Cannabis Concentrates: What Is ‘Shatter’ Weed (Wax, Oils, Dabs)?
The world of weed concentrates can be overwhelming even for experienced weed users, let alone novice smokers.
Shatter, oil, wax, crumble, dabs, extraction — does it ring a bell?
Don’t worry, we’re here to clear up all the confusion around cannabis concentrates and dabbing. In this guide, we’re going to focus on shatter, the purest form of concentrated cannabis.
You will learn:
- What concentrates are
- How they are made
- What dabbing is
- The benefits of dabbing cannabis extracts
- The definition of ‘shatter’
- The difference between THC vs. CBD shatter
- How to make shatter
- How to tell the difference between shatter and other weed concentrates
As you can see, we have a few things to cover, so without further ado, let’s explore cannabis concentrates.
What Are Cannabis Concentrates?
Cannabis concentrates are concentrated forms of cannabis. They’re made by separating the cannabinoid-rich resin from the cannabis flowers to obtain THC, CBD, and other active compounds in concentrated form.
This resin consists of trichomes, which are translucent crystalline glands that grow on the surface of the buds. Trichomes are where the majority of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes are stored.
The more trichomes on a plant, the more potent the concentrate will be.
While dry flowers contain around 15% to 20% THC on average, concentrates offer a much greater concentration of this psychoactive cannabinoid, reaching up to 90% of THC.
The Benefits of Using Concentrates
For recreational users, such high levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol mean a stronger and longer-lasting high. Cannabis concentrates — such as wax, budder, and shatter — are capable of elevating your experience with weed to a level you’ve never dreamed of.
With such a rapid increase in popularity, dabbing concentrates may suddenly become the #1 consumption method for those who use weed for the sake of its psychoactive effects.
Medical cannabis users, on the other hand, can benefit from concentrates by gaining almost instant relief from their symptoms. Many patients suffering from chronic pain, severe inflammation, and autoimmune diseases turn to cannabis concentrate because they contain more cannabinoids than any other cannabis format and prove a safe and effective alternative to strong prescription medications.
Last but not least, pure concentrates are generally believed to be a healthier option than other weed products as they leave away the redundant plant material.
How do People Make Concentrates?
As we said, there’s plenty of different cannabis concentrates available on the market. We can group them into two main categories based on the extraction methods used.
1. Solventless Extractions
Solventless concentrates are believed to be the safest, purest, and the most enjoyable forms of concentrated cannabis.
The best aspect of making solventless concentrates is that the extraction can be performed at home; the learning curve is quite easy, too, so you don’t have to be a Ph.D. in chemistry to make a potent DIY cannabis product.
Solventless extractions aim at isolating pure glandular trichomes, as they hold the highest amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes. The loose resin, also known as dry sift or kief, can be consumed on its own, pressed into blocks to make hash, or melted into the live resin.
2. Solvent Extractions
Solvent-based concentrates typically have an oily consistency. When manufactured the right way, the concentrate is entirely free of the plant matter.
These concentrates will melt and vaporize into the air, so very little — if any — residue will stay on the nail when dabbed or heated in a vaping chamber.
The consistency of solvent extractions can vary depending on the strain, growing techniques, curing environment, extraction method, solvents used, and the purity level.
3 Common Ways to Use Cannabis Concentrates
Wondering how to use your freshly bought shatter? Here are some tips to help you out:
1. With Flower
Mixing cannabis extracts with the flower is the easiest and the least expensive way to enjoy their potency. Add little bits of the concentrate to the ground bud you usually smoke in a joint, blunt, or bong.
When smoking shatter with your weed, remember that its unique taste may not be appealing for your palate; on the other hand, the high will be stronger than when smoking the bud alone.
If vaping is your go-to way to consume cannabis, you can try a vaporizer to enjoy some concentrates, too.
However, not all vaporizers work with all products, so make sure that your unit comes equipped with a dedicated chamber for vaping concentrates. Using the extracted cannabis in a vaporizer allows you to revel in its flavor profile and increase the efficacy of your product by delivering more active compounds to your body.
Dabbing refers to taking a small amount of cannabis concentrate (a dab of shatter, for example) and flash-vaporizing it in specialized equipment known as a dab rig.
The shatter is placed on a pre-heated titanium nail that can rich between 550 and 750 F. Then, you have to inhale the vapor immediately through the pipe (rig).
As a form of flash-vaporization, dabbing gets you the enjoyable form of ‘smoking’ the shatter while carrying all the benefits of vaping.
