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What Are Cannabis Oil, Shatter, and Wax Extracts?

May 5, 2015

Shatter, wax, honeycomb, oil, crumble, sap, budder, pull-and-snap…these are some of the nicknames cannabis extracts have earned through their popularity, prevalence, and diversification. If you’ve heard any of those words before, they were likely used to describe BHO (butane hash oil), CO2 oil, or similar hydrocarbon extracts. This list of descriptive subcategories might lead you to believe that there are stark differences between each one, but the division between glass-like shatter and crumbly wax is more superficial than you’d expect.

For those of you who are new to the concentrates game, a cannabis extract is any oil that concentrates the plant’s chemical compounds like THC and CBD. This is achieved through a variety of extraction processes and solvents, the most common being butane. Advancements in extraction technology have enabled the use of other solvents like carbon dioxide and pure hydrocarbons in a process that utilizes pressure in a safe closed-loop system. The end product is a highly potent oil of varying consistencies most popularly used for vaporization and dabbing.

Compare Cannabis Concentrates


How to Dab Cannabis Concentrates

So what’s with the different consistencies, and are they telling of an extract’s quality?

What is Marijuana Shatter?

Cannabis shatter oil

Shatter, with its flawless amber glass transparency, has a reputation for being the purest and cleanest type of extract. But translucence isn’t necessarily the tell-tale sign of quality – the consistency and texture of oil comes down to different factors entirely.


What Does Good BHO Look Like? Dabbing and Hash Oil Myths: Part One

The reason shatter comes out perfectly clear has to do with the molecules which, if left undisturbed, form a glass-like appearance. Heat, moisture, and high terpene contents can also affect the texture, turning oils into a runnier substance that resembles sap (hence the commonly used nickname “sap”). Oils with a consistency that falls somewhere between glassy shatter and viscous sap is often referred to as “pull-and-snap.”

What is Marijuana Wax?

Cannabis wax oil

Cannabis wax refers to the softer, opaque oils that have lost their transparency after extraction. Unlike those of transparent oils, the molecules of cannabis wax crystallize as a result of agitation. Light can’t travel through irregular molecular densities, and that refraction leaves us with a solid, non-transparent oil.

Just as transparent oils span the spectrum between shatter and sap, wax can also take on different consistencies based on heat, moisture, and the texture of the oil before it is purged (the process in which residual solvents are removed from the product). Runny oils with more moisture tend to form gooey waxes often called “budder,” while the harder ones are likely to take on a soft, brittle texture known as “crumble” or “honeycomb.” The term “wax” can be used to describe all of these softer, solid textures.

The Complex Art of Cannabis Extraction

Cannabis oil extraction

There’s a reason cannabis extraction is now as big a part of competitive Cannabis Cups as flowers; the knowledge and care that goes into extracting oils is as complicated as the art of growing the plants they are derived from. Every step of the extraction process demands a balance of art and science, beginning with the selection of starting material and ending with the purging and storage process. This simplified explanation of oil consistencies is only a scratch on the surface of this emerging craft, and it’s exciting to imagine how much further science and technology will carry its potential.

All photos were taken at X-Tracted Labs in Seattle, Washington.

  • Anne Marie Choi
  • George G

    I’m a vaper so I already owned quite a few “mods” or devices. A company called HERBTRONIX makes a wax atomizer for concentrates called the ROKKAKU. It’s AMAZING! It uses quartz or ceramic disposable coils and works on any of my vape mods. its made in the usa too and has a lifetime warranty. thezfo dot com sold me mine but I think they can be found in most high end stores or vape shops that stock high end equipment. its definitely not your average dab pen or rig!

  • Jacqueline Landau

    Looking for good cannabis oil, something like this
    Looks like I can’t order anywhere without a doctor’s prescription 🙁

    • Laura Ertel

      I get my thc vapes from a company called Quanta and its super dank and its the best vape I’ve ever tried. They only sell in California I believe.

