Can You Eat Cannabis Wax (Shatter)?

Sophia Delphi July 01, 2022 - 6 min read
Fact Checked

When people start using weed, they’re most likely to smoke it – although these days, more and more people start with vaping. If they’re hesitant about putting anything into their lungs, edibles are obviously the most popular choice.

Some decide that they want more variety or an even better high, though. That’s when they start experimenting with various types of cannabis concentrates. Kief, shatter, crumble, wax and dabs are all more highly-produced forms of weed or methods of using it.

They’re enjoyable, too. It’s simple to add kief or wax to a joint or bowl and make the smoke more potent. Dabbing concentrates is an easy way to get totally blasted since they can contain 80% THC and sometimes even more.

But can you eat cannabis distillate or wax? Here’s the literal answer: of course you can. You can eat anything, even if you know it’s going to harm you.

Here’s the better question to ask: should you eat them? For wax, the answer is no. For distillates, it’s a solid maybe.

To unsort this one, it’s important to understand the differences between weed extracts, distillates, and concentrates.

Illustration of Cannabis Wax Extract Concentrates

What You Can Do With Weed

Obviously, marijuana can be smoked or vaped. Whether you put weed into pipes, joints, blunts, bongs, vaporizers, or other devices, the THC and the buds’ other compounds are easily inhaled and enjoyed.

However, when you smoke up, you’re not just getting the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that make marijuana psychoactive, potent, and (hopefully) tasty. You’re also inhaling a bunch of plant material which not only makes the smoke taste worse but can cause throat and lung irritation. You’re usually also consuming plant material when you decarb flower and make edibles with it.

Once you realize that, there’s a natural “next step.” By taking just the “good stuff” from the plant, you can leave the chlorophyll and tiny plant parts by the wayside. And you’ll end up with a better-tasting substance that’s much more potent.

There are a number of ways to do just that, but they all start with separating trichomes (the resin glands) from the rest of the cannabis plant. The frosty trichomes you see on weed are the primary source of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes in marijuana, so isolating them is the first step in producing stronger and more concentrated products.

That’s not difficult to accomplish. The more important issue is what you do with the trichomes once you have them.

What Are Weed Concentrates?

A concentrate is essentially any product that is created by physically removing and/or collecting the trichomes from a cannabis plant. That’s most commonly done by retrieving the powder from the bottom of a grinder. The powder is called kief; it’s basically a collection of loose trichomes which can be sprinkled on top of the weed that you plan to smoke, making it more potent. If you sift the kief you get even stronger “dry sift” rosin.

You can also heat kief, and then squeeze it to press all of the cannabinoids and terpenes out of the trichome glands. That creates very potent rosin, which can be vaped, dabbed, or added directly to smokables. 

All of those weed products are simply known as concentrates because what you end up with is concentrated marijuana. If you take concentrates and then use solvents to further extract cannabis components from them, they’re still concentrates – but they’re also known as extracts.

One last point: since concentrates are typically used in conjunction with smoking, vaping, or dabbing, they don’t have to be decarbed to activate their THC. That will happen automatically when heat is applied to them.

What Are Weed Extracts?

Image of Cannabis Distillate and Wax with Hemp Leaves

A number of chemicals can be used to more precisely extract cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from cannabis. Alcohol, butane, and carbon dioxide are the solvents most commonly used to create extracts, and the best results come when concentrates are subjected to the extraction process.

Generally speaking, it works like this. Solvent strips away the weed’s important components, the rest of the plant is removed, and the solvent is left to evaporate. What’s left behind is extremely concentrated cannabis goodness.

Different extraction processes create different types of extracts which are usually defined by their texture. They include brittle “shatter,” crumbly “crumble,” sticky “wax” and whipped “budder.” (Clever, right?) Extraction can also be used to make highly valuable hash and hash oil, live resin (made from plants rather than dry flower), and tinctures.

Most weed extracts are consumed by dabbing, with the use of very high heat. That automatically decarbs the product to activate the THC in them; otherwise wax and other extracts have to be heated before their THC can make you high. Put a bookmark here, because we’ll come back to this point shortly.

What Are Weed Distillates?

Distillates are essential oils produced from cannabis extracts. The extracts are processed and purified in a series of complicated steps using another solvent, cold, heat, and vacuum pressure. The extremely potent oil that’s created contains only THC, CBD, or a combination of the two in precisely calculated amounts. The weed’s terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids are all left behind.

These distillates can be dabbed, vaped, added to flowers, or used to make edibles. They’re also used in the base of most premade THC vape juice. Since distillates contain exact, measurable amounts of cannabinoids, they’re ideal for the manufacture of commercial products like vape juice and edibles. Terpenes are often added back into the mix, in order to enhance the THC’s effectiveness.

Just how potent is the product of distillation? Very. If THC is extracted with advanced methods, the resulting THC oil can be as much as 95%+ pure THC. Clearly, this stuff is golden. It’s also already been decarbed, because of the heat used during the extraction process. Put a bookmark here, too.

So What About Eating Cannabis Distillate Or Wax?

We recommended placing those two bookmarks for a reason. They provide the answer to the question we started with.

You can certainly eat wax, but it won’t be worth chewing and swallowing the sticky mass. Since it hasn’t been decarbed during the extraction process, its THC is still in the precursor form known as THCA. THCA isn’t psychoactive, meaning is there nothing in cannabis wax that can get you high unless you burn it first – and that would make it even nastier to eat.

The distillate is a different story. It’s decarbed as it’s distilled, so the THC has already been activated and the oil is extremely potent. Low doses of cannabis distillate are excellent choices for making edibles and can provide their psychoactive effects when added to beverages, food, or dropped directly under the tongue. Be careful, though – a little THC distillate goes a long, long way.

Can You Eat Cannabis Distillate Or Wax? FAQ

Q: Are these weed products good for medical patients, or just for getting high?
A: Honestly, both. Since their cannabinoids are concentrated, they can provide higher levels of both psychoactive effects and medicinal power. 

Q: So when you vape weed, you’re really vaping distillate?
A: If you buy the juice from a supplier, it usually contains a small amount of distillate along with propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin, and some other ingredients. You can also vape distillate directly if you have the right equipment or purchase a vape pen prefilled with the oil. It’s extremely strong, so don’t go overboard. The distillate isn’t the only possibility, though; you can also vape flower and wax in many types of vaporizers.

Q: I understand why you wouldn’t want to eat wax, but can you decarb it and then use it to make edibles?
A: Yes, that’s one option, although baking with herb, or other types of extracts and distillates, would probably be a lot easier.