Live resin is a form of cannabis concentrate produced using fresh flower as opposed to dried and cured buds. This method retains the terpenes that are lost during the drying and curing process. Because the flavorful terpenes remain intact, live resin is considered a high-quality, connoisseur-level product.
What is live resin?
It is a cannabis concentrate that gets its name from the freshness of the cannabis plant from which it's made. Unlike the majority of cannabis products, live resin is made from plant material that hasn't been dried or cured. The starting plant material used for live resin includes fresh flower buds and sugar leaves; the large fan leaves and stems are excluded. The flash-freezing process helps preserve the most desirable compounds and retain the full flavor of the cannabis plant. Concentrate enthusiasts tend to gravitate toward it thanks to its more flavorful and aromatic dabbing experience.
Capturing the full essence and aroma of living cannabis is the primary goal. The live resin production process — flash-freezing the plant material, then extracting compounds from it — is associated with high-quality and flavorful concentrates. Bypassing the typical drying and curing stage allows for a greater proportion of essential oils. These essential oils, technically called terpenes, are the compounds responsible for the distinctive flavors and aromas in weed, and in the final extraction product.
What does live resin look and feel like?
It comes in a variety of colors and forms. The type of cultivar, or strain, used for the concentrate affects a lot of the chemical and physical characteristics of the extract. Live resin is chock full of terpenes in greater proportions than other concentrates. With the additional essential oils, the consistency is typically looser than other concentrates. The more terpenes, the runnier and more malleable the concentrate. The most common consistencies of live resin are sap, sugar, badder/budder, and sauce.
Shatter is another very common and popular type of cannabis concentrate. But live resin in shatter form is very hard to find if you can find it at all. Shatter is defined by its brittle consistency, which is difficult to achieve with the live resin process since the liquidity of terpenes prevents the concentrate from becoming hard and rigid.
What's the difference between live resin and sauce?
The starting plant material determines if it's sauce. Live resin always starts with fresh weed plants that are processed by flash-freezing. Sauce, in contrast, may start with fresh plant matter or cured bud. The cured plant material is going to lack the high levels of terpenes found in live resin. Be sure to examine the packaging and labels of the sauce for whether it's cured nug sauce or live resin sauce.
Is live resin considered a 'full spectrum extract?'
The short answer is, sometimes. Full-spectrum extracts are concentrates that aim to capture as much of the full cannabinoid and terpene profile of the raw cannabis plant as possible. Depending on how the plant is processed, live resin can be considered a full-spectrum extract. But not all full-spectrum extracts are produced from fresh, frozen plant material. Kief, for example, is a full-spectrum concentrate, though it uses cured rather than fresh, frozen cannabis as its starting plant material.
How to store live resin
Preserve the potency and quality by keeping it away from heat, light, moisture, and open air. An airtight and lightproof container is best to help maintain its texture and consistency, as well as protect the cannabinoids from degradation and the terpenes from evaporation. If you're in the market for containers, look for concentrate storage containers made of silicone or glass. Silicone has another perk — it's easier to scrape sticky concentrates out of it.
Light and temperature can speed up the breakdown of your resin. Keep it stored in a cool environment, ideally in the refrigerator, or even just a cold room. After each use, be sure to close the live resin container securely. Leaving it out in the open makes it vulnerable to a loss of potency, and can result in a change of color, texture, and taste.
Ways to consume live resin
You can consume live resin by dabbing, which uses a type of water pipe called a dab rig as well as a flat bowl called a nail. Nails are produced from materials that can withstand higher temperatures than the glass bowls used for smoking flower.
Live resin can also be sprinkled on a packed bowl of flower in a glass pipe or wrapped around a joint or blunt. The combination of cured flower and live resin extract gives you a heightened experience as well as added flavor.
Can you vape live resin?
Yes, you can vape live resin either by dabbing, as described above, hitting a live resin vape pen, as described below, or by using a nectar collector. In each of these cases, you are simply vaporizing and inhaling the cannabinoid and terpene-rich vapors.
Dabbing is the most involved of the three vaping options, as it requires the most equipment and effort. If you want an easier way to enjoy live resin, try using a nectar collector, which is a simpler, portable version of a dab rig.
Using a vape pen with a live resin cartridge is by far the simplest method. Simply buy a live resin cart, attach it to your battery, and you're ready to go.
What are live resin carts?
In the context of weed, carts are pre-filled vape cartridges that attach to a vape battery. Live resin carts are simply vape oil cartridges that have been filled with live resin instead of a more conventional cannabis concentrate. As with any cartridge, simply screw the cartridge onto a battery, activate the heating mechanism, and inhale through the mouthpiece.
How much does live resin cost?