Shatter: The Purest Form of Concentrated Cannabis
Shatter is an extremely pure form of concentrated cannabis. It looks like an amber glass with a candy-like texture.
The ultimate consistency of shatter depends on its temperature. While it looks glassy when cold, it becomes more like thick honey when heated.
The level of transparency and intensity of color can vary based on different factors, such as the percentage of terpenes and the amount of moisture and heat the concentrate is exposed to.
Shatter also offers remarkable potency, clocking at around 80% THC on average. One thing that may keep you away from doing shatter is its flavor — it turns out bland in comparison to other concentrates.
Shatter is made using a solvent — preferably butane — to extract THC with other cannabinoids and terpenes in a process known as the BHO (butane hash oil) extraction.
Butane is highly flammable, which is why you shouldn’t try to make shatter at home. But even if you tried to make this extraction yourself, you could have a hard time succeeding. That’s because shatter needs to be completely purified from the solvent before use, which is beyond reach for most amateurs.
Shatter is not the most friendly material to work with because it comes in a solid state. But once you melt it in a dab rig or vaporizer, it will bestow all its power upon you, and that power can hit pretty hard.
If you’re all thumbs, try smoking shatter in a bong — bongs have larger bowls making it easier to fit a piece of the amber glass.
THC vs. CBD Shatter
Recently, a new type of shatter has emerged on the market — CBD shatter. The concentrate comes with 97% pure hemp extract, being one of the purest and most potent forms of the non-psychoactive cannabis.
CBD shatter only contains cannabidiol. It has little to no THC inside, and thus won’t make you feel high. It’s used by people who want to benefit from the therapeutic properties of CBD, such as pain relief (1), inflammation reduction (2), and neuroprotection (3), without the psychoactive effects typically associated with marijuana.
There are many reasons why cannabis users love CBD shatter, namely:
1. Fast Relief
certain medical conditions are better treated with a concentrate whose prevalent cannabinoid is CBD rather than THC. Inhaling CBD shatter through an oil rig or a vaporizer provides almost instant relief.
2. Easy to Dose
All you need to do is add a scoop of the shatter to your smoking/vaping device and inhale the desired dose. It’s entirely up to you how much shatter you want to use in one session.
3. Perfect for Daytime Use
When you need to alleviate your symptoms without feeling sedated, CBD shatter will be your best bet. It provides an upbeat buzz, perfect to get you through your daily plans with a jolt of positive energy.
Studies show that CBD is an effective anxiolytic and antidepressant (4). Inhaling CBD shatter through a dab rig or vaporizer delivers the CBD content to your bloodstream through the lungs. From there, they have easy access to the endocannabinoid system, allowing you to draw upon the anti-stress and calming properties of cannabidiol within a matter of minutes.
How to Make Shatter
Being one of the purest and strongest of all smokable forms of cannabis, shatter offers an extremely high cannabinoid content contributing to its amazing, healing properties.
However, maximizing the potency of shatter calls for, at least, some experience in making cannabis extracts, not to mention the entire equipment necessary to run the extraction.
When it comes to producing shatter through BHO extraction, you will need the following:
- Plenty of high-THC (or high-CBD) buds; the more trichomes, the stronger your extract will be;
- Several cans filled with butane
- A glass dish for collecting the oil
- Coffee filters and clamps
- A Large glass tube to pack the plant material in
- An oven or a double boiler
- A vacuum pump to rid the extract of the butane
- A single-edge razor
- Grind up your weed and allow it to sit in the open for a half an hour. I will help the marijuana dry out for a bit so that it isn’t too fresh/moist.
- Pack the ground buds into the extraction tube. It should be filled tightly enough not to let too much air, but not so tightly that the butane cannot soak into the weed.
- Once you’ve filled the extraction tube with marijuana, spray the butane into its top hole, using up the entire canister. Keep in mind to hold the tube over the glass container during the extraction to collect the dripping oil.
- Evaporate the butane using a double broiler on an electric range; place the boiler on the preheated range and take the glass dish filled with your marijuana extract to the top part of the broiler. Then, allow the entire liquid to evaporate.
- Use a vacuum pump to finish the cleaning process off; the pump will allow you to remove any residual butane and terpenes in the shatter. Simply place your evaporated oil on a glass dish inside the pump’s chamber and suck the excess butane out. Make sure to check the gauge of your tube for the internal temperature to avoid burning the oil in the process.
- Scrape the shatter off the bottom of the collecting dish using the single-edge razor. Then, place your concentrate on the parchment paper and let it cool. The initial consistency of your shatter may be incredibly sticky, but once cooled, it gets harder and is ready to use
Where Can I Buy Shatter?
