Cannabis Shatter: Tips on Safety, Extraction, and Use

Cannabis Shatter

Cannabis has become a mainstream topic of discussion in most health and fitness forums. Both medical and recreational marijuana products are legal in many places across the world. In the US, for instance, patients can purchase legal marijuana to relieve various conditions, including chronic pain, exhaustion, anxiety and panic disorders, stress, loss of appetite, sleep disorders, and the adverse symptoms of post-chemotherapy and menopause.

In Canada, you can mail order marijuana and get your package delivered through postal services. Although finding cannabis products is not a daunting task, finding high-quality products and brands is essential. The medical benefits of marijuana are no longer controversial. However, like any other product in the market, cannabis comes in varying quality and forms. One of the popular forms of cannabis is shatter. You may hear different colloquial names like shatter wax or shatter weed.

What is Cannabis Shatter?

Alongside wax, crumble, honeycomb, and live resin, shatter (also refered to as dabs) is one of the various forms of cannabis that allows you to vape your favorite strains. The name stems from its characteristic glass-like appearance. It also shatters like glass when you drop it under the right conditions. The hard, translucent concentrate has been around since 2010 and is among the premium cannabis many users seek and post on their Instagram. However, the last few years have seen a rise in concerns over the extraction process manufacturers use to get shatter.

Unlike CBD isolates and oils, shatter uses a unique process to retain all the individual cannabinoids and flavinoids in the cannabis extracts. According to studies, some of the chemicals, manufacturers use in the extraction process, are unsafe for human consumption. Some shatter producers may also use different chemicals to enhance the appearance of the product. What’s more, the equipment may retain chemical residue, such as rust, that may end up in your shatter. As such, it is advisable that you keenly review where your favorite weed shatter is coming from.  Ensuring your shatter comes from a secure source is always of most importance.

How is shatter extracted?

Shatter is merely a type of marijuana extract. It is the plant’s essential oil that contains all the terpenes, cannabinoids, phytochemicals, and other compounds that naturally occur in the marijuana strain. To get cannabis extracts, manufacturers use a solvent such as butane, isopropyl, hexane, or carbon dioxide (CO2) to absorb finely-ground cured fresh cannabis material. The process produces a thick cannabis oil rich in all the plant’s active chemical compounds. Shatter, at this stage, assumes its characteristic gold or amber color.

The next process involves removing most (if not all) of the solvent using heat and vacuum. This results in a concentrate that you can process into the various forms (wax, sap, honeycomb, crumble). Like other extracts in this form, the best way to use shatter is with the aid of a vaporizer (vape pen) or dab rig. You need special vape pens that can work with wax and crumble-type concentrates.

How potent is shatter?

Shatter is very popular among seasonal cannabis users. Depending on the extraction process, shatter can have a potency range of 50% to 90% cannabinoids, with 80% THC and very little to no CBD (in most cases). This is incredibly high, considering most cannabis flowers and dry herbs have 15% to 35% THC. Vaping shatter also results in fast-action so you can get high with only a few puffs, but for me only one hit  is enough to hit the spot. This is because shatter retains almost all the active compounds in the cannabis plant. However, you lose a small amount of the terpenes in the extraction process during the purging of solvents, and yet its one of the extraction methods that retains most of the terpenes.  Shatter is a concentrate that can come in various concentrations of the individual cannabinoids and plant chemicals. As such, it offers one of the most effective ways to consume smoke-free cannabis.

What are the benefits of shatter?

The merits of vaping or ingesting shatter are quite obvious and straightforward. Next to isolates, shatter is the only other highly potent cannabis product with cannabinoid concentrations of up to 90%. However, shatter is better as it contains various cannabinoids, terpenes, and vital plant chemicals. Some of the benefits of using shatter over other cannabis products include:

  • You can vape, dab or add small particles to your joint.
  • Very potent. You will feel the effects within seconds.
  • Offers a convenient way to take cannabis.
  • Contains more cannabinoids and phytochemicals than CBD and THC isolates.
  • High-quality shatter is safe and very useful for delivering the medical benefits of cannabis.

