- Ayush Thej, MSc
- Knowledge Base
What Is Shatter Weed? — Everything You Need To Know
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a complete and total newbie pot smoker or a veteran marijuana aficionado. If you are looking for the ultimate herbal high, you have probably heard of shatter weed. You’ve probably also heard that this marijuana concentrate packs as much as 90% marijuana-derived compounds. In this definite, beginner’s guide to shatter weed, we talk about it all. This is a detailed beginner’s guide to shatter, so feel free to use the Table Of Contents to skip to sections you have an interest in.
90% marijuana-derived compounds. This is quite stunning, considering the fact that, thanks to expert breeding, the typical marijuana plant nowadays is increasing in potency. It’s not unusual for the typical weed strain to contain THC concentrations north of 20%. Still, if you are looking for a real hard-hitting experience with weed, 20% is simply is not enough. Not even close.
It is no surprise that hardcore cannabis connoisseurs have turned to honey, oil, budder, bubble-melt hash, and other marijuana concentrates. As awesome as these may be, please understand that very few marijuana concentrates pack as much of a punch as shatter weed. It’s like being kicked by a donkey.
What Is Shatter?
At its core, shatter is actually just one of many forms of cannabis extract concentrates called “dabs.” Dabs are highly concentrated extracts loaded with THC and CBD. Oil, sap, budder, taffy, honey, wax and shatter are just types of cannabinoid extracts. People make these extracts through a straightforward process using an industrial solvent like butane.
The idea is to soak the source marijuana plant in butane, heat it, eliminate the solvent and what’s left is BOH (butane hash oil). Shatter is just a type of BOH. It is an extremely potent type, but it is still BOH. Why is BOH so potent? To create this compound, you have to use butane or some type of industrial gas solvent to bind to the marijuana plant’s trichomes.
These are the crystal-like “hairs’ sticking on the surface of the marijuana bud, which contains a tremendous amount of cannabinoids. The butane binds to the trichomes and when heated up and the butane is vacuumed out, what’s left are crystallized cannabinoid concentrates. These don’t just include THC, but also terpene, CBD and others. This is the good stuff in marijuana. Everything else is just plant material. All BOH-related extracts use the same general processing principle.
This would defeat the purpose. You are looking for a truly crystallized pure form of cannabinoid. If there’s leftover butane or any other type of solvent, then you just wasted your time. Processing efficiency and precision are crucial to quality shatter weed production. Producing concentrates involves several production stages.
Compared to other marijuana-derived concentrates, shatter weed looks translucent and almost glasslike. It’s like holding a nice piece of glass resin in your palm. This is due to how this concentrate is produced. For example, compared to marijuana creams, waxes, and other similar concentrates which require some sort of agitation process, shatter weed production does not involve irritation or agitation.
All that shaking is what gives the cloudy or creamy appearance and texture of marijuana cream or wax. As its name implies, if it drops on the floor, it would shatter. It’s that brittle. Shatter weed is hard. It’s not much different from sugar that has been turned into candy. Don’t be surprised if it breaks apart if you tap it too hard or you drop it.
This is in stark contrast to other concentrates like budder, which has a waxy consistency. Also, shatter weed is different from the typical hash oil that tends to be sticky.
Before we dive into the inner workings of shatter weed, it’s a good idea to get a quick primer on marijuana concentrates.
Essentially, concentrates are just purified hyper-potent extractions of the marijuana plant’s flower buds. When you look at the marijuana bud, you would notice that there are tiny hairs sticking out from the surface.
You can easily see this when you hold the bud against the light. These are called trichomes (1). These hairlike parts are packed with the mind-altering substance in marijuana that makes you high along with many other chemicals.
Concentrates are made by using a specific type of extraction process. This is called the solvent extraction process (2). What you’re doing is, you crush the plant and then you expose it to industrial solvents like butane. The trichome’s chemicals then bind to the butane. You burn off butane and what’s left are cannabinoids, which include CBN, CBD, THC and many others such as flavonoids and terpenes.
This is highly concentrated stuff. Don’t be surprised if you use up a huge amount of pot plants, only to end up with a fairly small amount of concentrate. The good news is, a little bit goes a long way.
