What is Shatter and How is it Made?

Written by Heather Ritchie

The term shatter is used to describe an exceptionally potent type of butane hash oil (BHO). This cannabis concentrate contains up to 80% cannabinoid composition. BHO’s use butane to separate cannabinoids from trichomes in cannabis plant matter which concentrates the cannabinoids.

Trichomes, tiny, glass-like crystals on the plant, contain the highest THC, terpene and other cannabinoid concentrations. Virtually all cannabis concentrates are created by harvesting and concentrating trichomes.

The Name Says It All

Shatter is a translucent golden color. Contrary to popular belief, shatter’s translucent appearance does not account for its purity. The amount of hydrocarbon solvent purged and the quality of the cannabis used decides the purity. It gets its name from its hard, glass-like appearance and from the fact that it shatters when dropped.

Occasionally, shatter is sold under other names like “pull n’ snap” or “sap” which exhibits a runnier consistency depending on the final concentrate texture. “Sap” is like tree sap and “pull n’ sap” is stiffer, more like taffy.

Slight variations in moisture and heat create the different textures. Concentrates other than shatter are whipped, stirred, or shaken at various times during the process which agitates the individual molecules in the mixture. Shatter is not agitated which accounts for its translucency.

The Shatter Process

The shatter making process is relatively simple and accomplished by closed loop extraction. Macerated cannabis is tightly packed into tubes and “washed” or “blasted” with liquid hydrocarbons (butane in this case) to separate the trichomes. The solvent/concentrate mixture is collected and heated to eliminate as much of the butane as possible. The resulting mixture is left to rest and settle into a thin sheet of BHO.

A vacuum oven and closed loop extraction machines would be an example of ideal equipment to safely remove the excess solvent as quality BHO processing has many stages. Extracting botanical oils by hydrocarbon extraction is a method approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Benefits of Using Shatter

Medical and recreational cannabis users find shatter a new and unique experience. Shatter’s high cannabinoid concentrations allow users to get a tremendously large hit that offers faster and stronger relief from symptoms like severe pain.

Is It Safe?

Dabs are becoming a popular way to consume cannabis concentrates and shatter falls into this category. Dabbing refers to consuming a large dose of the extract by vaporizing it. One of the biggest concerns people have is the way that shatter is produced as butane is flammable and extremely volatile.

Production of shatter is best left to the professionals as they have the correct equipment to produce a safe product. In the past, amateurs attempted to make shatter in home labs that resulted in explosions. Serious injury and even death can occur because of an improper production process.

For maximum benefit, obtain shatter from a safe and reputable professional.

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Heather Ritchie

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