A wide range of cannabis concentrates are available, including shatter, wax, dabs, hash oil, and BHO. As their prevalence increases, some suggest that cannabis concentrates are the future of cannabis. They are highly potent with THC levels over 90% and also contain generous CBD contents. Therefore, a small amount can address the symptoms of any of the medical ailments that marijuana purportedly assists.
Live resin is a relatively new form of cannabis concentrate that is taking the industry by storm. On the one hand, live resin wax provides you with a potent concentrate. On the other, it enables you to enjoy the marijuana plant’s natural aroma and flavor.
If you’ve ever smelled a cannabis plant being harvested, you’ll know that it’s entirely different compared to the concentrates in dispensaries. The terpene content of living buds offers beautiful aromas. However, after harvesting, many of the processes remove most of the weed’s aroma and flavors. Too many extraction techniques leave you with a product that lacks the elegance, bouquet, and taste of fresh marijuana.
If only there were a way to maintain the integrity of the plant in concentrate form. Thankfully there is, and in this article, we will show you how to make live resin. However, one main difference between live resin and rosin is that the former requires trained technicians and expensive equipment.
What Is Live Resin?
Live resin is a form of cannabis concentrate created via a specialized technique. The cannabis concentrate quickly became popular in California and Colorado, soon after these states legalized marijuana. It is similar to CO2, and BHO concentrates insofar as it requires the right equipment and experience to complete the process correctly.
Live resin extraction involves the cryogenic freezing of a newly harvested marijuana 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.
Aficionados love live resin shatter because it helps to preserve the terpene profile.
Aficionados love live resin shatter because it helps to preserve the terpene profile. If you use CO2 and BHO extraction, many of the terpenes are lost. This is because they utilize high heat, which dissolves any terpenes with a low boiling point.
Typically, after harvesting, a cannabis plant is then cured and dried. However, 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 marijuana plant. After curing, 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. Therefore, the concentrate lacks the plant’s aroma and means you may miss out on potentially therapeutic ingredients.
How to Create Live Resin Extract
It is a different story entirely if you purchase live resin dabs. The plant is flash frozen straight after harvest and kept at extremely low temperatures for the duration of the extraction process. Professional companies spend a small fortune on the equipment used for the procedure.
It involves using a ‘closed-loop system,’ which means the process starts and ends in the same place. One tank contains hydrocarbons; butane and propane. These materials are stored in the container and chilled down to cryogenic temperatures. High-grade butane is placed in the first tank and, under pressure, it gets pushed into another tank containing the marijuana plant matter.
The butane gets to work by dissolving the trichomes as it is pushed through the second tank. It slowly travels through the tank and soaks the weed. As the butane passes over the cannabis, it bonds with the terpenes and cannabinoids. As a result, it strips the plant material of its active compounds.
Next, the butane flows into the third chamber, also known as the cryogenic or dewaxing column. It purges the plant fats, lipids, and waxes to purify the extraction further. Finally, the liquid makes its way to the collection chamber. It heats the butane, removing the majority of it. The result is a concentrated oil laden with cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. The remaining solvent flows through another pipe and ends up back where it started.
Once the process is complete, the live resin is less than 4% of its original weight. At this stage, the resin is still too volatile, and it self-purges the remaining carbon dioxide. The THC molecules crystallize and separate while staying suspended in a thick oil that offers terpenes’ beautiful aroma.
Can I Make Live Resin in My Kitchen?
You can try to create live resin at home, but you won’t be anywhere near as successful as the professionals. Freezing is an essential part of live resin creation because it stops the metabolic process and halts plant material degradation. In simple terms, you are preserving the freshness of the weed.
Freezing also locks out water-soluble components of the marijuana plant’s cellular structure. If there is moisture present in the buds, it prevents butane’s effectiveness as a solvent. When trying to make live resin at home, the best you can do is store the freshly harvested marijuana in a freezer. However, it probably has a temperature of -10 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is a long way above the -292 degrees used by professional extraction companies.
Use the material within 36 hours of freezing and pass a chilled solvent over your material. Remember, you need a certified closed-loop extractor if you want this to work. Steer clear of old or dried material and try to use high-quality frozen plants, including the sugar leaves and flowers.