What Is Dabbing?
By this point, you’re probably thinking what in the world is “dabbing?” Simply put, it refers to a process where you take BOH or butane hash oil using a smoking device called an “oil rig.” You heat up the rig to create a vapor. You then inhale that vapor. A lot of people think that dabbing is exactly the same as smoking. Not quite.
In fact, there’s quite a bit of a difference. When you dab, you actually vaporize the essence of marijuana in a flash. You will heat up the concentrate, maybe you would run the vapor through some sort of tubing, then you have to suck out as much of the vapor you are able to handle. As you can tell from this description, you get a nice kick.
This is very different from packing a bowl with some buds, lighting it up, and inhaling. It doesn’t even come close. You get a really nice, clean flavor. You also use very high heat temperatures to free up the vapor. You’re inhaling the actual heated and airborne purified cannabis essence particles and gasses. You’re not inhaling smoke, which a lot of people say is bad for you because smoke contains tar.
In fact, a lot of dabbers say inhaling vapor is so much healthier than smoking dried plant material, which involves smoke, ash, tar, you name it. When compared to other concentrates, a lot of people who have tried shatter say that this particular type of extract is probably the most powerful.
This is due to the fact that in order to create shatter, you have to go through a filtration process that separates a lot of the fats, waxes and other materials normally found in marijuana. The whole point is to boil everything down into just the active ingredients that make you high or make you healthier, in the case of CBD.
You only need to look at the glasslike appearance of shatter weed to know that this amber-like substance is the closest thing you would get to pure chemical marijuana. Given its purity, it is not a surprise that a lot of people claim that it leaves a much longer and intense high.
You have to understand that when you smoke weed, normally a lot of it just wasted in the form of smoke. You’re pumping a lot of carbon monoxide into your lungs. There are all sorts of unwanted chemicals that are created through the burning of plant material. There is also a wide range of chemical reactions produced by the burning process. You say goodbye to all of that when you dab using shatter weed.
How do you use shatter weed?
As I mentioned above, experienced dabbers prefer specialized smoking equipment called “oil rigs.” Other than that, you’re pretty much free to choose a wide range of devices. It really all boils down to the purity that you are looking for. If you’re looking for an extremely pure and highly potent vapor experience, you have to use an oil rig.
Keep in mind that this is not cheap. Such setups would cost you north of $100. If you are short on the budget or you just don’t have the time to mess around with any of that specialized equipment, you can just whip out your trusty pipe and do the following.
First, crumble some weed and pack it into your pipe bowl. Make sure that there is enough space left at the top. At this point, take a piece of shatter weed and crumble it. Normally, the moment you pinch it, it starts to break apart. It’s like a resin. Sprinkle it on the top, light up and enjoy.
Similarly, you can do the same when rolling a joint. There are so many ways you can enjoy your shatter weed. Please understand, though, that the closer you get to a purer vapor inhalation experience, the more expertise you need to build up. This is why it’s not a good idea to inhale shatter vapor if you are a complete and total marijuana beginner.
Remember, baby steps. While I go into the shatter inhalation process in more detail in this guide, at this point, I’d like to focus on one key difference that you may be thinking about.
Wax vs Shatter
Marijuana wax is extremely potent. It’s right up there with shatter. In fact, they’re quite similar. However, there are several physical differences between the two.
- Wax is much easier to work with but is not all that stable
- Shatter will have a longer shelf life. Wax tends to degrade at a much faster rate
- Shatter is a very stable concentrate, but it’s harder to work with
Most of the differences between shatter and wax concentrate focus on how they are processed and the temperature of their processing. Unlike wax, which requires a lot of shaking, agitation and mixing, shatter doesn’t require any of that. It just needs butane evaporation or the extraction of some sort of industrial solvent to produce a nice, translucent glasslike concentrate.
It looks like toffee or amber. Wax, on the other hand, is somewhat solid but looks opaque. It looks more like something that you put in your hair or some sort of night cream. The big difference between the two is, the marijuana is crushed and exposed to solvent. But instead of burning off the solvent, the evaporating gas is shaken or agitated, which results in a cream.
