THCA/CBD glass-state science in Shatter (need chemist's help)

Hi everyone. I have what feels like an amateur question, but I have scoured the search bar and previous threads to no avail.

I’m aware that only THCA and CBD, not THC nor CBDA, are able to crystallize into lattice structures. However, I’ve also read from multiple sources that THC and CBDA can interfere with Shatter formation and affect final product consistency. For instance, one cannot heat Shatter up into a liquid form, decarbing THCA into THC, and expect it to return to its Shatter state.

My knowledge of Shatter formation is limited, but I was under the impression that full-on crystal structures only occurred when whipping extract into Wax, or during Live Resin formation, or during isolate production, etc.

Can someone explain how THCA/CBD’s pro-crystal properties are prevalent in Shatter formation?

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@Photon_noir has a few really solid paragraphs posted on here sonewhere… lemme see if I can find em.beforr he comes round


I am under the impression that crystal structures, such as those created from nucleation via supersaturation, do not occur in Shatter. If they did, that would be considered auto-buddering and attempts would be made to prevent it.

I’m trying to understand if I’m mistaken in thinking that, and if so, what the differences are between the crystal lattices found in Live Resin diamonds and the “crystal formation” found in Shatter.

This is very cool scientific info though, I appreciate the response


Read on the science of tempering chocolate.

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Rowan, that doesn’t really help me too much.

I now have more questions than I started with


Look up how to make rock candy

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Can someone just give me an answer without telling me to look up something else? I was looking at rock candy formation two hours ago.

ROCK CANDY is supersaturation based crystal formation which I’m NOT asking about. That’s live resin diamonds. Fully understand how those work. HARD CANDY is created by temperature-specific formation, but I’m not sure how that applies to THCA and CBD when the heat applied from a vaccuum oven is primarily for solvent purging and not crystallization (again, to my knowledge)

I’m asking about shatter formation and the role crystalization plays in that. This tempering chocolate information isn’t helping - does THCA have polymorphous crystal development at different temperatures? You’ve also sent me information about the crystallization of fats when THCA isn’t a fat.

Really very lost here guys

From my understanding and experience you need to whip shatter to get it to crumble

Crumble is a bunch of little tiny diamonds mixed in with terpenes and whatever else was extracted

Shatter is the oil itself uncrystallized with everything intact

Theres no nucleation site when you make shatter, if there is then your slab will butter up

Im sure if you left some shatter long enough it would butter up because with enough time diamonds will start to form.

Thc a is much more stable then cbd which makes it harder to crystallize

Cbd will crystallize on itself and can easier because it has a bond that can rotate

Thc a doesn’t have this bond so its harder for the molecules to come together to form bonds

This doesn’t mean you can’t get it to crystallize, it just explains why cbd crystallizes so easy and thc a doesn’t

The ability to freely rotate and move allows for better and easier crystallization


What do you think about the above explanation?

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Then it could easily be made from CBDA or THC, no? Multiple sources claim this not to be the case.

Clearly, some form of crystallization needs to occur, but not the closely-packed crystal lattice structures we think of in diamonds. I’m just trying to figure out what that “form of crystallization” looks like in scientific terms

I’ll whore myself for some w1 :smile:

@AshevilleExtracts makes cbd a shatter it sounds like.

Have you ever seen proper d9 disty? If done correctly d9 will be hard as a rock and shatter like glass

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Sounda about right.

And excess of terpenes will promote nucleation, as well. And pretty much all shatter will eventually sugar/budder. Like compounds want to be with themselves, so they will naturally separate


Glass-like vs crystal-like molecular packing

That’s the answer I was looking for

Crystallization relies on intermolecular forces to form tightly packed, repeating lattice structures. This is not found in Shatter. Shatter, instead, increases in viscosity as it’s purged of solvent, and rather than allowing these intermolecular bonds to form, prevents atomic diffusion and keeps the molecules disordered internally as it solidifies.

You still need intermolecular bonding forces to find low-energy arrangements to form stable product, but need to keep the molecules far enough apart and stable in their positions that they don’t start forming crystal structures

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It comes down to how easy the molecules can move and how pure your product is

Shatter has no solvent so the molecules can’t move as easy as if you were in a solvent trying to crystallize

This is why cbd crystallizes so easy and thc a wont

Besides the cannabinoids in your shatter you also have impurities (unless you’re really good at crc) and terpenes. These help prevent crystallization IMO because they don’t allow the cannabinoids to move around easy enough to form the lattice structures needed to form crystals

Shatter is a non crystalline glass. It shatters when below it’s glass transition temperature which i assume depends on the terpene, wax content etc. THC too is a glass, but the transition temperature seems to be lower. Put a sheet of thc in a freezer and you will certainly see shatter-like behavior.


Again, where is the “ask a chemist button”?

Thank you sir!