Where Does Live Resin Come From?
It is a relatively new creation, so live resin’s history is rather short. Most sources credit ‘Kind Bill’ (real name William Fenger) and ‘Giddy Up’ (founder of EmoTek Labs) with stabilizing and introducing this form of concentrate to the market sometime between 2011 and 2013.
They developed a unique BHO extractor capable of maintaining the extremely low temperatures associated with live resin. Most of the highest terpene concentrates recorded at Cannabis Cups in recent years have been live resins.
What’s the Difference Between Live Resin and Other Concentrates?
It is all about the terpenes. Making live resin involves freezing the plant as soon as it gets cut. Crucially, it is neither dried nor cured. The drying and curing process has long since been considered crucial. However, up to 60% of terpenes can be lost during the curing process.
On the other hand, the live resin process takes freshly harvested bud and shock freezes it immediately. As a result, there is no chance for the plant’s terpenes and cannabinoids to degrade.
In contrast, other concentrates use dried and cured weed. Technically, live resin is a BHO that is created by exposing marijuana to butane. You can produce live resin via CO2 extraction by using a vacuum oven to remove impurities. This oven uses relatively low temperatures for a few hours.
As live resin contains far more terpenes than other types of concentrate, it has a sappy-liquid consistency. It is not as rigid or stable as typical BHO products such as glass or shatter. All it takes is a couple of grams of resin to offer the full spectrum of aromas from a newly harvested cannabis plant.
How Drying Degrades Terpenes
A 1996 study* by Ross and ElSohly looked at what happens to marijuana’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 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 analyzed. It is important to note that steam distillation only extracts a plant’s terpenes. The main terpenes 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 found 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. Therefore, they comprised a significant percentage of the oil after the drying process.
The conclusion was that you need to extract terpenes from freshly frozen buds to get the highest percentage. Of course, moisture in the bud hinders butane as it tries to dissolve the terpenes and cannabinoids in a plant.
What Distinguishes Live Resins From One Another?
Live resins don’t automatically possess a higher concentration of terpenes or cannabinoids than extracts from cured marijuana. The sheer variety of extraction techniques and strain types when making live resin means a vast array of choices is available right now.
A live resin available in Denver doesn’t mean it’s the same as what a different Los Angeles-based company offers. Indeed, these products usually vary in terms of thickness. You can purchase an array of live resin models, including jellies, saps, butter, and shatters. The concentration of terpenes in a product impacts thickness. However, many companies alter their products after extraction, so a thick sap-like resin is transformed into butter.
While there are well over 100 identified terpenes in the marijuana plant, don’t assume your live resin contains a high percentage. Most resins only hold a handful of monoterpenes. Consequently, the live resin you see online still doesn’t offer the full fresh marijuana aroma and flavor experience.
The type of extraction used matters, as does marijuana material used at the beginning. Remember, no matter how sophisticated the extraction technique, it can only work with the cannabis plant material involved. If the whole plant is used, you will receive a broader and more complex terpene profile than if you only use flowers, for example.
Although live resin’s price has fallen, it is still relatively expensive. When it was first created in Colorado, it was common to see it on sale for $100 a gram! Even today, it is normal to see it sold for $60 a gram. As it becomes more available, we expect the price of live resin to fall a little more, at least.
Should I Try Live Resin?
One significant advantage of live resin is that you can consume large THC amounts in a single session. Some versions have a THC content of up to 95%. Therefore, inexperienced users have to be extremely careful. It is easy to overconsume, and excessive THC consumption could lead to adverse reactions like paranoia, hallucinations, 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 than smoking. An increasing body of scientific research suggests terpenes work with cannabinoids to increase marijuana’s medical benefits.
Research suggests terpenes work with cannabinoids to increase marijuana’s medical benefits.
It is difficult to correctly extract live resin because the cryogenic freezing process requires sophisticated lab equipment and trained staff. This is why live resin is still expensive compared to other forms of concentrate. The process involves the use of liquid nitrogen, so we implore you – DO NOT try to create live resin at home!
We expect the popularity of live resin concentrates to keep increasing in the next few years. This process will likely hasten as marijuana becomes legal in an ever-increasing number of states.