What is Shatter, How to Choose it and How to Consume it

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You know that scene in The Wizard of Oz when the Tin Man is pining for a dab of oil in order to feel well-lubricated again? This same scenario happens daily in real life, except the protagonists are human and the oil in question is a dab of cannabis extract called shatter. And it’s sure to lubricate the synapses. 

Shatter is a potent form of cannabis concentrate and is so-called because it resembles amber glass: it’s relatively hard, transparent, and can shatter like, well, glass. It’s also one of the purest forms of cannabis extract on the market today. According to Health Canada, shatter can contain upwards of 90% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the intoxicating component of weed that affects the body and brain. In other words, shatter can give you a powerful high that lasts for an impressive period of time compared to, say, smoking a joint. But it’s important to treat shatter with respect.

In this article we’ll explain what cannabis extracts are, what makes shatter different from other forms of marijuana, what kinds of shatter exist on the market today and how to smoke them using shatter vape pens and more.

What are Cannabis Extracts?

Cannabis extracts are derived from two main types of plants, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, which grew naturally in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent before they were discovered by humans, cultivated and, in the 1800s, exported around the world. The flowering buds of both plants are where most of the THC and cannabidiol (CBD) compounds are located, which are responsible for the psychoactive effects people enjoy when they’re consumed. Sativa strains typically give you a more stimulating psychoactive high, while indica strains are more sedating. (A fun way to remember this is “in da couch” for indica and “Saturday night diva” for sativa.) 

The most common form of cannabis extract is hashish, which, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, was first derived in the 12th century in the Middle East when crystals were collected from dried cannabis plants and squeezed into a resin. Today cannabis extracts are created in a number of different distillation processes and include oil, resin, sauce, and shatter, among others. All of them offer more potency than marijuana buds and most are consumed through a smoking or vaping process.

What is Shatter?

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Now that we have an understanding of what extracts are, let’s concentrate on one in particular: shatter. As mentioned above, shatter got its nickname because the end product is transparent and relatively brittle, like hard taffy, so it can snap or shatter when handled. It’s a recent development in the realm of extracts and its roots can be traced back to the late 1990s in Canada where it was first marketed. 

Shatter is derived by separating cannabinoids from the raw cannabis flower through an extraction process requiring heat and compression. Next, a solvent-induced vacuum purge is applied to remove any unwanted materials and what’s left behind is a potent, amber-hued extract of glass-like consistency. It’s preferred by many cannabis connaisseurs because of its strength and the fact that only a small amount is required in order to enjoy long-lasting effects. That said, people who are new to marijuana should be cautious with shatter because a little goes a very long way.

Is Shatter Safe?

Yes, shatter is safe. There has never been a report of a fatality as a direct result of the consumption of shatter, or any other marijuana product for that matter. The worst thing that can happen to someone who ingests too much shatter is they’ll become uncomfortably high. Many stories abound of newbies taking too strong a dose of shatter who then curl into a ball on the couch to ride out the psychedelic effects for an hour or two. 

Therefore, given the fact shatter is significantly stronger and more potent than smoking marijuana bud, it’s important for beginners treat it with respect. For your first time, we recommend being in a safe space with people you trust and trying the tiniest of amounts. The effects come on quickly and remember, you can always do more but never less. 

What Types of Shatter Products Are Available?

Unlike Cannabis edibles, which are available in various concoctions from candy to baked goods, shatter products all look relatively the same – like taffy. And, given the fact shatter is so potent, it’s typically offered in a small amount, such as one gram. But there are significant differences you should know about before choosing. Firstly, shatter is derived from both types of cannabis plants, sativa and indica, as well as from hybrid strains. Therefore, each will affect you differently. Every person has a unique metabolism so it’s impossible to say exactly how various types of shatter will impact you specifically, but here’s a rough guide:

  • •  Indica – Shatter distilled from this plant will have a powerful sedative effect. It’s great for those cozy nights in when you want to relax or enjoy a cerebral high. It’s also recommended for those who have trouble sleeping or suffer from anxiety. Examples of indica-based shatter include Chef’s Nectarin shatter and High Octane shatter.  
  • •  Sativa – Remember our mnemonic above that sativa stands for “Saturday night diva”? That’s because products derived from this plant are uplifting, euphoric, upbeat and typically make you more social. It’s also great for treating people with depression. An example of this type of shatter is Moby Dick.
    • •  Hybrid – The effects of a shatter product derived from a hybrid depends on the strain itself. For example, if the hybrid has a higher percentage of indica in it, the resultant shatter will lean towards having a sedative effect. But then there are special strains such as Crunch Castle Shatter, which has balanced the two strains so well, you’ll feel stimulated yet relaxed at the same time. 

