Premium Shatter Wax Cannabis Concentrate

Many cannabis users that are interested in the most potent and pure form of cannabis prefer to smoke, or “dab” concentrates because you can feel an almost instant high, sometimes on your first hit. Concentrates are extracted from the marijuana plant matter by running a solvent — usually butane, carbon dioxide (CO2), or propane — through marijuana plant matter such as buds or trim to pull out the cannabinoids and other compounds such as terpenes that are found in the plant. The solvent is then left to evaporate, allowing you to collect the resins left behind. The consistency of the resin at that point is runny and oily. The color of the resin depends on the quality of your stating material, the solvent used to extract it, and the extraction technique used.

A secondary post processing can turn the resin into different form-factors, with different consistency, look and properties, making concentrates truly artisan. One product that has gained popularity in the last few years is shatter, or “sap”.

To create shatter or sap, after all the solvent has evaporated, the extracted resin is poured onto a parchment paper, and then put in a vacuum oven for 16-24hours at low temperature. The result is a thin, hard glassy sheet, similar to boiled caramel hardening into candy – this is the reason for the term “shatter”.

Shatter, with its flawless amber glass transparency, is extremely potent, and can reach potency of 80% THC. This appearance is what has gained shatter its reputation for being the purest and cleanest type of extract. However, translucence isn't necessarily the tell-tale sign of quality. Since terpenes are extremely volatile, it is important to note that shatter loses a lot of the terpenes, which make up marijuana’s flavor and scent, and believed to have some medicinal properties, in the drying process. Shatter typically has higher THC concentration than other forms of concentrate due to its higher density; the effect is quite similar. Shatter made using butane extraction also tends to have lower butane residuals because, during a vacuum purge, the pressure can be reduced as low as -29 mmHg which lowers the boiling point of butane from 31°F to -96°F in order to achieve a more “complete purge”.

Altering several factors in the process can yield different consistency and texture of the product. While shatter comes out perfectly clear because the molecules which, if left undisturbed, form a hard glass-like appearance, a careful manipulation of heat, moisture, and high terpene contents can also affect the texture, turning oils into a runnier substance that resembles sap (hence the commonly used nickname “sap”). Depending on those factors and how they are changed, different companies are creating products with a consistency that falls somewhere between glassy shatter and viscous sap.

Another form of shatter is “Sugar”. Sugar is the word used to describe shatter that has changed its consistency to the consistency of a granular wet sugar. It is still moist and not quite as dry as wax or crumble. Sugar can result from a natural separation of volatile components including butane and terpenes, from non-volatile components such as THC. Some strains tend to sugar more readily than others as different strains contain different concentrations of various terpenes and non-volatile molecules. Sugar creation can be accelerated by the purge in vacuum which increases the volatility of all components within the extract.  Some people believe that shatter that has been “sitting long” will sugar as well, and believe that sugar is a slightly degraded form of shatter.

When selecting a product, it is worth noting that high-quality shatter will have a strong smell and will be free of any solids that would give it a cloudy appearance and will leave little residue behind when vaporized. In addition, good shatter will be light colored. Dark color shatter is caused by solids and polar compounds that get picked up during extraction, usually attributable to the presence of water.

Although there are a few ways to smoke shatter, sugar or sap, the dab “rig” is by far the most popular. The rig is a glass pipe that looks similar to a bong. In addition to containing a vertical chamber, it includes a mouthpiece and a hole, where you insert a small “nail”. The “nail” is the most important part of the dab. A nail can be made from titanium, glass, ceramic, quartz, or any number of other materials. Each material has its own benefits and drawbacks. Users heat the nail to about 575-625 degrees Fahrenheit with a butane torch or an electric heating element is typically used to get the nail red-hot. You then use a metal dabber to scoop up a small amount of shatter and then dab it onto the nail. When the dab is touched to the nail it vaporizes instantly. A thick plume of smoke is produced which you inhale through the rig.

Some dab rigs reverse the process and use a solid glass bowl to hold the shatter or sap, and a hollow metal nail attached to tubing (like a hookah). The hollow metal nail is heated and then applied to the wax in the solid glass bowl. A strong inhalation then draws the smoke through the hollow nail, through the tubing, over the water, up the pipe, and into your lungs.

Various types of wax will vary in color and smell. A scientific attention to detail and high-grade starting material are often the difference between a Cannabis Cup winner and the discount crumble available at many dispensaries.


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