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BHO Wax vs. Shatter Concentrates

Cannabis concentrates are all the rage across most states with medical and recreational cannabis access laws. While marijuana flower buds can yield up to 30 percent cannabinoids, cannabis concentrates offer a significantly higher potency reaching over 80 percent cannabinoid levels. Within the concentrate segment, marijuana consumers can choose between solvent-based and solventless concentrates.

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There are many cannabis concentrate types including marijuana shatter, wax, kief, rosin, live resin, budder, pull and snap, tinctures, and more, each with their unique selling points. For solvent-based methods, most manufacturers prefer using light hydrocarbon extraction with butane and/or propane in a closed-loop butane hash oil (BHO) extraction system to separate the therapeutic compounds from the plant matter.

Two of the most popular cannabis concentrates are BHO wax and shatter. Both are produced using similar methods, equipment, and starting material, but minor differences in processing create extracts with varying textures, consistencies, and potencies. Here’s everything you need to know about BHO shatter and wax.

What Is Cannabis Shatter?

BHO shatter typically has a translucent amber color. Shatter also has a glass-like appearance that is hard to the touch. Shatter is fairly sticky and hard to work with. Because of its firm and stable form, consumers use a sharp dabber to break apart the extract into smaller pieces. Many users liken the look of this cannabis concentrate to hard or rock candy.

What Is Cannabis Wax?

Cannabis wax has a softer and more opaque hue than shatter. Wax has a more crystallized form due to the agitation experienced after extraction in post-processing. The final product has a texture resembling candle wax. Consumers will also notice that wax has a creamier consistency that’s easier to work with and load onto a dab rig or pen.

How Cannabis Shatter and Wax Are Made

Manufacturers typically use light hydrocarbon extraction to produce butane BHO products like BHO shatter and BHO wax. Both shatter and wax use similar methods of extraction with a few variances that lead to a different consistency and texture. In closed-loop equipment, butane is pushed through the starting material to separate cannabis resin from buds, stems, or leaves.

During extraction, temperature changes lead to different concentrate forms. For example, shatter is made using higher temperatures during the butane extraction process, while wax uses lower temperatures that don’t allow the wax to harden. When making wax, the product is agitated to produce a crumbly extract, unlike shatter that is not agitated.

Slight differences in production cause huge molecular variability in the final product’s consistency. Without agitation, shatter’s molecules are stacked neatly in rows on top of the other. This molecular alignment allows shatter to have a transparent appearance and glass-like characteristics. Disrupting or agitating the molecules, on the other hand, creates irregular and opaque structures that result in marijuana wax.

Agitation during the production process can be achieved in multiple ways. Extraction technicians can raise the temperature during the extraction process, or choose to whip the oil and place it under a vacuum oven at the same temperature. These techniques disturb the molecules, which starts the process of nucleation and leads to a non-translucent wax extract.

How to Buy High-Quality BHO Shatter and Wax

Buying high-quality BHO shatter and wax is one of the most important parts of having a positive dabbing experience. An important first step is purchasing products from legal shops that have completed third-party lab testing to ensure consumers have a pure and potent concentrate. Third-party testing should validate that there are no residual solvents left in your BHO products. However, understanding where the concentrate originated and how it was produced is equally, if not more important. 

Many users and manufacturers report that shatter has a longer shelf life than wax. Because shatter has a more stable form, this concentrate can last longer before breaking down compared to the creamier and brittle wax. Storing concentrates in a cool, dry, and dark place ensures they don’t degrade prematurely.

How to Use Shatter and Wax

Shatter and wax can both be consumed with a desktop or portable dab rig. A dab rig is essentially a bong for concentrates. Instead of having a bowl piece to load in flower buds, dab rigs feature a dab nail that can be heated up with a blow torch or a controller box that delivers the desired amount of heat through a coil that connects to the nail.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to using shatter and wax in a dab rig:

  1. Using a concentrate-specific dabber, break apart a small “dab” (the size depends on tolerance).
  2. Use a butane-filled blow torch to heat the bottom of the nail for anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds or use an e-nail to reach the exact temperature. Keep in mind, lower temperatures help activate terpenes, while higher ones can degrade these volatile and aromatic compounds.
  3. Once the nail is hot enough, you can let it cool down for a few seconds and load the shatter or wax dab into the nail chamber.
  4. Cover the nail with a carb cap to restrict airflow. A carb cap allows you to use lower temperatures to heat the dab.
  5. Inhale as much of the vapor as possible and exhale immediately.

Shatter and wax can also be used with smokeable products such as packed bowls, joints, blunts, moon rocks, and more. For example, some users top off their bowls with a dab of shatter or wax to get a bigger high. Users can also add a trail of shatter or wax along the inside or outside of a joint, known as a "twaxed" joint. Users can lightly heat hard concentrates like shatter to make them more pliable and easier to work with.

Luna Technologies Equipment

In a cannabis market that’s increasingly favoring concentrates over smokeable products, commercial-scale extraction equipment like Luna Technologies’ IO Extractor is designed to produce high volumes of shatter, wax, and more extract types. The automated IO Extractor can process up to 18lbs per hour of raw material with the push of a button. Our patented closed-loop system delivers extremely high-quality products and when you follow a proper vacuum purge processes should leave you zero residual solvents in your shatter, wax, or other oil-based products. 

Our light hydrocarbon extraction equipment is able to handle pre-programmed recipes to produce a range of different extracts with varying consistencies and textures including BHO shatter and wax. Our equipment is approved for use in 12 states giving manufacturers the opportunity to scale across markets. Luna Technologies allows operators to produce the best quality shatter and wax with ease.

View Full Features of Our IO Extractor

IO Extractor


Cut Labor Costs
Automated controls eliminate weeks or months of apprenticeship training required for manually controlled hydrocarbon systems.

Eliminate Operator Error
Pre-programmed recipe-monitoring system checks pressures and temperatures hundreds of times per second to remove risk of operator error.

Increase Capacity
Process 18 pounds of dried plant material or 25 pounds of fresh-frozen material per run. Single operator can process 400 pounds of biomass in a single day.

Improve Run Time
50-minute average run time with a 10-minute soak. Run-to-run changeover times of two minutes.

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