WHAT IS LIVE RESIN?

Live resin is a cannabis concentrate extracted from the cannabis plant that is immediately frozen after harvest.

Unlike major cannabinoids that are out on the market, live resin has not gone through decarboxylation, which is a process of heating cannabis to convert THCA to THC. In other words, it has not been dried, heated, or cured before production. In fact, that is how it got its name. “Live resin” describes the resin that came straight from fresh or “live” cannabis flowers. The resin is produced from raw and fresh flowers rather than dried and cured buds, which allows it to preserve more of the natural terpenes and aroma, which makes it a great choice for cannabis enthusiasts.

HOW POTENT IS LIVE RESIN?

Live resin is sought after for its flavorful potency with ratings of up to 80-90% THC, which can be more than three times flower will ever be. The plant that is typically smoked has ratings of up to 25% THC. Given the choice, you can see why live resin has quickly become a sought-after and connoisseur-level concentrate amongst cannabis enthusiasts. It can provide an enhanced full-plant experience that many believe is the most effective method to experience the cannabis strain’s real effects.

For many cannabis aficionados, the high potency of live resin means faster results with less concentrate.

WHAT ARE TERPENES IN LIVE RESIN?

Terpenes are the natural oils released by the cannabis plant, which give each strain its unique aroma and taste. By immediately freezing the fresh plant after harvest, this method retains most of its natural terpenes and flavonoids, which can easily be lost during the drying process. To put it another way, the more terpenes that can be retained in the initial extraction or concentration process, the more potent and flavorful the products will be.

As the natural terpenes are mostly left unaltered, live resin contains significantly more terpenes than other concentrates, such as shatters, sauces, or waxes. This makes dabbing or vaping a more enjoyable experience.

live resin terpenes

WHAT DOES LIVE RESIN LOOK LIKE?

Typically live resin has a golden color and grainy appearance. Depending on the strain of flowers used during production, the color of live resin can range from dark yellow to almost white. The viscosity and consistency of live resin are influenced by the quantity used as well as the cultivar and strain of the cannabis.

Consistency may differ slightly. Although the consistency of live resin sits between waxes and sauces, some can be more like saps, sugars, or jellies.

Viscosity, or thickness, depends on the quantity of terpenes present. Some terpenes, like pinene and myrcene, are lighter than others. Also, the amount of terpenes captured could vary slightly depending on the extraction method, which influences the viscosity.

Live resin is neither too viscous nor too sticky. It can be crumbled, formed into wax, whipped into budder or butter, or sliced into diamonds. The terpene content of live resin is significantly higher than most concentrates. This means that the higher the terpene content or natural oils, the more fluid and pliable the concentrate.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LIVE RESIN AND OTHER CONCENTRATES

Resin, rosin, shatter, and sauce or wax are all varieties of cannabis concentrates. These are created to help achieve a potent high. Concentrates, as the name implies, refer to a concentrated form of cannabis made up of only the desired compounds – cannabinoids and terpenes. Thus, concentrates, in a sense, are the espressos of the cannabis industry.

  • Resin refers to the crystal-like sticky remnant called trichomes found on the marijuana plant’s flowers. Trichomes comprise all of the cannabinoids and terpenes that cause intoxication. If you use grinders alongside your flower, you’ll see these trichomes accumulating in the center of it. It is naturally produced and can be smoked in a variety of ways; however, it isn’t the most powerful of the bunch.

  • Rosin is created by curing and drying marijuana flowers. It is then cured using the combination of pressure and heat. Rosin has gained popularity due to its secure and simple method of production. Rosin, like shatter and wax, is a manually produced extract, but the process is less sophisticated, resulting in a slightly less potent concentrate.

  • Shatter is a cannabis concentrate named after its delicate glass-like consistency, which can “shatter” when dropped. Shatter has a very high THC level (often 90%+) because it is an extremely pure cannabis extract. It is easily identified by its rich orangish-honey color. Shatter is generally the most potent. However, it requires advanced skills to produce.

