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Shatter: What Is It, and How Do You Use It?

golden cannabis wax pieces shatter resin in a clear small container

Shatter is a cannabis concentrate that looks a lot like glass. It’s solid, translucent, and easily broken or shattered into pieces — hence the name.

Also known as Butane Hash Oil (BHO), shatter is a potent form of marijuana often used by dabbing enthusiasts. It can be vaporized or dabbed through a special water pipe called a dab rig, thanks to its solid rather than honey-like consistency.

Like other cannabis extracts, shatter is a smoke-free way to use marijuana. It produces a very potent high, and you can experience its effects with just a tiny amount.

Please note that BHO is just one potential extraction method for creating high-potency shatter. Some types of shatter may be made by using CO2 or food-grade alcohol. Another well-known variety of high-potency hash oil is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO).

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What Is Shatter?

When talking about cannabis concentrates, shatter is one of the most interesting and aesthetically pleasing.

It’s solid and translucent, like glass. Often an orange or amber color, it’s created by extracting the cannabis plant’s potent hash oil and is made through a specific and careful manufacturing process.

Shatter is typically created in a production process using a liquid gas called butane. Cannabis is put into a container, and butane is pushed through the cannabis plant matter to effectively remove the desired terpenes and cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. Those cannabinoids and terpenes are collected as part of a concentrated oil.

That oil is then refined, and the final product is a solid and translucent marijuana concentrate.

Most forms of shatter are thin and fragile, while others are thicker and more similar to the texture of hard, bendy taffy. This difference comes from the concentration of cannabinoids in the specific product. It can be broken into smaller pieces and vaporized or dabbed.

How to Use Shatter

Cannabis concentrates like shatter must be vaporized and reach high enough temperatures for the compounds to activate through decarboxylation.

The most popular method for using cannabis shatter is through a smoking device called a dab rig. A dab rig uses a heating process to vaporize cannabis concentrates. Once vaporized, the vapor is then inhaled. Psychoactive effects typically kick in within minutes.

Another option for consuming shatter is through a dab pen. You’ll need a pen with a special chamber to vape cannabis concentrates. Charge your pen and set your temperature. Then, load your concentrate into the chamber. As the pen heats the shatter, it will melt and turn into vapor, which you will inhale from the mouthpiece.

How Is Shatter Made?

While there are multiple ways to perfect the extraction process, shatter is generally created by using butane hash oil (BHO) to extract the desired cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant.

Working in a well-ventilated area is imperative, as BHO is flammable and highly volatile. As such, it’s not advisable to make shatter at home.

Of course, using butane hash oil to extract cannabinoids from the cannabis plant does not have to be exclusively done for extracting THC. For example, the shatter production process can make CBD shatter as well.

The final product may not contain the benefits of a full-spectrum cannabis concentrate but is nevertheless a highly potent, THC-rich product. Many make full-spectrum extracts that retain all the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis. Some product makers will add terpenes after making the THC extract.

Potential Benefits of Shatter

Shatter has many potential benefits for your medicinal needs. A few benefits of shatter are that it is:

  • Potent: Shatter is one of the most popular cannabis concentrates, thanks to its high THC content. It has a high potency, so very little is needed for optimal effects. This could be ideal for those who need immediate relief from sudden onsets of pain.
  • Fast-acting: Many patients prefer to dab rather than use other options like edibles because the effects kick in faster. You can often experience the effects within minutes of dabbing.
  • Cost-effective: Because you only need a small amount due to its potency, shatter is a cost-effective option for cannabis users. It’s more affordable than many other cannabis products.
  • Smoke-free: Shatter is typically vaporized or dabbed. This means there is no smoke, making it a healthier option for your lungs than smoking (although more research is needed to confirm this claim).
  • Shelf-stable: Shatter is highly concentrated, so it’s shelf-stable and can be stored for a long time. This allows you to use it as needed.

Shatter products are popular because of their many potential uses and benefits.

Patients with chronic pain or anxiety may opt for shatter because of its potency and immediate effects. It may help distract from the pain and potentially relieve anxious thoughts, although only low doses of shatter are ideal, as too high of a dose of THC may induce anxiety.

Risks and Side Effects

Shatter is one of the strongest types of marijuana concentrates, providing a powerful method for consuming cannabis.

However, this high potency may be overwhelming for some cannabis users. Because of its concentration, it can be easy to use too much and experience adverse side effects accidentally. This is why it’s crucial to pay attention to your dose.

As with any medicine, there are potential adverse side effects to be aware of when using cannabis products like marijuana extracts and concentrates. Because shatter has a high concentration of THC, you may experience more of these effects if you take too much. A few common effects are paranoia, increased heartbeat, irritability, and tingling sensations.

Those with anxiety may only require low doses of THC, so concentrates like shatter should be dosed very carefully.

Shatter vs. Diamonds

What Are Diamonds?

Diamonds, like shatter, are a type of cannabis concentrate. A noteworthy difference, however, can be found in their cannabinoid contents.

While shatter extraction isolates pure THC from the cannabis plant, diamonds (i.e., crystals) consist of THCA, a non-psychoactive compound that transforms into THC when heated.

