How to Use BHO Concentrates: Tips for Shatter, Budder, Oil, Wax & Live Resin
In order to get the most from this article, you should have a good grasp of what cannabis concentrates are and how they are made. To briefly summarize, there are two main categories in the concentrate world, solvent, and solventless extractions. Solvent-based extractions utilize potentially hazardous compounds like butane (all the concentrates below are butane-based), propane, CO2, and alcohol; whereas solventless extractions do not introduce foreign substances (except for water).
If you already know what's going on and your preferences are dialed in, check out our secrets to taking the absolute best tasting dab, twaxing your joints, pressing ice water hash and dry sift, or making rosin hash.
BHO has risen in popularity due to its potency, flavor, and variation in consistencies. Nearly all consistencies are possible with butane-based extractions: shatter, budder, sap, sugar, snap n' pull, etc - but that does not mean one is better than the other! At the end of the day, the consistency of solvent-based cannabis concentrates varies greatly depending on a range of factors: the particular solvent used, the specific cannabis strain, growing conditions, curing environment, equipment used, purging process, and extraction technique. It is important to note that some of these factors are controllable, while others are not. QUALITY IS RELATIVE!
After copious amounts of trial and error, we've discovered some unique tips for how to maximize your butane hash oil (BHO) experience by choosing the right product for your needs. For instance, when dabbing outdoors, it's easier to handle the budder consistency in a Pebble or other silicone container when loading a vaporizer, as opposed to, say, shatter.
Most of the consistencies listed below can be created with various extraction techniques, but this article will help you find the consistency of BHO that works best for how you like to consume cannabis. Despite the fact that each concentrate is referred to by its consistency, it's important to understand that they are all the result of the same butane-based extraction technique. Most importantly, no one wants to cough up a lung when smoking or dabbing!
Pro Tip: If you're going to bother with BHO as opposed to solventless extracts like dry sift and ice water hash, live resin is our recommendation. It's going to have the best flavor and retain the most enjoyable aroma, making the most of the terpene profile of the cannabis it was extracted from. For tips on how to smoke dabs, click here. If you're still learning, we recommend purchasing some essential weed accessories and a 420 travel kit in order to improve the experience.
As the name suggests, shatter has a hard, smooth, glass-like consistency. This concentrate breaks easily into shards and is often referred to as being 'stable'. Shatter is typically translucent (for those who place an importance on clarity) and very visually appealing. However, because shatter breaks so easily, it is arguably least forgiving to work with of all consistencies. A simple tap with your dabber may send shards of concentrate flying across the room!
For this reason, we recommend using shatter in the comfort of your own home, as opposed to on the go, to prevent losing your stash. Many prefer to dab shatter as it can be difficult to load into certain vaporizers, but that’s not to say you can’t vaporize it.
It will be difficult to twax the exterior of a joint or blunt with the brittle concentrate; we suggest putting it inside the joint or blunt during rolling instead. When using shatter for edibles, make sure that you activate the cannabinoids via decarboxylation before combining with oil or butter.
Fun cannabis concentrate fact: shatter concentrates can be converted to budder by simply warming the concentrate on a hot plate, then whipping air into it.
Pro Tip: For easier handling, warm the tip of your dabber before sticking it into the shatter to break off a dab more easily.
- Best suited for dabbing at home
- Challenging consistency to handle, not recommended for beginner or outdoor use
- Shatter shards can be mixed with flower inside joints or blunts before rolling
Wax, or budder, refers to cannabis extracts with a creamy, buttery consistency. It is also called crumble or cake batter. The consistency is comparable to soft wax and is much more forgiving to work with than shatter.
Perhaps the only downside to budder is that it is less visually appealing than some other consistencies. Budder can be vaped, dabbed, twaxed (inside the joint or blunt), smoked, or used in edibles. Once again, make sure to activate the wax prior to combining with your oil or butter if you're going to be using it for edibles.
- Wax is more forgiving and easier to handle while on the go
- Great consistency for vaporizer pens
Sap is a term used to describe the soft, viscous, sticky consistency of cannabis concentrates. This consistency is typically pliable, oily, and relatively easy to work with, albeit quite sticky.