  • Wax, like shatter, has high cannabinoid levels and potent psychoactive effects but has a crumbly and gooey consistency similar to candle wax. This difference in consistency results from minor differences in how wax is produced. Aside from the difference in appearance and consistency, wax degrades faster than shatter but is easier to use. Wax contains the same amount of cannabinoids as shatter but has a different consistency and appearance.

LIVE RESIN VS. LIVE ROSIN 

While they are categorized as resin extracts, live resin and live rosin differ significantly, putting them on opposite ends of the resin extract spectrum despite being derived from the same source material. The primary distinction between live resin and live rosin is that the latter is a solventless extract. 

Live resin is made using fresh, uncured flowers and is considered superior to other solvent-based extracts that use dried and cured source material. In addition, the naturally retained terpenes of live resin can create an enjoyable experience as opposed to other solvent-based products typically made using less-quality source materials or blended with non-single source terpenes or distillate.  

Live rosin, on the other hand, is extracted from dried flowers, hashish, and kief. It has more terpenes and is extracted without using chemicals or solvents. Since the buds are frozen, the metabolic process that breaks down plants is stopped. This keeps the strong monoterpenes that are in fresh cannabis.

              LIVE RESIN              LIVE ROSIN
APPEARANCEGrainy, sticky, soapyBadder-like consistency
COLORGolden, dark yellow, light yellow or whiteAmber or white
THC CONTENT65% – 95%75% -85%
TERPENES CONTENTMaximum amount of terpenes are retained.Mostly monoterpenes.  
USESVaping, dabbing, and sprinkling or topping off a bowl or joint.Dabbing, vaping, eating, and sprinkling or topping off a bowl or joint.
INTOXICATION LEVELMINIMAL TO NONE. You will be consuming raw THCA, which has no sedative effects. THCA must be heated for THC to be activated.INTOXICATING. The high temperatures involved in its production convert THCA to THC.
EXTRACTION METHODUses a closed-loop extraction method, which involves immediately freezing a fresh cannabis flower at below the freezing point to preserve all the terpenes and cannabinoids. Butane hash oil, propane hash oil, or other solvents are used in the processProduced by exposing fresh buds, hash, or kief to high heat and pressure without the use of solvents or chemicals. Since the cannabis buds used are frozen, the pungent monoterpenes in fresh cannabis are preserved.
ACTUAL COSTSDue to the complexity of its extraction process, the price per gram can reach $30. However, this varies greatly depending on a number of factors.Creating live rosin is a laborious process. The price per gram can begin at $35.

LIVE RESIN VS DISTILLATE

Distillate is made from dried, cured cannabis that has been extracted into oil. It is a highly refined and potent cannabinoid oil. To create distillate, cannabinoids in the oil, such as THC or CBD, are separated from the plant material and other cannabis compounds using high heat.

Terpenes may be added to distillate concentrates after extraction to give flavor to the final product. Others may add more cannabinoids to achieve therapeutic results. Distillate can be smoked, vaped, dabbed, mixed into topicals, eaten, or taken sublingually. However, depending on the formulation, it may lack the potential therapeutic benefits that terpenes and flavonoids may provide.

While distillate is extracted through the use of heat, live resin is produced by flash-freezing freshly harvested cannabis plant material and then extracting its compounds with butane or carbon dioxide. This helps preserve the compounds that otherwise would be lost, resulting in terpene-rich, fragrant products with various applications.

For a potentially therapeutic experience, live resin can be smoked, vaped, dabbed, or mixed with topicals. Many cannabis users say inhaling live resin tastes and feels the most like smoking the actual flower. As a result, it is considered a delicacy among concentrates and can be more expensive in comparison.

Live resins have higher levels of terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds than distillate but lower levels of cannabinoids. Since the manufacturing process removes a large portion of the flavor profile, distillates are better suited to being made into edibles.

