Learning how to smoke shatter is a skill every true cannaenthusiast should master.
Granted, shatter may not replace bud as your go-to method of marijuana consumption — and we’re not suggesting it should.
But it’s good to know how to consume any and all forms of cannabis — just like it’s good to know how to drive both an automatic and a manual transmission — in case you need it one day.
To help you in this regard, the all-things-cannabis experts at Honest Marijuana have created this complete guide on how to smoke shatter. Think of it as your very own shatter driver’s manual.
Now hop behind the wheel, strap in, and let’s go for a ride.
What Is Shatter?
Shatter is a translucent — sometimes transparent — concentrate that looks an awful lot like rock candy or a Jolly Rancher.
Professionals and adventurous DIYers make concentrates by “soaking” cannabis material in various solvents, such as:
- Isopropyl alcohol
- High-proof drinking alcohol
- Ice water
The result of these efforts is an amber liquid that, once cooled, solidifies into a final product that often has the consistency of thin peanut brittle.
Shatter’s transparent quality results from the temperatures used during the extraction and finishing process (as well as other variables) and can only be described by some pretty heavy chemical jargon.
To put it in more relatable terms, think about the molecules in the concentrate (the amber liquid before it cools) as Lego bricks.
In shatter, the bricks all stack nice and neat, one on top of the other, as if you had just built a wall. This molecular alignment allows light to pass through and gives the shatter its brittleness.
What happens when the bricks aren’t stacked just so? Read on to find out.
The Difference Between Shatter And Wax
Cannabis concentrates take many forms and include:
- And others…
So what’s the difference? Nothing, really.
Shatter, wax, honeycomb, crumble, and budder are all concentrates that have roughly the same THC or CBD potency.
They’re all primarily dabbed (more on that in the next section). And they all provide a powerful, long-lasting high. The only real difference is in their appearance and form.
While shatter is most often clear and brittle, wax looks and feels like cold coconut oil (more solid than liquid). Like shatter, this is due to the arrangement of molecules within the wax itself.
Remember, the Lego blocks in shatter are stacked neatly in rows (like a block wall). On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Lego blocks in wax are a jumbled mess (as if you’ve just dumped them out into a pile).
Because the Lego blocks are going every which way and have no semblance of organization, wax is opaque and has that coconut oil consistency.
The arrangement of molecules within the shatter and wax also gives rise to some other unique differences, including:
- Shatter is often more difficult to produce (it’s very finicky).
- Wax is often easier to produce (you don’t have to be as careful).
- Shatter is more stable and tends to last longer.
- Wax is less stable and tends to degrade faster.
- Shatter is harder to handle, measure, and use because it’s so brittle.
- Wax is easier to handle, measure, and use because it’s firm and pliable
Now that we’ve introduced you to shatter and investigated what’s going on at the molecular level, let’s get to what you came here to find out: how to smoke shatter.
How To Smoke Shatter
If you ask 10 people how to smoke shatter, we bet that seven of those individuals will say “dab rig” — and they’re right.
Dabbing with a dab rig is the most common way to consume cannabis concentrates.
A dab rig is basically a special bong built to burn concentrates (like shatter and wax) instead of dried and cured bud.
Unlike a regular bong, though, a dab rig contains two important pieces that are essential for smoking shatter: a nail and a dome.
To make the dab rig work, you first heat the nail (typically with a blowtorch). Then you place the shatter on the hot nail and cover it with the dome (a spherical glass piece that fits over the nail).
The hot nail vaporizes the shatter (i.e., turns it into “smoke”) while the dome keeps all that good stuff from just floating off into space.
You then inhale through the mouth of the dab rig, drawing the vapor through the water chamber (if it has one) and into your lungs.
Some dab rigs also have a carb cap.
When placed over the hot nail after applying the shatter (instead of a dome), a carb cap creates a mini oven that allows you to vaporize the cannabis concentrate at lower temperatures.
Some dabbers feel that this method — vaporizing at lower temperatures — produces a smoother, more enjoyable experience.
Try both ways and decide for yourself.
Joint, Blunt, Or Spliff
Thankfully, the dab rig isn’t the only way to have fun with cannabis concentrates — there are other ways to learn how to smoke shatter.
One of the easiest and most accessible methods is to include a bit of shatter in your joint, blunt, or spliff.
This works well if you’re rolling your own product, but with a little effort, you can also add shatter to pre-rolled blunts and joints.
If you’re rolling a joint or blunt (or even a cross joint) from scratch, break your shatter into small pieces and sprinkle three or four into the bud before you close.
If you’ve purchased a product from a local dispensary and want to add a concentrate kick to the mix, you’ll have to deconstruct the joint, blunt, or spliff; sprinkle in the shatter; and then reroll everything together in order to smoke it.
Some vape pens also have the capability to vaporize shatter, but be sure to read the specs before you buy.
Most portable vaporizers only burn vape juice or accept specific pre-filled cartridges.
The more expensive ones allow you to increase or decrease the heat in order to vaporize different types of concentrates, including shatter.
These types of vape pens are complicated — there are multiple settings you have to tweak before you can smoke — have a steep learning curve, and require lots of practice to master.
Vape pens are certainly an option, but learning how to smoke shatter in a joint or bong is a better use of your valuable time.
Another simple method for learning how to smoke shatter — without an expensive dab rig — involves everyone’s favorite: the bong.
Here’s how to smoke shatter with this common cannabis tool:
- Pack the bowl about half full
- Add a few small pieces of shatter
- Fill the bowl the rest of the way with ground bud
- Light up and go
Surrounding the shatter with ground marijuana keeps the flame of your lighter from coming in contact with the cannabis concentrate and ruining it completely.
Instead, the heat from the burning ganja (which is cooler than the naked flame) vaporizes the shatter while preserving a vast majority of the cannabinoids within its chemical structure.