Live Resin

ˈlīv ˈre-zᵊn | Noun

Definition

The process, as well as the resulting concentrate, that is extracted from fresh cannabis plant material that was not dried or cured. This method is used to retain the terpenes that are lost during the drying and curing process. Products that have been extracted using the live resin process — freezing the cannabis plant material and extracting it — have been associated as high-quality, flavorful concentrates due to the high amounts of terpenes.

 

“We call it Live Resin because the finished product smells exactly like the living product” – Kind Bill, creator of Live Resin

 

“I got some sauce the other day from Tru Med in Phoenix, it was super terpy, reminded me of Live Resin.” – 87AZ, reddit user

What is Live Resin?

Live resin 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 extract 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 originating cannabis plant. Concentrate enthusiasts tend to gravitate toward live resin for its more flavorful and aromatic dabbing experience. 

 

When producing live resin, the primary goal is to capture the massive essence and aroma of the live cannabis plant. Products extracted using the live resin process — flash-freezing the cannabis plant material, then extracting it — are associated with high-quality and flavorful concentrates. Bypassing the typical drying and curing processes 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 cannabis, and other characteristics to be expressed in the final product.

What Does Live Resin Look and feel Like?

You’ll find live resin extracts 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 this extract. Live resin is chock full of terpenes, and in greater proportions than other concentrates. With the additional essential oils, the consistency is typically more fluid 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.

Photo by Gina Coleman

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. There are simply too many incompatibilities when it comes to live resin vs. shatter. Most notably, shatter is defined by its brittle consistency, which is difficult to achieve with the live resin process, as the liquidity of terpenes prevents the concentrate from taking on a hard, rigid quality. 

What’s the Difference Between Live Resin and Sauce?

The starting plant material is key to determine if  it’s live resin or sauce. Live resin always calls for fresh cannabis plants that are processed by flash-freezing. Sauce, in contrast, can use fresh plant matter, but it is not essential, as extractors can also use cured bud for either a trim run or a nug run sauce. The cured plant material is going to lack the large quantity 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?’

Imagine a raw cannabis plant growing tall in the sunshine. In its raw form, a cannabis cultivar has a unique cannabinoid and terpene profile. Full-spectrum extracts are a type of cannabis concentrate that aim to capture as much of the full cannabinoid and terpene profile of that raw cannabis plant as possible. The goal is to acquire all the active molecules within the trichome gland without any alteration. Depending on how the plant is processed, live resin can be considered a full-spectrum extract. 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

You’ll want to keep the aromatic bouquet and full flavor of live resin for as long as possible. Preserve the potency and quality of your live resin 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 protecting the cannabinoids from degradation and preventing the terpenes from evaporation. If you’re in the market for live resin 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 live 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 your live resin’s container securely. Leaving your live resin 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 consume Live Resin by “dabbing.” Dabbing uses a particular type of water pipe called a dab rig, or simply “rig,” as well as a flat bowl called a nail. Nails are produced from materials that can withstand higher temperatures than glass bowls used for smoking flower

 

For live resin, use a dabber with a spoon-shaped tip, as opposed to a flat-tipped dabber that’s used for most other extracts. To take a dab, preheat the nail with a gas-powered torch — typically butane. The temperature of your nail is important. A nail that’s too hot means you may be combusting the delicious flavor and positive effects. A nail that’s too cold means you’re not vaporizing your live resin or not activating the cannabinoids or terpenes adequately. The optimal temperature range for dabbing live resin is between 315 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit (about 157 to 204 degrees Celsius). It’s recommended to err on the side of caution and heat your nail toward the lower end of that range to really maximize the flavor potential of your live resin.

Photo by Gina Coleman

Once the nail reaches the correct temperature, turn off the torch and safely set it aside. Use the spoon-style dabber to drop your live resin onto the nail. When the live resin comes in contact with the hot nail, the extract quickly vaporizes. As the vapor emerges from the nail, inhale through an opening on the opposite end of the rig.

 

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 experienced, as well as a flavor with extra zest.

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 your live resin with heat and inhaling the cannabinoids 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 dab your live resin, try using a nectar collector. These simple devices consist of a quartz or titanium tip; a body made out of glass or silicone, which may include a small water chamber, percolator, or reclaimer; and a cylindrical mouthpiece made out of glass or silicone. After heating the tip, you slowly drag the nectar collector across a dab of concentrate, inhaling the vapor as you go.

 

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?

Live resin carts are a very popular and increasingly common way to consume Live Resin. These are simply oil cartridges that have been filled with live resin instead of a more conventional cannabis concentrate. As with any cartridge, to use your live resin cart, 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, but you should typically plan to spend anywhere from $10 to $50 more per gram of live resin than you would for a gram of other concentrates. Higher-end live resin can run as high as $100 per gram and up, while slightly lower-grade live resin will typically be in the range of $60 to $80 per gram.

 

The higher price of live resin is largely driven by the fact that the extraction process used to make live resin yields less of a final product than other extraction methods. And remember, when you buy live resin, you’re not paying for more THC or CBD. You’re paying for all those terpenes and the ultra-tasty experience they provide.

How is Live Resin Made?

WARNING: THE MANUFACTURING OF LIVE RESIN AND OTHER CANNABIS CONCENTRATES SHOULD ONLY BE PERFORMED BY PROFESSIONALS AS THESE PROCESSES CAN BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

 

For safety and health reasons, producing extracts should be left to professionals, as the safety precautions and equipment require precision and accuracy.

 

The Live Resin process typically uses liquefied petroleum gas, such as butane or propane, as a solvent. Ethanol or carbon dioxide (CO2) are also solvents used for making extracts, but to a lesser extent.