              LIVE RESIN              DISTILLATE
APPEARANCEGrainy, sticky, soapyLuminous (and/or viscous) liquid.
COLORGolden, dark yellow, light yellow or whiteGold, amber
THC CONTENT65% – 95%Mostly exceeds 95%. Again, depending on the cannabinoid used.
TERPENES CONTENTMaximum amount of terpenes are retained.None or premixed. Terpenes are added to provide flavor.
USESVaping, dabbing, and sprinkling or topping off a bowl or joint.Vaping, smoking, dabbing, mixing into topicals and foods, or taken sublingually.
INTOXICATION LEVELMINIMAL TO NONE. You will be consuming raw THCA, which has no sedative effects. THCA must be heated for THC to be activated.Depending on the cannabinoid used. THC and other THC-derived products are highly intoxicating.
EXTRACTION METHODUses a closed-loop extraction method, which involves immediately freezing a fresh cannabis flower at below the freezing point to preserve all the terpenes and cannabinoids. Butane hash oil, propane hash oil, or other solvents are used in the process.Produced from decarboxylated (heated, dried, and cured) cannabis that has been extracted and through the distillation process.

WHAT MAKES LIVE RESIN SO SPECIAL?

The primary distinction between live resin and other concentrates is the terpene content. The terpene content of live resin is significantly higher. This difference in weight can be up to five times greater. However, the cold-extraction process required to produce live resin typically yields less actual product than other more traditional extraction methods. With the cold-extraction process described above, you get less product but much higher terpene levels (i.e., more accurate flavor). Let’s talk about these terpenes in more detail.

Terpene molecules are divided into two types: monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes.

flowery scents

Monoterpenes

such as myrcene, limonene, and terpinolene are examples of “light” terpenes (think weight). These light terpenes are responsible for the floral scents produced by the cannabis plant, such as geranium, rose, jasmine, kiwi, and apple.

musky scents
musky scents

Sesquiterpenes

such as caryophyllene and humulene are examples of “heavy” terpenes. These are responsible for the cannabis plant’s more pungent scents, such as skunk, musk, patchouli, tea tree, diesel fuel, and sandalwood.

Monoterpenes evaporate faster after the live plant is removed from its growing medium because they are lighter. According to a University of Mississippi study, dry curing (decarboxylation) can reduce monoterpene count by 55-85%. As a result of the reduction in monoterpenes, the heavier sesquiterpenes that remain can easily influence the savor, aroma, and medicinal effects of the resulting concentrates.

Since the monoterpenes have evaporated, decarboxylated cannabis products will skew more toward the pungent end of the aroma. The prompt freezing of the freshly cut plant preserves and prevents the evaporation of those delicate monoterpenes. When the plant matter is extracted with butane at low temperatures, the monoterpenes that would otherwise be lost end up in the resin.

Lastly, this is favorable because the live resin contains a higher percentage of the compounds originally present in the plant. When asked to compare live resin to other concentrates, many consumers compare it to eating fresh versus dried fruit.

Think about that for a moment. The absence of monoterpenes completely changes the flavor profile of your joint-ready cannabis, so you may not experience the full flavor of your preferred strain. The best way to experience your favorite strain as nature intended is through a live resin.

WHY DOES LIVE RESIN BYPASS THE DRYING AND CURING PROCESSES (AKA DECARBOXYLATION)?

The raw plant material is usually dried or cured before being prepared for extraction. Fresh cannabis will not get you high. Drying the harvested cannabis gets rid of the moisture that builds up during the growing process without destroying or evaporating the terpenes.

The drawback of drying and curing is that some terpenes are lost in the process. The most highly unstable terpenes evaporate during the curing process, where cannabis is left to dry for an average of seven to ten days, changing the overall taste and texture of the flower. In a 1995 study from the University of Mississippi, the terpene profile of fresh cannabis plants was compared to that of plants that had been dried for differing amounts of time (1). Researchers discovered that drying a plant at room temperature for a week resulted in a 31% loss of terpenes.

