Stoner’s Guide: Best Way to Clean Your Dab Nails

how to clean a dab nail
August 1, 2019 By Kyle Broussard

Dab nails are a great way to enjoy your smoking experience, but the one downside to them is that they get dirty very quickly compared to a lot of other smoking devices. 

Knowing the best way to clean your dab nail can help you make it last longer and provide you with a smoother smoking experience overall. It is important to know the right and wrong way to clean dab nails, because you can do damage to them in the process if you are not thorough.

At HelpingPot, we have cleaned hundreds of pieces in the past, so we know what it takes to keep them clean for years. We wrote this guide to help you understand how to clean a dab nail in a few easy steps. 

In this guide, we will answer all of your questions, including: 

Let’s get started! 

What is the Best Way to Clean a Dab Nail?

The best way to clean a dab nail depends on the type of nail you have. For titanium nails, you cannot use most traditional cleaning solutions because they wear down the protective coating on the outside of the nail, and can cause long term damage, or even oxidization to your nail. Titanium dab nails require a burning treatment to clean it instead. With other nails like ceramic, glass, and quartz, you can use Isopropyl alcohol mixed with salt to clean them. Simply let them soak for about 30-60 minutes and you should have a brand new nail. 

What Supplies Will I Need?

In order to get started with the dab nail cleaning process, you will need the following supplies:

  • Salt 
  • Isopropyl alcohol 
  • Plastic bags or container 
  • Pipe cleaners 
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Q-tips 
  • Dab torch
  • Dabber tool (optional)

Keep in mind, some of these tools may be used more in the process for cleaning titanium nails, while others may be used more for cleaning the other types of dab nails.

how to clean a titanium dab nail

How to Clean a Titanium Dab Nail – 5 Steps 

In order to get the best results when cleaning your titanium nail, you will want to follow these steps: 

1. Assess How Dirty Your Nail Is 

The first thing you will want to do is get a good idea of just how dirty your nail is. Sometimes, there really is a point of no return with these things, where you may not be able to expect good results even from diligently cleaning it. However, for the most part, as long as you follow these next steps you should be able to get your titanium nail clean with some patience and dedication. 

2. Begin Slowly Heating it & Removing Resin With Your Dabber Tool 

The next step is to heat your dab nail using your dab torch. You don’t need to make it too hot, just warm enough to liquefy or loosen up the resin accumulated on your nail. Typically, 300F is perfect for this. One thing you should be sure of is that you do not heat your nail for too long in the cleaning process. This can cause long term damage to your nail, and ruin its ability to hold heat for long periods of time, and to heat up fast. 

Once your nail is heated up, you should grab your dabber tool and begin to slowly scrape all of the resin you can off of the nail. Sometimes, it can be hard to reach some spots, such as the corners. For these spots, we recommend using a paper clip. Just be careful to be gentle with the paperclip, as you can scratch your nail with it if you apply too much pressure. 

3. Let it Cool & Don’t Heat it for Too Long

One of the biggest mistakes we see people make when cleaning their dab nails is heating their nail for too long, and not letting it cool properly. You want to get it done fast and be able to remove as much resin as possible every time you heat it up. But, heating your nail until it is red hot is very bad for its lifespan, and can also burn you while trying to remove resin. So, be sure to only heat your nail for about 30 seconds at a time, removing as much as you can, then let it cool a bit before heating it again. This will make the process take a bit longer, but it is better than cleaning your nail just to have to buy a new one anyway.

4. Repeat Steps 3-4 As Needed 

Chances are, if you smoke a lot of dabs, you will need a few rounds of heating, removing, and cooling before your nail is completely clean. This will be a pain in the ass, and there really isn’t a way around it. Sadly, this is one of the real disadvantages to titanium nails, and one of the main reasons that we prefer quartz and ceramic nails over them. They are easier to clean, have no after taste, and are safer to smoke. However, if treated right, titanium nails will almost always last longer than their more fragile counterparts. It is a trade-off. To learn more about the different types of dab nails, check out this complete guide.

5. Clean As You Go in the Future

Ultimately, the best way to keep your titanium nail clean is to continually clean it after every use. This way, you keep the resin buildup to a minimum, and also get the side benefit of using your dabs more efficiently. While this can seem like a bit of an extra effort, if you clean it while it is still warm, it is super easy, and manageable. It probably adds about 1 minute to each smoking session, but also probably saves you 2-4 hours of painstaking cleaning when you wait for it to get so bad that you have no choice (we all know that’s what us Stoners tend to do ;)).

A Few Important Things to Keep in Mind

Alcohol is Bad for Titanium Nails – Don’t Destroy Your Nail!

Under no circumstance should you ever use alcohol in order to clean your titanium nail. This will cause damage to the outer protective coating, and can lead to the oxidization of your nail, which makes it unusable. On top of that, the protective coating keeps dangerous fumes from being created when using your nail, so you can also be exposing yourself to harmful fumes. 

