Person holding a small glass of wax to show the difference between shatter

Shatter vs Wax: Which Should You Dab?

The shatter vs wax debate is a relatively new conversation in the cannabis industry. Whether you’re a connoisseur or a newcomer to marijuana, you’re not alone if extracts seem mysterious.

Humans have been smoking marijuana for at least 2500 years. But only this century have we stumbled upon one of the most effective ways of consuming THC: distilling the psychoactive elements of cannabis into extracts you can vape—AKA dabbing.

Due to the effectiveness of cannabis concentrates like shatter and wax, extracts are quickly becoming some of the most popular products at dispensaries. Their high THC levels make them both potent and portable which means more bang for your buck.

With their popularity on the rise, it’s time to get acquainted with concentrates. To discover the right type for your dab rig, let’s explore the differences between shatter and wax—two of the most well-known cannabis extracts.

Cannabis Concentrates

When choosing between shatter vs wax, it helps to understand their roots as concentrates. Cannabis concentrates are oil extracts taken from the raw plant material of marijuana using a process called Butane Hash Oil (BHO) extraction. The combination of butane and heat causes the terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids to separate from the other plant materials.

BHO extraction creates a distilled version of the plant’s chemicals. These materials vary in consistency, but they all have one thing in common: potency. Regardless of the differences between wax and shatter, they both contain much higher levels of THC than typical marijuana buds. While most strains you load into your bong tap out around 15-25% THC, extracts are commonly 80% or more.

The strength of extracts makes them an excellent choice for stoners with a high THC tolerance or bud-lovers on a budget. A small dab of wax or shatter versus a joint yields much “higher” results!

The Deal With Dabs

The term dabbing comes from the amount of cannabis concentrate it takes to get stoned. BHO is incredibly potent, generally containing four to five times more THC than typical buds. Because of its strength, a dab of wax or shatter is more effective at delivering THC versus flower. It’s like that old slogan: a dab’ll do ya!

The equipment might seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but dabbing is easy. Simply heat your extract in a dab rig or nectar collector and inhale the vapor. Most users report the high being instantaneous—definitely faster and more potent than a joint or beaker bong. And since you’re only using a dab of your stash, you’ll save a ton of money, too.

What is Wax?

Close-up photo of cannabis extract on white plate


Wax concentrate comes from a BHO extract which is agitated and then cooled slowly. This process allows the molecules to form loose bonds that create its unique texture. Because of the space between its molecules, wax has a smoother consistency versus shatter. Users describe wax as having a butter or oil-like thickness.

The texture makes it easy to vape this concentrate. After selecting from a wide range of wax pens for sale, just load a small scoop of the extract into the pen and inhale the vapors.

Wax is known for its opaque amber or gold color. These tones indicate a quality concentrate. Beware of wax that is dark or green, as this could be a sign that plant matter is left in the wax. Extracts with plant matter are poor quality and have a lower potency.

What is Shatter?

Shatter requires higher levels of heat versus wax concentrates. This BHO extraction is meticulously filtered but isn’t agitated like wax, so its molecules pack tightly to form a glass-like consistency. The texture is similar to peanut brittle or hard candy and allows it to break apart easily—leading to the name “shatter.”

The stability of the extraction means that stoners can store shatter for long periods without sacrificing its potency. The consistency of this concentrate makes it easy to snap off into shards—though getting the perfect piece when using your vape can be challenging.

Like wax, shatter should have an amber or golden hue. Shatter with a dark green hue or dark flakes is not pure and signifies lower quality. Besides appearance, quality shatter will give off a strong aroma. While not as pungent as flower, good shatter has a noticeable marijuana smell before it’s vaporized.

The Difference Between Shatter and Wax

Glass of cannabis concentrate illustrating differences of shatter vs wax


Cannabis concentrates share similar qualities because they all come from the same base components: marijuana and butane. Because of the extraction process, all BHO concentrates share a high potency. However, there are several distinct differences between shatter and wax.

The shelf life of shatter is much longer versus wax. The highly filtered oil contains tightly packed molecules that are much more stable than wax. Shatter’s longevity makes it a smart bulk buy for the budget-conscious stoner. It’s also great for occasional dabbers since it’s less likely to go to waste.

The malleable consistency of wax means it’s easier to manipulate. Shatter is brittle, and its shards can be difficult to break into the right size. But loading a dab pen with a small scoop of wax is incredibly easy—and your measurements will be more precise.

Shatter is smelly, which is both good and bad. The smell comes from a higher concentration of THC, and it means your dabs will be dank. But you’ll also be less subtle. If you have roommates or plan on vaping in situations that require discretion, wax keeps your pen rips lowkey.

Experiment with Extracts

Here comes the best part of exploring shatter vs wax: you get to experiment! The best way to decide which extract is for you is through trial and error. And when it comes to dabbing, no trial is an error as long as you’re having a good time.

Smoke King is your one-stop online smoke shop for all your dabbing equipment. Shop our extensive collection of vaping products and get ready to determine your winner in the battle of shatter vs wax!

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