Authored by Hugh Soames

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Dr Ruth Arenas Matta

What is dabbing cannabis and shatter


Over the years, certain nicknames are given to illicit and illegal drugs which usually makes them appear more accessible, less fatal and ultimately more marketable. Examples of this include Molly Spice, Cotton, Jellies. A relatively new type of drug which is a highly potent cannabis concentrate is known as Dab, Dab Drug, Wax, Dab Wax, Butane Hash Oil (BHO) and Shatter. These are all names of relatively recent ways of smoking marijuana, and they come with increased possible dangers or risks.


What exactly is the DAB drug or Dabbing wax


The dab drug, or dabbing wax is actually a really powerful, highly potent concentrated derivative of marijuana. One of the most powerful types of dabbing wax, has the name “Shatter”. It’s called this because it appears like a very thin sheet of brown, hard fragile glass like candy, that can easily be shattered into many pieces.


What is shatter?


It’s really important to know that shatter and other cannabis derivatives contain a massive 50 to 90% of THC, which is of course the active component in marijuana and cannabis that produces the psychoactive high that users experience.


Shatter vs Cannabis


Shatter contains up to 90% THC, with regular marijuana flowers or buds being between 5 to 20% of THC concentration. This gives some indication of the potency of shatter, when compared to regular cannabis.


Is Dab something to do with the Dabbing dance?


Yes. The whole world has indeed been dabbing without knowing or understanding the origins of the drug. It was actually quite amusing to watch Michelle Obama dabbing harmlessly with her kids on Insta.

Butane Hash Oil


Dabbing is sometimes called BHO or Butane Hash Oil, which is the actual process for creating the drug, using butane to extract the highly concentrated THC.


The use of butane, obviously makes the production of BHO extremely dangerous. Butane is highly flammable and actually deadly to humans. But of course, that doesn’t seem to stop people in homes all over the world, from trying to make BHO. Butane hash oil is created by dripping, or pouring butane over marijuana, and then purging it in an oven or vacuum to remove the butane, from the mixture. Sometimes a gas such as co2 is used for the extraction instead of Butane.


Names of Cannabis Concentrates


As you would expect. There are lots of different names for this type of highly potent cannabis concentrate, with each name usually indicating a specific type of concentrate.

Common names for cannabis concentrates include:


  • Shatter
  • Shatter wax
  • Dab wax
  • Honey oil
  • BHO
  • Butter
  • Oil
  • Cannabis oil
  • Crumble
  • Resin


Each of these are relatively similar in that they are all derived into highly concentrated forms of marijuana. However, each one has its own specific properties and appearance.



Shatter is usually considered by many to be the cleanest and purest cannabis derivative, as well as being the most potent. Shatter is a transparent thin sheet of solid, that can resemble candy or honey, and can be cracked into pieces, which is how it gets its name.


Dab Wax

Dab Wax is similar in many ways to shatter, although it is typically less potent and contains more impurities. Dab Wax is often softer to touch, and the impurities lead it to be not so transparent as Shatter.



Oil is a concentrate, yet less potent than Shatter or Wax.  And while it has less THC, than shatter or wax it is almost always stronger than smoking flower or buds. Oil can be as consumed in many different ways, including vaping.


Marijuana vs Shatter


The marijuana flower can have certain medicinal effects. Although its derivative, shatter, can actually be much more dangerous and risky. For starters, shatter and other be BHO concentrates are often are not as pure as people make out. Lots of times, the Shatter will contain remnants of the butane, or other solvents used in the manufacturing process. Shatter can therefore actually be highly toxic to ingest.


The other major difference between shatter and marijuana, is that shatter and dab wax get users very high, very quickly because of the hugely increased levels of THC present in the derivative.


Shatter Vs Marijuana

Now, even smoking normal old school flowers and buds results in paranoia, psychosis, and increased anxiety. So, with shatter it stands to reason this paranoia and anxiety is exponentially increased to levels where many users require residential psychiatric treatment. No matter whether you’re smoking buds and flowers, or using shatter, wax, oil, or any other derivative, regular use creates tolerance to the drug, which causes people to need more to get the same effect.


Because shatter and wax have such high concentrates of THC, then by ingesting more and more users put their health at increased risk when taking these substances in such high doses. Shatter obviously isn’t the first form of concentrated cannabis derivative. However, it is one of the most recent only emerging over the last 12 to 18 months. Taking hash oil or shatter is often referred to as the ‘crack of cannabis’. One of the best ways of describing the strength of shatter when compared to normal weed is to class weed as beer and shatter as vodka or absinthe.

How do people take dab wax or Shatter?


Marijuana is normally taken through inhaling in a joint, bong or pipe. The paraphernalia and gear needed to take shatter is more complicated specialized and can actually be expensive. So how do people take shatter? Well, cannabis concentrates can be taken in many different ways.


How to people take cannabis oils?


Oils are usually sold as a liquid and smoked using a vape.


The cannabis oils come in mini vials that attach to the battery in the vape pen, and when heated the vapor is released and smoked. Shatter or wax can actually be mixed with marijuana flowers and smoked in a roll joint or in a pipe


How do people take dab wax and shatter?


Dabbing is a process that uses hot metal surface, which is called a ‘nail’, and is usually electronically heated. Although can be heated by flame.


Dab wax is placed on the nail and when it’s heated, it creates a vapor that is inhaled through a pipe, which is called a Dab Rig, or you may hear it described as simply a ‘rig’.

Dab Rigs costs start at around $50 increasing to several $000’s for and expensive make and model. Because the electronic surface of the nail is required is heated to between 550 and 750 degrees Fahrenheit. The rig needs to be able to accommodate this extreme heat.


