Extraction & Process

What is Shatter?

January, 2022

If you follow trends in the cannabis market, you’ve probably heard the word “shatter” recently. So, what is shatter? And why is it so popular?

Shatter is a specific type of cannabis concentrate known for its brittle texture and translucent amber coloring. It makes for a powerful high, but it’s not the kind of cannabis product you can make at home.

How Is Shatter Made?

Making shatter is a complex process and requires a closed-loop extraction system, which costs up to $5,000 for a basic setup and can reach into the tens or hundreds of thousands for a commercial product.

To start making shatter, a manufacturer grinds some cannabis flower and pack the ground flower into a pressurized solvent tank. The next step is to pass a chilled solvent, usually butane, over the flower. This pulls out the cannabinoid chemicals and terpenes to produce a concentrated extract.

The system then depressurizes the tank to remove any remaining solvent material. Finally, the concentrate is heated at about 110 F for up to 10 hours. This evaporates any impurities and remaining particles of solvent.

The final product is extremely potent. Like other cannabis concentrates, shatter can contain up to 80%THC, as compared to the 10% to 25% THC found in raw flower. You won’t need to use much to feel the effects.

How Do You Use Shatter?

The process of using shatter—or any other kind of concentrated cannabis—is called dabbing. You take a “dab” of the concentrate, heat it, and inhale it.

There are many different ways to dab. Experienced users often prefer a sophisticated pipe system known as a dab rig, a multi-piece setup that features a glass pipe with a specially designed mouthpiece.

The mouthpiece includes a small hole. The hole fits a small piece of metal known as a nail, which gets heated to between 550 and 750 degrees. When you place a small amount of shatter on that nail, the oil ignites and you inhale the vapor.

If you have a traditional dab rig, you’ll heat the nail using a blow torch. You can also eschew the open flames in favor of an electric nail, which plugs into a power source. Electric nails tend to give you better temperature control and purer vapor.

Dabbing Without a Rig

Dab rigs sound too complicated? Not to worry—you can always just mix your shatter in with dry herb or use a dab pen.

Also known as G-Pens, dab pens tend to be the easiest and most convenient tools for using shatter. They’re highly portable, discreet and don’t require special tools. It’s also possible to smoke shatter using vape pens, which are designed for oil but work with concentrates as well.

Know Your Shatter

To get high-quality shatter, buy only from licensed dispensaries. Unlicensed sellers might be distributing products that haven’t undergone the kind of rigorous testing that the law requires. Their shatter could contain impurities like pesticides, heavy metals, and residual solvents.

Also, because it’s is so strong, the potency on the label needs to be accurate. Licensed dispensaries can only sell products that have gone through the required testing. When you buy from a reputable source, you can trust that the labels are accurate.

Know what you’re getting. When you have a satisfying shatter experience, you’ll be glad you made the effort.

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