What to Know About Shatter
Posted by Glenn Beierle on 07/11/2018 in Medical Marijuana
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Both the recreational and medical marijuana industries are booming in states across the U.S., meaning there are more cannabis options than ever. From smoking to vaporizing, weed connoisseurs have their pick of the finest strains and an array of ingestion methods. Although smoking marijuana flower is the traditional approach, more and more veteran users are exploring cannabis extracts. One that’s particularly growing in popularity is shatter.
The name describes how to produce extracts. Cultivators extract marijuana concentrates from the bud by running a solvent through them to pull out the cannabinoids. The solvents they generally use are butane, carbon dioxide or propane. Once the extraction process is complete, the solution evaporates and leaves behind a resin. This resin is the extract itself, and there are many types of available — such as waxes and budders. The use of shatter has grown exponentially because of its potency.
What Is Shatter?
Shatter is a term that describes a type of Butane Hash Oil (BHO). BHOs all use butane, which is a liquefied gas, as the solvent which extracts the cannabinoids from the marijuana plant.
When the resin is extracted, shatter is a translucent golden color similar to honey. When cooled, it’s hard and glass-like, and if dropped will “shatter,” thus earning the extract its name. It’s thought to be the purest of marijuana concentrates because of its transparency, but an extract’s true purity depends on the quality of the cannabis and how well the shatter has been purged of the solvents used in the extraction process — not the coloring.
Because it generally goes through extra filtration processes to rid it of naturally occuring waxes and fats, shatter is considered the most potent extract on the market. In general, natural cannabis buds have a cannabinoid content ranging from five to eighteen percent. Shatter, on the other hand, can have a cannabinoid content of as much as 80 percent. For that reason, shatter is more expensive than the majority of buds and concentrates on the market.
How Cannabis Producers Make Shatter
Because shatter is a BHO extract, individuals should never attempt to make it at home. Butane is an extremely volatile solvent, and mishandling it could lead to an explosion resulting in injury or even death. However, in the hands of a professional cannabis producer at a manufacturing facility, it is relatively easy and safe to create shatter by following this process:
- Soak the buds and trimmings of a high-quality cannabis plant in butane to separate it from its trichomes. Trichomes are the tiny, glass-like crystals found all over the cannabis plant that contain the highest levels of cannabinoids, like THC and CBD.
- Once this mixture of butane and trichomes is produced, cultivators heat it up to purge as much butane as possible.
- Unlike other extracts, cultivators do not whip, stir or shake shatter during this production process, giving it its glassy appearance.
- Once they have purged the extract, they leave it to rest and settle. Eventually, it becomes a thin sheet of shatter.
Different Methods of Ingesting Shatter
For shatter purists, a dab rig is considered the only way to use shatter. However, the process of using one is relatively involved and can be rather expensive. For those who want to experience shatter without investing in a dab rig, there are other methods:
- Smoking: Whether in a bowl, joint or blunt, you can crumble your shatter into small pieces and add it to your marijuana flower before smoking. This is the easiest and least expensive way to use shatter because you don’t have to invest in any special gear. However, many users find that mixing it this way masks shatter’s unique taste. To truly experience this extract, you may want to use a different method.
- Vaporization: To vaporize shatter, you will need a vaporization device of some kind. These vary in price depending on the quality and different features it may include. Portable vaporizers can work with shatter, as well as other types of extracts. However, vape pens are not recommended, as most users feel it degrades the concentrate’s flavor. The benefits of vaporizing are that it allows you to experience the profile of the shatter while being a healthier alternative to smoking.
- Dab Rig: If you are serious about experiencing shatter to its fullest potential, most users insist that a dab rig is a must. The setup looks similar to a glass bong but includes a few distinct features. The nail is a heated surface located where you’d usually find the bowl. You must heat this to anywhere from 575 to 625 degrees Fahrenheit either electronically or with a blowtorch. Then, use a metal dabber — which looks like a heat-proof toothpick — to place the shatter on the nail. Inhale as the shatter instantly evaporates. Although dab rigs generally start at about $50, the price goes up from there depending on the quality you want.
Pros and Cons of Shatter
Even if you are an experienced marijuana user, many people who use shatter for the first time find it to be entirely different because of its potency. The advantages of this for medical marijuana users are that using shatter allows them to experience strong, fast relief from their painful symptoms exactly when they need it.
However, many people find shatter to be too potent. Although it’s not possible to overdose on marijuana, those who use shatter for the first time are often overwhelmed by its effects. It’s easier to lose control of your dosing or experience side effects that you’re unused to, even if you’re experienced in medicating with marijuana. For that reason, if you decide to give shatter a try, it’s best to start out with a very low dosage and gauge your response before increasing the amount you ingest.
Find out More Using the MarijuanaDoctors.com Resources Page
If you are exploring different ingestion methods for your medical marijuana use, you can always make an appointment with a marijuana doctor to discuss the options that are available in your state. However, feel free to explore our resources page for more information about different types of extracts and other methods of using medical cannabis.