Shatter is a brittle, glass-like cannabis extract named for its breakability. It has a glassy appearance and tends to break, or shatter, like glass when snapped in two. Like other cannabis concentrates, shatter is a favorite among dabbing enthusiasts. Properly cured shatter comes from a careful and unrushed manufacturing process.
What is shatter?
Shatter is a cannabis concentrate that is named for its hard, glass-like consistency that tends to crack, or shatter, when broken apart. It is typically gold or amber in color. Although shatter is popularly believed to be more potent or pure than other types of extracts, this is not always true; its appearance instead has only to do with the extract’s molecules being less agitated during production.
Shatter is usually dabbed, a method of consumption that involves flash vaporization off of a specialized water pipe called a dab rig. This glassy extract has a reputation for being potent, though it can range in potency depending on the chemical composition of the source plant and the extraction techniques and equipment used. While the high watermark for cannabis flower tends to sit around 30% THC, shatter extracts may test upward of 80% to 90% THC.
How to Use Shatter
Like other marijuana extracts, shatter is usually vaporized or “dabbed” by consumers from a vape pen or specially equipped water pipe called a dab rig. With a potency ranging between 50-90 percent cannabinoids by weight, marijuana extracts like shatter are a fast, efficient, smoke-free way to consume cannabis.
To use shatter in a vape pen, you’ll want to be sure you have one that is specifically designed to be used with marijuana extracts like wax or shatter. These vapes have an atomizer (the vape’s heating element) that will rapidly heat, bringing your shatter to its vaporization point.
To vape shatter, you’ll add your shatter to your vape’s heating chamber, as you would similar marijuana extracts. As the atomizer heats your shatter, it will quickly melt and turn to vapor, which you will then inhale from the vape’s mouthpiece.
Dabbing is the more traditional way to use marijuana shatter. When dabbing, pieces of shatter are applied or “dabbed” onto a hot surface like a hot titanium or ceramic nail or quartz bucket. The shatter will rapidly vaporize upon contact with the hot surface. As you dab your shatter onto the hot surface, you will inhale the vapor through the dab rig’s water chamber and into your lungs.
Because smoking shatter doesn’t involve breathing in combusted plant material, the high generated by marijuana shatter is often described as “cleaner” than other inhaled methods of consumption. This cleaner and more consistent high is why many marijuana connoisseurs are switching to lab-manufactured concentrates. For cannabis consumers hoping to ingest large amounts of THC, shatter provides high concentrations of this and other cannabinoids. While a particularly potent strain of flower may have THC levels that run at around 25 to 30%, the THC content of shatter can be a staggering 80%.
In other words, shatter causes an intense high incredibly quickly. A single hit of high-THC shatter is more powerful than smoking an entire joint. This can create immediate intoxication, couch-lock, dry mouth, and a feeling of heaviness and relaxation.
Benefits of Shatter
A main benefit of dabbing shatter is that it offers an incredibly fast method for cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream, offering near instantaneous effects. Due to the increased potency of cannabis extracts, users are also able to take on a “less is more” approach in using their cannabis.
Dabbing shatter means you no longer need to inhale large amounts of burning plant material to get the effects you want. That is a good thing. Rather than smoking entire joints and exposing your lungs to harmful chemicals in the smoke, consumers can dab once or twice to get their cannabinoids, inhaling only vapor – not smoke.
Shatter is also more stable due to its molecular structure, so it will last longer before degrading compared to wax and other similar extracts. However, some users find the hard consistency difficult to break up and measure out into individual uses. Try lightly heating your dabber before using it to break off a dab from your shatter.
Difference between shatter and wax
Shatter refers to cannabis extracts that take on a hard, glassy form while waxes are softer and more malleable. The difference between shatter and wax is primarily a superficial one: it’s merely a cosmetic difference caused by a difference in molecular agitation. Shatter maintains its glass-like consistency because the molecules in the extract were left undisturbed during processing, whereas the molecules in wax were agitated.
The level of transparency achieved in the production process does not reflect the potency of the extract. In other words, shatter is not necessarily higher in THC than wax, and vice versa. To determine the potency and chemical composition of any given extract, refer to the lab results of individual products at your local dispensary.
One practical difference between shatter and wax has to do with ease of use. Wax is softer and sometimes easier to handle using dabbing tools like scoops. Because shatter tends to crack apart into unpredictably sized pieces when broken, you may find that it’s a little harder to scoop and dose the correct sized dab.
How Are Shatter Marijuana Concentrates Made?
Making shatter requires a solvent such as CO2 or butane. To make butane hash oil (BHO), CO2 shatter, or wax, manufacturers put cannabis plant material in a holding container and force a solvent through it order to extract the cannabinoids.
The process is a rather dangerous one that requires knowledge about how to properly handle the chemicals being used. Emboldened by do-it-yourself YouTube videos, novice BHO manufacturers have caused explosions, fires, and injuries by using improper equipment and extraction methods. CO2 extraction is a safer process that uses more natural ingredients.
After the extraction process, the result is an extremely strong substance that has much more THC than traditional cannabis. Its consistency varies: a cannabis concentrate can be an oil, a soft, smooth substance known as budder, a malleable, crystallized material known as wax, or shatter—an amber-colored, glasslike form of hash oil.
These are all commonly known as “dabs,” and the typical method for smoking these materials is known as “dabbing.”