Preparing your material:
If you’re going to blast bud: whether it be lower airy buds or premium tops, you’ll want to dry it and cure it the same way you would if you were making bud to smoke. A day or two before blasting, I’ll take my buds and chop them up with scissors so no bud is bigger than a marble (you can also do this while you’re trimming). Then I let the material dry a little further, to about 50% humidity, before blasting. We don’t want any moisture in the buds, but we don’t want them so crispy that they turn to dust when you handle them. If you attempt to blast before your material is fully dry, your shatter may have a green tint to it.
Speaking of handling your material, do it as LITTLE as possible. Every time you handle it, move it, weigh it, you are losing trichomes. I always cringe when I see people walking around squeezing buds in their gardens.
If you’re going to blast trim: Then you’ll need to think ahead while you’re trimming. Throw fan leaves in the garbage, and cut all the frosty trim into a bin. You’ll have some small fan leaves with a little frost on them. It’s up to you if you want to throw these away or blast them. The more “non-frosty” leaves you put in the tube, the lesser quality and lesser yield you will get. I am fairly generous, and if a leaf is at least 1/2 way covered, I blast it. Here is a typical handful of trim that is ready for blasting. You can see how to trim in another article, “how to harvest, trim, and dry”.
And the bins I use to trim in, shown below. IMPORTANT! After you are done trimming, you will have a bin full of wet trim. This trim must be spread THINLY in bins like this and allowed to dry. I let it dry for about 5 days, turning it over with my hands once a day. I do not suggest moving the trim into brown paper bags. Again, you are losing trichomes, every time you handle them and put them into a different container. Use the same bins over and over. Eventually, you will have plenty of kief in the bin to scrape up and sprinkle on your joints. Only after it is dry, then you can pile it up as you see here in this picture. At this time I like to put a lid on it and burp it every day for a week, then it is ready to blast.
Packing your tube: Before packing make sure you know which end is which. Most tubes come with a fine screen on the output. I’ve found that using a coffee filter, in addition to the fine screen, produces a cleaner, clearer product.
A coffee filter, cut just right to fit inside the rubber gasket.
Attach the bottom to your tube and start packing from the top. Put in about 3 handfuls, then pack lightly with a piece of PVC pipe, wooden rod, or similar. The material should be packed in so there is no air space around it, but not too tight. Packing it too tight will decrease yield %. This is part of the ART of blasting. You’ll have to experiment to get the “feel” for it, as for what works best for your tube. Attach the top of your tube and you’re almost ready to blast. The important thing here is that all fittings, hose clamps, rubber stoppers, etc, are secure! Pressure will build up inside the tube, and you don’t want leaks or blowouts.
Preparing everything to blast: Before you get ready to start putting in butane, let’s make sure we have everything we need.
1. Tube packed and sealed2. PTFE in our Corningware dish, secured with clips, sitting inside our double broiler set up, with WARM water. NOT HOT. Hot water will COOK your shatter, turn it dark and burn off potency and flavor.
3. Approximately one 300ml can of butane for each ounce of material you are blasting.
4. Nothing electric is turned on in the blasting area (not fans, no nothing). Light switches taped down. I’m assuming everyone knows you blast OUTSIDE, not indoors.
5. Safety goggles
6. Dry, clean towel
I’m going to tell you how I blast, using my 250 tube. You will probably have a different tube, but you can use the same technique I use here. I blast about 7 zips at a time, so I use 7 cans for each run.
1. Check the tip of your butane can and put it into the top of your tube. It should fit tightly. Butane cans come with a variety of tips that you can exchange to find the best one that works with your tube. With both top and bottom valves wide open, start putting in butane at the top. When your can runs out, close the top valve, remove the can, put on a new can, open the top valve. You don’t want tane squirting out the top of the tube. Work quickly. We want to flood the material as quickly as possible. Keep putting in butane at the top and soon it will start coming out the bottom. When it does, close the bottom valve slightly so it doesn’t spatter everywhere. Let a good amount of butane come out (about a full can), then close the bottom valve. Put in one more full can, if possible. If there is too much pressure, that’s ok. Get in as much as you can, as quickly as you can. I always get in 4 cans in my 250 tube (initially).
2. After the tube is full of butane, take the tube out of the stand, and flip it upside down. This will help get the butane to the top of the tube and make sure all the material is soaked. If the tube has frost on it or is sweating, you may want to wipe it down. DO NOT get water droplets into your oil. Let the tane flow to the top of the tube for about 3-5 minutes. Soaking longer doesn’t provide a higher yield, and decreases the clarity of your shatter. We are simply trying to flood all of the material with tane at this point.
3. Put the tube back in the stand and open the bottom valve SLIGHTLY. Butane will come out. Let it keep coming out until only air is coming out. Close the valve, wait one minute for more butane to flow down, and open the valve again, letting tane out until it stops again. Now, close the bottom valve and put in a total of two more cans. You may need to let a little pressure out the top or bottom of the tube to get in two more cans. Now, repeat step 2.
4. Again, put the tube back in the stand and open the bottom valve SLIGHTLY. Butane will come out. Let it keep coming out until only air is coming out. Now, use one more can to flush everything out and get the last of it. Keep the bottom valve open slightly until only air is coming out. Close the valve, wait one minute for more butane to flow down, and open the valve again, letting tane out until it stops again. Do this a couple more times until you feel like all the tane is out. Don’t worry about every last drop. The last can that comes out, has VERY LITTLE product in it anyway.
