Extraction Products

How the Experts Make Butane Hash Oil (BHO) Shatter

Written by Asia Mayfield

If you’re a cannabis connoisseur, you’ve probably already fallen in love with butane hash oil (BHO). It’s the potent liquid gleaming in vape pens; it’s the sticky, THC-rich extracts lining the dispensary shelves.

You may have heard that you can make your own BHO at home. It sounds like a dream right? Spend a couple hundred dollars and you can set up your extraction lab in the backyard.

Here’s the thing- it’s extremely dangerous. Newspapers are riddled with stories of people who tried to make BHO at home and ended up inadvertently causing an explosion.  

So if you want to enjoy the wondrousness of BHO, leave it to the experts. Modern extraction laboratories are designed to mitigate the inherent risk.

How Does the Extraction Process Work?

In theory, making BHO is simple. You simply pack a large amount of cannabis into a tube and blast it with butane. There are couple different methods that extract technicians use.

Open Blasting

This method has largely fallen out of favor because it’s expensive and dangerous. The butane is released into the atmosphere, increasing the risk that something might go wrong. If someone flicks a lighter near an open blast system a terrible explosion could occur.


Closed-loop extractions are much safer. The butane is contained within the system, which provides two massive benefits. One, the solvent can be reused, reducing the cost of the extraction process. Two, the risk of an explosion is significantly reduced.

A closed-loop system is a professional setup that requires an experienced chemist to oversee it. The system is usually composed of at least two large tanks and a tube where the plant material is coated with butane. There’s also a recovery pump and a refrigerant pump.

First, cannabis flower is poured into the tube. For the best results, extract artists use premium cannabis. Next, pressurized butane is blasted into the tube. The cannabinoids are stripped from the plant and collected in one of the tanks while leftover butane is pushed into the recovery tank.

The final step is the “purge”. The technicians work to remove any butane that may still be mixed with the oil.

BHO extracts can be firm and thick like budder or they can be thin and glossy like shatter. There are many different cannabis extracts and BHO can be used to make most of them.

The next time you step into your favorite dispensary, pay attention. You’ll see BHO products everywhere – even in edibles.

About the author

Asia Mayfield

Asia Mayfield is a freelance writer who focuses on the cannabis industry. She can be reached at [email protected]