Know your dabs: Shatter, wax, budder, crumble and oil

by DGO Web Administrator

So, you want to dab? This corner of the cannabis universe is where much of the interesting innovation has settled over the past decade or so. There is a wide variety of options produced through the use of ever-evolving technology in the pursuit of greater yields, greater potency and the cleanest, purest marijuana products available on the market.

“Dabs” are not one specific thing, but, rather, one of several possible preparations, by different solvents, of raw cannabis which greatly increase the potency of the marijuana in a fashion similar to that which has been applied for centuries to create essential oils from any variety of plants; the range of final products varies, from viscous goo to very stable, almost crystalline structure and go by the monikers of shatter, wax, budder, crumble and oil. The general name derives from the process of ingesting them, during which a small, grain of rice-sized (or larger … You do you) “dab” is applied to a heated surface, then inhaled.

These potent extracts are derived from either the “buds” (aka flowers) and/or THC crystal-laden “trim,” the smaller leaves that grow directly next to the buds and are generally removed during the process of manicuring the buds in order to create the final product in preparation for distribution. The iconic seven-fingered marijuana leaf, known as a fan leaf, is, ironically, the only part of the plant that is useless with regard to creating a high for the user; its utility is the process of photosynthesis and it carries no psychoactive compounds.

Let’s take a closer look at the five varieties of dabs:

ShatterShatter is a very refined cannabis concentrate, usually created using butane. It is an extremely high-purity (if done right), high-potency finished product and is a stable preparation. It comes in the form of an amber-colored, flat, glassy slab that is reminiscent of a Jolly Rancher stick. It is generally able to be handled by hand without too much mess or very easily manipulated with a dab tool, which can be warmed slightly in order to cause the shatter to adhere to it. Shatter is an easy material to transport using either parchment paper or a specifically manufactured silicone-coated container.

WaxWax is a substance very similar to shatter in its potency and chemical composition, but the physical properties are quite different as a result of an intermingling of the constituent parts during preparation. This results in a product that is no longer clear and that loses its hard candy texture, becoming a thick, sticky, almost-liquid that is very difficult to separate from itself (think melted brie cheese). There is no real drawback from the standpoint of achievable high, but it can be difficult to handle, necessitating the use of a tool and a proper storage container.

BudderBudder is a concentrate that is whipped during refining to create a viscous substance reminiscent of nut butters. It loses its translucency and, often, some of its potency as a result of the presence of more terpenes (oils found in cannabis and other plants, especially conifers and citrus plants – a topic for another day). The trade-off in potency is the balanced retention of these flavorful oils, vital components for many cannabis connoisseurs. Budder can be stored in parchment or in a container.

CrumbleCrumble is a type of harder, more crystalline wax that almost resembles brown sugar in its consistency and is the easiest preparation to handle. It can be kept in a silicone or glass container.

OilNow, technically speaking, all of the above preparations of cannabis (and several others) are actually “oils” of varying degree, but an interesting preparation of cannabis, especially for medical purposes is the ethanol-derived hash oil sometimes known as Rick Simpson (after its major modern proponent) or RSO. As we have nearly spent our time together here today, please return next week for more information on this highly potent, highly medicinal (highly sticky) product.

Until then, enjoy your dabs, DGO.

Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected]


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