5. Pull your double broiler rig out from under the blasting tube. This will prevent any water droplets from falling into our oil. At any time during the process, if you see water droplets on the tube, you can close the bottom valve, take the tube out and wipe it down, quickly.
Boiling off the butane:
You’ll notice the butane/oil mix is boiling. That’s because butane boils at room temperature. If you put your hand above the butane, you’ll feel the cold coming off it. The water in your double boiler will be cool by now. You can pour it out and use some warm water, but no warmer than bathwater. Too hot, and you will cook off the flavorful terpenes. You will see some material in your tane that looks like a sea sponge. It is frozen moisture that was pulled out of your plant material. You can scoop it out with a fork, or leave it. If you leave it, you might risk trapping some moisture into the shatter, and it will pop and crackle on a hot nail. Most of the moisture will evaporate out in the vac / Purge process anyway. I rarely pull it out, unless it is excessive.
Keep watching it. The tane will slowly evaporate off. You will know when it’s ready to go into the vac when it looks like this. Here is where it is critical, NOT to use hot water. You can instantly ruin your oil. When it is almost done, I only use room temperature water. For the record, we are going into the house and getting warm water, and taking it outside. We are NOT using any kind of electric warming devices in the butane area. Am I clear enough on this?
DO NOT STIR. Do not pop bubbles, do not swirl your oil around. Don’t be a stoner. Move it as little as possible. Any stirring and your shatter will not look clear at the end, and it will be more difficult to purge all the butane out of the oil
Now, we transfer our PTFE to our vac. Carefully! If you lift the PTFE out of your container, and the product is runny and about to spill out, then it is too thin. You need to wait longer. The oil should be the consistency of maple syrup. There is no penalty for letting it sit a few extra minutes. The vac chamber should be in the skillet, which is filled with water. It is best to space the bottom of the chamber off the skillet, to heat the chamber more evenly. By doing this, you are creating more of an OVEN. Heat your water to 89-91. Put the lid on your chamber so it starts to warm up like an oven inside. Watch the temp closely. Start low and turn the dial up a hair at a time, until you reach the right temp. DO NOT walk away from your skillet until you are 100% sure the temp will not go over 92.
Pulling the first vacuum. Lots can go wrong here, so pay attention. Your chamber should have a valve between the chamber and the vac. And another valve to let air INTO the chamber. You will use the air valve to control the pressure in the vac. Use the pump valve to hold the pressure in the vac when the pump is off.
CAUTION, if the vac is under pressure and you turn off the pump with the pump valve open, your chamber will suck air from the pump line and could pull in lubrication from the pump and completely ruin your shatter.
With the lid on, turn on the pump and watch the oil. It will start to puff up like a big muffin. The goal is to get the muffin as big as possible, without it touching the side of the chamber. If it touches the sides, you won’t be able to get it off.
By making a big muffin, we are expanding the oil and allowing air to get to most of it, thereby evaporating any butane left in the oil. Watch it closely and use your air valve to control your muff. It may expand rapidly, so be prepared. Keep the vac on for about 15 minutes, or until the muffin drops. The better quality oil you have, and the more vac you have, the longer the muffin will stay puffed up. Usually, the muffin will stop expanding after about 15 minutes, and then you can fully close the air valve and take it to full vac. A more expensive pump doesn’t achieve a higher vac, but it gets there faster. Again, I’m happy with a cheap, one stage, 3cfm pump.
After an hour, your muffin will deflate and start to look like this:
And a few hours later, it will be ready for first flip:
The first flip: The first flip is the most difficult. After this, you’re home free! Slowly let the air into the chamber to equalize the pressure. Then pull the PTFE out. Fold the outer edges of the PTFE onto the shatter (the pull it back again) in order to get the small amounts of shatter on the outer edges of the PTFE. Do this all the way around so you have a piece that will fit inside your chamber.
Now lay it on top of a piece of parchment paper, and peel it off. The first time you do this, you may have some trouble. You can “cheat” by putting it in the refrigerator for 5 minutes first.
It should come right off, wasting very little, if any:
Now, put it back in the chamber and vac again, at ~90 degrees still. Take it to a full vac. Run the vac for about 5 minutes every couple hours, or whatever it takes to keep a full vac. Flip it every 4-5 hours for 24-48 hours. Each time you flip it and vac it, you are exposing more oil to air, getting out all the butane.
If you find that you cannot get any more “action” on the oil when you vac it (after a few flips) then you can take the temperature up to about 95. This will make the shatter a little more gooey and you will then get more bubbles. I don’t suggest running any higher than 95.
After a vac, the patty will look like this:
Now, leave it in the chamber, and turn the heat up to 95 for about 10 minutes, then take it out. Turning up the heat just for 5-10 minutes, in the end, will make it look “pretty”.
It’s done! That’s a beautiful burger we just made.
*Don’t heat too much at the end or you will COOK the flavor and potency out of it.
*It’s not necessary to freeze your butane, but it is helpful to freeze your tube first. Butane stays in a liquid form better if you can keep it cold.
*Results will vary greatly depending on your technique, your strain, how frosty it is, how you cured the material and too many other variables to list.