Any slight changes in the amount of physical agitation, the moisture remaining in the final concentrate, as well as the specific temperatures in the process, can cause what would have been translucent marijuana oil to produce an opaque byproduct. When you agitate the mixture, THCA turns from solid to gas precipitate. From this point on, it turns into crystals.
Shatter vs Weed
Prior to the middle of the 2000s, the American marijuana market was pretty stable. People were content to smoke weed or hash. These were the only two games in town. Well, that all started to change in the mid-2000s when more and more people started getting into dabbing. Dabbing is not exactly new because these extracts have been around, at the very least, since the 1940s.
What’s different is its increased popularity, as well as the efficiency of the marijuana concentrates’ extraction process using industrial solvents. This process has been continuously refined since the mid-2000s and this is why we can say that a lot of these processes are quite new, but they have gone through a few generations of improvements.
So back to the original point: shatter weed vs regular weed. It really all boils down to discrete use, convenience and, of course, potency. Shatter weed is fairly recent in the overall history of smoking pot. But if you want to look at its origins, a lot of its processes can be traced to something really old school: hashish production. Starting in the late 90s to the mid-2000s, hashish extraction went through quite a revolution in production innovation.
This is generally regarded as the timeframe that produced shatter weed. Hash production techniques published on the internet centered around the 1989 book “Cannabis Alchemy: The Art of Modern Hash Making.” Written by a person going by the pen name of D. Gold, this online guide really broke down how to create hash from weed (3).
Similarly, around ten years later, a marijuana product manufacturer based in Canada called BudderKing started marketing budder and shatter. Their products were so popular that the medical marijuana dispensaries in North America started stocking BudderKing products in 2003 and these became quite widespread by the year 2005.
Another point to mention is the magazine Cannabis Culture even published how-to guides for using shatter and budder. For some time, there was quite a bit of a toss-up between these two types of concentrates. But by the time the 2010s rolled around, it became apparent that shatter is the product of choice for people who prefer to consume weed using oil rigs or dab rigs.
This is also the time that we started seeing these weed smoking devices. We started seeing them right next to the old school water bongs and pipes.
Shatter: The Origins
This concentrate gets its name from the fact that it is made from hardened resin that has been cooled down. It’s kind of like a candy caramel that has been spread thinly on a candy sheet and allowed to cool down. If the sheet is thin enough and you drop it, it shatters.
Is Shatter Legal?
Let’s get one thing clear. Shatter weed is generally illegal throughout the United States, except for parts of the country that have made recreational marijuana use completely legal. As of this writing, only nine states, as well as the district of Colombia, have legalized weed in all its forms. Even in other places where medical marijuana may be legal, shatter weed still occupies some sort of legal gray area.
You don’t want to roll the dice. You don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. With that said, shatter weed is kind of controversial in the pot-smoking community. People are kind of on the fence on this one. Although a lot of shatter smokers say that the mind-altering experiences and good times that they get from marijuana are much better with shatter, others have different opinions.
The impurities involved in the solvent production process, the risk of adulteration and the many explosions and fires caused by sloppy home production of shatter weed greatly offsets whatever positive benefits that it brings to the table. However, people who use shatter concentrate for medical purposes vouch for its amazing pain-killing properties.
One shatter weed subcategory is CBD shatter. This variant only contains one thing: cannabidiol or CBD. CBD, according to a few studies, pretty much contains the vast majority of all the medicinal or medical properties of marijuana.
If you’re looking to get some relief from inflammation, pain, nerve issues, depression, anxiety and a wide range of other ailments, CBD will do you right.
What distinguishes CBD from regular marijuana is the fact that it does not have any THC, as in zero. This is great news if you don’t want to get high. The CBD shatter compound will not get you high. It has absolutely zero THC. If you’re still on the fence regarding this compound and you’re still trying to decide whether you should mix it with essential oils or your preferred herbs to maximize its flavor, please note the list of benefits below.
There is quite a bit of research that suggests CBD delivers faster relief than THC. It depends on the medical condition you are using CBD for. The best way to get CBD shatter’s benefits is through the use of an oil rig or a vaporizer.
