Shatter is a relatively recent creation in cannabis consumption. They are a type of cannabis concentrate that’s produced using solvents. Shatter’s appearance is typically translucent, though there colouring can range from a bright amber colour to a darker yellow shade similar to olive oil. Shatters may appear to have the same consistency, but the physical texture of each product can vary from extremely brittle to a snap-and-pull quality. This variation inconsistency gives some insight into an individual product’s cannabinoid profile.
The History of Shatters
Cannabis concentrates have been around for about as long as humans have been enjoying the benefits of cannabis. However, the way concentrates are made and consumed has evolved dramatically in just the past few years. If there’s a single style of concentrate that epitomizes this huge shift in cannabis technology and culture, it’s definitely shatters. In the 1990s, the process of modern cannabis concentrate production was being refined, and what we’d now consider shatters was first produced.
While shatters have been underground for some time now, Canadian cannabis manufacturers were the first ones to widely distribute shatters in dispensaries in 2003. By 2005, the techniques for producing shatters and other concentrates were widely published in Cannabis Culture magazine. Making them mainstream. [source: https://weedmaps.com/learn/dictionary/shatter/]
Is Shatter Legal in Canada?
At the moment it is illegal to distribute and sell shatters in Canada. In fact, it’s illegal to sell concentrated forms of cannabis of any kind in Canada such as the liquid extract used for vape pens, or buttery substances, and hash. It’s also illegal to make concentrates with organic solvents at home.
However, Health Canada is taking time to develop the laws that will govern cannabis concentrates like shatters. It looks like the legal licensed production and sales of concentrates and edibles will be permitted no later in October 2019. (source: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/about.html_)
How To Store Shatter
When stored improperly, shatter can begin to break down and lose its initial consistency, flavor or potency. To prevent this degradation, shatter should always be stored in an airtight and light-proof container and ideally stored in a cool room to ensure Shatter stays consistent for as long as possible. Remember, heat is Shatter’s enemy. It causes the cannabinoids and terpenes to activate. Ideally, that should happen only upon consumption, not while it’s resting in a container.
How Shatters Are Made
Before we start, please remember that it is illegal to produce shatters and any kind of concentrates at home. It can also be extremely dangerous. This information is for your personal knowledge only.
Despite the wide range of textures, colours, and consistencies of extracts, all shatter follows a similar production process. If certain factors aren’t closely followed, for example, if solutions are mishandled at any point of production, or if the shatter isn’t stored correctly, it may ultimately yield a disappointing product. Another thing that can go wrong is if the initial extraction or subsequent vacuum purge are performed improperly, then the glasslike consistency of the shatter may be compromised, resulting in a final product that has a texture similar to butter or sugar.
Shatter can be made from a variety of starting material, such as cannabis flower nugs to using plant remnants such as trim or shake. When making shatter, the desired cannabinoids, usually Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are separated from the raw flower through an extraction process that uses heat and compression. Next, any unwanted cannabinoids and other materials are removed with a solvent-induced vacuum purge.
Shatter can be made with many kinds of solvents, but the most common chemicals during the purge are liquefied petroleum gas or ethanol. The best methods of extracting the desired cannabinoids relying on agitation and screens to physically remove and refine resin glands from plant matter. Solvent extraction uses chemistry to strip away the desirable cannabinoids and terpenes, resulting in a volatile mixture of those and the extraction solvent. Depending on how you purge that, you can end up with wax, shatter or any of the other physical styles of hash oil.
Next comes a purifying step called degasification. The crude cannabis extract is poured onto trays and load them into a vacuum oven, which sucks out residual hydrocarbons as they boil off. It is a difficult process as the terpenes, the fragrant organic molecules behind the cannabis and various aromatic properties, are highly volatile, and many have boiling points close to the solvent’s.
The physical properties of the resulting extract can vary dramatically, depending on your starting material. The end result is a crystal-clear sheets of glittering golden glass. Nothing else looks quite like a slab of superb shatter.
The Science Of Shatter
If you’re interested in the molecular structure of shatters, you’ll find they are basically cannabinoid glass. Its unique appearance is the result of its tight, orderly molecular structure. Part of what makes this structure so hard to attain is the perfect balance between the components it entails. The THC and other cannabinoids are solid, while terpenes are liquid, so shatter is basically an emulsion of the two. The key to this glass-like consistency is, as mentioned temperature.
How Should Shatter Be Consumed?
Shatter must be heated and then then inhaled. You can do this by adding small piece of shatter to a joint, although smoking it through a hash pipe is the cheapest option.
Perhaps the best way to use shatter is with a pipe or bong used for consuming concentrates, extracts and oils. They heat up, reported to reach temperatures as high as 400 degrees C. This process, however, can be a little bit tricky, so if it’s your first time, ask someone who has done it before.
Now you have a detailed explanation on shatter. If you’re interested in what else is coming to Canadas legal cannabis market, feel free to sign up to our newsletter or follow us on social and stay updated on Canada’s cannabis developments