Shatter is a highly concentrated cannabis extract typically made by butane extraction. Over the past decade, shatter has gained popularity among cannabis users for its glassy, photogenic texture and high THC potency. Let’s take a closer look at what shatter is, how it’s processed, and how we test it.
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.
What is CBD Shatter?
While shatter is most well known for its high levels of THC, many concentrate makers also produce a variety shatter that is high in cannabidiol (CBD) and very low in THC. In general, CBD shatter is geared primarily toward consumers who want the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the intoxicating effects of THC.
Because CBD shatter contains a concentrated, potent dose of CBD, it can be an excellent option for medical marijuana patients and other consumers interested in health and wellness.
Shatter is a relatively recent development within the full history of cannabis consumption. Its roots can be traced to the age-old practice of hashish production. By the late 1990s, the process of modern cannabis concentrate production was being refined, and what we’d now consider shatter was first produced.
In 1989, author D. Gold published a second edition of his original 1973 book, “Cannabis Alchemy: The Art of Modern Hashmaking,” which included the first full explanation of how to make hash. A year later, in 1990, medical technologist Michael Starks also published a second edition of his 1977 book, “Marijuana Chemistry: Genetics Processing and Potency,” with a detailed explanation of the hash production process.
By the late 1990s, Canadian cannabis manufacturer BudderKing first marketed budder and shatter, with its products hitting the shelves of dispensaries in 2003. In 2005, the techniques for producing these products were published in Cannabis Culture magazine. By the 2010s, it emerged as a staple in cannabis consumption with dab rigs set alongside water bongs in smoke shops’ shelves, with a shared sentiment among concentrate users being, “If it doesn’t shatter, it doesn’t matter.”
How to Use Shatter
Is Shatter the Same as Dabs?
Technically, yes. All shatter can be dabbed, but not all dabs are considered to be shatter. Referred to as “dabbing,” this popular method involves a small water pipe called a rig with a flat bowl, and a “nail,” which is designed to tolerate high temperatures. In this case, the consumer would be dabbing shatter, but other forms of concentrates can also be considered as dabs.
To dab, preheat the nail with a small butane or propane torch until it reaches the optimum temperature. Using the flat end of the dabber, drop a small amount of concentrate onto the nail. When it comes in contact with the hot nail, the concentrate will instantly vaporize. Place a cap over the nail to capture the vapor and inhale through an opening on the opposite end of the rig.
Dabbing concentrated marijuana products like shatter typically offers a more potent high, as well as terpene-rich flavors and aromas, especially compared with smoking marijuana. Consuming shatter means having the necessary dab tools, which can have a significant impact on the experience. The temperature of the nail at the moment of consumption, for example, will affect flavor, and may alter the healthful effects.
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.
Shatter Drug vs. Marijuana
In the drug world, it seems that any time nature is messed with by man — in the way that the coca plant and poppy have been altered to create cocaine and heroin — the results are dangerous, addictive, and cause more harm than good. People are comparing shatter to marijuana as cocaine to coca — suggesting that the former is much more dangerous.
At its core, shatter is concentrated marijuana that is extracted through a chemical process. This means that it contains the same psychoactive properties of marijuana in the form of THC.
Shatter is more potent than marijuana in its traditional form, however, containing upwards of 60% THC compared to approximately 20% in marijuana. Shatter drug users get higher faster, and the effects of shatter have been described as much more intense and intoxicating — with more intense negative effects such as drug induced psychosis, anxiety and paranoia common as well.
Although shatter production is still mostly illegal even where medical marijuana is legalised, the community is split over whether shatter is good or bad for the industry and patients. Some say that shatter and other hash oil concentrates are superior to marijuana in their ability to reduce pain and help with other disorders. However, others argue that impurities leftover from production and the bad name that BHO is getting due to careless at home production efforts leading to explosions and fires negate any potential positive benefits of having a more concentrated dose of THC.
The fact is, both shatter and marijuana can cause serious negative effects for the user, and should not be taken lightly.
What are the Side Effects of Shatter?
