- Live resin is a relatively new cannabis product, first created around 2013.
- It is made using only fresh cannabis plant.
- Live resin is best known for its rich flavor and aromatic profile.
When looking at cannabis concentrates currently on the market, the options can seem endless. Wax, shatter, sugar, jelly…there’s an abundance of products to choose from. One of the concentrates currently getting plenty of attention: live resin.
So, why is this product earning such a lofty reputation? To put it simply, live resin is a form of cannabis concentrate that is perhaps best known for its high quality, potency and rich aroma, making it a favorite of connoisseurs.
To learn more about what makes live resin so unique, read our breakdown—we’ll take you through key facts, potential benefits and more.
What is live resin, exactly?
Basically, live resin is a cannabis concentrate extracted from freshly harvested marijuana plant material that’s been flash-frozen (or fresh frozen) at sublevel temperatures, blasted with solvents like butane, propane, or butane hash oil (BHO), and pressed.
This unique extraction technique is exactly what makes this concentrate so valued. It allows the curing and drying steps to be skipped. Instead, the fresh or “live” plant is frozen soon after the harvesting. This explains why certain cannabis products you may have seen in the market are categorized as “live.”
So, how could this be beneficial for you?
The cannabis plant can go through a huge variety of processes before it becomes the product you can see on the shelf at your local dispensary. These can include the process of trimming, curing, drying and extraction among others that are used to preserve or prepare the final product. During these the natural terpene profile of marijuana is damaged and as a result almost 55% of terpenes and other natural plant compounds are usually lost.
The unique extraction process used to obtain live resin allows its terpene profile to stay as close to the natural fresh plant as possible, typically making it richer in aroma and flavor.
What do terpenes have to do with live resin?
The answer: pretty much everything.
Terpenes are natural compounds found in cannabis that are responsible for its unique smell. There are two main groups of these compounds in marijuana: monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes.
Monoterpenes have smaller molecules and are responsible for lighter and fresher aromas. These include terpenes like myrcene, limonene, terpinolene and linalool.
Sesquiterpenes have larger molecules and give cannabis its heavier aromatic undertones. Examples of these are caryophyllene and humulene.
A fresh marijuana plant has higher amounts of monoterpenes compared to sesquiterpenes. During the curing process, monoterpenes are first to evaporate due to their smaller size, and the terpene profile of the final product is usually richer in sesquiterpenes.
Products like live resin are 2% richer in monoterpenes according to High Times, and as a result, they have a fresher aroma than products that have gone through the curing process. According to the same research, “live resin contains 11% less sesquiterpenes by weight than non-live resin.”
The origins of live resin
The credit for creating the first batch of live resin goes to William “Kind Bill” Fenger and Jason “Giddy Up” Emo in 2013. While hemp has a long history, but dabbing, waxes, flavored edibles, cannabis oil, and live resin carts are relatively new. [Source]
For a little context, Kind Bill is a hero of sorts in the cannabis world, while Fenger, the first legal cannabis grower in Colorado, happened to love the smell of bud. It’s pretty distinctive, thanks to the marijuana plant’s terpenes.
Terpenes live in the trichomes—the sticky resin glands that cover nearly every part of the plant. These aromatic compounds give all plants like lemon, pine or mint their delicious scent.
According to researchers at the University of Mississippi, cannabis loses nearly 50% of its terpene content during drying and curing. Kind Bill considered this waste, so he and EmoTek Labs founder Giddy Up teamed up to create a different extraction technique.
How is live resin made?
People often describe live resin as “terpy,” and its easy to see why. Live resin contains the fresh aromas of monoterpenes, the heavier flavors of sesquiterpenes, and significant amounts of THC.
The production of live resin is not easy and trying it at home definitely isn’t recommended. It requires specialized equipment and a deep understanding of the process.
The bottom line: making live resin is best left to the professionals.
For centuries, growers have harvested cannabis buds and other plant material separated and left to dry out for up to ten days, and finally cured. Smokable flower, edibles and many oil extracts are developed during the curing process.
Back in the day, hash would be as close as you could easily get to live resin. And Kind Bill was a master hash-maker. He’d sift dried cannabis to separate and collect the terpene-rich trichomes, heat them, and press them into tightly compacted hash.
Here’s where things get a bit technical. Terpenes are in the trichomes, right? The terpenes are incredibly volatile, and a large amount evaporates when plants are hung and dried out. To make live resin, you need to separate the trichomes from the plant in a way that won’t compromise the terpenes.
Kind Bill took freshly harvested cannabis and froze it at a critically low temperature. Using butane or BHO as a solvent, he separated the beneficial cannabinoids from the trichomes of a “live” flower. The result? A super fresh concentrate known as “liquid gold” by live resin connoisseurs.
Luckily, technology caught up with Kind Bill. Growers now freeze cannabis at harvest with liquid nitrogen or dry ice to prevent evaporation. Extractors use specialized lab equipment to heat butane, BHO, or other hydrocarbon solvents and apply pressure to release live resin.
What does flash (or fresh) frozen mean?
According to Leafly this is a cannabis preservation method that implies immediate freezing of the cannabis plant after the harvest. It is done at subcritical temperature using dry ice or cryogenic freezing machines. This way the plant retains its natural compounds and natural flavor.
