Breaking Dab: a potent and explosive form of THC

February 1, 2014, 3:52 pm

A few weeks ago, NPR’s news show All Things Considered reported on “wax” or “butane hash oil” or “dab”, a highly concentrated form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) extracted from marijuana in a process using butane as a solvent. Butane is, of course, highly flammable, and there have been an increasing number of reported explosions caused by individuals trying to make this stuff at home:

This situation has obvious analogy to the dangers involved in meth labs. (“Breaking Dab”?)

Aside from creating a danger during manufacture of “wax.” butane may remain in the finished product and cause explosion when  is smoked.

Since “wax” is said to contain about 90% THC, the effects of smoking can be much greater than those that occur after using marijuana or even hash.

Other street names for “wax” are: BHO, “shatter,” “honey oil,” “honey,” “amber,” and “butter.”


  1. Scott Giles Says:

    If be interested in a reference for the comment about explosions while smoking. That doesn’t seen plausible to me, just from the volumes of substances involved.

  2. Leon Says:


    I believe you are correct. I am not aware specifically of any case of explosion from smoking (as apposed to manufacturing) “wax.” Butane is volatile, and may quickly disappear from the finished product.

    However, I wouldn’t be confident that there is no risk. If the “wax” was enclosed in an air-tight container, it seems to me that enough butane might remain to catch fire. I believe the manufacturing process involves a step that removes butane, leaving the concentrated THC. However, impatient amateur home chemists might have faulty technique.