Live Resin: What is it, How to Use, and Frequently Asked Questions

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What Is Live Resin

Live resin is one of the relatively new types of cannabis concentrates or extracts, yet it is already very popular among both cannabis fans and producers. It is not only easier and cheaper to make, but it also preserves the living plant’s taste and smell much more effectively than other cannabis extractions.

In fact, thanks to their more complex terpene profile, live resins tend to produce a more sophisticated experience. It’s not that surprising that true fans of the Cannabis sativa plant would go for this kind of product.

What Is Live Resin?

You may be used to shopping for cannabis concentrates based on description. For example, shatter is named for its brittle, hard, snapping consistency, while sugar, sauce, and wax are all named the same way—based on texture.

Live resin is typically in between a sauce and a wax, malleable, but neither soggy nor stretchy like shatter. It may be light but is more likely to be dark yellow. As with any cannabis concentrate, it is extremely sticky and requires tools for using and handling.

Connoisseurs love live resins because they tend to deliver intense flavors and aromas thanks to the preservation of so many terpenes. They are just as potent with cannabinoids, including a lot of THC, and other minor cannabinoids from the original live plant. 

How Live Resin Is Made

Bad news: this is not a DIY project. In fact, because the process of extracting cannabinoids can be dangerous, only professionals should manufacture live resin—and that’s true of most other cannabis concentrates, too.

Most extracts are made using carbon dioxide (CO2), ethanol, propane, or butane as a solvent to remove cannabinoids from the rest of the plant matter. Butane is the most common solvent used in making live resin, so many people think of this extract a type of butane hash oil (BHO).

Live resin is different from other cannabis extractions because it is made by first flash freezing fresh cannabis. The grower skips the drying, curing, and trimming stages of the cannabis plant harvesting process and instead freezes the fresh cannabis plants immediately after harvest. The plants remain frozen throughout the process.

Why? Terpene content is the key to a complex, rich live resin experience, and the drying and curing processes can devastate these little flavor and fragrance bombs. Drying and curing expose the terpenes in the trichomes to oxygen, heat, and light, which can degrade the terpenes and break the trichomes. Cannabis plant material is flash-frozen with dry ice or liquid nitrogen, and the immediate flash freeze preserves the true flavor, smell, and terpene profile of the plant, passing it on to the final product.

The manufacturer then moves the chilled solvent through the plant matter, releasing the trichomes. Careful application of controlled heat vaporizes and removes the solvent without hurting the extract—or the plant’s terpenes. Too much heat can trigger decarboxylation, which causes the volatile terpenes to evaporate and turn the concentrate into a darker oil.

Why Don’t You Dry and Cure Cannabis For Live Resin?

Drying freshly harvested cannabis removes the excess moisture to avoid mold growth and to ensure the cannabinoids are decarbed. However, the trick is to process the plant matter without evaporating or degrading terpenes. Inevitably, the most volatile terpenes evaporate during the drying process, and this changes the flower’s overall flavor profile.

Monoterpenes evaporate more quickly than sesquiterpenes, which are larger molecules. The most common monoterpenes found in cannabis include terpinolene, myrcene, linalool, and limonene. Common cannabis sesquiterpenes include humulene and beta-caryophyllene.

The higher terpenes levels that live resins deliver can also help produce the entourage effect. This is the idea that all components of the cannabis plant work together to create the best effects and outcomes. A study from 2011 persuades that terpenes may amplify the effects of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.

Benefits of Live Resin

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Why do dabbers love live resins? They are full of flavor thanks to the process that preserves the trichomes. For a more authentic and complete experience, it takes the trichomes and terpenes to retain the whole plant’s aroma and taste profile.

Of course, there are other reasons. Beyond just amazing smell and flavor, the live resin process retains intact cannabinoids more effectively, which is why live resins are potent. So even when they cost a bit more, they are generally worth it.

Live resin is also created using fresh cannabis flowers with high-quality terpene profiles, not trim run or even nug run cannabis. This delivers a more fruity, floral, and spicy dabbing experience.

And consider the grower’s perspective. You can focus on growing the very best quality, super terpy cannabis plant possible—and not even worry about trimming, drying, and curing that crop. Just harvest the plants, freeze them, and send them on their way. In other words, all of the grower’s attention goes to more flavor, better aroma, and higher cannabinoid concentrations, not who’s trimming what and overseeing them doing it.