Use During The Day
Unlike marijuana, which can make you lightheaded, euphoric and disoriented, CBD has absolutely no psychoactive effects. It’s not going to make you high. Also, a lot of people who have taken CBD shatter say that it actually improves your mood, but not in an intoxicating way. You feel more upbeat. You feel more energized.
This is why if you’re looking to be productive during the day, you might want to consider CBD shatter. If you have a lot of stress to navigate through, chores to complete, tasks to hassle with, inhaling some CBD shatter vapors might do the trick.
The great thing about CBD shatter is that a little bit goes a long way. In fact, you only need a little scoop of this compound to scoop into your vape pen, join or oil rig and you are good to go. You, of course, can increase your dosage, but it’s all up to you. In addition to being a powerful anti-anxiety substance, CBD also helps people with depression.
If you are in any way feeling low, blue, discouraged, depressed, CBD shatter, whether in the form of oil rig-produced vapors or a vaporizer, gives you very quick relief. You can inhale it and once it gets into your lungs and into your bloodstream, you are good to go. According to many studies, the human brain reacts really well to CBD.
Again, you get all this calming, encouraging and mood-lifting effects without getting high. You’re not going to walk around all disoriented. You’re not going to develop munchies. Instead, you go about the rest of your day feeling energized, clear-headed and motivated.
Buying Shatter Weed
Legally speaking, the only places where you can buy shatter weed is restricted to the district of Colombia and the nine US states that have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Everywhere else, you are going to land in a legal gray area. While a state may have very generous and liberal medical marijuana laws, those laws may not be enough to give you legal cover if you are looking to buy shatter.
This is due to the confusion of many law enforcement authorities. Some are very suspicious of the extreme potency. While it’s obvious that people who have serious illnesses would love to get their hands on this compound for medical purposes, in the eyes of law enforcement, the potency of this substance makes it suspect.
As a general rule of thumb, buying shatter weed in any American jurisdiction should be approached the same way as with any type of marijuana-related product. In other words, pay attention to your local laws. Even if you live in an area where medical marijuana is legal, please understand that MMJ laws vary tremendously on a local and county level (4).
Some states actually ban the sale of marijuana and marijuana-related products in their most populous counties so it’s important that you are aware of your local laws. If you are going to get it for medical purposes, you’d need to have some sort of medical marijuana permit or license. The good news? The internet has made your life so much easier.
There are actually dispensaries located in California that will deliver weed or weed extracts straight to your door. Websites like The Green Cross and San Francisco’s Medithrive make ordering pot-related products as easy as ordering a blender from Amazon. Now, please understand that using these services would be no problem if you are ordering them in California.
But if you are going to ask them to ship to you and you live in a state that has different marijuana laws than the golden state, then you might be in for some legal problems. Do yourself a big favor and research your local law regarding marijuana-related product deliveries.
From a practical perspective, your best option would just be to look for a local weed shop. Your corner marijuana shop should be able to help you get marijuana shatter. Of course, different dispensaries and pot shops have different product lines. They might have to put in a special order. You also have to be aware that if you’re looking for a discount, then you have to buy in volume.
Also, generally speaking, shatter is more expensive than regular marijuana. After all, this is an extract of marijuana. Another key factor to keep in mind when looking at shatter pricing is extraction quality. If you buy shatter that has high levels of solvents or other chemicals that were used in the extraction process, expect to pay a lower price.
However, if you’re looking to buy really pure stuff, don’t expect to buy it for cheap. As of this post, the price of shatter weed in many areas of the United States ranges from $50 to as high as $70 per gram.
How do you smoke shatter?
If you’re a complete newbie to the shatter scene, let me simplify for you. When you’re rolling a joint, before you roll it up, sprinkle some crumbled shatter on the surface of the weed. Once you’ve evenly coated the top, roll up your joint. This is the most common way to smoke shatter.
Adding shatter to your joint, with your weed is a great way to start using it because a lot of people can’t take the potency. You’re putting pretty much pure THC on the stuff that you’re smoking. Since you are in control of sprinkling amounts of this crystal-like substance, you can learn from your experience. Maybe you put too much the first time, so you have to dial back. On the other hand, maybe you put too little and you might want to step it up.
