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.
What is shatter?
Shatter is an extract, which is a type of cannabis concentrate produced using a combination of cannabis plant matter and solvents. The appearance of shatter weed is typically translucent, though its coloring can range from bright, honey-like amber to a darker yellow shade like corn oil.
Visually, all shatters may appear to have the same consistency, but the physical texture of individual marijuana shatter products can vary from extremely brittle to a taffy-like snap-and-pull quality, leading some to categorize the latter as pull ‘n’ snap. This inconsistency gives some insight into an individual product’s concentration of cannabinoids.
Specifically, shatter that’s higher in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) will result in a product that has more sap or oil while a product with a higher level of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) will be much more brittle and glass-like by comparison. At room temperature, THC concentrate 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 potential medicinal and therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant 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 the potential health and wellness benefits of the cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis concentrates. Just be sure to purchase shatter that has been manufactured specifically to contain high levels of CBD and low levels of THC, as this will maximize any therapeutic effects of CBD while minimizing the intoxication of THC.
How is shatter made?
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.
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.
What is ‘Shatter’ Drug?
Some are calling shatter the “crack of marijuana” and while this metaphor may or may not be accurate, Canadian police have recently voiced valid concerns about its presence on the streets and in schools. Victor Kwong of the Toronto police states, “The specific dangers with shatter is that a natural plant is mixed with chemical. This provides a health concern. But the bigger danger is the manufacturing process which can be explosive. It not only endangers the manufacturer, but their neighbours as well.”
Shatter drug is otherwise known as BHO, and is a hash oil concentrate made by using the solvent butane to extract resin with high concentrations of THC from the marijuana plant. Shatter specifically refers to an end product that looks like a sheet of toffee or maple syrup candy. Other forms are consistencies similar to honey or wax — hence the street names honey oil and budder.
The drug is used by taking a small amount of the extract — shatter, budder or BHO — and “dabbing” it on a heated surface and then inhaling the smoke. Shatter drug paraphernalia is more reminiscent of crack pipes than anything else, but it can also be smoked through vaporiser pens or added to edible marijuana products.
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.
Dangers of Shatter Drug Production
Probably the most frightening danger associated with shatter is its production. While the process is not innately complex, the butane used to extract THC resin from the plant is highly flammable. There has been an increase in explosions and house fires across the United States due to ill-informed people trying to make the drug at home. This has caused serious injuries and deaths and sparked media attention to the drug’s dangers.
With unregulated production, shatter also often ends up containing harmful trace chemicals from the process. While most claim that a purification process is used to get rid of any remaining butane, there is no sure-fire way to know how much of the toxic gas is actually leftover. This leaves you with a drug that is more toxic than its plant-based counterpart.