Cannabis Extracts 101: From Shatter and Oil to Crumble and Wax


Cannabis Extract 101: From Shatter Oil to Crumble & Wax

Slang terms like “shatter,” “earwax “or “budder” for a cannabis extract can be a bit daunting for the uninitiated. But it’s simpler than you think: these names are just another way of saying Butane Hash Oil (BHO), a stronger and faster way to get a THC high.

And cannabis extracts are also a lot more expensive and potentially dangerous for those who try to make it at home, due to its explosive chemical process if not done correctly.

And while hash oil was popular in the past decades in an underground fashion, it’s now in fashion due to more advanced cannabis extraction methods and new ways of inhaling it with high tech cannabis vaporizers. Shatter, for instance, is just one form of a “dab,” the slang term for all marijuana concentrates which are used for vaporization and dabbing. What is dabbing you ask?

The Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Chris Goldstein explained that the term dabbing derives from “the most common method used today: a piece of metal resembling a large nail is held at the end of a curved glass pipe then heated until glowing with a lighter or kitchen torch; a small ‘dab’ of the thick hash oil (greasy and thicker than cold honey) is placed on the end of a thin glass rod and then touched to the hot nail. The smoker inhales the instantly vaporized concentrate through the glass pipe — and gets seriously stoned.”

For those wondering why even bother with this method of cannabis use, these derivatives with the strange names have advantages over traditional marijuana for the cannabis connoisseur: it has very little smell when it’s vaped or in a solid form, it’s very portable (and easy to hide), and can achieve intense effects with very small amounts.

These oils can also have incredible medicinal effect. An oil derived from the marijuana plant sharply reduced violent seizures in young people suffering from a rare, severe form of epilepsy, according to a study published in in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Chemistry Behind Cannabis Extraction Methods

When cannabinoids are drawn out from the plant through butane extraction, which is the most common method, it leaves behind a sticky oil.  This oil concentrates THC and CBD, the marijuana plant’s chemical compounds and will either maintain this sticky consistency or harden up, resulting in a crumbly “honeycomb” like substance or a glasslike “shatter” substance for example.

Main Types of Concentrates


It’s smooth, thin, clear and solid. It’s the purest and most potent form and thus the most controversial because of its strength. There’s a second extraction process that removes its lipids and waxes and this can result in over 80 percent THC. By comparison, the THC level of standard marijuana is about five to 18 percent, according to Canada’s CBC News.


It’s creamier in texture from being whipped up like butter. It has THC levels in the 70 percent range.


It looks like shaved candle wax. Those with a brittle texture are known as “crumble” or “honeycomb.”


Generally golden, gooey and honey-like. It’s the least refined of the extracts and the THC is less consistent.

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