In general, consumers should expect to pay more for live resin than other types of concentrates. Differences in specific locations and market fluctuations make it difficult to pin down an exact price. Higher-end live resin can run close to $100 per gram and up, while the average nationwide seems to be between $35 and $80 per gram.
How is live resin made?
First, a quick warning: the manufacturing of live resin and other cannabis concentrates should only be performed by professionals since these processes can be extremely dangerous.
The live resin process typically uses liquefied petroleum gas such as butane or propane as a solvent, leading many to consider live resin a form of butane hash oil (BHO). Ethanol or carbon dioxide (CO2) are also used for making extracts, but to a lesser extent.
The cannabis plant material is harvested and flash-frozen immediately. Plant material is flash-frozen by either slowly dipping it into an insulated cylinder filled with liquid nitrogen, or placing it in a cooler with dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) on the bottom. Extractors pack the cannabis into a tank inside a closed-loop system that is dedicated to holding it throughout the process. The tank must be purged of any oxygen prior to passing the butane or other solvent through to ensure that there is no explosion and unnecessary pressure.
The solvent is chilled, then passed through the starting material, releasing the trichomes from the plant matter. To remove the solvent, heat is applied to the combined mixture of cannabis and solvent, causing the solvent to turn into a vapor and rise into the solvent column. There, it is cooled and condensed back into a liquid.
Extractors must always pay careful attention to temperature. Too much heat can ruin an extraction. Heat evaporates the volatile terpenes and triggers decarboxylation, which rids the concentrate of its translucent appearance and turns it into a darker oil.
Again, for health and safety reasons, extract production should be left to professionals since the safety precautions and equipment require precision and accuracy.
History of live resin
The development of the current live resin production method was pioneered in 2013 by cannabis cultivator William “Kind Bill” Fenger and EmoTek Labs founder and cannabis entrepreneur Jason “Giddy Up” Emo.
In 2010, Fenger started the first legal grow operation dedicated exclusively to producing concentrates in his home state of Colorado. During a harvest, he considered the possible outcomes of producing extracts from the cannabis plants he was actively trimming. He supposed that the aromas coming from the freshly harvested plants were richer and more desirable than cured nugs. He hypothesized that if he could extract the terpenes when their flavor profile was at its peak (before the drying and curing process), he could produce a concentrate with the same pungent aroma of the live plant.
His initial attempt at creating live resin was with the Original Diesel cultivar, also known as Daywrecker Diesel or Underdawg. After flash-freezing the plant material, he used it to produce BHO. The resulting extract, though flavorful and aromatic, was dangerous to make, produced a small yield, and was aesthetically unappealing. During these days, shatter was king. The common thinking was, “if it doesn't shatter, it doesn't matter.” While he found the live-plant BHO to be one of the best-tasting cannabis extracts he'd ever tried, the technology to improve yields and make production safer didn't yet exist yet.
In September of 2013, Emo installed an extraction unit at the production facility for A Cut Above, a medical dispensary in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The extraction unit was EmoTek Labs' OBE-Dos model, a closed-loop extraction device designed for commercial manufacturers producing high-quality wax and shatter. The dispensary employees, having trouble with the new unit, hired Fenger as a consultant for technical support.
Upon meeting Emo and seeing the OBE-Dos unit, Fenger was certain the technology would allow him to develop an effective extraction method. For more than a month, they collaborated on the extraction technique, experimenting with various strains and approaches.
Together they were able to produce a successful batch from a 24-hour extraction session, using whole cannabis plants that had been flash-frozen. The batch yield had the aromatic and flavor characteristics Fenger had sought for years. He named both the extraction process and the resulting concentrate live resin.
Why does live resin skip the drying and curing process?
The typical process for preparing weed for extraction includes drying or curing the raw plant material. Ingesting fresh cannabis won't get you high. Drying the harvested cannabis removes the moisture accumulated during the cultivation process without degrading or evaporating the terpenes.
The downside to drying and curing is that you're bound to lose some terpenes in the process. During the curing process, where cannabis is left to dry for an average period of seven to 10 days, the most volatile terpenes evaporate, changing the overall flavor profile of the flower. A 1995 study from the University of Mississippi compared the terpene profile from fresh cannabis plants to ones that had been dried over various lengths of time. Researchers found that drying a plant for a week at room temperature resulted in a 31% loss of terpenes.
Live resin made using fresh cannabis plant matter with an ideal terpene profile provides a dabbing experience with more floral, fruity, and spicy flavors than concentrates made with nug run or trim run cannabis.
When Fenger was harvesting his plants in the early 2010s, he strongly believed it'd be worthwhile to somehow harness the aroma and flavor of fresh flower. The proof is in the resin. The potency, terpene profile, and flavorful richness of live resin has established it as a sought-after and very desirable concentrate.