We recommend storing sappy concentrates in parchment paper or a non-stick silicone container. Sap maintains the glossy visual appeal of shatter with a more forgiving consistency and is equally suited for use both at home and on the go. It can be dabbed and vaporized with ease, and because sappy extracts are pliable, they are easy to spread around your joints and blunts. Saps can also be incorporated in edibles once decarboxylation has occurred.
- Sticky, but simple and forgiving consistency
- Great for twaxing due to its pliability
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
Snap N’ Pull
Snap n' pull refers to concentrates with a consistency somewhere between shatter and sap (the two extremes). If you've ever made hard candies or taffy at home, you might be familiar with the consistency. It can stretch or snap when pulled based on ambient temperature and amount of force used. More abrupt motions will cause the concentrate to fracture, while gentle movements will cause it to stretch.
This is one of our favorite consistencies to work with, as it is visually appealing, manageable to handle, and not quite as sticky as sap. Because snap n’ pull shares qualities of both shatter and sap, it is one of the most versatile consistencies discussed. It is the best consistency for wrapping clean, visually appealing snakes around joints or blunts when twaxing. It could even be turned into budder/wax if desired. It can be consumed inside or outside, in nearly every fashion: dabbed, vaporized, smoked, or used in edibles.
- The middle ground between shatter and sap
- A very versatile consistency, and our personal favorite to work with
- The perfect consistency for wrapping snakes around joints or blunts
The 'sugar' consistency of live resin is typically achieved when the starting material has some level of moisture present. This is most commonly the result of processing freshly harvested frozen plant material (as opposed to dried and cured buds/trim).
Live resin captures the aromas and flavors present in the living plant immediately after harvest, many of which would be lost in the curing process. Sugary live resin consistencies are visually appealing, easy to work with, and contain high levels of terpenes. However, due to the specialty nature of extracts derived from fresh frozen plant material, live resin is typically the most expensive form of BHO concentrate.
Note that this consistency can also be achieved using the main buds/colas of the plant as opposed to the trim – this is referred to as nug run. Both the live resin and nug run designations indicate the starting material as opposed to the extraction technique or consistency.
- Live resin captures the unique flavors and aromas of fresh plants
- Dabbing will deliver maximum flavor and effect
- It can also be vaped, smoked, twaxed or used in edibles
Bonus: Propane Hash Oil (PHO)
Rising in popularity is the practice of using propane, or a mix of butane and propane, in an effort to create a less toxic and more terpene-rich extract. You will be hard pressed to find PHO in a consistency other than budder or wax; but assuming you don’t mind, PHO can be dabbed, vaporized, twaxed (inside), smoked, or used for edibles and topicals after activation.
- An extraction technique with the potential for more flavor
- Because the consistency is usually budder, PHO is great for vaporizer pens
- Versatile enough for use in any consumption method
The Easiest Way to Make Shatter
We follow the High Times tried and trued method of #rosintech
Follow their step by step guide by grabbing:
- A hair iron, some parchment paper and weed are all you need.
- Set the iron to medium-low and put your weed in the parchment paper.
- Squeeze very hard for a few seconds.
- Collect the squeezed-out resin on your dabber.
Travel & Storage
Regardless of consistency, it’s important to store your BHO properly to preserve potency and terpene content. We like to use an air-tight, non-stick silicone container like the Pebble. It also ensures that your shatter doesn’t auto-budder over time. What do you keep in your 420 travel kit? Check out our 10 Essentials for Savvy Stoners here.
CBD Dabs - Isolates
Did you know you can achieve the same fast-acting results with CBD dabs? CBD concentrates and isolates can be used in any dab rig or dabber to provide high doses of pure CBD for intensive symptom relief in minutes.
We especially like the 99.9% CBD Isolate (shown in image below) from Ambary Gardens. Derived from organic, non-GMO, sustainably-grown hemp and batch-tested for quality, purity, and potency, the CBD isolate from Ambary Gardens is exceptional and effective.