Live resin made from fresh cannabis plants with an optimal terpene profile offers a more floral, fruity, and spicy dabbing experience.

HOW IS LIVE RESIN MADE?

Warning: Live resin and other cannabis concentrates should be produced only by professionals due to the highly hazardous processes.

Before anything else, live resin cannot be produced at home. To get it right, you’ll need specialized equipment and knowledge. Perhaps someone will develop a DIY live resin kit someday. Until then, it is best to leave this job to the pros.

The live resin extraction begins as soon as the plant is removed from its growing medium. Almost immediately after being cut, the cannabis plant begins to lose terpenes. Normally processed plant material (i.e., dried and cured) can quickly lose up to 60% of its terpene content. This is a significant loss of these essential compounds.

With live resin, the whole plant is frozen immediately to prevent the loss of these essential terpenes. This, however, introduces some new complications into the equation.

First, the trichomes—the resin glands that produce terpenes and cannabinoids— harden. As a result, the plant must be handled with extreme caution to avoid damaging the delicate heads. In addition, given the size of some of those cannabis plants, you can see why you’ll need a huge freezer to get everything in and out without damage. Most people are put off trying live resin extraction because of this.

Second, fresh-frozen plant matter now contains significantly more water than decarboxylated plant matter. Considering that, the live resin must be extracted at extremely low temperatures. By “very cold,” we mean below zero. Butane, the chemical most commonly used to extract the oils from the cannabis plant, that has been stored in your freezer will not suffice. The average home freezer is set to 0°F, but the butane needed for live extraction needs to be between -20°F and -50°F. That is extremely cold. This low temperature is only possible in commercial freezers or cold rooms designed for the task.

We will have to take a dip into chemistry to understand how butane is a part of the process. Butane is slightly soluble in water at room temperature. This means that the potentially dangerous butane and other toxins will stay in the oil unless heat or cold forces them out. The question is, “How?”

Lowering the temperature to near or below zero stops the toxins from mixing with water. This means they will keep themselves detached from the cannabis oil. In scientific jargon, they will “precipitate it out from the solution.” Toxins can then be removed, resulting in a much cleaner end product.

To stress the point, precipitation is usually impossible to achieve at home without specialized equipment.

A closed-loop extraction system is the simplest and safest way to produce live resin. However, these systems are quite costly, so not everyone can acquire one. And even if you have a spare thousand dollars, you still need specialized knowledge to operate these systems safely.

These closed-loop extractors apply pressure to the solvent (usually butane) and then cool it to cryogenic temperatures (between -20°F and -50°F or lower). The chilled liquid butane is then put through a tube holding fresh, frozen plant matter. Butane bonds with cannabinoids and terpenes in this enclosure, pulling them from the plant matter.

The liquid butane, which now has all the good parts of the cannabis plant, goes into the dewax enclosure, where the lipids, fats, and waxes are taken out. This purifies the extraction so that it is safe to consume.

Finally, the solution enters the collection chamber, where a small amount of heat is applied to evaporate the remaining butane. When the boiling process is complete, you are left with a highly concentrated oil containing pure cannabinoids such as THC and CBD and an abundance of flavorful terpenes.

The boiled-off butane is then returned to the storage chamber, where it is put under pressure and cooled to cryogenic temperatures to be used again (hence the term “closed-loop”).

WHAT EFFECTS DOES THE LIVE RESIN HAVE?

Cannabis enthusiasts prefer live resins for their taste and aroma. It is even believed to have more medicinal benefits than other concentrates because it preserves more of the plant’s compounds. The most seasoned cannabis users prefer live resin for its potent anti-pain, anti-stress, and anti-nausea properties. With the enhanced properties of live resin, muscle and joint inflammation are significantly reduced, allowing full-body pain relief.

Live resin certainly beats most concentrates regarding overall user experience, but side effects may occur if consumed irresponsibly.

IS LIVE RESIN DANGEROUS?

When using cannabis concentrates, it is essential to keep safety in mind. Live resin is safe if the proper precautions are taken. 