 

The cannabis plant material is harvested and is frozen immediately. You can flash-freeze plant material by either slowly dipping it into a cold insulating cylinder filled with liquid nitrogen, or placing it in a cooler with dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) on the bottom. If using a cold box, the temperature of the container should ideally be steady at -40 degrees Fahrenheit (also -40 degrees Celsius).

 

Photo by Gina Coleman

The overall process for producing live resin is the same as other extracts. The most significant difference with producing live resin is the solvent must be cooled to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (also -40 degrees Celsius). Live resin is typically made following these five steps:

  1. Packing the material column with the frozen plant material.
  2. Chilling the solvent.
  3. Passing the solvent over the material to create the solution.
  4. Applying very little heat to the solution to promote the vaporization of the solvent.
  5. Chilling the solvent tank to recondense the vapors.

Another critical difference with the live resin process, compared with other types of extractions, is the temperature of the vacuum purge. The goal is to retain and keep as much of the essential oils as possible and prevent their evaporation. In order to do this, the processors use a vacuum oven set at just 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (about 18.33 to 23.88 degrees Celsius). Crumble, by comparison, is purged at a temperature range of 110 degrees Fahrenheit to 135 degrees Fahrenheit (43.33 degrees Celsius to 57.22 degrees Celsius).

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, Kind Bill 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 plant when its terpene 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. 

 

Kind Bill’s initial attempt at creating live resin was with the Original Diesel cultivar, also known as Daywrecker Diesel #1, or Underdawg. After flash-freezing the plant material, he used it to produce a butane hash oil (BHO) extract. 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, and “if it didn’t shatter, it didn’t matter.” While he found it to be one of the best-tasting cannabis extracts he’d ever tried, the technology to improve yields and safe production techniques didn’t yet exist. 

 

In September of 2013, Giddy Up 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 their new OBE-Dos unit, hired Kind Bill as a consultant for technical support. 

 

Upon meeting Giddy Up and seeing the OBE-Dos unit, Kind Bill was certain the technology would allow him to develop an effective extraction method. For more than a month, Kind Bill and Giddy Up 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 Kind Bill had sought for years. Kind Bill named both extraction process as well as the resulting concentrate “live resin.”

 

Photo by Gina Coleman

Since its creation, Colorado and California have become the hub for locating and acquiring live resin. With its fragrant smell and full flavors, it’s now a product associated with top-shelf quality, and is a favorite among concentrate connoisseurs, with production and distribution continuing to rise. 

Why Does Live Resin Skip the Drying and Curing process?

The typical process for preparing cannabis for extraction includes drying or curing the raw plant material. Ingesting fresh cannabis won’t give you a high. Drying the harvested cannabis prepares flower to be exposed to heat and to decarboxylate the active compounds that produce the psychoactive and therapeutic effects by removing the moisture accumulated during the cultivation process without degrading or evaporating the terpenes. The goal is to prepare the flower to be consumed for its psychoactive and therapeutic effects without sacrificing all of the flavor and aroma.

 

The downside to the drying and curing process is that you’re bound to lose some terpenes in the process. Terpenes give us the unique tastes and smells of cannabis cultivars, from piney to skunky to citrusy, and also change the character and intensity of users’ highs. When cannabis buds are fresh, they contain their highest level of terpenes. During the curing process, where cannabis is left to dry for an average period of seven to 10 days, the most volatile terpenes evaporate and change the overall flavor profile of the flower. A 1995 study from the University of Mississippi measured the differences in the amount of terpenes from a fresh cannabis plant to those 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. 

 

Terpenes are classified by size, or more accurately, the number of chains of isoprene units on the molecule. The University of Mississippi study measured and reported on two particular classes of terpenes in the cannabis plants they used in their research: monoterpenes, which have two isoprene units, and sesquiterpenes, which have three isoprene units. Both of these types of terpenes evaporate as the cannabis plant cures, but not at the same rate. During the study, monoterpenes evaporated faster, while sesquiterpenes evaporated more slowly due to their larger size. When the cannabis plant was at its freshest, it was composed of 92.48% monoterpenes to 6.84% sesquiterpenes. A week later, the ratio changed to 85.54% monoterpenes to 12.64% sesquiterpenes. 

 

The monoterpene-to-sesquiterpene ratio affects the flavor profile of cannabis, as well as any concentrates made from it. Monoterpenes such as myrcene, limonene, linalool, and terpinolene are commonly associated with hops, citrus, lavender, and eucalyptus — the floral, fruity, and aerial flavors in cannabis. Sesquiterpenes such as caryophyllene and humulene are commonly associated with basil, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon — the spicy flavors in cannabis. 

 

Live resin, using fresh cannabis plants at their peak amounts of both sesquiterpenes and monoterpenes, is able to provide a dabbing experience with more floral, fruity, and aerial flavors than concentrates made with nug run or trim run cannabis. 

 

Terpenes have also been shown to aid — even heighten — the effects of THC, cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabinoids. In a study published in 2011 by the British Journal of Pharmacology, Dr. Ethan B. Russo wrote about the entourage effects of cannabinoids and terpenes. For example, myrcene — an essential oil found in hops, bay leaves, and cardamom — is commonly found in cannabis. Research supports a hypothesis that myrcene, in combination with THC, may yield the familiar couch lock experience. Terpenes can really boost and amplify our experiences with cannabis.

 

When Kind Bill was harvesting his plants in the early 2010s, he strongly believed it’d be worthwhile to somehow harness the aroma and flavor of fresh cannabis. The proof is in the resin. The potency and flavorful richness of Live Resin has established it as a sought-after and very desirable concentrate.