Things sometimes seem to get more and more complex the further you descend down the cannabis rabbit hole. You’ve finally figured out how to inhale like a pro, when someone starts talking about cannabis extracts, called “dabs.” We’re here to break it down for you.
A “dab” is a unit of cannabis extract, or any oil that contains concentrated amounts of the chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, like THC and CBD. Getting high from a “dab” is called “dabbing.” To obtain hash oil, producers use a solvent like butane, carbon dioxide, or ethanol to remove the compounds from the cannabis plant. These concentrates have enjoyed growing popularity in recent years, in particular due to advancements in extraction technology, as well as their ability to provide users impressively high amounts of THC in quick hits.
There are an abundance of names for these substances, including but not limited to: oil, shatter, wax, honeycomb, and budder. These are all variations on cannabis extracts.
Shatter refers to a glass-like amber substance, produced from the solvent pushed through the cannabis during extraction and left undisturbed afterwards. This allows the molecules to form together in a nice, neat order that gives it a sharp, translucent appearance. This final appearance depends on the level of compounds in the product, called terpenes, or how it’s prepared. You can recognize shatter by its clear and crystalline appearance.
Wax is opaque and of a soft, malleable consistency. This change in physical composition is the result of agitation when letting the extract “cool.” At the molecular level, there’s no ordered structure, causing it to become a “mess” that forms into wax-like consistency with an opaque hue. The original consistency of what would have become shatter or sap will dictate whether the agitated extract will be a harder, wax-like consistency, or a runnier, butter-like product.
Although some claim there are differences in THC percentages, ultimately, both groupings of dabs have similar concentrations. The main differences between these two group-variations on hash oil is their duration and how to handle them when dabbing. Because of its consistency, wax-related dabs are less stable, meaning it will degrade faster than shatter, while shatter has a much longer shelf life. On the other hand, waxes are easier to handle and measure when dabbing, while shatters and saps can be more difficult due to their crystalline makeup.