As shatter and other cannabis concentrates often have significantly high THC levels, it’s important to be mindful of the potential side effects that may come from consuming these potent products. Though THC has demonstrated several medical and therapeutic uses, overconsumption could cause certain adverse side effects, such as anxiety and paranoia. If you’re new to the world of cannabis concentrates, you should start with the smallest viable dab and gradually increase your dose to avoid these unwanted side effects.
What Happens if you Eat Shatter?
Shatter requires decarboxylation, or the activation of its compounds through heat, to produce the desired effects. This form of concentrate is meant to be vaporized using a dab rig, e-rig, or vaporizer, so the high concentration of potent cannabinoids can decarboxylate and interact with the body immediately. Consuming unheated shatter in raw form is unlikely to produce any desirable effect.
How to Use CBD Shatter
For safety and health reasons, producing extracts should be left to professionals, as the safety precautions and equipment requires precision, accuracy, and expertise.
The overall process for producing this concentrate is the same as other extracts. The most significant difference is the post-extraction process. Shatter is typically made following these six steps:
- Selecting a starting material.
- Packing the material column.
- Chilling the solvent.
- Passing the solvent over the material to create the solution.
- Removing the solvent from the solution with heat to promote the vaporization of the solvent.
- Chilling the solvent tank to recondense the solvent vapors.
Shatter weed can be anything from cannabis flower nugs to cannabis plant remnants such as trim or shake. During the production process, the desired cannabinoids being used are separated from the raw flower through an extraction process that uses heat and compression. Next, any unwanted materials are removed with a solvent-induced vacuum purge.
Shatter can be made with myriad solvents, but the most common production method is through a butane hash oil (BHO) extraction, while solvents such as liquefied petroleum gases (LPG) or ethanol can also be utilized. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a solvent utilized for other cannabis concentrates, but CO2-extracted shatter would lack its characteristic texture, as this
When stored improperly, shatter can begin to break down and lose its initial consistency, flavor, and potency. To prevent this degradation, it should always be stored in an airtight and lightproof container. Ideally, it should be stored in a cool room. To ensure the concentrate stays consistent for as long as possible, protect it from high temperatures, moisture, oxygen, as well as ultraviolet light and direct sunlight.
Remember, heat is shatter’s worst enemy. It causes the cannabinoids and terpenes to activate. Ideally, that should happen only upon consumption, not while it’s resting in a container. Dispensaries, smoke shops, and many online stores offer concentrate storage accessories for concentrates, such as silicone containers.
Why Does Shatter Turn into Sugar, Budder or Crumble?
Despite the wide range of textures, colors, and consistencies of extracts, they follow a similar production process. If certain factors aren’t closely followed, if solutions are mishandled at any point of production, or if the shatter isn’t stored correctly, it may ultimately yield something other than the desired product.
If the initial extraction or subsequent vacuum purge are performed improperly, then the glasslike consistency may be compromised, resulting in a final product that has a texture similar to butter or sugar.
Other factors may affect the production process. Agitation, high temperatures, residual solvents or leftover moisture from the starting marijuana plant material all can cause the cannabis oil to end up as budder, rather than yielding the desired snap or brittleness of shatter.
Concentrated Cannabis Extract
Shatter is known by several different names including shatter wax, cannabis shatter, and shatter weed. Shatter is amber in color, semitransparent, and has a brittle, glass-like texture.
The name shatter comes from the extract’s glassy appearance. When shatter is made, the resinous extract forms sheets that can be broken apart or “shattered” into smaller pieces like glass.
Cannabis extracts like hashish have been used for centuries. However, shatter began to gain popularity in the early 2010s along with other concentrated cannabis extracts known as dabs.
Some critics are wary of shatter and similar cannabis extracts due to their high potency. While cannabis flower is often between 10-25% THC, shatter can contain up to 80% THC.
But some cannabis users, both medicinal and recreational, prefer the high potency of shatter because the effects come on much more rapidly and powerfully. This is an especially desirable feature for people seeking relief from chronic pain and other ailments.
Shatter has been steadily gaining attention from both cannabis users and critics for its high potency. All shatter sold legally in California is subject to the same rigorous testing requirements as other cannabis products. Encore Labs provides comprehensive cannabis lab testing to make sure your cannabis concentrates are California compliant.