Today, shatter is more popular than ever. Learn about the history behind the highly sought-after marijuana concentrate, including how it was invented.
The cannabis industry is quickly evolving and consumers are increasingly on the lookout for marijuana products other than smokable flower. What is one of the hottest trends in marijuana? Cannabis concentrates.
One particular type of cannabis concentrate has garnered most of the attention, particularly in the United States and Europe: Marijuana shatter.
Packing up to 90 percent cannabinoid content, shatter has become the go-to marijuana product for cannabis connoisseurs or anyone looking for quick, intense effects.
Here we explore the history of shatter weed, and the journey this popular cannabis concentrate took on its climb to the top of the marijuana market.
What is Marijuana Shatter?
Shatter is one of the more popular forms of cannabis extract concentrates, derived from butane hash oil, called “dabs.”
Marijuana shatter — occasionally referred to as “BHO, “pull n’ snap” or “sap” — gets its name from its appearance. Shatter boasts a beautiful golden amber color and features a translucent glass-like texture that “shatters” when broken up or dropped.
Cannabis concentrates like shatter are made by running a solvent, typically butane, through cured or fresh cannabis flower to extract, or “pull out,” its cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The butane then evaporates and any remaining resins are collected.
When left to cool, shatter solidifies into a thin sheet that if dropped will shatter like glass.
Like all solvent-based concentrates, shatter is significantly more potent than marijuana flower. The solvent extraction process produces a shatter concentrate that is packed with the plant’s cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Of all the concentrates, shatter is, in most cases, the most potent because of additional filtration that removes naturally occurring waxes and fats. Shatter weed can be up to five times more potent than dried marijuana flower.
Medical and recreational marijuana users who prefer shatter cannabis appreciate its high potency, which allows them to experienced desired effects quickly while consuming less.
History of Shatter
Cannabis concentrates have a very extensive and established history, dating back to 10,000 B.C. in the Steppe Mountains of China.
While cannabis extracts like extracted cannabinoid oil have been used for thousands of years, butane hash oil concentrates like shatter that are on the market today are relatively new.
The history of shatter is a bit hazy, as there is hardly any documentation on its invention. However, it is generally believed that solvent-based marijuana concentrates, in some form or another, have been around since as early as the 1940s.
Shatter’s roots can be traced back to the old practice of hashish production first documented during World War II. Declassified intelligence documents reveal that the U.S. Office Strategic Services (OSS) incorporated a concentrated THC acetate “serum” into its biochemical interrogation program. Prisoners and others were given hash oil-laced cigarettes and LSD in an effort to facilitate interrogation efforts.
Those controversial practices were then secretly employed throughout the 1950s and 1960s as part of the CIA’s top-secret “Project MK Ultra” program, aimed at assessing the potential use of LSD and other substances for mind control.
The solvent-based extraction practices the government used to make the marijuana concentrate are thought to have been adapted from the botanical extraction technologies used throughout the 1800s. Cannabis was soaked in alcohol to make tinctures, which at the time were included in the U.S. pharmacopeia.
Despite cannabis being illegal in the U.S., the hippie counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s helped keep homemade solvent-manufactured concentrates like “honey oil,” “red oil,” and jelly-butane hash” alive and popular. In 1970, a group called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love illegally set up hash oil factories in California and Afghanistan.
Decades later, authors began to publish works with overviews on the solvent extraction process.
In the second edition of “Cannabis Alchemy: The Art of Modern Hashmaking,” published in 1989, Dr. Gold broke down how to make translucent and concentrated cannabis oil using alcohol as a solvent. The author referred to the marijuana concentrate as “honey.”
Then, in 1990, writer Michael Starks further expanded on how to use various solvents to create marijuana concentrates in his book, “Marijuana Chemistry: Genetics Processing and Potency.”
In the mid-1990s, Erowid, a non-profit educational organization that provides information about psychoactive plants, published an article in 1999 titled “Hash Honey Oil Technique,” offering arguably the first detailed description of butane hash oil extraction procedures to the Internet.
Invention of Shatter
Solvent-extracted shatter as it’s known today is the result of modern technologies and closed loop extraction methods that were refined in the 1990s. This is generally regarded as around the time that shatter weed was first produced.
By the late 1990s, a well-known marijuana manufacturer based in Canada started marketing two cannabis concentrates — shatter and budder. After a decade of research that began with liquid cannabis honey oil, the company’s founders developed a hardened shatter concentrate they called “glass.”
In 2003, shatter weed made its very first appearance in legal, licensed dispensaries in North America.
Two years later, in 2005, Cannabis Culture published a how-to guide for using shatter in its magazine. Several years later, cannabis enthusiasts started to share information about how to make high quality solvent-based marijuana concentrates in online forums.
By the time the 2010s rolled around, marijuana shatter surged in popularity and became a popular choice for cannabis consumers seeking a high potency cannabis product.
How to Use Shatter
The most common method for using shatter cannabis is dabbing, which involves using a special rig to heat the concentrate, and then inhaling the resultant vapor.
Dabbing is a flash-vaporization method for enjoying concentrates like shatter. The method involves heating a “nail,” made from ceramic, glass, or titanium, and then applying the shatter concentrate directly onto the hot surface to produce an inhalable cannabinoid-filled vapor.
Shatter can also be consumed through vaping using a vaporizer that is compatible with waxy concentrates. Using a dab tool, the shatter can be loaded onto the coils of the vaporizer. Once the vaporizer is turned on, its heating mechanism will melt the wax onto and around the coil to produce cannabinoid-filled vapor that can be inhaled.
Inhaling vapor from marijuana shatter delivers THC and other cannabinoids to your bloodstream nearly immediately for quick effects that typically last 1-3 hours.
Is Shatter the Future of Marijuana?
While the history of marijuana shatter is short, the popular concentrate’s future already looks bright. Since shatter cannabis was introduced to the market, enthusiasm for marijuana concentrates has not slowed.
Because of shatter’s high potency, it appeals to registered medical marijuana patients using cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Recreational concentrate users that enjoy shatter are often looking for more THC than offered by marijuana flower. Shatter also entices flavor connoisseurs who enjoy tasting cannabis’ terpene profiles.
Dabs like shatter are, by far, one of the most popular trends in the marijuana world right now. They are increasingly taking up space in dispensaries and have gotten to the point that they’re featured on local evening news reports.
As medical and recreational marijuana legalization reaches more states and enthusiasm for shatter grows, companies have started to focus even more on improving extraction technologies. This has already led to the development of new methodologies that ensure safer and higher quality cannabis concentrates.
If sales trends continue in their current direction, cannabis concentrates like shatter are destined to become a dominant figure in the marijuana market.
More on Marijuana
Marijuana is legal in some form in 32 U.S. states. Because laws vary state-by-state, you’ll need to check with your local marijuana dispensary on their availability of shatter wax for sale.
You can read to learn more about cannabis concentrates and other marijuana products by visiting our Cannabis 101 page.