Marijuana Wax 101: The Essential Guide

Do you know everything you need (or want) to know about marijuana wax? Well, you came to the right place. We’ve assembled this guide to walk you through everything you need to know about marijuana wax (aka wax, crumble, budder, honeycomb, et al).

Wax is a cannabis concentrate. Concentrates, as you probably already know, have quickly grown in popularity over the last few years. This is particularly true among cannabis connoisseurs and enthusiasts who appreciate the fact that dabs/concentrates/wax produce a more “pure” experience. That’s because the production process and subsequent consumption process of consuming wax ensure you’re isolating only the essential cannabinoids and terpenes.

Unfortunately — but predictably — the media has sensationalized wax and other dabs, focusing on the rare cases where amateurs attempt to produce their own wax and blow up their homemade lab in the process. The reality is that dabbing wax can be a pleasant and safe experience when done responsibly.

Common Marijuana Wax Questions

Here are some of the most common questions people have about wax:

What is Marijuana Wax?

Wax is a form of cannabis concentrate with a waxy consistency. People generally refer to these forms of concentrate as budder, crumble, or simply, wax. The differences between the types of wax are only cosmetic or in slight differences of consistency.

Some forms look just like wax, others may look a bit more like butter, while others look like they’ll crumble between your fingers. At the end of the day, they’re all essentially the same.

Types of Marijuana Wax

Types of wax. Image via Key to Cannabis.
  • Crumble or honeycomb: Crumble has a soft, brittle texture that can easily be “crumbled” on flower. It’s great for newbies as it easily sprinkles on a bowl or joint.
  • Sugar crumble: Sugar crumble is known for being crumbly and crystallized.
  • Wax crumble: Wax crumble is a lot like it’s siblings honeycomb and sugar crumble. Wax crumble is creamier and smoother than sugar crumble. Like wax crumble and sugar comb, it’s not sticky, so it’s pretty easy to work with.
  • Budder: Budder has more moisture in it, so it tends to be smoother and creamier than the other wax derivatives.

Is Wax Different Than Shatter?

Yes. Concentrates generally fall under one of three categories: wax, shatter, or oil. Oils are self-explanatory, however, many people get confused between wax and shatter. The effects are nearly identical, despite how different they look. However, shatter is hard and has a glassy, translucent appearance, while wax derivatives have more of a “waxy” consistency.

Beyond appearance, here are the key differences:

  • Shatter is solid and more stable, making it more difficult to manipulate when dabbing or adding to joint.
  • Wax is less stable, but easier to work with and more versatile (e.g., you can easily sprinkle crumble on a bowl or joint).
  • Shatter can be more efficient, allowing it to last longer.

With so many different names for concentrates, it can get confusing. So here’s an easy way to remember the difference between shatter and wax. If you can see through it, it’s shatter. If you can’t, it’s wax. And, if it’s in liquid form, well obviously it’s oil.

Pop quiz: Can you guess which image is “shatter” and which is “wax?”

Photo via MassRoots

How Strong Is “Wax”? (What’s the Potency?)

Wax is powerful and can produce a high that eclipses anything you’ve tried before. While most of the cannabis flower you’ll find in dispensaries falls in a range between 10% and 25% THC depending on the strain, the potency of BHO products (including wax) is much higher, often 3x stronger than the most potent flower. Most BHO products have more than 80% THC, although percentages of 90%+ are common. Basically, BHO is to flower what hard liquor is to beer and wine.

What Is “Wax” Made Of?

Producers make wax from a butane extraction, which is where the term BHO — or Butane Hash Oil  — comes from.

Where Did the Name “Wax” Come From?

The name wax comes from its appearance, which resembles wax. Supposedly, the name originated with dispensaries and enthusiasts who came up with a name for every possible variation (or consistency) of concentrates, from “shatter” (which is brittle and translucent) to the fudgelike “budder” to the golden sap-like “honey oil.” All of these are forms of BHO, and some people refer to all of them as “wax.”

How Is “Wax” Made?

Producers pack cannabis buds tightly into a tube, where they then blast it with butane. Butane is a flammable hydrocarbon gas used as a fuel. You can imagine why amateurs shouldn’t try to produce wax on their own. Once the buds are blasted — or extracted — from the tube, what emerges is a highly concentrated, wax-like substance that contains only the essential oils.