Cleaning Your Titanium Nail is Fine – As Long as You Do it Right

A lot of people on the internet will tell you that you should never clean your titanium nail, and should either keep smoking your dirty one, or opt for a new one. While getting a new nail is always a great experience, it can become expensive quickly if you do it every time your nail gets a bit dirty. On top of that, there are plenty of effective and safe ways to clean your titanium nail that are easy, cheap, and make your nail just as good as new.

Seasoning Your Dab Nail Helps – This Can Help Make Your Nail Last Longer & Stay Cleaner

Believe it or not, if you season a new titanium nail, it can make cleaning in the future a breeze, and can also strengthen it for future cleaning and use. If you already have an old titanium nail you never did this with, no worries, it tends to happen naturally over time anyways. But, if you have a new titanium nail, you will want to take the time to season it. Check out this comprehensive guide to seasoning your dab nail to learn more.

You Can Boil Your Titanium Nail to Clean it – But You Need to Be Careful

Another way to clean your titanium nail is by boiling it in water. More often than not, this method is extremely effective, but you need to make sure you do it right or you can seriously damage your nail or even destroy it. To clean your titanium nail using boiling water, simply place it in a pot of water, and let it heat up gradually to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, leave it in for about 30 more seconds before taking the pot off the burner. To prevent damage, it is very important that you: 

  • Do not keep your nail in boiling water for more than 30 seconds 
  • Do not remove it from the boiling water immediately, but instead let it cool back down to room temperature 
  • Do not place it directly into boiling water, but instead let it heat up with the water 
  • Do not heat it with your torch prior to placing it in water 

A lot of people out there will tell you to do one or more of these things listed above. But what they fail to understand is that one of the main reasons titanium nails need to be replaced is because they have lost their ability to heat fast and hold heat consistently. This happens of overexposure to prolonged heat, rapid temperature change, or high heat. Doing any of these things above will cause strain to your nail over time because of rapid temperature change.

The reason this is not the primary method of cleaning mentioned in this post is that it is usually less effective, and can take more time to clean – although it is less time you need to spend handpicking resin off of your nail. Also, a lot of mistakes can be made in this process that can ruin a nail. For these reasons, we only recommend using this method if you understand the process, and are very focused on doing every step perfectly. 

how to clean a dab nail - ceramic, glass, and quartz dab nail cleaning guide

How to Clean a Glass, Ceramic, & Quartz Dab Nails – 5 Steps 

Cleaning glass, ceramic, and quartz nails is a lot easier and more hands-off process than cleaning titanium. You will want to follow these steps to get the best results: 

1. Create Your Cleaning Solution

The best cleaning solution to use for your nails and any other smoking equipment is without a doubt Isopropyl alcohol and salt. Pour enough Isopropyl to soak your nail into a bag or container, then mix in about 4-5 tablespoons of salt. Then, seal your container with your nail inside, and give it a little shake to get things started. One way to improve your results is to take the salt and push it into the hard to reach areas of your dab nail, to get some abrasion that can loosen up some of that resin.

2. Let Your Dab Nail Soak for 30-60 Minutes

Once you have made your cleaning solution and mixed it up a bit, leave your dab nail in it to soak for at least 30-60 minutes. Sure, some people say you only need 15 minutes or less, but in our opinion, if you are going to go through the process of cleaning your dab nail, you might as well do it right and get the best results. Letting it soak overnight is the best way to do this. That way, you don’t miss out on smoking it, and you let it sit long enough in the cleaning solution to get all of the resin out. 

3. Rinse Off & Remove Any Remaining Particles

Once you have let it soak for at least 30-60 minutes, remove your nail from the cleaning solution and rinse it off with room temperature water. Cold or hot water can cause rapid temperature change which can be dangerous to quartz, ceramic, and glass nails. Running water should help to remove any remaining resin. Anything that remains after rinsing may either need another rinsing cycle, or some extra abrasion to remove it. Try using a pipe cleaner, q-tip, or paper clip on it while rinsing in water or the cleaning solution, this usually does the trick. 

Be sure to always rinse your nail off thoroughly with water after soaking it in your cleaning solution. You want to make sure that you get rid of any remaining alcohol residue because it can be very dangerous if inhaled. Rinsing with water for 2 minutes will do the trick.

4. Let it Dry Before Using Again

It is very important that you let your dab nail dry completely before using it again. Remaining moisture from water or alcohol fumes can cause problems or damage if heated, and can also cause harm to you if it mixes with your concentrates. To be safe, just make sure that your dab nails are completely dry before using them again. 

5. Enjoy Your Clean Dab Nail!

Now all you have to do is enjoy your brand new looking dab nail! Enjoy your smoke, be safe, and make sure that you try to clean your dab nail as you go this time, that way you can reduce the amount of large cleaning sessions you have to do, and can keep your nail very clean for a long time.

