Anyone who prefers shatter will have experienced sugaring of their product at one time or another. While some people think this is because condensation has built up within the wax, others believe that the cause lies in improper dewaxing.
This problem is a known one even in dispensaries, and they often discount wax products which have sugared, so what’s the real reason that some wax becomes sugary and others don’t? And is sugary shatter really a sign of a poor quality product?
What Is Nucleation?
Nucleation, or polymorphism, occurs when contaminants or lipids which remain in the shatter start to separate from the cannabinoids with which they homogenized as part of the process of extraction. The trichomes in the shatter are trying to go back to their original state. This occurs for a number of reasons, and there isn’t a single cause for sugaring.
Possible Causes Of Sugaring
Here are some of the possible reasons why sugary shatter may occur:
- Some strains which have a greater content of lipids in their trichome heads are more prone to sugaring up when turned into shatter.
- Strains which contain hydrophilic terpenes may be prone to sugaring.
- Agitation or contamination of the shatter (by water, pollen or dust for example) either during the process or after it may cause nucleation in a susceptible strain.
- Humidity or temperature changes may trigger nucleation.
- Oxygen overexposure due to improper storage could result in sugaring up.
Dewaxing, or winterization – the process which removes lipids from finished shatter – may help to prevent sugaring-up from occurring.
Is Sugary Shatter Bad?
Although sugary shatter may be unexpected and off-putting, there is no reason why you shouldn’t consume it. Sugared-up shatter isn’t bad and is very safe to use. In fact, there are some connoisseurs of hash who prefer to dab sugar over shatter due to its better taste. During the winterization process, valuable terpenes can often be lost which reduce the flavor and may also modulate the synthesis of the cannabinoids. For this reason, some processors actively work to recreate sugaring in labs and others even go so far as adding terpenes that are strain specific back into shatter samples.
Overall, the takeaway from this is that some strains are sure to turn sugary even if they are winterized. Other strains will virtually never become sugared up, especially when winterization is carried out. Overall, the optimal course of action if you wish to avoid sugaring of your shatter is to keep it in a dry, dark and cool place where it isn’t exposed to movement of air. This will go a long way towards ensuring the wax doesn’t sugar up prematurely. Also, it’s important to take care when you handle your shatter.
Nevertheless, if your shatter does sugar up, there’s nothing to worry about. You won’t be using an inferior product and, in fact, you may actually find that the product is not only more flavorful but also stronger too. You can rest assured, in any event, that sugaring up will cause no harm to your shatter.