Cannabis Basics

Intro to Shatter and Wax

Shatter and wax are two similar types of highly concentrated solvent-based cannabis concentrates. This article looks at how these concentrates are made, how to consume them, the pros and cons of choosing shatter and wax, and shopping and potency considerations.

Intro to Shatter

Shatter and wax are two forms of butane hash oil, or BHO, which refers to cannabis concentrates made using butane as a solvent. Depending on how the BHO is processed, the consistency can range from whipped to gooey to crumbly.

How are shatter and wax made?

A golden-coloured, glass-like substance, shatter is made by processing the cannabis plant with butane to extract the cannabinoid- and terpene-rich trichomes from the buds. The solvent is then evaporated with low heat, which also removes excess oils, leaving behind a translucent material that is left to cool into a hard sheet.

Wax is made in a similar way, but the evaporated concentrate is whipped to incorporate air, mixing up the crystal structure and giving it a creamier feel. Depending on the final texture, the product may be called wax, budder or badder (sometimes referred to as batter). Budder may have a more frosting-like texture, while badder’s consistency may be looser and saucier. Wax typically has a thick, honey-like feel.

What do I need to know about consuming them?

Both wax and shatter can be smoked by adding them to dried cannabis flower in a joint. Other methods require specific accessories: They can be vaped in a concentrate-specific vaporizer or a dried flower vaporizer with a concentrate attachment. More experienced consumers may choose to dab shatter and wax; however, if you are new to cannabis, dabbing is not recommended. Dabbing is a complicated process that can produce strong, immediate effects, and it may increase your risk of overconsumption or experiencing negative effects.

What do I need to know about consuming it?

Your body’s response to cannabis depends on many variables, such as the type of product consumed, your metabolism and weight, and how much food you ate before consumption. If you choose to smoke or vape cannabis, Health Canada recommends starting with one or two puffs of a product with 10% (or 100 mg/g) of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or less. When cannabis concentrates such as shatter and wax are inhaled, effects can often be felt within seconds and typically last up to six hours.

What are the pros and cons of consuming shatter and wax?

When vaporized or dabbed, shatter and wax offer a smoke-free option to inhaling dried cannabis flower, which can come with the potential risks of smoking.

Because these are highly concentrated products, you should consume less than you would when consuming dried cannabis flower. The concentration comes with the potential for overconsumption. To minimize the risk, it’s recommended that you start with a very small amount — less than the size of a lentil — especially if you are trying a new product, and wait to see how it affects your body.

What should I consider when shopping for shatter and wax?

Like all concentrates, shatter and wax differ from other forms of cannabis in that they have the potential to contain a higher concentration of cannabinoids — up to 90% THC, in contrast with the potential 30% in raw cannabis, making them some of the most concentrated cannabis products. Concentrates available through the OCS that are meant to be inhaled can contain no more than 1,000 mg of THC per package. Some people believe shatter is more potent than wax, but these products commonly have comparable THC levels.

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