Wax vs. Shatter
Where smoking once ruled the roost in cannabis circles, dabbing and vaping is quickly becoming the most popular method of consumption. Many experts predict sales of concentrates will exceed bud in the near future and it’s not hard to see why – the intensity, depth of flavor and variety of uses that concentrates bring to the table just can’t be beat.
If this is surprising to you, then let’s go through everything you need to know about concentrates and the differences between its most popular forms – BHO Shatter and Wax.
What are Concentrates?
As you can probably guess from the name alone, concentrates are extracts of raw flower, created through separating the resin glands from the rest of the leaf material. This can be achieved with a variety of methods, some of which you could even try at home!
Typically, they can sit at between 50% to as high as 90% THC, making them significantly stronger than any bud on the market.
What is BHO?
While concentrates like Shatter and Wax can be made in several ways, BHO refers to one specific method – Butane extraction. Essentially, the marijuana plant is stripped of its trichomes (including its cannabinoids and terpenes) with some form of solvent, in this case butane. This creates a thick, sticky and almost syrupy substance known as Hash or Honey Oil.
Though it may be obvious, we should mention that we do not recommend using this method at home. Butane is an extremely dangerous and flammable substance that should be handled by trained professionals. The place to get BHO Honey Oil is your local dispensary.
If you’d like to try your hand at making concentrates safely, check out our guide to Honey Oil for details on ice water extraction.
However the Hash Oil is made, you’re simply left with the agonizing choice on what to turn it into. In the 15 years since the widespread introduction of concentrates, the options have become endless, with Shatter, Budder, Resins, Crumbles, Wax and many more popping up.
Through this chaos, two contenders have clearly risen to the top in popularity – Shatter and Wax.
Being some of the first concentrates, they have dominated the market – but which is best? Let’s take a look at each individually…
Shatter is perhaps the simplest concentrate, as it is basically the result of simply allowing the Honey Oil to cool. What you’re left with is a translucent, amber concentrate very similar to hard candy or even stained glass.
The exact product can vary depending on the exact method used to make the honey oil, as well as the type of solvent used (if any).
In general though, you’re left with a highly stable product – you can even snap pieces off yourself!
If you’re following the cannabis naming conventions so far, you can probably guess why Wax is named the way it is.
If the oil is agitated or whipped during the extraction process then instead of the glass-like form of shatter, it’ll cool into a candlewax-ish substance.
The consistency of Wax can vary massively however, based on how much it was agitated during the process. It can come out like anything from butter to honeycomb to wax – which is probably why “Wax” and “Budder” can be used interchangeably.
So which is better?
Really, it’s all down to personal preference!
As you can see, there’s not a huge amount of difference in the making process and therefore the product will have similar THC levels. Both are easily used with dab machines and will deliver a stronger, longer-lasting high than any bud can achieve. The biggest choice factors are texture, storage considerations and stability.
Though texture isn’t particularly relevant if you’re dabbing them, for edibles you’ll obviously want to stick with Wax – especially if they’re going in a baked food.
In terms of stability, Shatter will degrade far slower than its counterpart. So, if you are typically an infrequent user then you should consider shatter.
For those buying in bulk, you know that storing marijuana can be pain. So much so we wrote a whole article about it. If you also struggle with storing your stash, know that Wax is considerably easier. Due to it’s butter like consistency, Wax is much simpler to handle, measure and use – which makes it ideal for any recommended storage container.
Conversely, the brittleness of Shatter means any drop or hard knock can cause it to… well… shatter. This could make dabbing or vaping with it much more annoying, so it’s definitely something to consider.
Finally, if you do decide to make it at home, we would recommend you aim for Wax over Shatter for your first attempt. Getting the exact consistency and stability necessary to make Shatter can be a little finicky, to say the least. But there’s no obligation to be as careful with Wax – any consistency works!
How do I use them?
Unsurprisingly, given the many varieties of cannabis you have to choose from, there’s just as many ways – if not more – to use it than you probably know what to do with.
Dabbing is the most common way to consume concentrates and, in many ways, the simplest. It does require some upfront investment, in the form of a dab rig, but it’s well worth it. The dab rig will fully vaporize the concentrate, allowing you to inhale the vapor through the mouthpiece for some seriously strong hits. Dab rigs can be pretty sizeable pieces of equipment though, in both size and money.
A common alternative are Vape pens, which are rapidly emerging as the main way to consume concentrates. Vape pens are small, portable and pretty inconspicuous.
If these suggestions are too obvious for you through, try sprinkling small pieces on top of the flower in a joint to really bring things up a notch.