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.
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 is Shatter made?
Shatter is a relatively new addition to the 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.
Shatter can be made using a variety of production methods, but it is typically created using butane or hydrocarbon solvents. Butane extracts are also called BHO, short for “butane hash oil.” To make BHO, cannabis is typically contained in a tube where butane or other hydrocarbons are pushed through the plant material, stripping away desirable compounds like THC and CBD. The concentrated oil is collected and may be further refined using additional techniques. “Purging,” for example, refers to the removal of excess residual solvents using a vacuum chamber, and “winterization” refers to the separation of fats and lipids from the oil.
Shatter and other types of BHO are extremely dangerous to make using at-home DIY setups due to the flammability of butane fumes. Attempts to make BHO in home environments have resulted in several accidental explosions. Professional-grade shatter is produced using safe closed-loop systems that prevent these fumes from entering the ambient environment.
What’s the difference between Shatter and other concentrates?
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.
Is Shatter safe?
As shatter and other marijuana concentrates have significant THC levels, it’s important to be mindful of the potential adverse effects that may come from consuming cannabis this way. Though THC may have some medical and therapeutic uses, overconsumption could cause unpleasant experiences, such as anxiety and paranoia. If you’re new to these substances, start with the smallest viable dab and gradually increase your dose to avoid these unwanted side effects.
A single ingestion of shatter provides THC and other cannabinoids equal to up to 10 medicinal cannabis inhalations, depending on the potency. The risk lies in the fact that doing shatter slams your brain with that intense high in one fluid motion.
When shatter is bought illegally, it comes from makeshift laboratories where it may not be manufactured correctly. In the process of manufacturing shatter, butane gas is removed by heating the plant mixture. However, if it is not heated for it is possible that some of the butane can remain.
That can be particularly harmful to people who smoke or “dab” shatter. While overdose of marijuana is rare, adverse side effects such as hysteria, delusions, anxiety, and hallucinations can occur.
How do I smoke Shatter?
The substance is used by taking a small quantity of shatter, putting it on a hot surface, and then inhaling the smoke. Shatter drug merchandise is similar to crack pipes. But, you can also use vaporizer pens or add them to marijuana food products.
Shatter requires decarboxylation, or the activation of its compounds through heat, to produce the desired result. This form of concentrate is meant to be vaporized using a dab rig, e-rig, vape pen, or vaporizer, which decarboxylates the potent cannabinoids so they can interact with the body immediately. Consuming unheated shatter is unlikely to produce any desirable effect.
All shatter can be dabbed, but not all dabs are shatter. Dabbing is a popular method of consuming cannabis concentrates that involves a small water pipe called a dab rig. The rig has a flat bowl and a “nail,” which is designed to tolerate high temperatures so it can vaporize the concentrate. In addition to shatter, other forms of cannabis concentrates can also be dabs. 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. Unlike smoking though, dabbing marijuana shatter does require the right tools and a certain amount of know-how, which can make first-timers nervous. The temperature of the nail at the moment of consumption, for example, will affect flavor, and may alter any potentially healthful effects.
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