What is Shatter?

Read time: 5 minutes, 6 seconds.

As you can tell from some of our articles, we love concentrates at Supreme Cannabis. Shatter is no exception. The solvent-based cannabis concentrate is usually semi-transparent and can range in colour from dark amber to bright gold. The name Shatter comes directly from its consistency. It is a hard and brittle substance that breaks or “shatters” like glass when it is dropped or manipulated. Shatter can be made with any form of cannabis starting material including buds, trim and loose shake. Shatter can be made as CBD or THC dominant.

How is it made?

Shatter is a type of butane hash oil (BHO) concentrate made from cannabis. As with all BHO extractions, butane is used as a solvent to extract the trichomes from the starting plant material. These trichomes contain the cannabinoids and terpenes that are largely responsible for the aromas, flavours and psychoactive and medicinal effects of cannabis.

  • Gathering starting material

    Can be any type of cannabis.

  • Wash material with butane

    Yep, it’s as crazy as it sounds.

  • Extract is poured into a flab slab.

    That’s right, it goes into a simple oven pan.

  • Slab is placed in vacuum oven for “purging”

    Butane is removed from the end product.

  • End product is created.

The starting plant material is “washed” with butane, separating the active chemical compounds from the plant. After these are separated, the raw extraction is poured into a thin, flat slab and is left untouched. The extract is then placed in a vacuum oven and heated to remove most of the remaining butane in a process known as “purging”. The purging process can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours to complete. After the purge is complete, the end product will be ready for consumption.

WARNING: Shatter should only be made by professionals in a licensed environment – do not try this at home. It is both illegal and dangerous.

How is it consumed?

Shatter can be consumed in a variety of ways including combustion, vaporization and infusion.

Shatter can be combusted and then the smoke inhaled. Adding pieces or slabs to a bowl, joint or blunt are easy methods to consume the extract. However, this is not the most effective way to reap the medical and recreational benefits of concentrates.

When vaporized, shatter can be dabbed in a rig (the preferred method among many and done in Canada first) or vaped through a pen or device designed for concentrates. It is important to take into account the temperature when vaporizing cannabis concentrates such as shatter. For shatter, the optimal temperature to ensure that every chemical compound is fully vaporized is somewhere between 160°C and 282°C. Temperature has been observed to be personal preference to the individual. It is encouraged to take it slow and try different temperatures to find your preferred level of consumption.

Our favourite device at Supreme Cannabis is the PAX 3 complete kit, the ultimate portable cannabis vaporizer for dry herb and extracts. The PAX 3 is powerful yet discreet, smart yet easy-to-use. The PAX engineering and technology gets the best full flavour consumption – learn more here.

Shatter can also be infused in edible and topical infusions. However, shatter requires decarboxylation to produce the desired effects, meaning it must be activated through heat first.

How much THC does shatter contain?

It depends on the type of shatter. It can come in all types of CBD and THC levels. Health Canada states that shatter and other “chemically concentrated extracts” usually contain approximately 80% – 90% concentration of THC. We expect that the legal market will produce products in this range. In comparison, dried flower contains up to 30% at most.

WARNING: Shatter and other concentrates are the most potent form of cannabis.

History of Shatter.

Shatter and other forms of concentrates are a relatively recent development when you take into consideration the entire history of cannabis. The modern process of cannabis concentrate extraction wasn’t refined until the late 1990’s.

It is widely believed that Canadian cannabis manufacturers operating in the informal market were the first companies to distribute shatter and similar extracts. These products could be found on the shelves of medical dispensaries in Canada as early as 2003. In 2005, Cannabis Culture published the techniques for shatter production in their magazine. By the 2010’s, shatter could be found through many informal storefronts and mail order services across the country. This extraction process and the technique of consuming shatter through a “dab rig” was popularized in Canada but quickly caught on in other markets including Colorado and Southern California.

Shatter vs other BHO Extracts. 

Shatter is a translucent hard and brittle extract. Cannabis extracts that are exposed to heat, moisture or have high terpene or THCA contents can have more of a sticky liquid texture that resembles sap or budder. Extracts with a consistency between glassy shatter and sticky sap is referred to as pull-and-snap.


Proper storage of cannabis concentrates can be tricky but is vital to preserving the quality of these products. Similar to dried flower, for medium to long-term storage, shatter should be kept in an airtight and lightproof container located in a dark, dry and cool room.

When stored improperly, shatter can begin to deteriorate and forfeit its potency, flavour and consistency. Exposure to heat and oxidization causes the cannabinoids and terpenes found in shatter to activate and break down.

Shatter in Canada.

It is currently illegal to make concentrates with solvents at home in Canada. Purchasing shatter and concentrate products through regulated channels is not yet possible.

However, Canada is legalizing the production and sale of cannabis derivative products, including concentrates such as shatter, in October of this year. These forms of products will be available through provincially-run and privately-licensed retailers in the country.

The Government of Canada has stated that 0.25g of cannabis concentrates is equivalent to 1g of dried cannabis. Therefore, Canadian recreational consumers will be permitted to carry and possess up to 7.5 grams of cannabis concentrates. Legal concentrates will be permitted to contain up to 1000 mg of THC per package.

Check back soon as Supreme Cannabis pushes to bring new products to market with Cannabis 2.0. You could even see concentrates hit the market soon.

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