Shatter vs Wax

Shatter vs. Wax: What’s the Difference Between These Concentrates?


Concentrates are becoming some of the most popular cannabis products.  Some experts expect their sales to surpass even flower within the next few years. As more and more people try concentrates everybody seems to have the same question: “What’s the difference between shatter and wax?” Before you can decide which type of cannabis concentrate is best, it’s important to start with a general understanding of what concentrates are.

What Are Concentrates?

As the name suggests, cannabis concentrates are potent extracts made from raw flower. They often have THC potency levels over 80%, which makes them a lot more powerful than even the strongest cannabis flower in the world. Instead of smoking a whole bowl or joint, just a dab of these concentrates will be enough to take you where you want to go. That’s why consuming cannabis concentrates is often referred to as “dabbing.”

How Are Concentrates Made?

There are a few different ways to make a cannabis concentrate. The most popular method by far involves something called Butane Hash Oil (BHO) extraction. This process uses heat and butane to separate cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids from the cannabis plant material. The active ingredients are collected as BHO and the butane itself is removed to make this product safe for consumption. This is where the difference between shatter and wax starts to become apparent.

Shatter and Wax Dabs

BHO is the term we use to refer to ALL concentrates that have been produced through butane extraction – it’s the umbrella term for shatter wax and everything else.

Wax and shatter are two of the most popular cannabis concentrates in fact. Both are produced using similar methods. Equipment and starting material are the same  but minor differences in processing create extracts with varying textures, consistencies, and potencies, that we distinguish next.

What is marijuana wax?

thc wax

Due to how  wax is heated and cooled during and after the extraction process, its molecules arrange themselves in such a way that its consistency is different from shatter. While they’re very similar in essence, crumble wax concentrate looks and feels much softer. Don’t expect to look through this champagne yellow concentrate as you can with shatter.

How is THC wax made

To prepare the wax, marijuana buds are packed into test tubes and then blasted with butane. Under the influence of butane, the cannabis resin is separated from the unwanted plant material. After the initial extraction, the excess butane must be evaporated from the concentrate. Thus, the concentrate of butane honey oil (BHO) is applied to a baking sheet and “cleaned” in a vacuum oven at low temperatures. The result is a sticky cannabis concentrate. Which is then cooled, hardened and sent to storage containers.

Good wax vs bad wax

Good quality wax should be amber to gold in color. Anything with a slight green or dark tint  has chlorophyll and other plant matter. This lowers the potency because of the plant matter. This goes for seeing if your wax was made/extracted correctly.

How to smoke wax

Although there are several ways to smoke cannabis wax, you won’t be able to use the extract in a joint or vaporizer if the substance is too sticky and hard to handle. With that in mind, following are the three most common ways to smoke wax:

What is shatter?

thc shatter

Shatter concentrate is a translucent BHO that looks like amber and has a consistency almost like hard candy. Its beautiful glassy texture is partially responsible for why it’s called shatter because it can be shattered into a million little pieces. In reality, weed shatter is slightly stretchier than it looks, but certainly not as pliable as wax concentrates.

How is shatter made

In fact, all concentrates are made by isolating trichomes. Macerated cannabis is placed in a volumetric flask and mixed with liquid hydrocarbons. A small explosion (the result of the mixture) separates the trichomes. The mixture is then slowly heated to remove as much butane as possible. Smoking butane can be harmful to your lungs because it is toxic. Eventually, the resulting substance settles to the bottom forming the well-known transparent sheet of BHO.

Good shatter vs bad shatter

Now let’s talk about how to distinguish between good and bad shatter. There are several different ways, some more obvious than others. We recommend using two or more of these ways to get a more accurate answer if shatter is propper.

The dark color is usually a sign of poor quality. Quality shatter is most often close to transparent. There are exceptions, as dark shatter may be in the form of oil and clear shatter is in the form of shards. However, for a healthier high, always keep it simple and choose clear, because it surely does have better quality.

Does your shatter have a rich aroma? Then you have a really good one! Yes, a strong smell is a sign of good shatter, as opposed to a barely perceptible aroma. In fact, if you do smoke a lot, then you can probably tell the quality of the product. This leads to my third piece of advice.

It’s simple here: the more you smoke, the better you begin to distinguish good shatter from the bad. Here’s a practical tip: If you find a sample you really like, don’t smoke the whole thing. Leave a little bit of it as a reference to choose a new strain. This way you will gradually begin to understand the aroma and flavor of shatter as well as help you  develop your own taste.

How to smoke shatter

In order to choose how to smoke shatter, its best to try all the different methods to understand what you like:

  • vape pen;
  • water pipe;
  • hot knifing method;
  • sprinkle on top of flower in a joint.

Differences Between Shatter and Wax

There is almost no difference between wax and shatter in terms of consistency, so there’s no reason to dab one over the other because of its effects. With that said, they do have some significantly different features outside of the strong and long-lasting experience they provide:

  • Shatter is a little bit harder to make because the molecules have to bond more tightly.
  • Shatter will last longer thanks to its chemical structure while wax will lose potency a little bit faster.
  • Shatter is harder to handle since it’s so brittle while wax was the consistency of thick coconut oil and can be easily manipulated.
  • Wax has more surface area which allows it to degrade faster.
  • Difference between shatter and budder/wax is mainly in the temperature and finishing process.

Shatter vs. Wax

In summary, shatter and wax are different marijuana concentrates which can help you get a stronger high. Shatter is typically the most potent, but requires a high skill level to produce. Is shatter stronger than wax? Actually, wax features the same high THC levels as shatter, but has a different consistency and appearance. So finally, that’s just a matter of preference.

Where to Buy Concentrates in Denver

At The Lodge, we are extremely proud of the premium concentrates on our dispensary menu. We only work with the best extractors in the business and they start every batch of shatter and wax with premium cannabis flower. The result is a collection of pure, potent, delicious cannabis concentrates at both of our locations in Denver.

Come find us in either Barnum or the RiNo District to explore where to buy the best shatter and wax in Colorado. We look forward to walking you through some of our favorite concentrates on the menu. Finally, you can contact us online if you have any questions in the meantime.

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