What Is a Concentrate?
Cannabis concentrates like shatter, wax, honey oil, and others provide a different and much more powerful high than basic flower. They’re essentially cannabis that has been put through a process to extract and concentrate the desired chemicals – namely, cannabinoids such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), as well as terpenes.
For recreational consumers, the ideal finished concentrate is potent and packed with high-inducing THC. When it comes to shatter, THC levels can run as high as 80%. Some cannabis oil concentrates are very low in THC and high in CBD; shatter with higher CBD ratios is often used for medicinal purposes.
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.”
Wax vs Shatter: What’s the Difference?
With all of the various marijuana concentrates available, many people are left wondering the difference between wax or crumble vs shatter. The main difference is the consistency. When it comes to shatter BHO and other concentrates, the finished result can be runny and gooey (honey oil), waxy (wax and crumble), taffy-like (pull-and-snap), or hard and glasslike (shatter).
The final consistency of concentrates depends on the flower material the manufacturers used, with some marijuana strains rendering softer concentrates and others hardening up rather easily. Manipulation and processing can also create shatter vs crumble, but regardless their form, all concentrates end with high levels of cannabinoids, making them incredibly potent.
Experienced BHO manufacturers put shatter through a purification process that strips out the wax, fat, terpenes, butane, and other materials that remain in other concentrates. This process takes out a lot of the flavor that remains with other BHO concentrates but makes the final product a lot stronger.
From pull-and-snap to crumble, wax, and shatter, smoking dabs requires a dab pen, a dab rig, or a water pipe modified for the purpose of dabbing.
Because dab pens are small, discrete, and inexpensive, they’re accessible to most who would like to try concentrates. One of the big problems with vaporizers, however, is that with underpowered heating elements and puny batteries, they often don’t get the concentrates hot enough. This can affect the size of each hit, as well as the overall flavor of the smoke.
The most popular way to smoke shatter, wax, and other concentrates is dabbing. This requires a dab rig, a specialized device with a metal “nail” or glass banger attached to a water pipe.
Smoking shatter marijuana concentrates requires a source of intense heat to vaporize the material. Many people like to use a handheld torch to heat up the nail where the dab will be placed. Electric nails, or e-nails, eliminate the need for an open flame (and cut down on the risk of burns and fire).
First-time dabbers tend to take a hit and hold in the smoke the way they would for a bong or joint hit. This isn’t necessary for dab hits, though, and will cause lung irritation. The best method is to exhale before taking a hit and then inhaling the smoke before blowing it right back out again. Smaller inhalations work best for those who are prone to coughing.
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.
The first consideration when manufacturing shatter is purity, and proper handling and storage will ensure that a high-quality shatter concentrate will stay clean and free of debris. This is especially true of medicinal concentrates, as patients don’t want to medicate with shatter that’s been contaminated with dirt or bacteria.
To keep shatter marijuana concentrates as clean and pure as possible, consumers should always handle them with gloves or parchment paper. This will keep the shatter free of any oils or bacteria that may be lurking on their hands. Always place concentrates on a nonstick surface to avoid wasting the sticky residue that often remains when they’re picked up.
No matter how it’s stored, shatter will eventually start to soften and turn into budder. This will happen faster if it’s kept at room temperature or exposed to heat. To slow this process, it should be stored in an airtight container in a cold, dark environment. There are non-stick containers manufactured specifically for crumble, wax, and shatter, as well as other concentrates. An airtight glass jar will work in combination with parchment paper to keep the shatter from sticking to the glass.
For freezer storage, it’s advised to use parchment paper to separate individual dabs for easy portioning. Condensation can be a problem with storing shatter in the freezer. Moisture will cause it to break down faster. The storage container must be wiped dry to prevent the formation of condensation.