The last few years have been wonderful for cannabis. A wave of marijuana legalization is moving across the country, with more states allowing recreational use for adults. On top of that, the industry has hit a crazy streak of innovation, and the results are amazing. These days, you can find marijuana in everything from tinctures, edibles, and drinks.
However, in terms of THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) concentration and potency, concentrates take the cake. Unlike your average blunt or vape, concentrates can have very high THC levels, making them much stronger than other forms of pot. Shatter is perhaps the most popular concentrate.
What is Shatter?
It’s a type of cannabis concentrate that’s brittle and glasslike in nature, and it tends to snap when it’s handled. Shatter is a hard, yellowish substance with holes in it, and it can be made from many strains of marijuana. The coloring can range from honey-like amber to a darker yellow, depending on the quality of materials and processes used. It is made using a solvent process that employs liquified butane to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant.
The butane mixture is boiled over low heat to evaporate and purge the remaining solvent, then left to solidify into a hard sheet of shatter. It takes long and delicate cycles to properly remove the butane solvents used in the manufacturing process, but all the hassle is more than worth it.
This method results in a very pure concentrate with high levels of THC, usually 70% or higher, with the most potent shatter hitting 90% THC concentration. In comparison, most marijuana strains usually contain 15-25% THC. Due to its high potency, you’ll only need a small amount of shatter to enjoy a powerful and long-lasting high.
So, how do you use shatter?
Before we begin, it’s important to remember to keep your wits about you the entire time; normal weed can make some people paranoid and anxious, and shatter’s effects will be much more potent. So, make sure you use small amounts and work yourself up to a desirable amount. Let’s look at a few ways you can use shatter for a potent and longer-lasting high.
You could use a rig. A rig is usually a special water bong that’s designed for dabbing, which involves inhaling small amounts of a concentrated and vaporized drug. There’s a mouthpiece, but instead of the standard bong bowl, there’s a nail and a dome. The nail will be the carrier for the shatter, and you’ll also have to invest in a dabber, a small tool used to apply shatter to the nail. To heat it up, you’ll need a torch, either a small camping or cooking torch.
It seems complicated, right? Unfortunately, a dab rig can be quite complex, but once you’ve gotten used to it, using it will be a breeze. Note that the dab rig may remain hot after you’re done dabbing, so keep that in mind. Okay, so here’s how it works;
- Break off a tiny piece of shatter and place it on your dabber.
- Then using your torch, heat up the nail until it’s red hot.
- Allow it to cool a little then slide the dome over the nail.
- Dab a small amount of shatter onto the hot nail, and the heat will combust the oil immediately, releasing a thick plume of smoke.
- Inhale the smoke through the mouthpiece.
Don’t forget for a second that this isn’t normal bud you’re smoking. Dab a small amount of the shatter to keep your high reasonable and manageable. You’ll also notice that after each dab, there’s some oil left on the nail. You could either keep heating the nail with your torch till the oil is gone, or you can forgo that and soak the pipe in alcohol once the oil clogs it up.
Boil the pipe in alcohol until the oil disappears, scrape up any remaining oil and you’re good to go again.
What if I don’t have a rig?
If you don’t own a rig, you can still enjoy some high-quality shatter. That’s the beauty of cannabis, there’s always a different option or alternative when one fails you. Let’s look at some alternative ways you can use shatter without a dabbing rag.
Add it to a joint. Ah, the classic joint! Elegant, simple and effective. For years, people have been enhancing their high by adding shatter to their blunts, like with tobacco-laced spliffs. It’s one of the easiest ways to smoke shatter. Grind your normal amount of bud, but right before you roll it, crumble a small amount of shatter and sprinkle it on top of your cannabis. Make sure you keep the shatter away from the ends, though. This prevents the flame from interfering with it as the blunt burns.
This is also a good way to test the waters, so to speak. Don’t forget that shatter is extremely potent, more potent than your average joint or edible, so it’s a pretty good idea to wade in cautiously. Starting with a shatter-laced blunt will give you the chance to see how the concentrate affects you.
Unfortunately, this method has a drawback. A large percentage of the shatter will be wasted during the smoking process, so it will be a lot less potent than if you used another method such as vaping. And speaking of vaping…
Vape it. Vaping brings all the advantages of smoking minus the drawbacks. The lungs are highly permeable, with a network of blood vessels ready and waiting, and smoking ensures the THC goes to the bloodstream ASAP. Still, the smoke and heat aren’t easy on your lungs and throat, nor is it healthy, and vaping offers a solid way around that.
A portable ‘vape pen’ can cost you anything from $30 to $200 depending on the quality and features provided. The pen heats up the concentrate into a vapor that you inhale, thus giving you all of the concentrate’s THC. On top of that, it’s a lot healthier than smoking as you aren’t exposed to any carcinogens and tar.
However, while these pens offer higher THC concentrations, mobility, and a safe, healthier means of delivery, they require constant charging. Cheaper models often come with a substandard heating core, resulting in a less enjoyable vaping experience.
Does shatter have any side effects?
As we’ve already established, shatter contains immense levels of THC. And while it has been found to have therapeutic benefits, consuming THC in large amounts could cause anxiety and paranoia. Imagine the times you started getting a little anxious after hitting a joint and multiply that by 10.
While an overdose of THC won’t be lethal, it can be quite uncomfortable, and some people have gotten so scared they’ve taken themselves to the emergency room. Also, an overdose might completely scare away a beginner, and that would be unfortunate. How do you know you’ve dabbed a little too much shatter?
You’re feeling exhausted. Taking too much THC feels like swallowing a bunch of sleeping pills. An overdose will leave you feeling super tired and sleepy, and chances are you’ll pass out pretty soon. Fortunately for you, all you need to get over the overdose is a good night’s sleep.
You’re feeling paranoid and anxious. In high doses, THC is known to trigger panic attacks, and while you’ll definitely be alright, your brain will build it into something immense and terrifying, like a heart attack or stroke. The best thing to do if you’ve dabbed more shatter than you should is to find a quiet place, try to relax and get some shut-eye. I know, I know, how can you relax when you’re panicking? Well, try some deep breathing exercises and focus on happy, calming thoughts. Remember that all you did was take a somewhat potent but harmless drug, and you’ll be alright in the morning.
Your heart is beating like crazy. Watch out for this, especially if you have an underlying heart condition. THC causes rapid heartbeats, especially in beginners, but tolerance often makes the effect go away. When you’ve overdosed on THC, this completely normal effect might seem like something else, say a panic attack.
The good thing about a THC overdose is that it’s mostly harmless. Once you notice any of these symptoms manifesting, there’s a couple of things you could do to get yourself back to base. If there’s any lying around, you could try some CBD. It’s another cannabinoid produced by marijuana, and it could help reduce the anxiety.
Chewing on a few fresh black pepper balls could help too, as well as a change of environment. Better yet, you could do yourself a favor and go to sleep. The THC in your system will dissipate and you’ll wake up free of the symptoms.
Let’s talk about storing your shatter
We all know weed is very fickle when it comes to storage. One mistake and all you have is a bag of weird-tasting fiber. Shatter is no exception; when stored improperly, it will start breaking down and lose its consistency, flavor, and potency.
Make sure you store it in an airtight container away from light. The shatter will last longer if you keep it away from high temperatures, moisture, oxygen, direct sunlight, and ultraviolet light. And there you have it, folks. Everything you need to know about shatter and how to use it. Now go forth and dab responsibly!