Whatever the case may be, using manual shatter crumbles is a great way to break into the shatter weed scene. Once you know your way around and know what to expect, the next level is probably to get yourself a smoking device called a shatter oil rig (which we discussed earlier on in this guide). These are glass pipes that have lots of curves and are specially designed to release vapor from shatter using a high heat torch lighter.
You also have to use some sort of glass or metal nail. This is placed in the mouthpiece that acts as the primary surface for vapor production. You light up the nail and once it gets really heated up, you use your metal dabber (this can also be made out of quartz), pick up a small amount of shatter and dab the substance on the heated nail.
This is a very hot process. This is why you cannot use your hand. You have to use some sort of dabber. Oftentimes, there will be some leftover oil in your rig after you have used up your shatter. If you want to smoke as efficiently as possible, either you can heat up the glass nail again and vaporize whatever remains or just keep using your rig until it clogs.
If your rig is all clogged up, drunk your all-glass rig in some alcohol. This has to be really high-grade alcohol. Boil the liquid with your rig in it. Once you do this, the heated alcohol will dissolve whatever oil is left on the surface of your rig. You only need to do this for a few minutes until you can take out your rig, completely clean from the boiling alcohol.
Keep boiling the alcohol until nothing is left except shatter. Please note that alcohol evaporates much faster than water, so you’re not going to wait all that long. If using an oil rig seems too complicated for you, just use your bowl. Grind up your pot the way you normally do, drop a few dabs of shatter onto your bud, layer on some more weed, and then light up.
The reason why you want to do this is that you don’t want the oily shatter to get in contact with your lighter. Not only does this produce a quick burst of flame, but this also burns up your THC so quickly that you don’t get to enjoy it.
Another way you can enjoy shatter is through vaping. There are a lot of vaporizers available in the market. Unfortunately, you cannot use a desktop type of vaporizer. They are very big, but the problem is, they don’t process shatter all that well. Your best bet is to use a portable vaporizer like a vape pen. This has a smaller form factor and has a chamber that is well adapted for shatter weed.
If you are looking for a cleaner vapor, look for vape pens that are specially designed for heating up shatter. These are called shatter pens (no points for guessing that). They will set you back anywhere from $30 to as much as $200. It all depends on the quality of the design, their components, as well as the materials and how they’re designed to work.
Generally, these shatter pens work best with wax or oil concentrates. The biggest advantage of vaping shatter is that you don’t actually light up the material. There is absolutely no smoke created. You get a nice vapor which hits your lungs really hard. If you’re looking for maximized medical benefits, this is the way to go.
Shatter Vape Pens
The procedure is actually pretty straightforward. It’s not much different from using oil concentrates or wax-based marijuana products. The first step is to get your shatter ready by applying some of it onto the end-point of your dab tool. You then gently touch the shatter onto a coil in your vape pen.
After this, you have to turn on the ignition of the vaping device. This primes the device so you can start vaping. This priming process will melt marijuana wax, as well as shatter. This evenly coats the heating coil which then starts producing a high-quality vapor. It’s very important that you prime it correctly, so the hits that you get from your vape pen are consistent.
After this point, use the vape device as you would any other vaporizer and just keep drawing vapor that your lungs can process. Keep drawing with your lungs until you reach your limit. Pretty easy, huh?
Best Shatter Vape Pens
From an extensive guide posted by the Vape Guide, your best bet for dab pens is a model called KandyPens Prism. This device delivers a solid experience regardless of whether you’re just starting out or you are an advanced vaper. This vape device will deliver the experience that you are looking for. In fact, several members of the Hypothesis Journal team use this vape pen… so it’s definitely worth getting if you’re into your shatter!
When you take a hit, wait for about 15 minutes until you’ve already gotten plastered and things are starting to mellow out before taking another hit. It’s not uncommon for people to take hit after hit and they basically end up ingesting too much shatter. While there is no such thing as marijuana overdose, you don’t want to freeze up.