What are the dangers of dabbing with shatter or wax?


As we said earlier, solvents such a butane are extremely flammable, which has resulted in many explosions, injuries, damage to property and death. For the user, shatter and dab wax can be 10 times stronger than smoking flowers and buds. Because of this they can be more dangerous.

Side effects of Shatter and Dab


Side effects of Shatter and Dab obviously include mental health and psychiatric issues, including drug induced psychosis, high levels of anxiety and extreme paranoia.


The medical profession has noted a huge increase in the number of CHS and Scromiting cases. Experts have also noted a huge spike in instances of ‘popcorn lung’ in long term Shatter users. Because shatter and dab wax contain high amounts of impurities and toxic chemicals users are exposing themselves to lung irritants that can ulcerate the lining of the lungs to such an extent that it causes popcorn lung.


Because of the increased concentration of THC. The side effects of shatter are much more pronounced than the side effects of marijuana buds and flowers.


Short term side effects of using shatter include:


  • increased anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • extreme paranoia
  • visual hallucinations
  • auditory hallucinations
  • vomiting
  • scromiting
  • dangerous blood pressure levels
  • increased heart rate
  • loss of memory
  • sensory perception changes
  • problems with coordination and motor skills
  • passing out
  • blacking out
  • psychosis


Longer term users of shatter or DAB experience:


  • psychosis
  • chronic illnesses
  • a whole range of psychiatric disorders


Interestingly, those with pre-existing, and often undiagnosed mental health conditions are especially at risk for more severe complications, such as behavioral changes and schizophrenia.


Marijuana use disorder


Many weed advocates generally espouse the alleged health benefits of marijuana, often citing it as a catchall ‘miracle drug’ set to heal all of the worlds ills. In reality weed has been proven effective against breakthrough pain but there is 100% zero evidence to show that marijuana helps with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. For a whole range of mental health issues weed makes the condition exponentially worse.


Because marijuana is still actually illegal in many states the United States, there haven’t been that many studies into the health benefits or risks. The debate therefore continues as to whether or not marijuana is addictive. With many Addiction Professionals, knowing that it is actually addictive, although clearly not as dangerous, or addictive as drugs such as heroin, opioids or meth.


Alongside the purported health benefits claimed by long term marijuana users one only has to look at the lifestyle or ‘life state’ of many of these heavy long term, so-called recreational users. Marijuana is not a get up and go drug. It doesn’t increase productivity. In fact, long term marijuana use trends towards nothingness. Users underachieve in life, although they’re happy on the whole and if they are truly happy with under achievement then this is commendable. No person has the right to undermine or belittle another human’s true happiness. They may have a happy family life. Although if they stopped and looked around, they would perhaps see the rest of the family picking up lots of slack.


In terms of addiction though, it is marijuana concentrates such as shatter or wax that do tend to tip the scales a bit in the ‘is THC addictive’ argument, due to the massively increased levels of THC present in these derivatives.


When a user graduates from marijuana flowers and buds to shatter, it’s a lot like stepping up from Xanax to heroin for example. It’s well known that all higher potency drugs have a much greater dependency and addiction rate. And obviously, the marijuana concentrates do fall into this category. Addiction Professionals are noting that sustained use of marijuana concentrates does cause physical and psychological dependency and addiction to THC. And this is when it tips over into marijuana use disorder.


This is the level and point at which it can be difficult to overcome without rehab or professional addiction treatment. As with most drugs, those who are addicted to dabbing can experience quite significant and negative withdrawal symptoms that although not fatal, are certainly uncomfortable and make quitting, much more difficult.


Dabbing Withdrawal


What are dabbing withdrawal symptoms? The level, and type of withdrawal symptoms experienced by those using shatter will differ depending on the duration and amount used because the THC is much more concentrated in shatter and the brain chemistry gets affected and changed.


The main withdrawal symptoms from dabbing include:


  • sleep disorders
  • extreme anxiety
  • crippling depression
  • paranoia
  • irritability
  • confusion
  • anger
  • cognitive difficulties
  • tension
  • heart palpitations
  • sweats


These withdrawal symptoms of dabbing occur because dabbing changes the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and adjusts them to make them rely on THC for the feelings of calmness or high, which in turn impacts the nervous system.


In those addicted to highest strength marijuana concentrates. This in turn may result in difficulty quitting due to the structural cage, changes in the brain that have been caused by marijuana addiction,


The lowdown on dabbing and dab wax concentrates


Dabbing concentrates, shatter, wax and oil are all man made drugs designed to be much stronger than regular cannabis. They can be up to 10 times the strength of regular marijuana flowers and buds, and the dangerous side effects of dabbing and concentrates can be much worse. Because the drugs are so much more potent, they can be so much more addictive, and can cause negative mental health problems, especially for those who are already suffering from mental illness, or perhaps who already have a undiagnosed mental illness.


An interesting correlation can be made with opioid medications for pain relief. When users use them correctly as prescribed people successfully manage their pain. However, some misuse them as their tolerance begins to increase, leading to addiction, and then graduating to higher doses or much stronger drugs such as heroin.


The same analogy can be made for those who smoke marijuana and then graduate upwards to dabbing shatter, wax and concentrates. As they move through the levels of THC found in oil, wax and shatter, the chances of becoming addicted to THC also increase, and so do the chances of creating mental health problems.


Many long term users of shatter and concentrates, say they can no longer feel any effects from traditional weed. They can only now get high when dabbing shatter and other concentrates.


If you or a loved one is experiencing any issues with marijuana use, shatter or dabbing do contact one of the addiction specialists featured that world’s best rehab.


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