The strain of plant the shatter is distilled from not only affects the type of high you’ll experience, it also dictates the flavour and aroma of the shatter. For example, Crunch Castle has a more earthy tone with notes of orange and other citrus fruits while Nuken shatter offers overtones of sweet berry and honey accented by cedar and pine – it perfectly pairs with green tea.

What Are The Benefits Of Shatter?

Shatter is an excellent recreational intoxicant for those familiar with cannabis consumption. For beginners, however, it’s recommended you treat shatter with caution given its potency. Its high concentration of THC means shatter has medicinal benefits because patients don’t have to consume as much to receive desired effects. Health Canada states medicinal marijuana can help relieve:

  • •  sleep disorders
  • •  chronic pain
  • •  nausea and vomiting
  • •  muscle spasms and seizures


The Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids is one organization that’s continuing research into other medicinal benefits of cannabis but to date, it’s safe to say that shatter has all the same benefits as medicinal marijuana with the added plus of not having to consume as much of it in order to enjoy its effects.

How To Consume Shatter

Because shatter is a concentrated form of weed, it can be consumed in a variety of ways. That said, there are better ways of enjoying it, and not-so-good ways. For example, never hot-knife shatter. For one thing, placing knives on a heated element on your stove is hardly safe and secondly, it’s not efficient. Nor should you ever use plastic bottles, electric car lighters or any other form of do-it-yourself bong paraphernalia. Stick to these three methods instead: 

  • •  Add shatter to a joint

This is the easiest method of enjoying shatter. Simply crumble or dab a small amount onto your weed before rolling it or add it to the end of your joint. The benefits of this method are that it’s simple and doesn’t require any extra paraphernalia. The downfall is that a portion of your shatter will be wasted during the smoking process.

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  • •  Vape It

Shatter vape pens (also known as shatter pens or shatterizers) are an excellent way to enjoy shatter. They’re small, hand-held devices that contain coils that super-heat the shatter quickly so hardly any of the product is lost in the smoking process. There are a variety of options that offer different battery power (make sure to get the strongest), charging techniques (modern models can be charged with USB cables) and coil styles. It’s widely believed quartz coils are the best because their glass-like consistency is excellent for the conduction of heat, meaning little is left behind.

  • •  Use a Special Bong Called a Rig

A bong is a glass device with a vertical chamber that traps weed smoke and allows for easier inhalation through the mouthpiece. A rig (or a dab rig) is a type of bong that has an accessory called a nail or an e-nail made of metal or glass. This gets heated and a dab of shatter is applied to it. Immediately the dab is combusted, the cloud transfers to the vertical chamber and you can then smoke it. This is the largest and more expensive option for consuming shatter but it’s also super efficient.


A final word about the consumption of shatter: because of its consistency, it’s important to store shatter in cool, dry places. Some strains even require that you keep them in the refrigerator. This is because shatter melts easily. Think of the analogy of leaving taffy in the sun too long – eventually it will become a puddle. Therefore, follow the instructions on the packaging and store in a cool place away from any heat source.

How To Choose The Right Shatter For You

It’s been said above but we’ll say it again: shatter is an excellent choice for people who are used to consuming cannabis but for beginners it’s important to treat it with respect. Some shatter is so potent it contains 80% THC. By comparison, High Times reports that good market pot has about 18% THC. Therefore, do some research before choosing a particular product and ask these questions:

  • •  What strain of plant does it come from: indica, sativa or a hybrid?
  • •  What percentage of THC does it contain?
  • •  What does it taste like?
  • •  What are its suggested uses?
  • •  What do the reviews say about it?


Once you have your answers, you’re well on your way to choosing the right shatter for you and enjoying the unique highs from this relatively new, yet instantly classic form of marijuana.