There’s no shortage of ways to enjoy cannabis today. And while flower, vapes, topicals, and edibles are all popular products at our dispensary, concentrates take the cake in terms of potency. They can offer a large dose of cannabinoids in a small quantity, which may be especially useful for patients managing chronic symptoms, while other concentrates contain flavors and aromas you just won’t find anywhere else.

There are many different concentrate varieties out there—from badder to wax to rosin—but cannabis shatter has been a fan favorite since its introduction in the 1990s. 

So what is shatter, exactly? And what makes it so unique? Keep reading to uncover what shatter is, how it’s made, the best ways to enjoy it, and tips for keeping it at its peak. Ready? Let’s dive in.

What Is Shatter? 

One of many different styles of cannabis concentrate, shatter refers to a dense, concentrated cannabis extract with a texture and translucence similar to a windowpane. It can range from a lighter, brighter yellow to a deeper, almost orange color.

Although not all shatter products have a firm glass-like feel, they are typically the most solid of the major concentrate types. Generally, if shatter has more THC than THCA (an acidic precursor that is transformed into THC when you smoke or vape it), it’s more reminiscent of taffy, while those with high THCA are extremely brittle.

And while the origins of shatter are generally hazy, most accounts point to a Canadian extractor by the name of BudderKing, who popularized budder and shatter in the late 1990s.

How Is Shatter Made? 

First off, making shatter is a highly specialized process requiring advanced machinery, professional training, and a controlled lab setting. There have been cases of explosions, injuries, and deaths from attempts to make shatter and other concentrates  in uncontrolled environments, so it’s best to leave these processes to professionals. 

To make shatter, technicians use specialized equipment to cover cannabis plant material with a solvent, typically butane. The solvent is used to extract the active cannabinoids and flavorful terpenes from the plant material. Later, extractors evaporate the butane with heat and vaporization, so all that’s left is a highly concentrated, resinous substance. 
jar of cannabis concentrate
To give shatter its namesake appearance, technicians purge the remaining solvents used for extraction in a stable, low-temperature environment while avoiding any further whipping, mixing, or agitation.

How to Use Shatter: 4 Popular Methods of Consumption

From high-tech gadgets to simple, on-the-go solutions, there are a number of ways to enjoy shatter, and understanding each can enhance your experience. So let’s dive into some of the most popular ways to consume shatter.

1. Dab Rigs 

Shatter has become synonymous with dabbing, which refers to vaporizing a small amount of cannabis concentrate (a “dab”) on a hot surface. Dabbing is done with a specialized bong-like piece of equipment called a “dab rig” and a blowtorch to heat a surface (the “nail”) before carefully adding a small amount of shatter and inhaling the vapor. Dabbing gives you an intense burst of cannabinoids, resulting in powerful and near-instantaneous effects.

2. E-Rigs, E-Nails and Dab Pens 

Aside from standard dab rigs, electronic rigs (aka e-rigs) and e-nails let you dab your shatter without the safety risks of using a blowtorch. Some of these electronic products also have precise temperature settings for greater security and customizability. Dab pens are another alternative product that offers a similar experience to traditional dabbing in a portable

3. Vaporizers

Speaking of portability, many concentrate-friendly vaporizers now work well with extracts like shatter. Vaping through one of these devices is similar to using a flower vaporizer, but you have to load a concentrate-specific chamber with the shatter. Also, don’t forget that concentrates have significantly more cannabinoids gram-per-gram versus traditional vape carts or pods, so vapers don’t need as much shatter to experience potent effects. 

4. Using Shatter as an Add-On

Lastly, you can use shatter as an “add-on” to other cannabis products by adding a small amount of shatter to a joint for an extra kick of potency and flavor, for example.. 

Why Choose Cannabis Shatter?

With so many concentrates to choose from, you might be curious about what sets shatter apart. 

Unique Look and Texture

The primary feature distinguishing shatter from other extracts is its look and consistency. People who gravitate to shatter love its brittle texture, which is both easy on the eyes and easy to break apart and dose. By contrast, “soupier” concentrates like wax, budder, and live rosin are a bit messier to work with compared with shatter.


Versatility in consumption methods is another reason why some people might prefer shatter. While dabbing is a popular way to enjoy shatter due to its ability to deliver strong effects quickly, it’s not the only method, as we saw above. Shatter can also be vaped, offering a more discreet and convenient option, or added to flower for potency and flavor.


Finally, shatter is renowned for its exceptional potency, often exceeding 80% THC, which provides a more intense and immediate experience compared to other forms like wax or oils​. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s always stronger than other comparable concentrates. 

You will have to look at third-party lab reports for different concentrates to compare cannabinoid and terpene levels for an accurate read on the expected effects and flavors. However, in most cases, small amounts of shatter are enough to deliver very potent experiences, so it’s important to use concentrates intentionally and with care—start low and go slow is always a good approach. 

How Do You Store Cannabis Shatter? 

Light, air, heat, and moisture are the most common “enemies” of cannabis products as they degrade cannabinoids and terpenes or encourage mold. To keep your shatter in tip-top shape, consider these tips:

  • Store cannabis shatter in a dark, dry, and cool environment to preserve its potency.
  • Avoid light and heat to prevent the loss of cannabinoids and terpenes.
  • Keep away from moisture to avoid degradation and potential mold.
  • For short-term storage (up to a week), a dark and dry cabinet at room temperature works if in a cool climate.
  • For longer storage or in humid areas, store shatter in the refrigerator inside an airtight container.
  • Wrap shatter in parchment paper before placing it in an airtight container to prevent sticking and facilitate easy removal.

Get D.C.’s Best Concentrates at Takoma Wellness 

Shatter isn’t the only choice in the cannabis concentrate arena, but many adore this extract’s exceptional potency and eye-catching aesthetics. Some dabbers also find it easier to work with cannabis shatter thanks to its tightly packed structure and breakable texture. Unlike “soupier” concentrates like wax or budder, shatter tends to be tough, which can be helpful when dosing, scooping, and loading this concentrate.

As DC’s most trusted dispensary, we carry a carefully curated selection of concentrates, including live hash, live rosin, RSO and more. Or, keep reading to learn more about other cannabis products like flower, vapes, or edibles