Safety concerns in shatter extraction

Shatter may offer a very effective way to get your daily dose of cannabis. However, it has its fair share of shortcomings. Vaping some chemicals and plant resin can have adverse effects on your health. Most concerns point to harsh extraction processes that can leave traces of potentially harmful chemicals in the final product you vape. Some of the significant concerns regarding the use of shatter cannabis include:

  • Butane health and safety concerns

Shatter is a Butane Hash Oil (BHO), which means its extraction process relies on liquefied butane. The solvent is responsible for separating trichomes from the fresh cannabis plant. Trichomes are small glassy crystals that contain the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals available in the plant. Butane has a low evaporation poin, which means that it escapes into the atmosphere without much intervention.  Manufacturers use specialized equipment, heat, and pressure procedures to purge out most of the butane before the shatter is safe for consumption, and then recapture the butane to recycle it for subsequent extractions.  It can be challenging to get rid of all traces, so a long and slow purging period is necesarry to release it from the product.

Vaping butane, which is a highly volatile compound, can result in adverse effects and irritations. The solvent is also flammable and unpredictable. It poses a significant safety risk in amateur chemists and labs. Butane can easily result in explosions if you do not have the right equipment or observe all the precautions.  This can make butane extractions a very touchy procedure.

How to avoid butane risks

The only way to prevent butane risks is to find shatter products that do not contain potentially harmful chemicals. Reputable shatter manufacturers use high-end equipment and processes to handle all the butane and purge it out of the final product. Therefore, it is recommendable to purchase your shatter from credible, reputable retailers, and manufacturers. You can look up customer reviews and expert opinions to gauge the quality and safety of a given shatter product.

  • Pine resin concerns

Since shatter is always on demand, some vendors attempt to make it using non-conventional methods that result in substandard quality and potential health risks. One of the recent trends is passing pine resin as shatter. Resin is a natural viscous liquid that naturally occurs in flowering plants. Resin plays various roles in plants ranging from protecting it from pests to healing and fighting attacks.

Besides, resin aids in healing and nutrient uptake. It contains high concentrations of all the essential oils and active compounds in the plant. Pine resin resembles shatter because of its characteristic golden brown color. Although pine resin has several uses, including health benefits, it is not recommendable to vape or inhale.

How to avoid pine resin

Telling pine resin apart from genuine cannabis shatter requires a keen eye. Seasoned cannabis vapers can also identify differences in the taste and experience they get. If you cannot tell any aesthetic or taste differences, the only sure way to avoid pine resin is through a chemical test. Take part of the “shatter” and dissolve it in pure alcohol (99%). Shatter waxes and saps should dissolve completely, leaving an amber tint in the solution. Pine resin, on the other hand, will leave white crystals at the bottom of the mixing bowl.  Some have also noticed that the white residue ends up on a cloth if use one as a filter between your mouth and the devide you are using, and report it will create a white residue on the cloth.

How to use cannabis shatter

  • Vaping

This is the conventional way to use concentrates, waxes, and shatters. Vaporizers are very sleek and convenient to carry around. They are also useful in combusting cannabis products. Find the right vape pen for your needs. In most cases, you can use the same vaporizer that you use for waxes and concentrates.

  • Dabbing

Using a dab rig is another popular way to take wax, concentrate, and sap cannabis. This method involves vaporizing the shatter over a hot metal “nail” and then using an oil or dab rig to inhale the vapor. You can heat the shatter electronically using an “e-nail” or use a blowtorch.

  • Hash pipes

Hash pipes are common among hash, kief, and charas smokers, but you can also use it with cannabis shatter. If you still want to enjoy the benefits of shatter without investing in expensive vaporizers and dab kits, new harsh pipe models can work with solvent-based extracts, waxes, and concentrates.

  • Use with flower

It is possible to add small pieces of the shatter into a blunt, joint, or bowl. This is the easiest way to use shatter as you do not need to invest in any tool. However, smoking shatter inside a joint will expose you to the undesirable side effects of smoke, tar, and resin residue. This technique also masks the flavors. As such, it is the least favored method of taking cannabis shatter.


Shatter gives you another convenient way to use cannabis quickly. It is also very potent so that you can benefit from the medicinal and therapeutic effects sooner. However, not all cannabis shatter is desirable. It is still essential to review your choices carefully. Your priority is to pick high-quality manufacturers, brands, and products that can help you get the benefits of cannabis shatter without any adverse side effects. If you are starting with shatter, wax, and concentrates, make sure you use the right equipment and dose. You should also verify all the ingredients in the shatter product. If you are using cannabis for specific medical conditions, make sure you follow your doctor’s recommendations for dose and mode of delivery.

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