What is Shatter? What to Know Before You Smoke

Don't try making this at home.

what is shatter iStock / rgbspace

Also known as shatter wax, shatter weed, and shatter marijuana, this concentrate is both potent, beautiful, and easy to work with. 

Shatter is extracted from cannabis flower and processed into an amber, semi-translucent glass. It’s loaded with cannabinoids, the medicinal compounds housed in the cannabis plant. Shatter can contain up to 90 percent THC. 

Continue Reading Below

The brittle finished product can shatter if dropped, hence the name. This texture makes it much cleaner to handle than sticky waxes. 

Can You Dab Shatter?

The most common way to consume shatter is to dab it. Dabbing is the flash vaporization of concentrate with the use of extremely high heat. 

Medicinal users are increasingly turning to dabbing since the consumption method provides the immediate relief of inhalation and the potency offered by concentrates. 

If you’re new to dabbing, check out this guide to choosing a dab rig. It’s also important for novices to know that dabbing effects can come quickly and powerfully. For that reason, we recommend that you dab a tiny amount of shatter at a time and then wait a couple of hours before dabbing again. 

Continue Reading Below

What is CBD Shatter?

CBD shatter is shatter that contains only (or mostly) CBD. 

The most purified forms of CBD shatter are processed using CBD isolate. CBD isolate is extracted from cannabis flower and processed several times until the only remaining compound left is CBD. That substance is then left to set, or harden, into shatter. 

The other way to extract CBD from cannabis is to use CBD hemp flower. The only difference between marijuana and hemp is in the THC content. Hemp contains less than .3 percent THC, an extremely negligible amount that will not produce a high.  

CBD shatter is popular with consumers who want fast-acting relief from their cannabis medicine without getting high. 

Continue Reading Below

However, there is a growing body of research showing that the medical effects of cannabis are enhanced by the synergistic relationship between all of the cannabinoids and terpenes naturally present in the plant. 

For the cannabis consumer most interested in the health benefits of cannabis, choose whole plant, full-spectrum products. These products contain chemical compounds that reflect the ratios found naturally in the plant. 

Can You Eat Shatter?

Even before COVID-19 made lung health a priority, cannabis consumers were becoming wary of inhalation. If you’ve ever wondered about eating a dab, the answer is yes. You can eat a dab as long as you decarboxylate it first. 

In order to active the cannabinoids, concentrates must be heated up. The lay-scientists on pot forums recommend cooking shatter at 250 degrees F on parchment paper or in an oven-safe pan for about 25 minutes. Watch the shatter for bubbling. Once the bubbling stops, it’s decarboxylated. 

Continue Reading Below

You can refrigerate it for a few minutes to make it easier to handle and then incorporate it into a food item or capsule. 

Be careful when eating cannabis. The cannabinoids are metabolized differently when delivered through the digestive system. The high can be much more potent and longer-lasting. 

How Shatter is Made

Professional cannabis processors make shatter by extracting essential oils from cannabis flower and purifying that oil in a vacuum oven. Then that material is winterized, filtered of extra plant material with the use of ethanol and freezing temperatures. 

Making shatter is complex and can be dangerous. If you’re gung-ho about making it yourself, you’ll find tutorials all over the internet. But if you want to avoid the risk of blowing up your property or dying, leave extracting shatter to the professionals. 

The most common solvent used to make shatter is butane. Butane is an extremely flammable substance. It is also invisible to the naked eye. 

Continue Reading Below

When butane is used to extract cannabis in an open-loop system, pools of the gas can collect and set off fatal explosions when accidentally ignited by tiny sparks. These aren’t small booms. Houses explode and people get really hurt. Some die.  

Regulated commercial cannabis manufacturers use closed-loop systems, eliminating the risk of explosion. States with regulated cannabis require processors to submit their concentrates to labs for testing. These tests analyze the concentrates for unacceptable amounts of residual solvent, ensuring a purified, safe product for consumption. 

Here’s the bottom line. Making shatter yourself with butane is too dangerous, and we don’t recommend it. Also, you should buy your shatter from a licensed cannabis retail store selling regulated products to avoid inhaling left-over butane. 

Continue Reading Below

Using Kief & Heat to Make Shatter

There is a way to make shatter without using a chemical solvent. It may not produce the most beautiful results, and it’ll be a bit stickier than what you’d buy at a dispensary. But it will give you a potent concentrate, and it’s about as risky as flat ironing your hair. 

WARNING: This won’t produce the same quality of shatter you’ll see at a store. Producing that quality of shatter is extremely dangerous and should be left up to the professionals.

Here’s how to do it. 

1. Gather these materials:

Continue Reading Below
  • Kief (enough to fill the bottom chamber of your grinder at least halfway)
  • A square piece of parchment paper (about  4”X4”)
  • A hair iron 
  • Dabbing tool for removing shatter from parchment paper 

2. Carefully pour your kief onto the center of the parchment paper. Be sure to make a compact little square for best results. 

3. Fold the parchment paper over the kief so that it is completely covered.

4. Turn the hair iron onto its lowest setting. This is important for preserving terpenes. The iron should be warmed up enough for use after a couple of minutes. 

Continue Reading Below

5. Place the kief-filled parchment square in between the hair iron’s heated plates, and squeeze. You need to squeeze hard for best results. You can push one of your hands on top of the iron to create even more pressure. Be careful not to burn yourself. You can use oven mitts as an added safety measure. 

6. Use the dabbing tool to remove shatter from the parchment paper. The kief will be in the center of the parchment paper, but you should see amber colored fluid in the creases. That’s the shatter you want to remove. Since you didn’t use a chemical solvent, there’s no need to purify it. It’s ready to be smoked. 

What is Shatter? What to Know Before You Smoke was last modified: by