The process basically goes like this:

  1. Grind the buds
  2. Fill the extractor with the ground bud
  3. Spray butane into the cannabis-filled extractor
  4. Evaporate butane
  5. Remove residual butane and terps

During the production process, vapors can easily fill the room creating a major health-hazard if the room is not properly ventilated. Again, this is why only professionals should produce wax or any other concentrate. There have been a number of high-profile examples of rookie DIY-ers blowing up their home lab (much like a meth lab). You can thank these rookies for creating unnecessary scrutiny of wax.

Using Marijuana Wax Safely

Image via Shutterstock

When it comes to smoking or dabbing wax, there are no stupid questions. So let’s start with the most common question the uninitiated have…

How Do I Smoke “Wax”?

With Flower (In a Joint or Pipe)  

If you’re new to concentrates, the best way to get your feet wet is smoking wax with your flower. You can add wax to a joint, pipe, bong, basically anything you can smoke flower with, you can add wax to.

This is a great way for newbies to try wax for the first few times. The unique taste of wax won’t come through as well, and the high won’t be as intense as it would be by dabbing or vaping it. But, it’s still much stronger than flower alone and it’s much less expensive. You don’t need any extra equipment (which can get a bit spendy).

Tips: There are a couple of important tips to follow if you use this method:

  1. Bongs and Pipes: Add flower to your bong or pipe first. Then sprinkle on bits of the wax. Finally, add another layer of flower. This will ensure your wax doesn’t come in direct contact with the flame, ensuring the THC doesn’t burn off before you inhale.
  2. Joints: If you’re adding a little crumble to a joint, sprinkle your crumble in the middle two-thirds of the joint. Again, this will ensure the flame doesn’t come in direct contact with your wax, making for a more efficient and pleasant high.

With a Vape  

Another very popular way of using wax is with a vaporizer. However, most vaporizers aren’t compatible with concentrates, so before you try this method, make sure your vape is compatible with wax.

The benefit of vaporizers is that you get to enjoy the full spectrum of flavor that wax provides. But make sure to use a high-quality vape as low-quality vapes produce less (or undesirable) flavor and poor-quality hits. Unfortunately, you’ll need to spend a bit more on a high-quality vaporizer that’s also compatible with wax.


Dabbing and concentrates seem to go hand-in-hand. Dabbing is the best way to enjoy wax, but can also be the most expensive (with dab rigs costing between $50 and $200, and as much as $5,000 or more).

Dabbing refers to the process of flash vaporizing concentrates. Dabbing is not for the uninitiated. Not only does it produce a high like you’ve never experienced, it requires a lot of equipment. You’ll need the following to dab:

  • Water pipe
  • Nail
  • Dome
  • Torch
  • Dabber

Step 1: Spark up your torch and heat the nail until it starts turning red-hot (between 550° and 750° Fahrenheit). Be mindful — torches can be dangerous if you’re not paying attention. However, if you’re capable of cooking food on a gas stove, you should be capable enough to use a torch.

Step 2: Now that your nail is hot, you can turn off your torch. Now place your glass dome over the nail. If you’re using a quartz nail, let it cool for about 45 seconds, If you’re using a titanium nail, 10 – 15 seconds should be good.

Step 3: Apply your dabber directly to the nail inside the dome and inhale slowly. Don’t inhale too fast! You can rotate the tip of the dabber to prevent wasting any of the oil. Voila! That’s it.

Dabbing equipment may seem pricey, but because dabbing is so efficient, your wax will last longer than other methods.

How Do I Use “Wax” Safely?

Because the THC density in wax is so high, it’s easy to get much higher than you expected. To ensure you have an enjoyable (and safe) high — whether you’re dabbing or smoking wax with flower — take note of the following tips:

  • Start low, and go slow. Proper dosing can get a bit tricky. A small amount is much stronger than a bud. So when dabbing, inhale a small amount first and see how you feel after five or ten minutes, then slowly progress to higher amounts as you feel comfortable.
  • Learn how to use a rig: For your first time, dab with someone experienced and learn from them how to use a dab rig properly. Make sure you understand the tools and are mindful of the heating devices.
  • Don’t use homemade or low-quality products: Only use products that you source from reputable dispensaries that sell lab-tested products. Don’t be afraid to ask your budtender for lab results.
  • Don’t make your own concentrates: We repeat, do not try this at home. There’s no reason to risk it and make your own. Not only is it illegal and you could face legal ramifications, it’s dangerous and is it really worth it (when you can buy regulated, lab-tested products from your dispensary)?

Wax can be an enjoyable experience, but it’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not for those new to cannabis or the uninitiated. Wax can get you really high. And, we mean really high. But, if you consume responsibly, it can be a wonderful experience. Don’t be afraid to ask your Mary Jane budtender questions. We’re happy to help. Stay safe, and enjoy!

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