Shatter vs Rosin — Which One Is Superior?

We’ve seen a lot of discussion regarding shatter vs wax, but what about shatter vs rosin? Rosin and shatter are two cannabis concentrates that look physically similar—they both consist of a stiff translucent wax that gives a delicious stretch and an equally-as-delicious high when dabbed.

The main difference between shatter and rosin is that shatter is typically created with the help of a solvent (like butane, propane, or ethanol) while rosin is a completely solventless concentrate. But there are other important distinctions that must be addressed as well.

What Is Shatter?

Shatter is a cannabis concentrate with a glass-like appearance that is produced with a solvent-based extraction process. In this process, a light hydrocarbon that can dissolve other substances, usually butane or propane, is blasted through cannabis flower material to extract the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The extract is then purged with heat and air pressure to remove any residual solvent leftover at the end.

In contrast to other solvent extracts like budder and crumble, manufacturers have to be careful not to agitate the cannabinoids once extracted, as moving it would cause the concentrate to crystallize and become opaque. Other differences between shatter and other solvent extracts include the time and temperatures applied during the purging process that result in the unique texture of each.

What Is Rosin?

Rosin is a translucent concentrate with a sappy, waxy, or glassy texture that is produced by pressing cannabis flower mechanically between two very hot surfaces. If you complete the extraction at a high enough temperature, you can even make solventless shatter. The name for the solventless extract was inspired by the way violin rosin is produced.

In the early days, people in the cannabis community made their own rosin using a hair straightener, parchment paper, and regular cannabis flower. Today, the rosin extraction process has grown to a commercial scale with commercial rosin press models that apply exact amounts of heat and pressure to create a solventless extract with specific consistencies.

Rosin vs. Live Resin

More of a newcomer on the cannabis scene, rosin is often confused with another product called live resin. Live resin is actually a solvent extract just like shatter. The difference is that live resin is extracted from fresh plant material that was cryogenically frozen at the time of harvest, rather than dried cannabis flower.

Live resin is valued for its fragrant, terpene-rich composition compared to regular solvent extracts. Because of its rich flavor profile, it typically costs more than regular concentrates like shatter and wax. However, dispensaries are now starting to sell live resin vape cartridges, making this delicacy more accessible to the public.

When rosin is made from fresh-frozen cannabis, it’s known as live rosin and serves as a solventless alternative to live resin.

What About Carbon Dioxide Extraction?

Most of the cannabis concentrates mentioned so far (shatter, wax, crumble, live resin) can be made with pressurized carbon dioxide instead of butane and propane. CO2 comes with the advantage that it evaporates off the final product without leaving residual chemicals, which is why CO2 oil is so popular in the cannabis industry for use in vape pen cartridges and syringes.

The downside of concentrates made with CO2 is that the process strips the extracts of terpenes, leaving a concentrate that doesn’t have as much flavor or smell. When you’re smoking the cannabis plant for the taste, you really want those other compounds to be in there.

The good news is that, when solvent extraction is performed carefully in a closed-loop system, there shouldn’t be many (if any) residual solvents. Furthermore, the cost-effectiveness of solvent extracts means they won’t be going anywhere soon.

Advantages of Shatter

The main advantage of shatter cannabis concentrates over rosin is that they’re plentiful, relatively cheap to make, and therefore cheaper for customers to buy. The texture is also hard to beat—there’s a reason people make shatter art.

If you like using cannabis concentrates to dab and don’t really like getting your fingers sticky, shatter may also be slightly superior to rosin as you can simply stretch, snap, and go.

Disadvantages of Shatter

While cannabis concentrates nowadays are made in high-tech commercial closed-loop systems, there’s still a chance of residual solvents that you might want to avoid when provided with the alternative of their non-solvent counterparts.

And while each state sets a threshold (in parts per million or PPM) for residual solvents in marijuana products, the thought of even a trace of liquefied petroleum gas in your hash oil could be enough to put you off.

Advantages of Rosin

When it comes to purity, rosin really can’t be beaten. Because the machine is basically squeezing resinous sap, you get the full profile of the original bud without worrying about vaping residual chemicals.

The other clear advantage of rosin is that it’s easier to produce. Instead of the complex and expensive lab equipment and insurance that’s needed to work with explosive chemicals, all that’s needed for rosin production is a rosin press that applies controlled heat and pressure.

Disadvantages of Rosin

The main disadvantage of rosin is that it might be a little harder to find or a little more expensive to buy. This is mostly because rosin is still more of a boutique product in contrast to the ubiquitous hash oil.

The other disadvantage of rosin vs. shatter is that rosin sometimes has a slightly different consistency and might not “snap” the way you like. However, when it comes to using cannabis concentrate in a dab, rosin definitely gets the job done.

Rosin vs. Shatter: Which Is Stronger?

You are familiar with the key differences between rosin and shatter—one is made with heat and pressure, and the other is made with solvents. However, other than that, the two cannabis concentrates are pretty much the same.

When analyzed in a lab, both solvent-based and solventless extracts test between 60-90% THC—both types of cannabis concentrates are equally as strong. The only way you would get a stronger product is if you purchased distillate, which can have a THC percentage upwards of 95%.

How to Use Shatter and Rosin

There is only one proper way to enjoy a good strong cannabis concentrate, and that’s by dabbing. If you’re familiar with bongs, dabbing is a little bit similar except that you use cannabis concentrate instead of regular cannabis flower.

To use a dab rig, the user carefully heats the “nail” with a blow torch and places a tiny piece of concentrate on the hot nail, which they cap with the “dome.” Against the hot surface of the nail, the extract vaporizes quickly and passes through a water pipe, creating a nice smooth hit when the user inhales.

For those who prefer not to play with fire, there are electronic rigs that allow you to heat the nail to the exact temperature you want. Portable dab rigs allow you to vaporize rosin or butane hash oil discreetly when you’re on the go.

Rosin vs. Shatter Isn’t the End of the Story

The first step is choosing between rosin vs. shatter, live resin, bubble hash, and the many other extracts sold on dispensary shelves. However, the purchase decision doesn’t end there. After deciding which kind of extract you’d like (and obviously having some idea of how you plan to use it), there are additional factors to consider:

  • Cannabis Strain

Each strain of marijuana offers a different cannabinoid and terpene profile and drastically different effects. Find out what to expect from each strain before taking your concentrate home.

  • Quality of the Bud

Even within the same strain, there are higher-quality and lower-quality buds. If you consider yourself a connoisseur or you just love top-shelf weed, you might need to be prepared to shell out a higher price.

  • Manufacturer Skill

The best concentrates come from the best weed, which is then processed using the right techniques. Experienced, reputable brands have spent years refining the temperatures and techniques used to ensure a high-quality concentrate.

Enjoy Top-Quality Weed

Now that you understand the basics of rosin vs shatter, you’re ready to visit your local dispensary and pick out some marijuana products to try. You can find these and other concentrates in Bellevue and Factoria at our popular dispensaries.

Remember as you browse (online or in-store) that the budtenders are there to help you out with information about the products on offer and give you tips for ensuring a positive experience. Whether you end up going for solventless extracts like rosin or a classic like BHO shatter, choose the highest-quality product you can find, head on home, and enjoy the ride.