Cannabis Extracts – All About Shatter

    Posted by Diane Campbell on Dec 8, 2015 10:46:57 AM



    The legalization of marijuana has brought a flood of products that are new to even many seasoned cannabis consumers. The proliferation of extracts, in particular, has filled dispensary shelves with an array of merchandise with appearances and textures that range from gooey to glassy. As a result, shopping for extracts for the first time can be quite overwhelming.

    What is shatter?

    Shatter is so named because at room temperature, its form is similar to glass. Shatter is the most highly refined form of cannabis available because the extraction process removes nearly every part of the plant except the cannabinoids. As a result, you can find shatter with THC levels over 90% as well as very high concentrations of CBD. This makes it an attractive choice for both medical and adult-use consumers.

    While achieving these high cannabinoid levels, however, shatter loses some of the other desirable components of marijuana. The plant naturally produces aromatic terpenes, which give each strain its unique flavor and aroma as well as provide some of marijuana’s medical benefits, both on their own and in concert with cannabinoids – a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.” Terpenes are oily substances, which means that they must be largely removed in order to attain the solid texture of shatter.

    How is shatter different from wax or oil?

    In terms of concentration, purity, and consumption, there is no significant difference between shatter and wax. Agitation, variations in temperature, and moisture can all make the difference between extraction that produces a slick, translucent product or a crumbly, opaque one. “Budder” is a form a wax that is intentionally whipped to give it that smooth, buttery texture. Aside from the physical appearance, however, these products are essentially the same.

    Oil, on the other hand, may contain somewhat lower cannabinoid concentrations but significantly higher levels of terpenes. Terpene and cannabinoid levels vary widely from among oils (as well as among shatters and waxes) and depend upon both the plant that the extractor starts with and the precise extraction methods she or he uses. When producing oil, however, the extractor is able to incorporate more terpenes than in wax or shatter.

    What makes good shatter?

    Some consumers believe that you can tell the quality of shatter by its color. Color, however, tells you essentially nothing about quality. You can find dark amber shatter that is pure and tasty as well as light, clear product that has no flavor and may contain contaminants. The essential thing to look for in shatter is lab test results. As with all forms of cannabis concentrate, any pesticides that are in the plant before you begin the extraction process will be present in much higher concentrations in the finished product. Make sure to only purchase concentrates that have been tested for pesticides as well as cannabinoid content by a reputable lab. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to find data on terpene content. Most extractors are not yet testing for terpenes, but with increasing consumer interest in flavor profiles and terpenes’ medicinal benefits, it’s likely that this will become much more common in the future.

    How do you use shatter?

    You do need special equipment to effectively use shatter. It doesn’t lend itself to the “flower pillow” method that you may use for small dabs of oil or a sprinkling of kief. The easiest and most portable way to try shatter is with a vape pen. You can also purchase an oil rig, which is essentially a bong designed for use with concentrates rather than flower. In place of a bowl, an oil rig has a “nail,” which may be composed of glass, titanium, ceramic, or quartz. You use a butane torch to heat up the nail, then place the dab on it to vaporize.


    Nature’s Gift Shop recreational dispensary in Pueblo West carries a wide range of quality, lab-tested cannabis extracts, including oils, waxes, shatters, and bubble hash. We want you to make informed decisions about the marijuana products you choose. Our friendly and knowledgeable budtenders are always happy to help you find products that suit your needs and preferences. We also provide lots of great information online! Subscribe to our blog, or download one of our free eBooks to grow your cannabis knowledge!


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    Soriano. "Dabs 2.0: CO2 Extraction for Cannabis Concentrates." High Times. High Times, 25 March 2014. Web. 7 Dec 2015.

    Cephalopod. "Holywater, Live Resin, And The Future Of Terpene-rich Cannabis Concentrates." n.p., 7 Dec 2014. Web. 7 Dec 2015. 

    Photo credit: Andres Rodriguez

    The Nature’s Gift Shop blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice or a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice a qualified health care provider if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of anything you read on this website.

    Topics: concentrates