3 tips for cleaning your dab rig nails

3 Tips for Cleaning Dab Nails

In order to get the most out of your cleaning experience, use these helpful tips: 

1. Just Clean Everything at Once 

Look, making the cleaning solution, and waiting for everything to sit can somewhat be a pain in the side. However, if you use your time spent waiting and your supplies productively, you can clean all of your pieces at once. This is the best way to approach things, and you won’t regret it. This way, all of your favorite smoking devices are cleaned at the same time, and you can spend just a few hours every 3-6 months or so to get everything cleaned.

2. Take Your Time 

No one likes cleaning, especially when it involves scraping resin off of a tiny, intricate piece of smoking equipment. However, rushing the process never makes anything go faster, and usually only results in mistakes that can cost you a good nail. Take your time, follow the steps, and you will be thankful you did.

3. Be Delicate & Follow Instructions 

Keep in mind that dab nails are very fragile. While they can withstand temperatures upwards of 500F, they can still be damaged by very rapid temperature changes, overheating, being heated for too long, and dropping them. Following these instructions and being careful throughout the entire process is the best way to clean your dab rig nails effectively.  

How Do You Clean a Nectar Collector Nail?

More often than not, nectar collectors nails are titanium. In order to clean them, simply follow the same instructions as above. In order to clean your nectar collector itself, we strongly advise that you read through this helpful guide we created. 

How Do You Clean a Quartz Banger?

Cleaning a quartz banger is a bit different than cleaning dab nails because of the difference in shape and size, as well as the way resin tends to accumulate on them. For the most part, a mixture of burning and soaking techniques gets the job done. For a complete guide on how to clean your quartz banger, check out this comprehensive guide we made.

natural ways to clean your dab nail

3 Ways to Clean Your Dab Nail Without Alcohol

Okay, so maybe you are looking for a more natural way to clean your dab nails, or just don’t have Isopropyl alcohol on hand at the moment. So, how can you clean your dab nail without alcohol? Here are a few simple ways:

(Keep in mind these are only for glass, ceramic, and quartz nails. Titanium nails should not be put into cleaning solutions for safety reasons.)

Salt & Vinegar 

Salt and vinegar works almost just as well as the salt and Isopropyl alcohol solution, but it does take a bit longer to get the same results, and also smells a lot worse. Overall though, all the same steps should be followed. 

Vinegar & Baking Soda 

Vinegar and baking soda does not work as well as salt and vinegar, primarily because the baking soda is not as granular as the salt, making it less abrasive on resin. Overall though, this method does work if you follow the steps above. 

Lemon Water 

Lemon water is definitely the least effective method for cleaning your dab nails. It takes a lot longer to work, and will probably require additional scrubbing on your behalf, even after soaking overnight. Overall, this method is probably the most natural but also takes the longest. The same steps from above should be followed when using this cleaning technique.

Need a New Dab Nail? Check Out These Great Options:

Sometimes, you just can’t get that grime off no matter what you do, and it is officially time to say farewell to an old piece in favor of a new dab nail. If you are looking for a new dab nail or banger for your rig, here are some of our fan favorites: 

Best Quartz Banger: ELEV8 Thermal Banger

how to clean your dab nail best quartz banger

This is one of the best quartz bangers we have ever used. The thermal design allows for superior cooling, longer heat absorption, and optimum usage of your dabbing extracts, for an overall great smoking experience.


Best Quartz Nail: ELEV8 Domeless Quartz Nail

how to clean your dab nail best quartz dab nail

This is a great domeless quartz nail that is durable, affordable, and has some of the best performance on the market. ELEV8 is sure to help you up your dabbing game.


Best Titanium Dab Nail: ELEV8 Domeless Universal Titanium Nail

how to clean your dab nail best titanium dab nail

This universal titanium nail fits nearly all traditional sizes, both male and female, making it a great gift for your Stoner friends who have a lot of bongs or rigs of different sizes.


Best Ceramic Dab Nail: Glassheads Domeless Ceramic Nail

how to clean your dab nail best ceramic dab nail

This smooth hitting ceramic nail is perfect for most traditional joint sizes. It is durable, and has great heat retention. Definitely a great value for what you pay.


Also, you may be interested in learning more about what options you have for your next nail or dab rig accessory. Be sure to check out these helpful guides for suggestions and great information:

You May Also Be Interested In:

If you found this article helpful and are considering cleaning all of your pieces at once, you may find these resources very helpful: 

Wrapping it Up – Best Ways to Clean Your Dab Nail

Thanks for reading along with us today! We hope that this guide has helped you to understand the process of cleaning your dab nails the right way. 

Have you used any of these techniques? How did they work? Let us know in the comment section below. Also, feel free to let us know if there is something we have missed! 

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