Do yourself a big favor. Take a hit, enjoy it, feel your mood go to the next level, let it mellow out, and then after 15 minutes, take another hit. You’re not in rush. This is not a race.
How do you make shatter?
As I made clear in this guide, shatter is probably the purest concentrate of all smokable forms of marijuana. How can I say that? Well, it has really elevated concentrations of terpenes. This is why it’s really important to follow the right steps in creating your own extract. You have to be safe about it. A lot of people get the steps wrong and they end up will all sorts of fire and safety issues.
Here is what you need:
- A large supply of buds with high volume trichome
- Lots of butane cans
- Glass processing dish for the resin oil you will be producing
- Clamps and coffee filters attached to tubes
- Large-sized glass tubes you can pack your herbs in
- Heating oven with a decent temperature range
- Vacuum pump for removing butane from your extract
- Part 1
If you have a lot of high-grade weed, make sure that you have enough butane cans. Put the pot in hollow glass tubes then fill them up with butane. This butane liquid will saturate the herbal compound in the glass tube. After this, you’re going to let it evaporate. This means that you’re going to heat up the butane so that the only thing left is amber-colored resin.This resin will have the texture of hard candy. When I interviewed professional growers regarding their shatter production techniques, they said they would burn off the butane at a clip of 91 degrees Fahrenheit for a timeframe ranging from 16 to 30 hours. They attach vacuum pump devices to the tubes to get rid of the butane.
- Part 2
All this leads to oil collecting in the glass container. Make sure it has a lid to ensure a proper pressure to pull in the air while pushing out butane. The whole system’s pressure has to be measured by gauge. This will tell you just how hot the whole system is. Not only does this gauge give you a head’s up so you don’t burn up your setup, but it also gives you the information you need to know so you don’t end up charring your final product.The key here is to remove all solvents from the extract and maximize purity. This means absolutely no solvent residue. A lot of veteran shatter producers told me that the real secret here is to maximize the volume of trichomes from your weed plant. The hairier and the more crystals sticking on the surface of our buds, the more trichomes you will have. This leads to more resin and ultimately, more Shatter weed.The problem is, most shatter makers think of trichomes as an afterthought. They assume that if you are going to be buying high-grade buds that there will be trichomes there. Well, you should think in advance. If you know you’re going to be using your weed primarily to make shatter, then you might want to grow your plants with some sort of root strengthener.These compounds boost your plants’ trichome production. The THC content will still be the same, but there will be more trichomes so the THC can be more easily extracted through shatter weed production. Please note that making your own BOH or derived compounds like shatter is not exactly easy.To be as safe as possible, get the help of an experienced (and willing) chemist if you are thinking of making these types of products. If you don’t have the experience or credentials to do this, you probably would be better off just purchasing your stash. What makes the production process dangerous, in addition to the threat of fire or explosions, is the purging process.
- Part 3
If your shatter has too many solvents left over, you may be putting your health at risk. Remember, you’re adding butane/other volatile chemicals to purge the THC from your initial herb. You’re going to be taking in this stuff into your lungs. If your shatter has a high level of chemical residue, you might suffer from all sorts of health issues. Please, don’t attempt to do this yourself unless you have the knowledge and skills required.I’m just giving you a head’s up. I’m not trying to discourage you. I’m just trying to give you a realistic picture of how complicated making your own shatter can be.
Make no mistake, smoking shatter can be very expensive and it can also be quite complicated. However, if you are looking for the highest high or the ultimate marijuana experience, it is all worth it. In fact, very experienced pot smokers describe smoking shatter as so intense that it feels like you’re smoking weed for the very first time. Crazy, right?
This is quite a mouthful, considering that highly experienced weed smokers say this. You have to understand that this means that shatter weed can pack quite a punch when it comes to mind-blowing, awesome experiences.
There is a lot of scary stuff out there on the internet regarding the elevated THC concentration of shatter. It’s easy to get freaked out by such information (which is the reason why we created Hypothesis Journal). But remember, if you are looking for therapeutic effects or are simply searching for the ultimate marijuana experience, you have to give shatter a try. When testing it out, you should apply it in small sprinkles and then scale up depending on your preference.