Shatter might be the flexitarian diet or tractor boots of the weed world — temporarily a big deal, but with no guarantee that it will be the latest, greatest thing in a year or two.
To be fair, shatter has a lot more to offer than fad diets or short-lived fashion trends. It’s one of the most potent cannabis concentrates available, ideal for dabbing and getting very wasted, very fast.
But if history tells us anything, it’s that “the best” way to consume marijuana will be overtaken by an even better way sooner rather than later.
It wasn’t that long ago that Swishers and Dutchies were many stoners’ smoke of choice, but then pre-rolled cones and non-tobacco wraps arrived. Vaporizers, and then vape pens, were revelations. Now dabbing concentrates like shatter is the ultimate weed experience.
Shatter’s still a very big deal, though — so let’s talk about it before it’s too late.
What Is Shatter Hash?
To understand shatter, you have to understand cannabis concentrates.
The Story of Weed Concentrates
These products are just what you think they are. The key components of weed are extracted, with extraneous plant material removed (often along with other components like terpenes and flavonoids). That creates a substance that can have as much as 80-90% THC content — making it two to three times more potent than the strongest strains of marijuana.
A few types of these concentrates can be easily made at home.
- A dry sift hash is created by physically sifting flowers or kief to remove their trichomes.
- Bubble hash is produced similarly, but with the use of ice water and agitation.
- You can make rosin by squeezing weed in a hair straightener. We’ll discuss this one in more detail shortly.
However, the most potent cannabis concentrates are produced with the help of a solvent. The solvent is usually butane, but can also be alcohol or another flammable gas like propane.
When the solvent is passed through weed, it removes the cannabinoids and terpenes; the solvent is later removed, leaving an extraction containing the most potent cannabis compounds. If the terpenes and cannabinoids other than THC are removed as well, that leaves a concentrate that’s almost pure THC.
Concentrates produced in this way are usually called hash oil, butane hash oil, or simply BHO. And that brings us to shatter.
Shatter and Other Hash Oils
Once hash oil has been created, it can be sold as is, or further processed to change its consistency. For example, it can be whipped at high temperatures to make thick wax or “badder,” or whipped at lower temperatures to create “crumble.”
Shatter is another product that can be made from BHO.
Putting the oil into a vacuum oven and subjecting it to low levels of heat and pressure for 24-36 hours creates an amber sheet with the consistency of glass. If you drop it, you can guess what will usually happen: it shatters. It can also be broken easily by hand.
Shatter is currently the most popular form of cannabis concentrate sold in dispensaries because it’s easy for the end-user to work with. It can be broken into pieces of the desired size and put onto a dab rig’s nail for dabbing; it can be rolled into joints or added to a bowl of weed to boost the potency of regular bud.
It’s also one of the most potent concentrates available.
Shatter can have a THC concentration as high as 50-80%, or even higher. Its potency will depend on the cannabis used to make it, and the quality of the producer’s manufacturing process.
Sounds great, right? There’s just one problem. It’s a terrible idea to try to make shatter the same way the pros do. Proper shatter production requires special equipment and expertise.
Even more problematic: butane is flammable and potentially explosive, which makes it dangerous to use at home. In some states, it’s illegal to use butane to make BHO.
So how does a poor weed smoker obtain shatter?
They can buy it in a dispensary. If they’re in an illegal state, some dealers sell it — but it’s often a fake product made from something like pine resin, not real shatter. They can tempt fate (and possibly the law) and set up their own risky production.
Or they can make a cannabis concentrate that’s so much like shatter that it will do the trick.
How to Make “Almost Shatter” at Home
Some people call this product shatter. It really isn’t. It’s rosin with the consistency of shatter. But you don’t have to share that fact with friends who you invite over for a dabbing session.
- Start with a gram of flower or kief. Kief will make stronger rosin.
- Take a 4-inch square piece of parchment paper and fold it over, with the weed in the middle.
- Set a hair straightening iron to low heat (keep it below 300°), and squeeze the parchment paper between the iron’s two plates. After 5-7 seconds you’ll hear the weed sizzle; remove the parchment from the iron.
- The gooey stuff that’s left is rosin. Remove any bits of plant material with tweezers or a dab tool.
- Repeat the process with the same weed and new parchment paper; there should be 2-3 batches of rosin in each gram of flower or kief.
- Put the parchment paper in the freezer until it hardens.
You now have rosin that has taken the same form as the beautiful shatter you’d get at a dispensary. It’s ready to enjoy.
There’s another way to do it, and you’ll end up with better “almost shatter.” It will require a small expenditure, though.
You’ll need a piece of equipment called a rosin press, which is a professional version of the hair straightener we’ve mentioned. It compresses weed or kief with two heated plates and lets you make greater quantities of higher-quality rosin.
Pro-level rosin presses can cost thousands of dollars, but you can buy a very nice home model for less than $500, and there are decent smaller models available on Amazon for $100-$200.
It’s probably not worth buying a rosin press just to try this technique out. But if you find that you love the concentrate you can make with a hair straightener, you’ll love the “shatter” you can make with a rosin press even more.
How to Make Shatter: FAQ
Q: You didn’t tell us how to make shatter with butane.
A: You’re obviously a very good reader — because you’re right, we didn’t. Since it’s very dangerous to try (and possibly illegal where you live) we’ll leave it up to you to put yourself in harm’s way. The stuff you can produce safely is almost as good, and you’ll undoubtedly still be alive to actually try it once you’ve made it.
Q: Is shatter better than the bubble hash or dry sift hash you can make at home?
A: The shatter you buy at a dispensary will be more potent and purer. If you’re making the rosin version of shatter at home, they’ll be approximately the same in terms of their effects — and definitely a lot stronger than the weed you’re accustomed to.