Photography by Jonathan Coward for Herb
In other posts we’ve taught you how to make a gravity bong or how to clean a bowl, but if you consider yourself a TRULY cannabis connoisseur, chances are you’re hitting—or have tried hitting—dabs. And the main ingredient for dabbing is shatter. Shatter is a form of cannabis concentrate that looks like amber colored glass. It’s stiff, somewhat translucent, and looks like if you dropped it on the floor it would shatter into a million pieces (hence the name.)
You may know shatter by any number of other names like wax, or hash oil. It’s virtually all the same stuff, save for the way it looks.
Making shatter at home can be a dangerous process, depending on what recipe you’re using. Some make shatter using butane, which is highly flammable and explosive. However, there are ways of making shatter that are significantly less dangerous, much quicker, and still leave you with dab worthy concentrates. Making shatter from kief–the powdery substance that collects on the bottom floor of your grinder—is our favorite method.
To make shatter from kief, you only need three ingredients (and one of them is kief.) So read this quick guide and make some shatter already.
1. Pour your kief onto the parchment paper. Keep it in a fairly neat square shape if possible.
2. Fold your parchment paper tightly around the hash in squares. If necessary, use tape to keep the parchment paper folded around the kief. If you have scissors, cut off any excess parchment paper hanging off of the square of kief. The goal is to have parchment paper covering every inch of your kief, but no more than that. Then, wrap that square of kief in another sheet of parchment paper (you only need to fold this second sheet over the square once.)
3. Turn your hair straightener on the lowest setting, and let it heat up for 1 – 2 minutes.
4. Clamp your hair straightener over the rectangular shape of your kief, and press down hard. Use one hand to clamp the iron shut, and press down on top with your other hand so that the iron is being squeezed between your hand and the table beneath the hair straightener. Push down hard, and hold for about 10 seconds. Be careful not to burn yourself: you may need oven mitts depending on how hot the outside of the straightener gets.
5. Remove the parchment paper containing the kief from the hair straightener, and unfold it. You’ll notice that a honey-colored substance has been squeezed out of the edges of the inside square of kief-filled parchment paper. That’s shatter, and it’s ready to smoke! But you probably have more kief in your square of kief-filled parchment paper, so fold a new sheet of parchment paper around it once more, and repeat steps 4 and 5 until all the kief has been used.
Well, if you insist on making things difficult…we’ll still help you out. Right up until the point you accidentally blow your house up with highly explosive butane. Hopefully, it won’t get that far. We even called in an expert to explain the process to you, so if you screw this up, it’s on you.
This is how to make shatter through the butane extraction method, as explained by a private grower in Colorado, who has asked to remain anonymous. (Probably worried about you snitching on him too after blowing up your house).
According to this grower, you need:
“With a 4-ounce tube packed full, I can produce 32 grams of shatter between a day and two days,” he tells us.
One tube of high-end cannabis will take a couple of cans of butane. Insert the butane can and let this filter off your product into a measuring cup. You can also remove the cannabis and run it through a second time to get even more from your plant.
Next is purging the solvents (evaporation method) from the butane hash oil so that it can dry into a candied amber resin (shatter).
Our grower stated the following about his purge operation: “We purge our butane at 91 degrees for 16 to 30 hrs. We do this with a 3 cfm one-stage vac pump. The oil sits in a big glass dish with a lid on top with a line going in which pulls the air and butane out through our pumps. It is important to use a pressure gauge that tells you how hot the glass dish your oil sits on is getting so you don’t burn off your product. All you want to do is remove the solvents from your product, getting the purity back held within your plants.”
He states that one major secret to the operation of making your shatter as strong as possible is getting the high numbers of trichomes from your plant. This involves using root strengthener from the start of the grow. “We go above the call for root growth, taking it as far as possible at the earliest stages. I have air lines that go into our soil to push in fresh air and use one-inch rocks mixed in the soil. I also foliar spray my plants every two days.”
Foliar spray is a spray mist that feeds nutrients to the plant through its leaves. This ensures the plant won’t become stressed and is 3 to 5 times more effective than standardized root fertilization. Foliar spraying helps strengthen the plant for much larger harvest and stronger bud yields.
So there you have it: making shatter using the butane method is complicated and long and you should probably just make it with kief and a hair straightener. Or, if you live in a legal state or Canada, just buy it from your local dispensary.