The aroma and taste of a live marijuana flower is what makes it so distinctive and attracts new and new followers. To capture this flavor in a consumable product is not an easy task. However, the result is worth the efforts.
Meet live resin
Live resin is a potent cannabis concentrate that is high on terpene content and is thus rich in taste and aroma. To achieve this effect, it is necessary to use low temperatures and only fresh-frozen marijuana in production.
The term “live resin” might also refer to the production technique rather than the final product. This term means that the plant used for concentrate production was always shock frozen, never cured or dried.
Characteristics of live resin
Unique terpene content
First and the most distinctive characteristic of this concentrate is that no terpenes get lost during the production process. It is a well-known fact that some volatile oils might vaporize with the presence of smallest heat, so classical purging process used for manufacturing of most solvent-based concentrates result at losing at least half of the valuable terpenes, thus changing the product chemical profile. With live resin, it is different. The aim is to preserve all essential oils making the product the most flavored and chemically balanced among all cannabis concentrates.
Carefully selected starting material
Live resin is one of the concentrates where quality in guarantees the quality out. Even though chemicals are used in the production process, it is impossible to cheat on live resin: low-quality marijuana will always be noticeable for the experienced eye. For live resin production, only fresh buds with sugar leaves are selected to ensure the highest product quality.
Being rich in terpenes, live resin is oily and sappy. The greater terpene content is, the more fluid the outcome will be. This technique allows to make full-spectrum budder, sugar and sauce, but it will not imitate the consistency of solid extracts like shatter.
Live resin belongs to the group of vaporizable cannabis concentrates (VCCs) that have high THC level. For this concentrate, it is 65-95%. This also means that the high effect of the extract will be achieved only if a product is decarboxylated by heat. That is why the most popular way to consume live resin, as well as other VCCs is through dab rigs, vape pens and e-joints.
Strains that matter
Being a highly flavored cannabis concentrate, live resin characteristics greatly depend on the selected strain of marijuana flower. The three parameters that differ are the terpene content (some strains have it higher), the terpene variability (each strain has a different set of terpenes), and the cannabinoid amount. The last factor, though, is more dependent on the cultivation conditions that the strain itself.
Is it full spectrum?
Full spectrum extract is the one where the correlation between the cannabinoids and terpenes in the trichome is kept without any changes. Most potent extracts are aimed at getting the maximum strength; in this chase, the terpene content is frequently forgotten. Isolates and distillates do not include essential oils at all. Live resin is exactly the product where the balance between the cannabinoid part and the valuable terpene component is struck.
Among solvent-based extracts, there is one more product, which usually is full spectrum – a terp sauce. This concentrate has a great visual resemblance to live resin, but there still is a difference. While live resin can be produced only from the fresh frozen flower buds, the manufacturing of terp sauce might involve using dried or cured marijuana as well as fresh. To sum up, live resin is a terp sauce made from fresh cannabis material.
Advantages of live resin
Full spectrum concentrates are valued for the unaffected terpene component. Why is it so important?
First, it is because without it, the concentrate will not have its magnificent flavor that is so much valued by marijuana consumers.
Secondly, because of greater therapeutic qualities. Investigations and researches in the field allowed to prove the so-called “entourage effect”, or a synergistic effect, which means that active compounds of a cannabis flower work best only if they are not separated. Moreover, the combination of a certain cannabinoid type with a certain terpene component is responsible for achieving different therapeutic outcomes. For instance, CBD and myrcene combination is anti-inflammatory, and THC also reveals its full potential only in synergy with the other plant components.
One more advantage of live resin is its quick action. Having high level of active THC, this concentrate acts almost instantly if consumed in a proper way. This quality is much valued by medical patients who look for a quick relief from pain, or recreational users who want to experience an instant high.
The fact that the extract is THC-high is always evaluated as a beneficial one. However, this point has a side-effect: with potent cannabis concentrates, it becomes possible to overdose on marijuana. Earlier, it was claimed that the overdose was highly unlikely since large quantities of a flower could not be consumed at a time. With the appearance of potent extracts in the market, it has become easy to consume greater amount of psychoactive component in one dose. That is why it is necessary to consider the amounts of consumed concentrates carefully and start from the minimal dabs.