This is a relatively new technique that is used to produce high-quality extracts.
What does live resin look like?
The consistency of live resin can differ depending on the raw material used in the production. Its signature golden color develops based on the strain of flower. If you check the RISE products on our website, for example, you can see it comes in various shades of yellow to almost white.
Live resin can be sticky and soft, or fluid, like oil or sauce. The terpenes tend to be liquid-like oil. So, the amount and the type of terpenes determine the texture and consistency of live resin.
Live resin carts for vaping or dabbing and sauce are usually at the top of the flavor scale. Freshly extracted live resin is very pliable. You can break it into crumbles, mold it into wax, whip it into badder or fluffy butter, or form diamonds.
How to store live resin
You’ll want to avoid leaving live resin in the sun. Find a cool area in your home away from heat, light and humidity. This will help preserve the potency and taste. It’s even safe to store in the fridge.
If you’ve bought extra or have leftovers and need to store live resin in a container, consider silicon. Live resin is less likely to stick to the sides. (Translation—more for you!)
What does it mean to decarb live resin?
You use heat to make live resin. Ultimately, you must heat or decarb all cannabis products with THC or CBD to activate the cannabinoids. Decarboxylation is the only way to achieve the characteristic intoxication from cannabis. For edibles, decarbing happens during the curing process.
Makers of medical marijuana have been separating CBD and THC from cannabis for a long time (mainly to take advantage of the plant’s beneficial properties). As more states legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use, there has been a shift towards creating THC-rich and CBD-rich products.
- Kief or Dry Sift
- CO2 Extractions
- Live Resin
- Live Rosen
These are all made differently, but the result is the same. The cannabis community craves stronger, flavorful experiences for relief, relaxation, unwinding and enjoying life.
The best ways to consume live resin
A friendly reminder before we dive in: each state has unique regulations when it comes to cannabis consumption methods. As you consider what products might be right for you, make sure they’re legal in your location.
Prefer to smoke cannabis using more traditional methods? Add live resin to bowls or sprinkle on flower before smoking to take advantage of the potency.
Dabbing is one of the most common ways to consume live resin, especially in its solid form. Unlike the typical glass pipe and bowl, you use a dab rig (pipe) and a nail (flat bowl), which has a higher heating point than glass bowls. Dabbing also gives you more control over the amount and temperature.
Types of live resin products
You can use live resin carts in vape pens. Inside, a battery heats up the cartridge and vaporizes the cannabis for optimal terpenes.
What is a dab pen?
Dab pens allow you to control the temperature and give you the flexibility to heat oil, wax, butter, crumbles or other cannabis concentrates.
Live resin sauce is sticky, with a liquid consistency. Both sauce and live resin retain maximum terpenes.
- Live Resin Butter, Badders, Crumbles and Sugar
These refer to the various textures and appearances of cannabis concentrates. The potency is typically the same across the board. People may prefer one over the other based on ease of heating, consistency and availability.
Think cannabis peanut brittle! Shatter is a hard concentrate, but live resin shatter is rare. The terpenes in live resin are almost liquid-like (meaning it’s difficult to heat live resin to the hard and brittle form of shatter without burning off many potent terpenes).
How is live resin different from other concentrates?
Live Resin vs. Distillate
Distillate is pure THC and cannabinoids. It has no terpenes; you add the flavor profile to the distillate oil afterward.
Live Resin vs. Rosin
Both live resin and rosin come from freshly frozen plants. The difference lies in the extraction methods. Chemical solvents separate the trichomes in resin. Meanwhile, live rosin only requires heat and pressure.
Live Resin vs. Sauce
Live resin only comes from frozen plant material, while some use cured bud to create sauce.
Live Resin vs. Shatter
Shatter is less pungent and has fewer terpenes than live resin.
Is live resin right for you?
At your local RISE Dispensary, our cannabis experts and patient care specialists can walk you through the benefits of live resin. We’ll also help you navigate the ins and outs of all cannabis concentrates. Live resin is very flavorful, but also very potent, so it’s helpful to ask questions before you experiment with it.
We’re all about helping you create a unique, personal cannabis experience. Check here to find a RISE dispensary near you, or contact us with any questions about live resin.
Below, we’ve included answers to some of the most common live resin questions.
Live Resin FAQ:
- Can you put live resin in a cartridge?
Yes. You can buy vape cartridges or dab solid forms of live resin with a dab pen.
Yes. You can add it to joints or bowls or smoke live resin directly using a dabber, a dab pen, or other heating methods.
- How do I make live resin?
This requires skill, knowledge, and a laboratory with specialized equipment run by professions. We do not recommend making live resin yourself.
- What are live resin carts?
Live resin carts are pre-filled cartridges for dab or vape pens.
- What is the difference between live and cured resin?
The difference lies in the production process. Live resin is made from cannabis flower that was fresh frozen right after the harvest, while cured products are made from cured and dried flower.
- What is better—cured resin or live resin?
There’s no single answer—it’s more about personal preference. Just remember the benefits of live resin are the preserved terpenes, rich flavor profile and potency.
- Does live resin smell more?
Yes, this is a result of the unique technique used to make it. Live resin contains a higher quantity of terpenes compared to other marijuana products.