You came for shatter, but ended up with wax. It can definitely be disappointing to see that once beautiful, golden shatter turn to a gooey, waxy mess. But it’s not all bad—the process of shatter “sugaring” or “buttering” up into wax can actually make your dabs more flavorful.
When your hash butters, the process is called nucleation. It essentially means that the lipids in the shatter cannot entirely homogenize with the cannabinoids like they did when the extraction process initially took place. The shatter then sugars up because the trichomes want to return to their natural state.
So, what causes the process of nucleation to occur? For one, certain strains contain terpenes that are “hydrophilic,” meaning they attract water. You’ve probably noticed that the buttering process happens more frequently in the summer. That’s because the moisture in the air is more prone to entering into the shatter sample, especially when it’s been stored improperly.
Although moisture can account for why your shatter may have buttered up, there are plenty of other explanations, including agitation. Physical agitation could be done early on in the extraction process when the oil was scraped, making your shatter more prone to buttering. Improper storage could also account for why your gram of shatter just sugared up.
However, in some cases, the process of auto-buttering is simply unavoidable—even when the product has been de-waxed. And yes, while sugared wax has a shorter shelf life than shatter, the flavor is almost always better. Some hash extractors even believe that the process of nucleation makes the terpenes more available, ultimately heightening the strain’s flavor profile.
So, while it may suck to find that your once golden, stable shatter is now gooey and sugary, many hash connoisseurs actually prefer this texture and the flavor that comes along with it.