A Complete Guide To Shatter

What Is Shatter Wax?

One of the most stunning and attractive types of pot items on the market right now is shatter, also called shatter wax.

Must Read: Will Sativa Keep Me Awake at Night?

Often sought-after and frequently Instagrammed, shatter exploded onto the scene in the early 2010s. This form of pot item offers cannabis fans a strong new way to consume their favorite strains.

What is shatter wax? Industry experts identify shatter as a form of marijuana extract developed by the extraction of plant essential oil. This contains cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant.

In this post, you will learn more about shatter wax. But before I talk about shatter wax, I need to talk about the past and how pot use has turned into what it is now. Let me begin with smoking.

Smoking Marijuana

Pot use has been around for a long time. It’s an age-old, tried-and-trusted technique that emerged just after the caveman learned he could create a fire.

In fact, after eating some prehistoric bud, it’s not a surprise that some mile-high caveman had the crazy idea of inventing the wheel. So, what’s with smoking marijuana? 

Ingesting marijuana as food (oregano?) may have been the way weed was first found. We do not know whether it was first consumed or burned.

However, we know that cannabis was already used in China between 10,000 and 2,000 B.C.

It is not hard to imagine an ancient Chinese emperor plucking the leaves off a cannabis plant.

In fact, the leaves from a cannabis plant can be steeped as a tea for the psychoactive and medicinal benefits they hold.

Weed tea is still a popular cannabis staple in many southeast and east Asian countries.

Although weed tea never really caught on in the United States, we have nearly perfected the pot brownie’s development in modern times.

Smoking and ingestion have been the main means of marijuana use from the very beginning.

Today, however, a new form of consumption is gaining popularity: dabbing. It’s in dabbing where we first hear concerns about shattering vs. wax.

However, before we tackle that, let’s dive into dabbing so that we know what this high-level approach is all about.


Dabbing is a method of heating butane hash oil, or BHO, using a special device and then inhaling the resulting vapor. You might think it’s like smoking.

However, that’s like suggesting that a Boeing 747 is kind of like the Wright Brothers’ first jet. Both of them fly, but that’s where the comparisons end.

Dabbing derives its name from the tiny concentrated dabs (BHO or otherwise) that are used in conjunction with the oil rig to get big.

That’s dabbing in a nutshell. But let’s take a minute to touch on what makes dabbing so special … and so controversial: butane hash oil.

BHO is a cannabinoid extract (again, we’ll get to that in a minute) that can have an average potency far higher than the weed you smoke. This is how it breaks down:

  • Concentrates – 80% or more THC
  • Standard herb – on average, between 15% and 20%

This is a huge difference! Concentrates are three or four times more potent than normal buds that are smoked or swallowed.

Dream of how high you last smoked your beloved Girl Scout Cookies pressure.

Now multiply it by four, and you can easily see why the difference in power is so important. In fact, the intense potency was why this revolutionary technique was given the name of dabbing.

What Are Concentrates?

Now that we’ve thought about the doping process in general, we can get down to the particulars of intense dabbing.

Concentrates are exactly as their name suggests: distilled forms of the original pot buds.

Through a procedure called solvent extraction, trichomes, and other chemical compounds that make up the psychoactive and therapeutic elements of the cannabis plant are extracted from the plant material.

As the stripping process is ongoing, all that remains are cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN, etc.), terpenes, and flavonoids. This is the focus that makes dabbing so perfect.

Solvent extraction can be carried out using various compounds, such as isopropyl alcohol, chloroform, and carbon dioxide (to name a few).

But, by far, butane is the most common solvent used to make concentrates.

When butane is used, the outcome is referred to as butane hash oil or BHO. In the next section, we will discuss this most common of concentrates and learn more about the two forms mentioned in the title: shatter and wax.


Shatter is a liquid (often invisible) and a concentration that appears a lot like rock candy or a Jolly Rancher.

Like other concentrates produced by butane, it is created by pressing the chemical into cannabis content to create an amber liquid.

The term “shatter” refers to a particular texture of transparent cannabis concentrate that cracks and shatters like glass.

Honest Weed Shatter

Left to “cool,” this amber liquid becomes solid and forms a shatter that sometimes has the consistency of thin peanut brittle.

Shatter’s transparent consistency benefits from the temperatures used during the extraction and finishing process.

To put it more clearly, think of the molecules in the BHO (amber liquid) as Lego bricks. In shattering, they’re all packed smooth and clean, one on top of the other, almost as though you’ve just created a wall.

This molecular alignment permits the light to travel through and gives the shatter its fragile form.

How to Use Shatter

Like other extracts of marijuana, shatter is usually vaporized or “dabbed” by users using a steam pen or a specially designed water pipe called a dab rig.

With a potency of between 50-90 percent by weight of cannabinoids, shatter extracts of marijuana are a quick, effective, smoke-free way to ingest cannabis.

To use shatter in a vape pen, you must make sure that you have one that is expressly made to be used with marijuana extracts such as wax or shatter.

