If you love weed and haven’t had your head in the sand for the last few years, surely you’ve heard of shatter. Maybe you’ve even toked the stuff. If you have, you know it’s awesome.
But how do you make shatter? There are a number of different methods for extracting the resinous trichomes from cannabis plant matter, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick to the popular “BHO” (butane hash oil) method.
Concentrate extraction methods
Cannabis extraction techniques vary by manufacturers, but they generally fall into two camps: Solvent-based and solventless extraction methods for concentrates. Solvent-based methods utilize solvents such as butane, propane, carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethanol to dissolve the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant matter.
Solventless extraction methods bypass the need for harsh solvents. Instead, solventless extraction uses sifting techniques with fine mesh screens or heat and pressure from a pressing machine to extract the plant’s trichome resin. Solventless extraction methods can produce flavorful extracts such as rosin, bubble hash, kief and hash.
Each extraction method offers its own pros and cons, but butane and propane are the most common solvent types used to make high-quality shatter due to their ability to strip the plant’s psychoactive compounds in a fast and effective manner. Butane and propane also are able to produce a wide range of concentrate consistencies.
We are going to walk you through everything you need to know about how to make BHO using butane solvent extraction. To start, keep in mind that the BHO method tends to be a hazardous process. Making shatter indoors is a terrible idea and stands a decent chance of blowing your house off its foundation. But BHO can be done in relative safety if thorough caution is used.
What you will need
The first step to making shatter is to gather your supplies. You’ll need:
- an ounce of uncut marijuana
- an “extraction tube”
- at least one butane canister
- a coffee filter
- an electric range and double boiler
- a Pyrex dish to collect the shatter
- strips of parchment paper
- single-edged razor blades
What Is Shatter
“Shatter” is a homogeneous, amorphous solid predominately made up of THCa, terpenes, and phospholipids. Other constituents including minor cannabinoids may be present as well, depending on the input material.
Considerations When Making Shatter
When making shatter, or any cannabis concentrate for that matter, there are three high-level considerations one must look at:
- Input material quality
- Extraction parameters
- Post-processing parameters
Let’s take a look at each of these considerations and how they come into play when producing shatter.
How to Make Shatter
High-quality material produces high-quality outputs. While there are parameter tweaks and “tricks” an operator may use to increase output quality, the old adage “fire in, fire out” rings true to this day. When making shatter and most other concentrates produced for vaporizing, we want to utilize the least amount of post-processing possible, in order to maintain the general composition of active ingredients from the raw input to the finished output.
The single largest consideration in creating the stable, glass-like shatter consistency is the moisture content of the input material. The material should be 8% water content or lower. Dry material makes achieving our goal consistency easier and repeatable. It’s also important to note that different cannabinoid and terpene profiles will alter the final form of the finished product.
Standard low temperature hydrocarbon extraction parameters are utilized for primary extraction. Using low temperature extraction, as opposed to a higher temperature boiling solvent like ethanol, mitigates the extraction of phospholipids, thus creating a higher-quality, higher-potency finished product. Most operators will opt for a butane-dominant solvent blend or utilize 100% n-butane in this scenario. Too much propane will pull the lighter terpenes, thus increasing terpene content and influencing nucleation of THCa throughout the batch, causing it to “sugar.”
Our final consideration in this category is residual solvent content of the raw oil when removing it from the machine. It’s important to leave enough liquid solvent behind so that you can gently pour the concentrate out of the machine to agitate the solution as little as possible, prevent THCa nucleation, and avoid “sugaring” the slab.
It should be noted that while a shatter slab may “sugar” it does not mean the product couldn’t or shouldn’t be consumed. Some people have preferred a sugared shatter concentrate, but for the purposes of making “true” shatter we will attempt to avoid this result.
So what exactly is shatter?
“Shatter” is a term used to describe an extremely potent type of BHO (Butane Hash Oil). All BHOs use butane (a liquified gas) as a solvent to extract cannabinoids and terpenes (to a lesser extent) from cannabis plant matter.
Cannabis shatter boasts a beautiful golden color. It is a hard, glass-like extract that usually shatters when it is dropped (hence the name). Shatter is extremely translucent, often leading people to assume that it is the purest of all cannabis concentrates. It can contain up to about 80% concentrations of THC and other cannabinoids.
Shatter can occasionally be sold under some other names. You will find it mainly as “sap” or “pull ‘n snap”, depending on the texture of the final concentrate.
Where shatter is hard and glassy, sap is slightly more runny, with a texture more like tree sap. Pull ‘n snap usually sits somewhere in the middle with a texture similar to taffy.
All of these products are essentially made the same way, but slight variations in heat and moisture content give them their different textures.Related ArticleWhat Is Marijuana Wax, How Is It Made, And Is It Safe?
How is shatter made?
Shatter is a solvent-based cannabis extract. Being a type of BHO, it uses butane to separate trichomes from the cannabis buds and trimmings and hereby concentrates the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the plant.
Trichomes are small, glass-like crystals found on the cannabis plant. These trichomes contain the highest concentrations of THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes.
All cannabis concentrates (different types of BHO, hash and even kief) are essentially made by harvesting and concentrating trichomes.
The process for making shatter is relatively easy. It involves soaking, or “blasting” cannabis buds and trimming them with liquified butane in order to separate the trichomes from the plant. The resulting mixture is then collected and heated in order to purge as much butane from it as possible.
The purged mixture is then left to rest and settle so it can form a thin sheet of extract.
Waxes, budders, and other types of concentrates are often stirred, whipped, or shaken during various stages of the production process. This agitates individual molecules within the extract and creates a final product that has a cloudy, possible even creamy appearance and texture.
Shatter is not agitated during the heating processes. This is why it has its translucent appearance.
On the contrary to what some people like to belief, the translucence of shatter has nothing to do with its purity; the purity of the extract comes down to how well it has been purged of its solvents and the quality of the cannabis used to produce it.
How to use shatter
Shatter and other types of cannabis concentrates are often referred to as “dabs.” This is because probably the most common way to use concentrates such a shatter, is with a dab rig. But there are other options out there.
Here are a few ways you can use shatter.
Adding some small pieces of shatter to a bowl, joint, or blunt is probably the easiest way to use shatter. This way you don’t have to to invest in any specialized gear.
However, mixing shatter with flower will mask the unique taste of the extract and isn’t ideal for anyone who wants to truly experience the unique flavor of the concentrate.
Hash pipes were traditionally designed to be used solely for smoking hash, charas, or kief. However, there are some newer pipes that can also work with solvent-based extracts like shatter. This would probably be the cheapest option for anyone looking to experience shatter by itself and isn’t willing to invest in a new vaporizer or specialized dab rig.