How Are THC Diamonds Made?

Diamonds are crystalline concentrates made using a different extraction process from shatter. In the case of diamonds, pure THCA is extracted from the cannabis plant instead of THC itself.

The extraction process usually uses heat, pressure, hexane, and acetic acid to create the separation process.

A liquid concentrate, sauce, can also be made with the remaining terpenes and other plant material left behind after extraction.

How to Use Diamonds

Diamonds are most commonly used in dab rigs. You can combine THCA diamonds with cannabis flower in a bowl or a bong or use diamonds as part of an edible recipe. Regardless of how you use diamonds, you should do so carefully due to the product’s instant kick.

Potential Benefits

Experienced cannabis users might enjoy diamonds for their aesthetically pleasing appearance, strength, or versatility of use. Similar to the potential cost benefits of shatter, diamonds will get even a longtime user high.

Interestingly, some argue that the THCA used in diamonds is federally legal, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill.

The reason for this is that THCA is hemp-derived and not technically cannabis in its raw form. So, an additional benefit is that THCA may be easier to access in states where marijuana-derived THC is illegal.

Risks and Drawbacks

An obvious drawback is that first-time cannabis users should not try diamonds. The products are too strong for someone to try until they have built a more substantial tolerance to cannabis.

The lack of the entourage effect may also be a drawback for some, particularly those using cannabis for its therapeutic benefits.

THCA’s legal gray status may also be a drawback for those living in states without legal cannabis programs.

Although THCA is a natural compound found in the cannabis plant, there are many other synthetic or semi-synthetic cannabis products gaining popularity, which might be sold alongside diamonds.

Due to the market lacking federal regulation and oversight, purchasing products from reputable sources that invest in third-party testing is essential.

Similarities and Differences Between Shatter and Diamonds

Neither shatter nor THC diamonds can be considered full-spectrum THC products.

As we have already discussed, this means that while you may get one of the purest forms of THC, you will miss out on other cannabinoids and terpenes.

Both diamonds and shatter concentrates are better fits for long-term cannabis users than they are good choices for less-experienced users.

The extraction processes for both concentrates are different, though some similarities exist. Many consider diamonds generally stronger than shatter, but this depends on the product.

Shatter vs. Wax

Shatter and wax are both popular cannabis concentrates, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits. While shatter and wax are both potent cannabis concentrates, they differ in several key ways, including texture and appearance.

What Is Wax?

Wax is a cannabis concentrate with a softer, more pliable texture than shatter. It often has a creamy or butter-like consistency and can range in color from light yellow to amber. Wax is typically made using a similar extraction process as shatter, but it is agitated during production, resulting in a different texture and appearance.

Differences From Shatter


While shatter is solid and brittle, wax is soft and malleable. This difference in texture affects how each concentrate is handled and consumed.


Shatter is translucent and glass-like, whereas wax is opaque and often resembles a creamy or buttery consistency.


Shatter is delicate and can easily break into pieces, hence the name. On the other hand, wax is easier to manipulate and measure due to its softer texture.


Shatter and wax can be vaporized or dabbed, but their different textures may require slight adjustments in handling and loading them into a dab rig or vaporizer.


While both concentrates are highly potent, some users may find that shatter has a slightly higher THC concentration due to its solid form and production process. However, this can vary depending on the product and extraction method used.

The Bottom Line

In summary, shatter stands out as a potent cannabis concentrate, resembling glass in its solid, translucent form. Created through butane hash oil (BHO) extraction or other methods like CO2 or food-grade alcohol extraction, shatter offers a smoke-free way to experience the effects of marijuana.

With its high THC content, shatter provides fast-acting relief and is cost-effective due to its potency, requiring only a tiny amount for optimal effects. However, its high potency may pose challenges for inexperienced users, leading to adverse effects like paranoia or increased heartbeat if not dosed carefully.

Ultimately, whether you choose shatter, diamonds, or wax depends on your potency preference, desired effects, and consumption method.

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Originally Published: March 2023

Last Updated: March 2024

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is shatter the same as dabs?

Yes, shatter is a form of dabs. It is a hash oil product, just like other dabs. It’s simply in a solid state instead of wax. The difference between shatter and dab wax is purely cosmetic, as both are made from hash oil. Shatter products can be dabbed, but keep in mind that not all dabs are shatter.

How is shatter made?

Shatter is often made through an extraction process using butane or hydrocarbon solvents or occasionally gasses like carbon dioxide (CO2). Cannabis is put in a tube where the butane or hydrocarbons (or supercritical gasses) are forced through the cannabis plant matter. This strips away cannabinoids like THC and CBD in a highly concentrated oil. The final product is hard, has a translucent appearance, and typically contains high levels of THC.

How long does a gram of shatter last?

The duration of one gram of shatter will vary significantly from person to person. This depends on your tolerance level, how frequently you use it, and your personal medical needs.

One gram of cannabis concentrate can have up to 80% THC content. You can use less shatter than flower to achieve your desired effects. While one gram may last one person a few weeks, it may be used up faster by someone else.

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