What is Shatter (and How Do You Make Your Own)?

how to make shatter
By Rebecca Olmos Updated July 1st

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

There are several different variations of cannabis extracts. Each is made through an extraction method that separates cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds from the raw cannabis material into a potent consumable extract. They are often smoked through dabbing but can also fill vape cartridges or infuse bowls, joints, or edibles.

Shatter is a unique extract and one of the most well-known options for cannabis consumers. Its translucent golden amber hue and brittle, glass-like texture characterize it. Shatter makes up 7% of the US cannabis concentrate sales and almost a quarter of Canadian cannabis concentrate sales.

Its popularity among consumers isn’t always mirrored on retail or dispensary shelves, making it hard to find at times, so many consumers wonder how they can make shatter at home. While the prospect might sound appealing, there are some key details you need to know.

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What is Shatter?

Shatter is an extract that gets its name from its texture since it is fragile and shatters like glass. It’s known for its golden amber hue and can be made using various heating and extraction techniques. It is most commonly made with butane or other hydrocarbon solvents. 

Shatter, like all concentrates, is highly potent. While the THC concentration for dry flower can range from 12-30+%, extracts can range from 60-80+%. It is consumed through dabbing, which requires a dab rig or vape device. These tools will allow the extract to be heated to the high temperatures it needs to get to be smoked.

Crumble vs Shatter: What's the Difference?

Crumble is another form of cannabis extract. As its name might suggest, it has a softer, more malleable texture than solid extracts like shatter. While both shatter and crumble are made in relatively the same manner, the significant difference comes at the end of the extraction process. 

Shatter needs to sit to harden while crumble requires aeration and agitation, called “whipping,”  in its final steps to achieve its softer cheese crumble-like consistency. Some have noted that crumble has more flavor, as it tends to be purged at lower temperatures, which preserves the terpenes from the cannabis plant, contributing to its final flavor and effects. The high temperatures needed to purge shatter can compromise these delicate molecules, leading to a lower terpene extract. 

As far as strength, both crumble and shatter are considered potent. Which one is ‘better’ is a matter of personal preference, the quality of the cannabis material used, and the extraction process. To consume, either you will use a dab rig, or you can use them to infuse into bowls or joints. Crumble can be easily placed on top of other cannabis material, but shatter must be broken down into tiny pieces beforehand.

How to Make Shatter

Do not attempt to make shatter or extracts like it at home. Butane extracts, like shatter, are categorized as BHO’s (Butane Hash Oil). BHO extraction methods are unsafe and illegal to perform outside a professional licensed setting. There have been many reports of dangerous explosions because of the highly flammable materials needed to make these extracts

Butane hash oil is made by tightly packing ground cannabis flower into what are called extraction tubes, where butane is then “blasted” through the materials. Once the oil has been extracted from the material, the butane is left to evaporate and further purged in a vacuum oven to remove the remaining butane. However, undetectable amounts can still be left in the final product, which is why individuals may prefer solventless extracts.

This process is done in a well-ventilated, blast-proof, specially designed room with a special C1D1 license. When done improperly by an unlicensed person at home, fires and explosions are common. Many people have died or inadvertently killed others when practicing unlicensed extraction.

CO2 is becoming a more popular solvent for extraction because it is safer and less toxic. The process is similar, but the equipment involved is more expensive. Home extraction with CO2 is also illegal in many districts and must be performed by a licensed professional.

Some online sources claim that shatter can be made at home with simple materials and raw cannabis material – no butane or other flammable chemicals needed. However, those won’t produce the same shatter material from the professional extraction method.

Those who wish to extract their own product at home should consider a rosin press instead, which uses low heat and very high pressures rather than volatile substances. Rosin presses are generally legal and can be found for as little as a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the machine.

While it may interest you, producing your own extracts is not a casual endeavor. The legal licenses and the equipment necessary are costly to acquire. You may find purchasing it at your local dispensary or a weed subscription box cheaper and more accessible.

How to Use Shatter

How to Use Shatter

Shatter is typically consumed with a type of water pipe called a "dab rig." Dab rigs look very similar to regular bongs or water pipes, but instead of a glass bowl used to smoke flower, they include a flat bowl called a "nail."

The process of dabbing shatter is no different than any other extract. The dab nail must first be flash heated with a butane torch and then allowed to cool. The extract is then applied to the cooled but still-hot nail, causing it to vaporize.

Dabbing shatter can be a little tricky for those with little experience doing so. You may find that you need some practice to cool the nail to the proper sweet spot temperature. Nevertheless, after a few rounds of trial and error, dabbing becomes an easy and pleasant way to consume cannabis concentrate.

You also may be able to dab shatter using unique electronic vaporizers designed to heat cannabis concentrates, like a G-Pen or Puffco device. 

Don’t forget to store your shatter correctly when you are finished dabbing. You can place the remaining concentrate in parchment paper and then place that in a zip-loc bag, removing any excess air. Place this in a cool dark place to preserve its shelf life. 

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How long does shatter last?

Shatter can last for a few months or more, depending on how it's stored. 

How do I store shatter?

There are several ways to store cannabis concentrate to extend its life. Shatter is commonly placed on parchment paper and then in a cool dark place – most people place it in the refrigerator. You can cover the shatter in parchment paper and remove any excess air from the bag for an extra layer of protection.

Is shatter the same as wax?

The difference between shatter and wax isn’t in how they are extracted but in the final steps of the process. It needs to sit to harden to obtain the shatter texture –  brittle and glass-like. Wax requires more aeration and agitation in its final steps. They are both consumed by dabbing. 

Why is it dangerous to make shatter at home?

Accidents and deaths are prevalent when people make shatter at home. It's even risky for those close to the manufacturer. Unless you have the proper cannabis manufacturing licenses, extracting your own shatter is illegal and could lead to significant repercussions if caught.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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