In states where recreational cannabis is legal, you won’t have any problems finding high-quality shatter. However, in some states (and countries), law enforcement officials are not sure whether they should be worried about its high potency level, or just treat it as another weed product.
When it comes to purchasing shatter in the USA, it’s the same as buying any other cannabis goods. In most cases — unless you live in one of the ten states that have legalized recreational weed — you’ll need a medical marijuana card to get your hands on the shatter and treat your condition.
Are there no cannabis dispensaries near you?
Don’t panic! These days, buying marijuana in the US is easier than ever. Several dispensaries offer online delivery services bringing the green goods to your front door. Just make sure to become familiar with laws on deliveries — they vary from state to state.
On average, the price of shatter in the US ranges between $50 and $70 for a gram, although you can find periodical discounts in dispensaries. For example, some locations in Denver offer shatter at $120 for an 8-gram slab.
Differences Between Shatter, Budder, Wax, Crumble, and Oil
There are many different types of solvent-based concentrates available on the market. Shatter is often confused with other extracts that utilize similar extraction methods. However, they have different consistencies, purity levels, and cannabinoid content.
People often confuse shatter with budder, wax, crumble, and oil. Their initial similarities are the main “why” behind the confusion. Continue reading to avoid being one of those people.
Just like shatter, the wax is also obtained via BHO extraction.
Appearance wise, the wax is exactly what it sounds like. It’s shiny, sticky, and gooier than other cannabis concentrates. The final consistency of wax depends on several factors including heat, moisture, and the texture of the oil before purification. Wax producers often use marijuana strains with terpenes that have exceptional water-retaining qualities.
Sometimes, when shatter has the right terpene profile, it can be turned into wax. If you’re looking for a powerful extract that’s easier to handle than shatter, the wax will be your best bet. This type of concentrates also packs more flavor because of the higher terpene content.
Budder falls somewhere between shatter and wax when it comes to its consistency. Despite being made using the same extraction method, budder has more terpenes, which can compromise the concentration of other cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. On top of that, budder is easier to handle than shatter because it’s not as hard as its glass-like counterpart.
Crumble is made using almost the same method as other wax varieties, save for the fact that it’s exposed to lower heat than other cannabis concentrates. The lower temperatures allow the solvent to evaporate gradually, which helps retain more flavor and a decent concentration of cannabinoids. Crumble is less moist than wax or budder, so it’s easier to scoop it and load it in a bowl before indulging in the cannabinoid punch.
4. CO2 Oil
Just as the name suggests, CO2 oil is a type of cannabis oil extracted using carbon dioxide. This extraction will produce a pure, liquid concentrate that cannabis users can fill their vape pens with. CO2 extraction ensures that more cannabinoids and terpenes are contained in the oil. However, the process requires very expensive equipment, which makes it unaffordable for most amateur manufacturers.
A Final Hit On Shatter and Dabbing
Weed concentrates have recently become extremely popular among both recreational users and medical marijuana patients, taking the entire industry by the storm. They even have their own celebration date, 7/10, which reads “OIL” when turned upside down. This date is often referred to as “Dab Day.”
If you need cannabis in large concentrations, going for solvent-based concentrates such as shatter is the best way to get fast and effective relief from your symptoms — or get lit as you’ve never been before.
People often confuse shatter with other types of concentrates. Wax, budder, crumble, oil — you may hear these names being used interchangeably, but they all refer to different varieties of cannabis extraction. They come in various consistencies and offer different ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes.
When asking for shatter in a dispensary, make sure you mean the amber, glass-like, concentrate with the highest level of purity. It may not be the easiest material to work with, but the effects of shatter are totally worth it.
Did you know the difference between shatter, budder, crumble, oil, and wax? How do you like to take your concentrates?
Are you Team Smokers, Team Dabbers, or Team Vapers?
Let us know in the comments!
- Aviram, J., & Samuelly-Leichtag, G. (2017). Efficacy of Cannabis-Based Medicines for Pain Management: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Pain Physician Journal, 20(6), E755-E796.
- Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future medicinal chemistry, 1(7), 1333-49.
- Maroon, J., & Bost, J. (2018). Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surgical neurology international, 9, 91.
- de Mello Schrier, AR., et al. (2014) Antidepressant-Like And Anxiolytic-Like Effects of Cannabidiol: a Chemical Compound of Cannabis Sativa. CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets, 13(6), 953-960.
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About James Reed
James Reed is the founder and editor-in-chief at iSum. He’s a big advocate of marijuana and spent most of his time writing about these topics, sharing what he learned over the years.