Taking Terp Pearls for a Spin: Your Guide to Getting Maximum Flavor & Effects from Every Dab
The tools and techniques used to take a dab have certainly evolved over the past decade or so, but it is fascinating to see those innovations range from complex electronics to relatively simple borosilicate or quartz accessories – and now, Dab Beads or Terp Pearls.
As tastes evolved, dabbers came to realize that vaporizing their high-grade oils on a blazing hot nail or surface might produce a lot of smoke and a massive lung expansion, but it was greatly degrading the flavor and even the true effects that they expected their experience to deliver.
Once low-temp dabbing became the new jam, those same dabbers realized just how hard it was to time their hit in the ideal zone of a rapidly dropping temperature. Sure, an e-nail helps, but it always seemed as though a true low-temp dab left behind a half-vaped, gooey residue in your banger or nail. A cotton swab might clean most of it out, but what waste!
What if you could just vape it down to the last drop instead? Well friends, that’s where Dab Beads and Terp Pearls come into play and, honestly, it’s pretty crazy that it took so long for us all to figure out this flavor-saving tech. With terp pearls you’ll truly be getting the most bang for your buck out of your top shelf dabs, vaping it all instead of swabbing up puddles of wasted leftovers.
WHAT IS A TERP PEARL
Terp Pearls (Dab Beads, Banger Beads, etc.) come in a variety of names, materials, and even sizes – check out these millie encased boro pearls!
You can find them these days from a variety of brands, but they are, for the most part, mostly the same function-wise.
Typically shaped either as perfect spheres or in an elongated pill shape, Dab Beads and Terp Pearls are most often handcrafted out of borosilicate glass (clear, color, heady, or millies), quartz, SiC (Silicone Carbide), ceramic, sapphire, or even ruby – all favored for their aesthetic appeal as well as their ability to withstand and redistribute heat.
HOW DOES A TERP PEARL WORK
After you stop applying heat to your dab nail or quartz banger, it immediately begins to cool down, right? Though higher quality bangers do a better job or evenly distributing and retaining that heat, some parts of the dabbing surface will inevitably cool down quicker than others.
Terp Pearls solve this problem in a highly effective way.
Pop a pearl or two inside your banger and heat it up with a torch (note: some pearls can melt or can be thermal shocked – continue reading for more special care instructions). Once it cools to the ideal temperature all you have to do is take your dab as you normally would, using a carb cap with good airflow. The pearls will help with heat retention vaporizing more oil at the same starting temperature.
But to get the max potential out of your beads you will need to use a bubble cap, directional flow carb cap, or a spinner cap to move the beads around the nail. As they move around, they are not only helping to distribute the heat of the surface they are travelling on, but they move the oil around as well, ensuring that it will hit the hottest spots on the nail and vaporize much, much more thoroughly.
If using a spinner cap, your Terp Pearls will really come to life, spinning rapidly around the dabbing surface of your nail or banger.
WHICH TERP PEARL SHOULD I BUY
The various substances that Terp Pearls or Dab Beads are made from will also come with a variety of prices. So, while budget should absolutely factor into your decision of which one(s) to buy, there is more to it than that. Let’s look a bit closer and rank each on our exclusive Chazability Scale with 1 being Most Likely to Chaz and 10 being Least Likely to Chaz.
