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What is Shatter?


Shatter is a cannabis extract created via a solvent-based process. Concentrated cannabis is typically produced using ethane or butane, leading to a wide variety of extractions such as crumble, oil, butter, pull-and-snap, diamonds, and shatter! The terminology behind these extractions come from its visual appearance. Quality shatter that is stable and kept at the right temperature typically has a hard surface which literally shatters when tapped (appearance of cracked glass).

A close up photo of the cannabis extract called shatter.


How Do You Use Shatter?


Today, Shatter is created using strictly butane. This concentrate can be consumed by smoking, vaping, or dabbing. Check out our video below for a brief dabbing tutorial.


How is Shatter Made?


The process is lengthy and requires keen attention every step of the way. This is to ensure the highest quality possible (and to eradicate the possibility of any unnecessary explosions - DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME). As with most concentrates, quality inputs are the first step to obtaining the best quality products. This means using clean and tested (and preferably trip-quality or higher) whole flower buds vs. trim or leaves. This leads to an extract with a greater potential for an enhanced terpene profile and an overall better smoke. Once cultivated, the cannabis is put through an intensive process using butane to create a honey-coloured concentrate.

A photo showing how the cannabis extract, shatter, is made.

 

Today, shatter products coming to the market go through a laborious process in order to remove damaging chemicals or residue. With better access to technology and processing equipment, legal shatter is produced with medical grade butane alongside a process called “dewaxing,” which helps remove harmful waxes and chlorophyll for the consumer. This process also helps to create a product that is smoother on the throat than cannabis smoke itself - a big reason many opt for dabbing as a means of getting a cleaner high.

Grey Market vs. Legal Market Shatter

 
However, there’s a huge dissonance between grey market and legal market shatter - products from the grey market don’t go through the same strenuous process to remove impurities. This results in products that contain traces of propane, hexane, and other dangerous variations which are extremely harmful to the human body. In a recent study conducted by the University of British Columbia, researchers found that gas and heavy metals found in grey market shatter had a similar damaging effect on the brain similar to those who consumed narcotics such as heroin.

Another danger in grey market shatter is the level of pesticides in the starting material (flower) used by grey market producers. If the flower contains banned pesticides, the shatter concentration process will inevitably concentrate the pesticides as well. This could result in consumers inhaling high doses of pesticides alongside THC in their shatter.

As a genuine care for consumers, proceed with caution. If you’re still in the legacy market, ask your supplier if they can provide test results to ensure cleanliness. Otherwise, stop by your local Burb where everything is clean, safe, and tested for the dabbing peace of mind.

A photo of a dab rig.

 

While shatter products made from Sativa strains generally have a better terpene profile (stronger nose), they’re often harder to stabilize and result in a darker, more cloudy appearance. On the other hand, Indica extracts tend to create more of a golden, Swiss-cheese appearance which the market tends to prefer.

In BC, the tide is starting to shift. Notable products coming from Qwest and Blendcraft are produced from small batch strains that are bred specifically for extracts. When it comes to concentrates, it’s all about yield - the more THC in the starting material, the higher the yield per every pound of input (ex. 10oz of flower with a 10% yield will produce 1oz of shatter). With more manufacturers in BC now focusing on producing high quality shatter and other concentrates, the BC market continues to move in the right direction - more choice, better prices, and full transparency to delight the consumer.

To get more info on BC cannabis culture check out our history on BC bud here. From Burb to you, Happy Shatterday!

By Nadia Bortolazzo
Nadia is an MA graduate and a Digital Content Specialist at Burb. Her writing is guided by her interest in challenging and expanding the ideologies surrounding cannabis culture.
Instagram: @nadiabortolazzo.

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