There is a wide range of cannabis concentrates to enjoy out there, including shatter, wax, dabs, hash oil, and BHO. Dubbed ‘the future of cannabis’, concentrates, as the name suggests, are extremely potent forms of weed with an extremely high THC or CBD content. There are concentrates on the market with a THC content of over 90%, so it doesn’t take much to achieve a satisfying high. Likewise, a small amount will do to treat the symptoms of any of the medical ailments that marijuana is purported to assist.
Live resin is a relatively new form of cannabis concentrate that is taking the industry by storm. Not only does live resin wax provide you with a potent concentrate, but it also enables you to enjoy the real aroma and flavor of the marijuana plant. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see, feel, and smell a cannabis plant as it is being harvested, you’ll know that it is an entirely different animal to the concentrates you find in dispensaries.
The terpene content of living buds offers astonishing aromas, and a single whiff is like walking a stairway to heaven. Alas, once the weed has been harvested, many of the processes that occur between the period when the plant is cut to when you get hold of the final product remove the majority of the weed’s aromas and flavors. Too many extraction techniques leave you with a product that gets you high but lacks the elegance, bouquet, and taste of fresh marijuana.
If only there were a way to maintain the integrity of the plant so that you receive a concentrate that contains all the magic of cannabis. Thankfully there is, and in this article, we will show you how to make live resin. One of the main differences between live resin and rosin, for example, is that the former requires trained technicians and expensive equipment. In other words, you can try to try to create live resin, but it will cost you!
What is Live Resin?
Live resin is a form of cannabis concentrate created via a specialized technique, and it quickly became popular in states such as California and Colorado soon after marijuana was legalized. It is similar to CO2 and BHO concentrates insofar as it requires the right equipment and experienced individuals 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 of weed. If you use CO2 and BHO extraction, many of the terpenes are lost because they utilize high heat, dissolving any terpenes with a low boiling point.
Typically, once a cannabis plant has been harvested, it is then cured and dried, but 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. When a plant is cured, 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, so the concentrate you receive lacks the aroma of the plant and also ensures you 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 the use of a ‘closed loop system’, which means the process starts and ends in the same place. One tank contains the 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 which contains 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 soon as the butane passes over the cannabis, it bonds with the terpenes and cannabinoids, thus stripping the marijuana 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, which heats the butane until the majority of it is boiled off. 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 has been completed, the live resin is at 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 the beautiful aroma of terpenes.
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 to store the freshly harvested marijuana in a freezer, which probably has a temperature of -10 degrees Fahrenheit, 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 which was able to maintain the extremely low temperatures associated with live resin and combined it with their desire to use freshly frozen marijuana plants to create extracts. The result is exceptionally potent concentrate. 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 regardless of how well it is conducted.
The live resin process, on the other hand, 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. However, the aroma and taste will blow you away! 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 study* by Ross and ElSohly at the University of Mississippi, published in 1996, looked at what happens to a marijuana plant’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 of which 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 analysed. It is important to note that steam distillation only extracts a plant’s terpenes. The main terpenes that were 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 discovered 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, which meant 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 if you want 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?
Although it has an advantage, 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 there is a huge array of varieties available right now.
If you see live resin available in Denver, don’t assume it is the same as what a different company in Los Angeles offers. Indeed, these products usually vary in terms of thickness, and you can purchase an array of live resin models including jellies, saps, butter, and shatters. The concentration of terpenes in a product impacts thickness, but 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. In fact, most resins only hold a handful of monoterpenes. As a consequence, 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 it is exposed to. 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 better known and more available, we expect the price of live resin to fall a little more at least.
Should I Try Live Resin?
One of the significant advantages of live resin is that you can consume large amounts of THC in a single session if you choose. Some versions have a THC content of up to 95% so while it is useful as a form of medicine, inexperienced users have to be extremely careful. It is all too easy to go overboard, and excessive THC consumption could lead to adverse side effects such as 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. There is an increasing body of scientific research which suggests that terpenes work with cannabinoids to increase the medical benefits of marijuana.
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 increase in the next few years; especially as marijuana becomes legal in an ever-increasing number of states, at least for medicinal use. If you want to experience the real flavor and aroma of a freshly harvested marijuana plant, give live resin concentrates a try.