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What is Shatter?

A form of cannabis extract, shatter is a hard, translucent concentrate similar in texture and appearance to glass. Learn more in our guide to shatter.

One of the most beautiful and photogenic types of marijuana products on the market right now is shatter, also colloquially called shatter wax, shatter weed, or marijuana shatter. Highly sought after and often Instagrammed, shatter burst onto the scene in a major way in the early 2010’s, giving cannabis consumers a potent new way to vape their favorite strains.

So what is shatter? Industry experts define shatter as a type of marijuana extract, created by extracting the plant’s essential oil, which contains the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. The term shatter specifically refers to a specific texture of translucent cannabis concentrate that breaks and shatters like glass.

What Are Cannabis Extracts?

Cannabis extracts are created by passing a solvent, such as butane, hexane, isopropyl, or CO2, through cured or fresh cannabis material that has been thoroughly ground. This produces a thick, usually gold or amber-colored cannabis oil full of the plant’s active chemical compounds.

Next, the solvent is purged from the shatter oil using heat and vacuum. The resulting cannabis concentrate is then processed into one of a number of potential forms, including wax, crumble, honeycomb, sap, budder, live resin, and of course, shatter.

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.

Visit our what is dabbing guide to learn more about dabbing cannabis shatter, including our How To video.

What Makes Shatter Different?

For most practical purposes, there is little difference between shatter and other forms of marijuana extract. They are consumed in the same ways and largely have the same potency range. Most differences between cannabis extract types then are cosmetic.

Shatter is an amber or gold color and is transparent to some degree. The reason shatter concentrate is semi-clear has to do with the molecules in the extracted cannabis oil. In shatter, these molecules are all stacked nice and neat in straight rows, one on top of the other. This molecular alignment allows light to pass through the marijuana extract and gives the shatter its glass-like properties.

Heat, moisture, and high terpene content can affect the texture and extraction, which may turn extracted oils into a runnier substance that resembles sap but retaining its translucent appearance.

Concentrates other than shatter and sap are whipped, stirred, or shaken at various times during the process, agitating the individual molecules in the mixture and causing their cloudy appearance. Shatter is not agitated which accounts for its translucency.

However, once the molecules in the cannabis oil are disrupted, usually by whipping, stirring, or shaking the oil during processing, they form irregular structures that are more opaque and let less light through. This is why the transparency of shatter vs wax is so different. When the oil is agitated, you get opaque wax or similar cannabis concentrates instead of the clear concentrates found as shatter.

So why is shatter called shatter? Compared to other extracts, shatter is incredibly hard. When it breaks, it will often crack and well… shatter when pressure is applied to it. Especially on a cold day, shatter can crack violently, sending shards of shatter off in every direction. In that sense, shatter is very much like glass. This is even more true when shatter is in a thick slab.

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.

Learn More

Check with your local marijuana dispensary for their selection of shatters and other cannabis extracts. You can also learn more about cannabis extracts, dabbing, and much more on our Cannabis 101 page.

What is shatter? Cannabis shatter is a popular hardened, translucent wax made from cannabis extract that makes for an easy dabbing experience. Click to learn more!

More about Shatter

What is Shatter?

Shatter is an extract, which is a type of cannabis concentrate that’s produced using a combination of weed plant materials and solvents. The appearance of shatter weed is typically translucent, though its coloring can range from a bright honeylike amber to a darker yellow shade like olive oil.

Visually, all shatters may appear to have the same consistency, but the physical texture of individual products can vary from extremely brittle to a taffylike snap-and-pull quality. This inconsistency gives some insight into an individual product’s cannabinoid profile.

Specifically, shatter that’s higher in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) will tend to be sappier than a product with a higher level of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid ( THCA ), which will be much more brittle by comparison. At room temperature, THC is a sappy oil, giving shatter with a high THC content a more viscous consistency, whereas THCA is solid at room temperature, yielding a fragile concentrate that’s easier to break apart.

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.

History

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.

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

Fortunately, using CBD shatter is no different than using the kind with high concentrations of THC, but without the intense high . You simply dab it the same way you do any other type of cannabis concentrate.

Make sure that you’re using shatter that has been manufactured specifically to contain high levels of CBD and low levels of THC, as this will maximize the therapeutic effects of CBD while minimizing the intoxication of THC. Similarly, other CBD concentrates such as CBD wax and CBD isolate can also be consumed using the dabbing method.

Storage Considerations

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.

How Shatter is Made

WARNING: THE MANUFACTURING OF SHATTER AND OTHER CANNABIS CONCENTRATES SHOULD ONLY BE PERFORMED BY PROFESSIONALS AS THESE PROCESSES CAN BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND ILLEGAL IN MANY JURISDICTIONS.

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:

  1. Selecting a starting material.
  2. Packing the material column.
  3. Chilling the solvent.
  4. Passing the solvent over the material to create the solution.
  5. Removing the solvent from the solution with heat to promote the vaporization of the solvent.
  6. 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 extraction method removes the moisture from the plant matter.

How Long Does It Take to Purge Shatter?

Additionally, the lower temperatures and pressures utilized during this purge, between 85 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 29.44 to 37.77 degrees Celsius) at -29 inches of mercury (inHg) of pressure, along with a lack of agitation, give shatter its recognizable glasslike appearance compared with the manufacture of other concentrates. A full purge takes anywhere from 8 to 24 hours.

A brittle, glass-like cannabis extract with a tendency to snap when handled. Shatter is named for its break-ability, like shattered glass, and is favored for its ease in handling while dabbing.