There is a wide range of cannabis concentrates to enjoy out there, including shatter, wax, dabs, hash oil, and butane hash oil (BHO). Dubbed “the future of cannabis”, concentrates, as the name suggests, are extremely potent forms of weed with an extremely high THC or CBD content.
There are concentrates on the market with a THC content of over 90%, so it does not take much to achieve a satisfying high. Likewise, a small amount will do to treat the symptoms of any of the medical ailments that cannabis is useful for.
Live resin is a cannabis concentrate. The main difference of this concentrate is that it is made using fresh cannabis flower instead of buds that have been dried and cured. This makes for a higher concentration of terpenes and more complex aromas and flavors.
How is live resin made?
Live resin is created via a specialized technique, and it quickly became popular in states such as California and Colorado soon after cannabis was legalized. It is similar to CO2 and BHO concentrates in that it requires the right equipment and experienced individuals to complete the process correctly.
Live resin extraction involves the cryogenic freezing of a newly harvested cannabis plant at temperatures below 292 degrees Fahrenheit. The process is also known as full-spectrum, because it involves the whole cannabis plant including the stalk, branches, and leaves. Connoisseurs love live resin shatter because it helps to preserve the terpene profile of weed.
The process of making BHO is extremely dangerous, mainly because it involves heating butane, an extremely flammable substance, in order to remove as many traces of it from the final concentrate. It is not recommended for non-professionals.
How is live resin different from other weed concentrates?
Typically, once a cannabis plant has been harvested, it is then cured and dried, but this process also damages a plant’s terpene profile. When you purchase cured concentrates, you are buying a product that lacks the true essence of a cannabis plant. When a plant is cured, manufacturers wait a certain amount of time to allow the weed to wick itself of moisture and chlorophyll prior to the extraction process.
During this period, the plant’s trichomes are exposed to heat, oxygen, physical agitation and light. All of these factors help degrade terpenes, so the concentrate you receive lacks the aroma of the plant and also ensures you miss out on potentially therapeutic ingredients.
What does live resin look like?
Live resin is typically a dark yellow color. It is a more malleable concentrate, sitting somewhere between a sauce and a wax—not too wet and not quite like taffy.
Like all cannabis concentrates it is extremely sticky, so you will need a dab tool to handle it. Depending on the producer, some live resins may have a runny consistency and some may be more solid or waxy.
What role do terpenes play?
There are essentially two kinds of terpenes; monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. The former are aromatic compounds that give off more light, floral scents aromas, and include compounds like myrcene, limonene, pinene, terpinolene, linalool, to name a few.
Sesquiterpenes, on the other hand, are heavier compounds that produce stronger aromas similar to those found in pepper, oregano and hops. Sesquiterpenes include caryophyllene and humulene, for example.
By using fresh cannabis, extraction artists are able to create a new concentrate that outshines others in terms of flavor and aroma.
A study by the University of Mississippi, published in 1996, looked at what happens to a cannabis plant’s terpene content during the drying process. In the study, the authors harvested 60 grams of weed from the same plant and grouped them into four categories; each of which consisted of 15 grams:
- Fresh weed.
- Dried at room temperature for a week.
- Dried at room temperature for a week, then stored in a brown paper bag for a month.
- Dried for a week and stored in a paper bag for three months.
Next, the four batches were steam-distilled, and the extracted oil was analysed. It is important to note that steam distillation only extracts a plant’s terpenes. The main terpenes that were removed included myrcene, limonene, linalool, and caryophyllene.
Unsurprisingly, the fresh weed had the highest terpene content, and most of the terpenes evaporated during the first week. There was little in the way of evaporation after that point.
Overall, the study discovered that drying made changes to the relative terpene concentration. Monoterpenes, known for being small and light (such as limonene) evaporated quickly. Sesquiterpenes, known for being large and heavy (such as caryophyllene) took much longer to evaporate, which meant they comprised a significant percentage of the oil after the drying process.
More specifically, they found that drying a cannabis plant for a week at room temperature resulted in a 31% loss of terpenes.
Should I try live resin?
One of the significant advantages of live resin is that you can consume large amounts of THC in a single session if you choose. Some versions have a THC content of up to 95% so while it is useful as a form of medicine, inexperienced users have to be extremely careful. It is all too easy to go overboard, and excessive THC consumption could lead to adverse side effects such as paranoia, anxiety, and nausea.
As it is available in oil and shatter forms, you can enjoy live resin concentrates with a vaporizer. This involves the use of high temperatures to turn the resin into vapor, which is then inhaled. There is no combustion involved, and it is easier on the lungs. There is an increasing body of scientific research which suggests that terpenes work with cannabinoids to increase the medical benefits of cannabis.
How to consume live resin?
There are a few ways to consume live resin.
- Dabbing. Most people dab live resin. To do so you will need a dab rig and either a torch and nail or an e-nail. You will also need a dabber tool (most likely something with a scoop on it, given live resin’s consistency) to handle the concentrate and put it in the nail. A good nail temperature is around 550°F. This will preserve the terpenes and flavors without scorching the concentrate.
- Vaping with a dab pen. You can also put your live resin in a dab pen, which is like a vape pen that allows you to put concentrates into it instead of a vape cartridge. Be sure to use a dabber tool to get the live resin in the oven of the dab pen, then click the button and you are set.
- Topping off. You can also put some live resin on top of a bowl, joint, or blunt for an added kick.
How to store live resin?
Keep live resin cool and in an air-tight container, preferably in a fridge if you can. This will preserve the terpenes and keep it tasting and smelling great for a while.
Leaving it out in the open with the lid off will cause it to dry out quickly, making it harder to handle and damaging the taste.
What distinguishes live resins from one another?
Live resins often differ in viscosity, ranging between saps, sugars, jellies, butters, and even more solid shatters. While terpene concentration can affect viscosity, products can also be mechanically altered post-extraction, such as when saps are whipped into butters.
Some live resins only contain certain lighter terpenes such as pinene and myrcene. A smaller number of terpenes can impact flavor and effects. Variations can occur because some extraction processes fail to capture other terpenes, but the terpene profile also depends on the starting material used.
No matter how a concentrate has been extracted, it is only as potent and palatable as the plant and parts of the plant it came from. Extracts utilizing the whole plant can often have a more complex terpene profile than those utilizing only fresh frozen flower.
Live resin vs. Live rosin
Live rosin and live resin are two different types of cannabis extracts that often get confused. The difference is live resin is in reference to a solvent based extract, normally BHO, that is made with live, or freshly frozen, plant material. It is a single pass extraction that captures the plant’s terpene profile by extracting the resin glands before they dry and cure.
Live rosin, on the other hand, is a solventless extract. It is often made by pressing bubble hash that was made from freshly frozen, or live, flower. This process captures the live terpene profile of the cannabis plant without the use of solvents because bubble hash is more of a water sieve than extraction.