bangers range in complexity from simple pieces with novel design changes, such as rounded bottoms or a rectangular shape, to elaborate mechanisms with moving parts. Here are some unique but relatively common riffs on the basic banger.
1) Opaque “Gavel” Banger
Most quartz bangers have one thing in common — you can see right through them. Whether it’s attached to a prismatic heady rig or a scientific glass piece, most bangers are transparent. “Gavel” bangers have an opaque quartz base, which heats up faster and retains heat longer.
2) Thermal Banger
A thermal banger has a “double wall” design that delivers some of the benefits of using an insert, allowing for bigger dabs at lower temps.
3) Grail Banger
A grail banger has a slightly flared base with a thick base similar to the opaque base of a gavel banger. It also has a slit or slits near the base, allowing for even airflow over the melted oil.
4) Quave Club Banger
The Quave club banger runs upwards of $170 if you get an authentic one from Quave CB, but there are many copies that utilizes the same slanted top design, which some dabbers feel improves airflow.
5) Bucket/Swing Banger
A bucket or swing banger combines a quartz banger with a “honey bucket” that can either be built into a rig or attached with a modular unit. One of the most sought-after examples comes from Mothership, a high watermark/price-tag-setter of the borosilicate world.
Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.