A brittle, glasslike cannabis extract with a tendency to snap when handled. Shatter is named for its breakability, like broken glass, and is favored for its ease in handling while dabbing. It requires long, delicate purging cycles to properly remove all solvents used in the manufacturing process.
“This shatter is much stronger than the flower I’m used to smoking.”
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.
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.
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:
- 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 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.