End products from Apeks Supercritical systems

Cannabis concentrated oils produced from Apeks CO2 extraction systems are used for a variety of products, such as tinctures, edibles, and topicals, as well as vape pens, where the oil is heated and vapors inhaled. Used in a number of applications, oil concentrates can take different forms, such as a creamy wax-like consistency, golden and honey-like, crumbly texture which can be converted to something else, like shatter — a hard, brittle substance. Shatter is broken into small pieces to heat using a smoking or vaporization device.

Whatever the form or end product, cannabis oil concentrates are created by an extraction process involving running a solvent (typically butane, CO2 or propane) through marijuana plant material to pull out the cannabinoids, then evaporating the solvent and gathering the resins left behind.

Extractions for CO2 shatter

Thick and sticky particulates collect on walls of the separator vessel

Here’s how extracting CO2 shatter with Apeks Supercritical extraction systems works: Dried plant material is placed into the extraction vessel and the system prepped for an extraction run. The system pumps CO2 into the extraction vessel at a low temperature and low pressure (subcritical) where the CO2 turns from gas to liquid. In its liquid state, CO2 becomes a solvent working its way through the plant material, getting into all the nooks and crannies to extract the oils. The system then pumps the CO2 and oils into the separator vessel passing through an orifice, which causes a decompression. This decompression changes the liquid CO2 back to gas. As it moves through the orifice, some of the extract sprays onto the walls of the collection vessel and sticks while the majority of it drops down into the collection cup in thinner, liquid-like consistency. The particulates on the wall thicken and can be scraped off and collected, ideal for making shatter.


Another way to extract oil concentrates for shatter with an Apeks system is to set the parameters so that the extract remains cold. The system runs through the plant material as outlined above but at lower temperatures. No heat should be applied – once applied, it can’t be unapplied! The result is a thick extract referred to as  “crumble” because of its appearance.

Making Shatter

Pure CO2 shatter

Put the extraction in a vacuum oven for 15 to 20 minutes at about 100 F to warm slightly. Then place it on an oil-slick surface (like a silicone pad). As it cools, the extract flattens into a large pool and is then folded several times to flatten it out further. Left to cool, it becomes a sheet of thin, brittle substance known as shatter.

CO2 shatter has become increasingly popular and commands a high price because it is safer and purer with no traces of harmful contaminants. Butane or alcohol extractions will always leave a trace of the solvent, even if only a few particles, whereas CO2 simply evaporates during the extraction process. Supply of shatter is more limited than other cannabis concentrates because it requires time and skill to produce it correctly.

Highly concentrated shatter is not for a novice cannabis consumer: it can contain up to 80% THC. While providing greater potency, shatter has far fewer of the aromatic terpenes.

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Shatter is similar to live resin. The difference being live resin is created from fresh, wet plant material, while shatter from fresh, dried plant material. In addition, unlike shatter, live resin contains many terpenes (fragrance) and flavonoids, which is why it’s so popular. Live resin is best extracted using a butane extractor because there is a high level of water in the wet plant material which CO2 isn’t partial to.


Depending on the end product, the cannabis plant material is heated (either before, during or after the extraction process or not at all) to activate the cannabinoid THC. This is known as decarboxylation, or “decarbing.” Without heat, plant material or the oil extract contains THCa, THC in acid form, which doesn’t have psychotropic characteristics. This is preferred by many who need medicinal cannabis without psychoactive effects. It goes without saying, medical cannabis for children has not been activated and only contains THCa.  Apeks systems give processors greater control over the decarb of their extractions by utilizing cold separation processing which does not decarboxylate (or very minimally) the extracted oils in the separator vessel.

Consumers who want to experience the psychoactive effects, will opt for oil concentrates that have been decarboxylated. Or, they will consume it using a device which heats (decarbs) the oils, such as a vape pen.

“Apeks customers are making some amazing products with their systems. The photos on this page all come from Apeks customers, who are proud to share their success with us and we’re delighted to be a part of it!” — Andy Joseph, Apeks Supercritical president