Concentrates Explained: What is Live Resin?

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What are Live Resin Cannabis Concentrates?

Live resin, like distillate, is a type of cannabis concentrate. However, compared to distillate, live resin is not as refined. This leads to live resin retaining the characteristic, aromatic scent produced by the complex terpene profile of the cannabis plant.

Moxie concentrates delivery for Cali
Live Resin concentrate from Moxie

Live resin is sometimes confused with the similar-sounding “rosin,” or live rosin. While live resin is produced with freezing-cold temperatures involved, rosin, or live rosin, on the other hand, involves exposing parts of the cannabis plant to extra-high heat and pressure in order to extract potent resin from the plant.

Live resin is most notable among other cannabis concentrates, such as shatter, for its high terpene content. 

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How do You Make Live Resin?

Two primary steps are followed to extract live resin from the cannabis plant:

  1. First, the flowers harvested from the plant are promptly frozen to preserve the water content, terpenes, and the psychoactive and non-psychoactive compounds found in cannabis. (It is this first step that makes the resin “live”: the cannabis flowers are frozen to capture the alive state they were last in before they were harvested.)
  2. Second, an extraction process is performed on the frozen flowers. Common extraction processes for making live resin include hydrocarbon extraction (like Butane Hash Oil extraction aka BHO) and solventless extraction. More importantly, the flowers remain frozen throughout the extraction process.

These two steps create the desired waxy, yellowish, flavorful product known as live resin.

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How Do You Use Live Resin?

Vaping wax with an electronic dab rig

There are several ways to smoke and consume live resin, such as:

  • Dabbing, which is the most popular way that live resin is consumed. For those unfamiliar with dabbing, dabbing involves applying a small amount of concentrate to a hot surface, usually using a dab rig with an electronic nail, or quartz banger. A nail or banger is heated by a torch or, in the case of an e-nail, by electricity. Using a dab tool, the live resin or similar cannabis concentrate is applied to the hot nail or e-nail, vaporizing the live resin so it can be inhaled. Between 315 and 400°F seems to be the preferred temperature for dabbing live resin.
  • Vaping with a dab pen, which is a less common but more convenient way of dabbing. Dab and wax vape pens perform a similar function as a dab rig. However, instead of using a nail to heat up the cannabis concentrate, an oven built into the vaporizer or a set of coils are heated which vaporizes the concentrate.
  • Vaping using a 510-thread cartridge + battery, for maximum simplicity. 510-thread carts filled with live resin are compatible with easily-purchased 510-thread batteries.
  • Topping off flowers, which is fitting for those who prefer to consume their cannabis in a more traditional matter such as smoking out of a bong or pipe, or hitting a joint. This involves sprinkling bits of live resin onto your dry herb cannabis flowers.
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Is Live Resin Different from other Cannabis Concentrates?

With so many different cannabis concentrates available today, you may be wondering how Live resin is different from wax, shatter, or other cannabis extracts.

Live resin, wax, and shatter, each generally have the same level of potency. The real difference between these types of concentrates is texture, appearance, and flavor. Prices for these products can also greatly vary.

Live Resin and wax concentrates
  • Live Resin comes in many textures, colors, and consistencies. The textures have names such as sugar (when the live resin looks like granulated sugar) and budder (a play-on-words of “butter,” when the live resin looks like butter). Live resin is typically regarded as the most high-end out of the three types of cannabis concentrates listed. It is also the most difficult to produce. As such, it commands a premium price, although many will say the expense is well worth it. Not all dispensaries and delivery services carry it, and it is considered a boutique product.
  • Wax has a softer texture than live resin and shatter. This allows it to be consumed in many ways. But, because of its soft texture, wax breaks down rapidly and must be consumed more quickly than other concentrates. Wax is a popular cannabis concentrate and most dispensaries and delivery services keep it in stock.
  • Shatter has a texture almost identical to glass. This glass-like texture allows shatter to be stored for a long period of time. The trade-offs are that shatter is delicate to handle and difficult to consume. Experienced cannabis consumers say that shatter is stronger than wax. Shatter can be purchased from most dispensaries and delivery services.
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Is Live Resin Considered a ‘Full Spectrum’ Extract?

So, the correct answer to the question of whether or not live resin is a full-spectrum extract is: it depends on who is asked.

It is debatable whether or not live resin is a full-spectrum extract.

First, it is helpful to understand the difference between full-spectrum extracts, broad-spectrum extracts, and isolate extracts.

Full-spectrum Extracts

Cannabis concentrates that are considered to be a full-spectrum extract (also known as a whole-plant extract) contain all of the constituents of the cannabis plant. This includes:

  • Cannabinoids
  • Terpenes
  • Flavonoids

Broad-spectrum Extracts

The term broad-spectrum extract is, for the most part, used only when talking about CBD cannabis concentrates. Broad-spectrum extracts try to retain as many constituents of the cannabis plant as possible. However, THC is deliberately removed. This goal is to reduce or eliminate the psychoactive effect of consuming the broad-spectrum extract cannabis concentrate. Broad-spectrum extracts usually contain 0.3% THC or less.

Isolate Extracts

Isolate extract cannabis concentrates, in contrast to full-spectrum and broad-spectrum extracts, try to eliminate all constituents of the cannabis plant except for the cannabinoids. High-quality isolate extract cannabis concentrates can be 98-100% pure cannabinoids. Many CBD products are made with pure CBD isolate which contains zero amount of THC.

So Why the Confusion?

On one hand, since it is frozen immediately after being harvested, live resin can be considered to be a full-spectrum extract. It contains all of the constituents of the whole cannabis plant since it is not dried and cured.

On the other hand, live resin can be considered to not be a full-spectrum extract cannabis concentrate for the exact reason that it is not dried and cured. The process of curing harvested cannabis causes new chemicals to be produced. Since live resin is not dried and cured, it does not contain these chemicals.

So, the correct answer to the question of whether or not live resin is a full-spectrum extract is: it depends on who is asked.

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Looking to try live resin for the first time? Or looking for some new brands to flirt with? Here is a short list of recommendations:

Out of the above list of brands, STIIZY and Cobra Extract are among the most trusted and sought after, and are highly recommended.

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Where to Buy Cannabis Resin

Cannabis resin can be purchased from most high-end cannabis dispensaries and delivery services.

For residents of California, the HighNow delivery service (formerly Moxie On Demand), is a great way to obtain top-shelf live resin. You can also check services like Eaze Delivery.

About the guest author: Cody B. is a professional writer located in Los Angeles, California. He covers topics related to the cannabis industry, technology, business, and politics.You can see some of his other work on his personal website.
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