  • eva huang

    this model CBD vaporizer is also for canabis oil. very nice, and no leaking .

    • Jeff Brooks

      All vaporizers “leak”. It’s a vapor afterall and it will find even the smallest place to escape. Unless your atomizer is air tight, there will be some residue escaping.

  • Darrell Allen Irvin

    I took a poll on vape pens. Flower versus Oil and found after my vote that the flowering vape pens are most popular. I tried Snoop Dog’s green pen and found it to be a pain in the arse. Take a hit and load the pen routine was too much mess and time consuming for me. The oil concentrates give multiple hits and mess free highs consistently. Some of the engineered flavors really tickle the taste buds too.

  • Darrell Allen Irvin

    I have had problems sleeping now for many years. A two hour slumber being a rarity. A buddy of mine suggested I try LA OG before bedtime. I did last night and for the first time in years got a solid four hours of restful sleep. Wahoo!!!!

    • Gates Beaulieu

      what is LA OG?

    • Wucifer slayer

      There is a pretty good chance you have sleep apnia. where you stop breathing and there for disrupting you sleep of even preventing you to get to sleep a sleep study will rule it out but you do in fact have sleep apnia taking seditives or anything that promotes sleep could very well lead to your death you posted a year ago I wonder if your still on the good side of the sod

  • JD Williams

    I’ve been using cannabis extracts for years. F#ck the government…

    • John

      For sure

  • Jeff Brooks

    Want to safely make your own extracts at home? Check this out.

    • Canamjay

      consider making a new video when you’re not using…. this is too painful to watch… plan, then do… sound not good…. video worse…

  • Gary Craig

    A green rush? The only “green” I see is from being very, very, super envious. And envy is not good!

  • Charlotte Dugger

    Do you have a price list?

    • John


    • nNark

      I would never buy anything from this “guy”. Really don’t trust a “business” that puts out info with this level of crappy grammar, for one thing. But also: what the hell company is it? And is this “Peter” or Tonnymark” or who? A Gmail account, really?

  • Joshua Perry

    I’ve been using them to get the appropriate quantity of bud and CBD oil needed for my condition for the past two months. My second order arrived just 2 days ago. They are quite discreet and professional

  • John

    Who needs

  • Elaine Williams

    Sounds like this product would not be available or legal in all states, including the one I am in. I’m glad for those of you who can get it. It is just not a realistic thing where I am.

  • Art Palacios

    What is the amount of wax pulled from an average pound of marijuana?

  • Art Palacios

    What is average yield of wax finished product pulled from a pound of good grade red stress?

  • Janet Coffin

    I was just on Steve’s Goods website and they have a chat feature for asking questions. I am interested in learning the benefits of CBD, and asked what dab is. The response was “this is not Google; if you don’t know thatnn this is probably not the place for you”. Pretty rude remark to make to a potential customer. Fuck them.

    • PrimaV_Paul

      Hi Janet I know this is 3 months old but I’ve been specializing in only CBD for some years and pardon the pun, weeding out the bs is difficult . I’ve gone to great lengths to be involved directly with chemists that do the extraction and have a few sources now for our co-branded products. Although it looks like an ad here and we’re regustered with leafy … I invite you to write directly to me via FB/PrimaVapor for any questions you may have and regarding efficacy and I’ve no plans on selling to you but provide you with information which is backed in scientific data and not a glittering claim made by someone with an agenda. I got into this part of the business and not the THC to be of service to the many around me in my life that needed help and it became a passion of some sort along the way .

  • Erwin King

    How to sensibly buy LEGAL cbd oil? Because I got a letter saying customs has confiscated my package two times already and I’m pissed.

  • JW

    For below me is the most stupid people ever… a few years you will all regret, but me!

  • Well Hello There

    Sadly you are very misinformed and there’s no reason to hope cannabis will cure melanoma. None. Please don’t deny your sister scientific treatment out of naïveté.