A recent study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, examined cannabis concentrates, including live resin used for vaping. The study showed that smoking cannabis has no adverse effects on lung health and, in some cases, has a positive impact. Live resin, or any other form of cannabis, contains anti-inflammatory cannabinoids that can help with any respiratory issues you may be experiencing.

The study found that vaporizing cannabis does not harm immune cells and may even help the body fight cancer cells. It should be noted that long-term use of live resin promotes neurogenesis in the brain. This is a big deal in the cannabis industry. This news is valuable to people suffering from ADHD, anxiety disorders, and other issues caused by poor neurogenesis.

It’s comforting to know that people who require live resin or medical cannabis oil can do so confidently while knowing there is help and relief for their symptoms.

IS LIVE RESIN TOTALLY SAFE TO CONSUME?

Anyone who smokes marijuana may experience adverse side effects. Plant-extracted resin, on the other hand, poses an even greater risk of side effects due to its high THC content. Dabbing increases this risk even more, which sends THC to your brain very quickly.

The following are possible side effects:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations (the sensation of feeling, hearing, or seeing something that isn’t there)
  • Issues with cognition, memory, and attention
  • Wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Hypertension, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Previous studies have found that smoking marijuana for an extended period causes a variety of health issues. These health issues include most symptoms mentioned above, respiratory problems, and abnormal brain development. In any case, these concerns were never related to vaping cannabinoids extracted from live resin.

storage jars

HOW TO STORE LIVE RESIN?

Many factors were taken to preserve the terpenes and other flavorful, aromatic, and beneficial compounds during the production process. The storage and care of your live resin concentrate after purchase is a crucial consideration.

This is also a common concern for many users and medicinal cannabis patients because a small amount of live resin can go a long way. Due to the concentrate’s usual high potency combined with the strength of the entourage effect, most users only require a tiny amount of live resin to be vaporized to achieve a powerful effect.

Overall, this means that you may require a safe way to store your live resin concentrate for an extended time. You’ll want to create an environment that is:

Cool – a cold room may suffice to keep your live resin at a temperature that prevents it from degrading, but a refrigerator is far more favorable.

Dark – keeping your live resin away from light is an excellent way to keep it from breaking down for as long as possible. An airtight, opaque, and light-resistant container will help prevent terpene degradation and evaporation.

Airtight – store your live resin in an airtight container. Once you’ve used a little of your concentrate, make sure to put the lid back on tightly.

Dry – moisture is another natural enemy of live resin. This concentrate has a natural consistency that you will want to maintain.

Ideal live resin storage containers are made of glass or silicone and are kept in the refrigerator between uses. Under these conditions, the live resin can last for months, even a year or more, before degrading significantly.

BOTTOM LINE

The legalization of cannabis has turned the tables around for medicinal or recreational cannabis users. Since then, researchers and cultivators have grasped the chance to research and improvise. A new cannabinoid product pops onto the scene every now and then, offering its array of characteristics, effects, and benefits.

When Fenger was harvesting his plants in the early 2010s, he was convinced that it would be worthwhile to capture the aroma and flavor of fresh flowers. So, he began working on this idea, and the outcome is in the resin. Live resin has quickly become a sought-after and connoisseur-level concentrate in the cannabis world due to its high potency, complex terpene profile, and flavorful depth.

REFERENCES:

Leafly (July 8, 2021). Leafly’s guide to live resin. https://www.leafly.com/learn/consume/dabs/what-is-live-resin-cannabis-concentrate

Weedmaps (July 13, 2021). Live resin. https://weedmaps.com/learn/dictionary/live-resin

Franciosi, Anthony. Honest Marijuana Co. Live Resin: What Is It And Why Is It So Awesome? https://honestmarijuana.com/live-resin/

1 Ross SA, ElSohly MA. (1996 Jan.). J Nat Prod. The volatile oil composition of fresh and air-dried buds of Cannabis sativa. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8984153/

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