by Spencer Grey
There’s nothing like the fresh taste of terps from a brand new quartz banger. Watching concentrates melt into a bubbly golden puddle is one of the distinct pleasures of dabbing, but when your quartz banger has seen a few weeks of rough wear, it becomes very apparent. Even if you keep your dab rig clean as a whistle, your banger nail is the first line of flavor for your concentrates, and a dirty or fogged banger is a sign that you need to change your dabbing habits! Take a look at these two bangers side by side. They were purchased from the same manufacturer, and heavily used over a period of one month. And while one of them looks okayish, the one that was subjected to high-temp dabs looks like it survived a nuclear war. These pictures were taken after regular maintenance rather than a full-service clean, which is why you see the reclaim.
If you use a banger regularly, you’re going to end up with some foggy buildup you don't get with a dry herb bowl. This undesirable change is often called “chazzing”, and is caused by a process called devitrification. To devitrify something is to deprive it of “glassy luster and transparency”, which is exactly the feature we love about quartz bangers. Devitrification is a sign that quartz’s atomic structure is reorganizing into a more orderly crystalline pattern from its slightly chaotic natural state. A chazzed or foggy banger has been the victim of two elements working in concert: Surface contaminants, and temperature.
A surface contaminant is basically anything that might settle on the surface of your quartz. This can be anything from dandruff particles to dust, as well as the oils found in your skin. Even water counts as a surface contaminant. Even if you invest in an expensive Pelican protection setup for your dab rig, you still won't be able to avoid all contact with the real world. Any alkaline contaminants will encourage devitrification, but they need another component to get it started: heat
High temperatures are the main culprit behind devitrification. When chilling at room temperature, the surface contaminants that may accumulate on your quartz don’t do much damage. But at temperatures as low as 1800°F, heat can cause surface contaminants to become disruptive enough to start devitrifying your banger. Given that most torches have a max temp of 2500°F, this means using caution with your flame.
A devitrified banger is not fun to use. It degrades the flavor of your terpenes, and is more susceptible to burning your concentrates rather than vaporizing them. So how can you prevent your quartz banger from getting devitrified?
Here’s the part you’re not going to like: Keeping a quartz banger clean is an intense exercise in willpower. All bangers will fog up over time due to the constant heating they undergo, and the fact that you just can’t keep all surface contaminants away. But with proper care—and a lot of it—you can prolong the life of your banger by hundreds of uses.
There are two main steps to quartz banger maintenance. The first is to ensure you’re not taking too-hot dabs. It’s tempting to heat up the banger to a nice cherry red and watch your concentrate sizzle, but that’s a no-go for a variety of reasons. High temp dabs end up combusting more of your concentrate, as opposed to vaporizing it. Terpenes and most other desirable cannabinoids shine brightest at temps of 300-400°F. If you go much higher than that you’ll lose their flavor and effects. And for cleaning purposes, high temp dabs leave you with a mess on your hands.
If your dabs turn black when they touch the surface of your banger, it’s way too hot! A dab should melt quickly but gently, with no sizzling sound. At the end, you should be left with a few droplets of gold-colored, unvaporized reclaim—not a blackened coating. Said coating is nearly impossible to remove even with a long soak in alcohol. At this point, your only option is to rev up the heat on the banger until the black stuff burns away. You do NOT want to do this, because it will damage your banger more and more each time. The excess heat isn't good for the joint on your dab rig, either.
It will take some trial and error to find the optimal timing, but it’s worth it to prevent high temperatures from causing premature devitrification. For these 4mm bangers, I find that 15 seconds of heat to the bottom is optimal for dabbing. Any longer and you start to get small scorch marks!
The second thing to do is clean your banger after every use. I know it sounds painful, but sacrifice is required to keep the surface of your quartz glossy and clean! After you take your dab, allow the quartz to cool off enough that it’s warm to the touch. Dip a Q-Tip into isopropyl alcohol, and simply swab out the excess oil while it’s still warm enough not to get sticky and trap cotton hairs in it. If you’re impatient and don’t want to touch-test how hot the banger is, you can dry swab pretty much right after finishing your dab.
Never expose your banger to water or other substances while it’s still hot! By keeping temps low and swabbing after each dab, you’ll significantly delay the onset of devitrification. Happy dabbing!