How To Use Live Resin

There are a few ways to consume live resin. Each has its own benefits:

Dabbing

Dabbing live resin is the most popular way to consume. To dab live resin, you’ll need an e-nail or a classic dab rig with a torch and nail. And as with any sticky cannabis concentrate, you’ll also need a dab tool like a scoop or paddle to place the concentrate on the nail. Aim for 530°F or lower—you never want to scorch your live resin.

Vaping with a dab pen

You can also use a little vape pen or handheld vaporizer that handles concentrates to vape live resin. Just place the live resin in the bowl or oven of the dab pen, ensure the temperature is low enough to avoid scorching, and heat and inhale.

What are live resin carts?

Carts are pre-filled vape cartridges and live resin carts just have live resin rather than some other kind of vape oil in them. Any carts just attach to a vape battery, so screw the live resin cartridge on, heat, and inhale.

Top off your flower

Some people add live resin to a joint, bowl, or blunt to take it up a few notches.

How to Store Live Resin

Keep live resin in a cool, air-tight container. Refrigerate it if you can to preserve the terpenes even longer and get even better flavor from it. Light, air, and heat will all degrade your live resin, hurt its smell and taste, and make it tougher to use.

If you are shopping for live resin containers, look for glass or silicone concentrate storage containers. Silicone is the easiest container to scrape when it comes to sticky cannabis concentrates.

Live Resin FAQs

How Much Does Live Resin Cost?

Back in the day you might pay over $100 per gram for live resins, but times have changed. Dispensaries still sell live resins at higher prices than other concentrates, but there are lots of choices out there ranging from $20-30 a gram to premium products running $50-70 a gram.

How Are Live Resins Different From Each Other?

Although there can be minor differences in the consistencies of live resins, the main difference between products is the amount of terpenes. In fact, this variation can impact color and viscosity as well as aroma and taste, and some live resins contain only lighter terpenes such as myrcene pinene. Fluctuations between live resin products may also occur when less effective extraction processes miss preserving or extracting some terpenes.

In some cases, a classic sugary-looking live resin might be altered after extraction mechanically to achieve a new consistency. For example, whipping a live resin will achieve a badder or budder effect.

Is a Live Resin High Better?

For people who love flavor and aroma, a live resin high is definitely better. But this is largely a matter of preference. If you just want the strongest high possible and taste is less of a concern, distillate will work well.

What Are the Effects of Live Resin?

Basically, this gets back to the benefits of live resin that we covered above. Live resin has fuller, more complex flavor because it includes the whole cannabis plant and a higher terpene concentration. This also lends it a more powerful fragrance. Capturing the entire phytochemical profile of the plant enhances live resin’s synergistic effect and improves its therapeutic benefits.

Who Invented Live Resin?

Live resin originates in Colorado between 2011-2013 among several growers and manufacturers who were producing cannabis concentrates. Founder of EmoTek Labs, “Giddy Up,” and William “Kind Bill” Fenger developed a BHO extractor that worked at very low temperatures, thus creating live resin extraction process.

What is the Difference Between Resin and Live Resin

Resin is made from different source material than live resin. As always, the “live” designation refers to the fresh, flash-frozen cannabis. Both types of resins are still solvent extractions, typically.

Live Resin vs. Live Rosin vs. Distillate

We discussed above how frozen cannabis plant matter and solvent extraction are used to create live resin. Live rosin uses the same live source plant material, but instead of chemical solvents, it is solventless—using pressure and heat to extract the plant’s trichomes, usually with a press.

When a resin is refined, either to isolate a particular compound or to remove impurities, distillate is the resulting cannabis oil that is produced.

Live Resin vs Sauce?

Whether it’s sauce or live resin is all about the starting material. Live resin always starts with fresh, flash-frozen cannabis plants. Sauce may start with either the normal cured flower or fresh plant matter. Check your labels! Live resin has far more terpenes than anything made from cured plant material.

Is Live Resin Stronger Than Dabs?

Actually, live resin is perfect for dabbing! Like most concentrates you dab, live resin is stronger than flower. Some high-quality live resin might be stronger than other dabs, but you can definitely dab live resin.

Is Live Resin a Full Spectrum Product?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean all full-spectrum products are live resin! Full-spectrum concentrates preserve as much of the raw cannabis plant’s full cannabinoid and terpene profile as possible. But not every full-spectrum extract is made from fresh, flash-frozen cannabis flowers. In fact, most aren’t.

Final Thoughts on Live Resin

Live resin is absolutely one of our favorite cannabis products, even after all of this time. It never fails to produce amazing effects, and the overall experience is always a delight for the senses.

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