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Cannabis Concentrates: Shatter vs Wax

08 March 2023
Shatter and wax are two different consistencies of BHO achieved by processing it differently.
08 March 2023
6 min read
Cannabis Concentrates: Shatter vs Wax

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  • 1. Butane hash oil (bho)
  • 2. Shatter
  • 3. Wax
  • 4. Shatter vs wax
  • 5. Pros and cons
  • 5. a. Shatter
  • 5. b. Wax
  • 6. Cannabis concentrates and how to use them
  • 7. In conclusion

Shatter and wax are two different consistencies that originate from the same solvent-based extract: BHO. Similar to what happens to rosin, applying a different combination of elements (like temperature and pressure) will result in different textures and consistencies. These two preparations originate from cannabis seeds too, but offer a much different experience to blazing up dried and cured flowers. As extracts, they possess higher concentrations of the molecules that underpin the effects, taste, and aroma of individual cannabis strains. More specifically, they’re crammed with cannabinoids and terpenes that work synergistically to exert the overarching effects of weed buds.

Because a single gram of extract houses much more THC than a single gram of flower, extracts deliver a much harder-hitting subjective experience that’s highly sought after by users with a mighty tolerance to the psychoactive cannabinoids. Although similar, these preparations are not identical. Below, you’ll find out everything you need to know about them.

1. Butane Hash Oil (BHO)

Before talking about Shatter or Wax, we must first understand what is BHO, because this extract is their primal form. Butane Hash Oil (aka BHO) is a solvent-based extract, it is made by using butane to pull off the trichomes and all the compounds in it from the plant material. This is achieved with big industrial machines in a closed loop, meaning there are fewer chances of exploding (because butane is flammable). Even though it is possible to make BHO at home, we do not recommend it.

Butane is highly flammable and there have been lots of accidents in the last couple of years, where whole houses caught on fire and people got hurt. Also if you don’t have the appropriate equipment, the final product will have lots of butane in it, which is toxic and will give you headaches when consuming it. If you want to make something to consume in a dab rig, we recommend making rosin, which is made solely by applying heat and pressure, without the use of solvents, resulting in a safer and higher quality product.

2. Shatter

When talking about shatter, we’re not talking about a different extract. Shatter is one of the consistencies BHO can have (sometimes also called BHO shatter). The different consistencies of BHO are achieved after the trichomes have been pulled from the plant material.


Cannabis Concentrates: Shatter

Cannabis Concentrates: Shatter.

Shatter is achieved with a higher temperature when processing the plant for BHO and left to cool down right after the extraction process, without applying heat or pressure. This makes the butane evaporate and gives it that glass-like consistency, which is extremely brittle and shatters easily.

3. Wax

Just like shatter, wax is a different consistency of BHO, but unlike shatter, it is achieved with a lower temperature when processing the plant material for BHO. Also known as BHO wax, this extract has the consistency of dried wax. To reach this consistency, BHO is agitated with a slight heat to introduce oxygen molecules and evaporate any butane left, this also gives it a more opaque color.


Cannabis Concentrates: Wax

Cannabis Concentrates: Wax.

Because of the lower temperature, wax also has more flavor and smell than shatter because the lower temperature avoids the evaporation of compounds.

4. Shatter vs Wax

Because both Shatter and Wax come from BHO, their potency is fairly similar, being around 60-70% THC. Although some terpenes and cannabinoids may evaporate depending on your goal. The major difference in consistency comes when consuming it because shatter is brittle, you can easily break it down and smoke it in a joint or a dab rig.

Wax, on the other hand, can be wet and may be harder to smoke in a joint but can be easily smoked in a dab rig and provides the user a more complete effect because of the terpenes in it. There’s no better or worse, it just depends on what effect you’re looking for.

5. Pros and Cons



  • You don’t necessarily need a dab rig, can be smoked in a joint.
  • Can be handled with your hands.
  • Tends to last longer.


Cannabis Concentrates: Shatter Joint

Shatter is brittle so you can easily break it down and smoke it in a joint.


  • Consistency can be harder to achieve.
  • Less terpenes.



  • More terpenes.
  • Easier to achieve consistency because you don’t need to be super careful.


Cannabis Concentrates: Smoking wax

Wax can be wet and may be harder to smoke in a joint but can be easily smoked in a dab rig.


  • Hard to smoke in a joint, you’ll need dab rig or vaporizer.
  • Harder to handle without the appropriate tools.
  • Tends to degrade faster.

6. Cannabis Concentrates and How to Use Them

Shatter and wax are just 2 types of the ever-growing cannabis concentrate family.  Concentrates (in general) are exactly what the name says, a concentrated form of cannabis. They usually come with a THC level topping 80%, with many hitting the 95ish% mark. To give you a bit of an idea of how much stronger this is than regular weed, the heaviest hitting flowers usually top out at around 25-30%. As with any other product in a capitalist society, marketing has a lot to do with the overall appeal of a product - and weed concentrates are no different.

But, newbies and novices beware! While these products may seem appealing and do offer some marked advantages over smoking flowers (such as taste, quality, and levels of harmful offshoot chemicals), they are among the strongest options on the market right now. Do not, we repeat, DO NOT dive headfirst into extracts and concentrates if you are new to cannabis. This is a big mistake, and an easy way to scare yourself away from the beauty and wonder that weed can offer. Would you offer a first-time drinker a triple scotch on the rocks? Hell no! But, if you are well prepared and ready to dive into the world of concentrates (and what a wonderful world it is!) then there are a few common ways to enjoy them.


Dabbing is the most popular form of vaporizing concentrates and is, in many ways, the older tougher brother of bong smoking. The “dab rig” is your most important piece of gear for dabbing, and is essentially a normal bong with the bowl removed and replaced with what’s called a nail or a banger. This holds the concentrate and is usually made from either glass, titanium, or quart. 

Some come with auto heating options, but most will need the use of a lighter or a mini blowtorch. Once the nail or banger reaches the correct temperature (red hot is a good rule of thumb here), you let it cool slightly. Once the temp has dropped a little, you simply add your extract and let it vaporize while inhaling. If the nail is too cold, the concentrate will not pool and vaporize - and if it is too hot the whole dap will instantly disappear resulting in a ridiculously heavy hit and burnt flavors.


Regular vaping is another popular way to enjoy your shatter or wax. There is a huge range of different devices used to vape weed and extracts, but these days the most popular tool is a simple vape pen. Discreet and easy to use, these pens are slowly taking over a huge market share.

Nectar Collectors

These simple pieces of equipment sit somewhere in between a dab rig and a vape pen. The name comes from the use - they are great for using up all the little bits of wax or shatter in leftover extract containers. They are most commonly made from a glass straw with a titanium tip. Simply heat up the tip to where it is red hot, let it cool back down for 30 secs or so, and dap it directly on the shatter or wax remnants while inhaling through the other end!

7. In Conclusion

If you’re looking for a more complete effect, we recommend wax, but if what you want is a really strong high, you’ll prefer shatter. Even though BHO and derived consistencies are widely known by cannabis users, they’re not the best nowadays. Because the cannabis market has developed so much in the last couple of years, you can find better quality solventless extracts, which not only are strong but will have more cannabinoids and terpenes, providing a better experience when consuming.


This post was most recently updated on April 29, 2022.