Borosilicate – Redefining the term “better than nothing”, clear glass Terp Beads are the most affordable option and offer the least heat retention but can still provide the added surface area and movement needed to more efficiently vaporize your oil. As with all boro glass, it can and will melt or change shape under intense heat – such as the direct, prolonged flame of a torch - so be aware of that when cleaning your Terp Pearls. Chazability: 1
Ceramic – Ceramic Dab Beads or Terp Pearls offer decent heat retention, similar to quartz, and some argue, better flavor. Much like a ceramic dab nail, Terp Pearls made from this material can be hard to keep clean and are probably the most fragile of all the materials on this list. They cannot be torch cleaned as they will likely break. Allowing them to completely cool down is the safest way to keep them intact, making them hard to keep sparkling clean. Chazability: 3
Quartz – If you are dabbing then you are probably pretty familiar with the pros and cons of quartz. Better heat retention and flavor representation are the two main reasons why your banger isn’t made out of boro, but out of quartz. They are also very resistant to thermal shock, so you can go straight from adab to iso with no worries of breakage. That being said, I would still wait for them to cool down a bit before submerging in any liquid as that will speed of chazzing. They can also be torch cleaned, but again, that will speed up chazzing. Chazability: 5
Sapphire & Ruby – Lab grown sapphire and ruby Terp Pearls are known for their superior heat retention and optimal flavor delivery. Some care must be taken when cleaning gemstone Terp Pearls or Dab Beads. If they are still hot or warm, do not submerge them in iso alcohol as this could cause thermal shock and break or damage your Terp Pearl. Similarly, hitting it with the direct flame of a torch could cause shock the other direction, also risking damage or breakage. Like borosilicate, ruby Dab Beads or Terp Pearls can potentially even melt if put under enough sustained heat. Gentle heat, reliable tweezers, and a dry swab works best. Chazability: 7
SiC –Silicone carbide has been used industrially for over a century, but its use in the dabbing scene came much more recently. Though they are more closely related to ceramic, these Terp Pearls look like metal and enjoy a similarly superior level of thermal/heat conductivity as well as thermal shock resistance. This makes them easy to clean with a torch flame, an alcohol wipe, or pretty much whatever method you want to use. Chazability: 10
Shinju – Made from a ‘sophisticated high temp ceramic material’, Shinju Ceramic Terp Pearls offer the best of all worlds with insane heat retention and the ability to be torch cleaned back to like-new in seconds. The same material appears to be used to make high end chef’s knives, shinju blades stay sharper longer than steel, and that durability definitely carries over to Dab Beads and Terp pearls made from this super-ceramic. Unrivaled heat retention caps off the list of reasons why we love this type of Terp Pearl. Chazability: 10
The final, and perhaps most important factor to consider when making a decision on what to buy is to figure out what size would be best for you and the glass dab rig, quartz banger, and carb cap setup that you plan to use.
The most common sizes for sphere-shaped Terp Pearls are 4mm, 6mm, and 9mm and then, as mentioned above, you will find some shaped more like a long piece of candy (think Good n’ Plenty) or a pill.
These sizes are optimized for different sizes and styles of quartz bangers, nails, and dabbing surfaces.
4mm - Best for ‘All-in-One’ battery powered dabbing devices like the Puffco Peak, these handheld, portable devices typically have a smaller than usual, built-in dabbing cup or surface. Its miniature size requires a miniature carb cap and so this miniature size of Terp Pearls quite literally fits right in.
6mm – Probably up for debate, but to us this seems like the ideal size for “standard” size quartz bangers. Whether they have a 10mm, 14mm, or 18mm joint, the 6mm Terp Pearl seems to be the best size to keep the terpenes flowing in these quartz buckets… and keep em’ clean!
9mm & Shaped – These oversized versions of what is described above are ideal for you heavy hitters out there who are dropping globs on the regular. Perfect for big ol’ 30mm bangers or the newly popularized Terp Slurper. If using a Terp Slurper, you will need a pill and a 9mm pearl. The pill goes inside the taper and the pearls sits on top of the taper acting as a valve. When you hit your piece the pill starts spinning about and the pearls hops up and down. It really is fun to watch and is extremely effective for vaporizing huge globs!
Picture Source: @_terpslurper
We know as well as anyone that there are a thousand ways to take a dab, but odds are you likely fall roughly into one of the categories above and we all love mouthwatering flavors, intense effects, and big rips. That’s why we made this guide to help steer you toward the best Terp Pearls for your tastes.
Of course, if you’re reading this, you’ve already arrived at The Dab Lab, your one stop shop for all of your dabbing devices, smoking tools, and kickass counter culture accessories!