These vapes have an atomizer (steam heating element) that will heat easily, taking your shatter to the point of vaporization. 

To smash the vape, you’re going to apply the shatter to your vape’s heating chamber, as you can do for identical pot extracts.

When the atomizer heats the smash, it will easily melt and transform into steam, which you will then inhale from the vaper’s mouthpiece.

Dabbing is a more common way to use a smash of the pot. When dabbing, scrapers are added or “dabbed” to a hot surface, such as hot titanium, a ceramic nail, or a quartz bucket.

Upon interaction with the hot floor, the shatter will easily vaporize. When you dab your smash on the hot floor, you can inhale the vapor through the dab rig’s water chamber to your lungs.

What Makes Shatter Different?

For certain practical purposes, there is no distinction between shatter and other types of marijuana extract.

You can eat them in the same ways and they largely have the same potency range. Much of the variations between cannabis extract types are cosmetic.

Shatter is amber or gold in color and is, to some degree, translucent. The explanation that the shatter concentrate is semi-clear is linked to the molecules in the extracted cannabis oil.

In smash, both of these molecules are arranged beautifully and conveniently in straight rows, one on top of the other.

This molecular alignment allows light to move through the extract of marijuana, which gives the shatter its glass-like properties.

Heat, moisture, and high terpene content can influence the texture and extraction of extracted oils, making them into a runnier material that resembles sap but maintains its translucent appearance.

On the other hand, concentrates other than shatter and sap are whipped, stirred, or shaken at different points during the process. This shakes up the individual molecules in the mixture and creates their cloudy appearance.

However, after the molecules of cannabis oil have been disrupted (usually, by whipping, swirling, or shaking oil during fermentation), they develop erratic shapes that are more opaque and let less light through.

That’s why the clarity of wax and shatter wax is so different. For example, when the oil is agitated, you get opaque wax or similar cannabinoid concentrates instead of the transparent concentrates found to be shattered.

Why is shatter called “shatter”? Compared to other extracts, shattering is extremely challenging.

When it splits, it also fractures and shatters. Especially on a cold day, shattering will fracture violently, scattering fragments of shattering in any direction. In that way, shatter is like glass.

This is much truer as the shatter is in a thick slab.

Benefits of Shatter

The dabbing shatter’s biggest advantage is that it provides an extremely quick way for cannabinoids to penetrate the bloodstream, creating nearly instantaneous results.

Owing to the improved efficacy of cannabinoid extracts, users can now take a “less is better” attitude when consuming cannabis.

Dabbing shatters ensures that you no longer need to inhale vast quantities of burning plant material to achieve the results you seek.

That’s a positive thing. Instead of smoking whole joints and exposing the body to toxic chemicals in smoke, users should dab only once or twice to get their cannabinoids, inhaling only mist, and not smoke.

Shatter is, therefore, more durable due to its chemical composition. This means it can last longer than wax and other related extracts before decaying.

However, some people find it difficult to split up and quantify the hard continuity into individual uses. Before using it, try to lightly heat your dabber to break off the dabber from your smash.


Like smash, wax is a BHO concentrate that has the consistency of coconut oil and looks like ear wax, for lack of a better description.

Also like smash, wax begins as an amber liquid arising from butane extraction.

Honest Weed Wax

Both by mistake and design, the extracted oil is agitated or heated differently to create an opaque content that can vary in consistency from peanut butter to ear wax to honeycomb.

Avoiding all the advanced chemistry jargon, let’s go straight to the Lego block analogy. If the Lego blocks in the shatter are perfectly arranged in rows (like a brick wall), the Lego blocks in the wax are a jumbled mess (like you just dropped them in a pile).

Because the Lego blocks go all the way and have no organizational look, the wax is smooth and has the consistency of coconut oil.

Granted, all of these examples are made to be simple – I sure wouldn’t use them for a chemistry exam. But they can help you understand what’s going on at the molecular level.

The Difference Between Shatter and Wax

Nothing much, really. Both shatter and wax are BHO concentrates of the same THC potency.

They’re both used for dobbing. And both of them have a stronger, longer-lasting high. The only major difference is their look. This appearance is a result of how the concentrate is made.

That said, there are certain variations in usage and storage that you need to consider:

  • Shatter can be more difficult to manufacture (it’s very fine).

  • Wax will be easier to render (you don’t have to be as careful about it).

  • Shatter can be more difficult to treat, weigh, and use because of its delicate existence.

  • Wax is typically easier to manage, weigh, and use due to its coconut oil consistency.

  • Shatter is more durable and appears to last longer.

  • Wax is less stable and appears to decay more rapidly.


Shatter wax can also be consumed with a dabbing rig. A dab rig is essentially a revamped bong, the bowl of which holds a dab nail instead of bud nugs.

Try them both for yourself to get the full experience. How can you go wrong? It’s marijuana, after all. You can use it as an excuse to “consume” more of your favorite strains (we can’t even say smoke now, can we?).

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