Shatter wax is a translucent–sometimes transparent–concentrate that looks an awful lot like rock candy or a Jolly Rancher. Forcing the chemical through cannabis material to produce an amber liquid produces it.
Left to “cool”, this amber liquid solidifies into shatter which often has the consistency of thin peanut brittle.
Shatter’s transparent quality results from the temperatures used during the extraction and finishing process (as well as other variables); and some pretty heavy chemical jargon describe it.
To put it in simpler terms, think about the molecules in the BHO (that amber liquid) as Lego blocks. In shatter, they’re all stacked nice and neat, one on top of the other. This molecular alignment allows light to pass through and gives the shatter it’s brittle format.
Like shatter, wax is a BHO concentrate that has the consistency of coconut oil and looks, for lack of a better description, like ear wax. Like shatter, wax starts off as the amber liquid that results from butane extraction.
Whether by accident or by design, the extracted oil is agitated or heated differently to produce an opaque material that can range in consistency from peanut butter to the aforementioned ear wax to honeycomb.
Avoiding all the technical chemistry jargon, let’s go back to the Lego block analogy. While the Lego blocks in shatter are stacked neatly in rows (like a block wall), the Lego blocks in wax are a jumbled mess (like you’ve just dumped them out into a pile).
Because the Lego blocks are going every which way and have no semblance of organization, wax is opaque and has that coconut oil consistency. Granted, both of these descriptions are overly-simplified–I certainly wouldn’t use them on a chemistry test–but they can help you visualize what’s going on at the molecular level.