Another disadvantage of live resin is the complexity of manufacturing process. Unlike solvent-free extracts like rosin or kief, live resin cannot be made at home or garage, since the production involves the use of highly flammable substances. The process is complicated and time-consuming, so the price for the final product is certainly high.
Even though the first mention of marijuana consumption dates back to thousands years ago, live resin is a relatively new product. It has not appeared in the market since 2013, when a group of growers decided to try using fresh frozen buds instead of dried or cured marijuana. They have discovered that this way it is possible to achieve the best terpene profile with perfect aroma that fully resembled the one of the fresh flower.
Using the existent technology (which was previously used for solvent-based extractions) and spending months on defied attempts, the inventors finally managed to develop the best extraction technique based of using liquid nitrogen for freezing buds and a solvent for separation. The resulting extract got the name “live resin” for its relevance to the live marijuana flower.
Live resin quickly gained its popularity both as a technique and as a final product. Freshly frozen cannabis is now used for the production of many BHO extracts like budder and sauce; it makes them more effective and full of flavor.
How to store live resin extract?
Such a flavorful and strong extract as live resin requires a solicitous attitude to its storage. To prolong the shelf life of this concentrate, it is necessary to follow four simple rules: cold, dark, dry and air-free.
Cold. Presence of heat kill the valuable oils. The most volatile terpenes vaporize at temperatures starting from 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmer your storing place is, the less terpenes you will save.
Dark. Direct sunlight works the same way as heat, so keep your live resin far from the light.
Dry. Excessive moisture blocks the concentrate strength and may lead to the appearance of molds. However, there is the other side: you mustn`t let the product dry too much or it will require additional rehabilitation measures.
Air-free. The presence of air dries the concentrate out too much and influences the consistency, color and strength. The idea is to keep small portions of live resin separately from each other, so you will not have to let air in too frequently.
The best solution that satisfies all the indicated needs is a silicone or a glass container, which is kept either in a cold room or a fridge. Fridge is preferred because it is easier to control the temperature.
Consuming live resin: most popular ways
As well as the other potent cannabis concentrates, live resin can be consumed in a number of ways. To select the best one, consider the effect, convenience, and your personal preferences.
The most traditional way is smoking. It allows to fully evaluate the scent and experience a high at the same time. This method is recommended to old-school smokers who want to liven up their routine or to newcomers who prefer to start from a milder way. Live resin might be added to a joint or a blunt. For that purpose, add some concentrate to the top of marijuana flower in the center of a tobacco or a rolling paper and enjoy the increased strength and flavor.
Another smoking opportunity is adding live resin to a bowl. Selecting this popular way of smoking marijuana, consider the quantities of the concentrate. It is recommended to take the minimal dose for the first try and to increase it according to your experience and expectations.
The most progressive way of consuming live resin is certainly dabbing. A dab means a concentrated dose of marijuana taken at a time. This method is used only for vaporizable cannabis concentrates with high potency, like live resin. To try dabbing, you will need an oil rig – a special equipment similar to a bong but smaller, and the dabbing tool with a spoon-shaped edge.
First, you need to heat the nail to the proper temperature, for live resin it is never more than 400 degrees Fahrenheit, though, to preserve the natural flavor, it is better to use lower temperatures, about 310-320 degrees. For this purpose, you might either use the gas-powered torch, or purchase the e-nail. Having successfully heated the nail, take a dabbing spoon to drop a dose of live resin on the nail. Note that the vaporizing process starts instantly so be ready to inhale the vapor through the opposite side of the dab rig.
Dabbing being the most effective way to get high, it is still not as convenient as using hand vaporizers. Live resin cartridges for vape pens are easy to use and carry. The battery inside the pen heats the concentrate in the atomizer to produce the vapor.
Drying and curing: why leave them behind
Each and every cannabis grower is aimed at nurturing healthy and well-flavored marijuana flowers. The properly held drying stage is considered to be a ticket to success, since it can improve the high, taste and aroma, as well as a bad drying process is able to ruin the healthy flower at all. What is drying? It is the process of decreasing the water ratio by 10-15%. Curing is the step that can be performed after the drying phase. This process allows to enhance the quality and flavor of the product to the maximum. Drying and curing are both time-consuming and take a minimum of 10-14 days.
What are the negative effects of drying and curing on the flower?
The greatest effect is losing part of the terpenes. The drying stage supposes decarboxylation initiated by the heat. During this process, the easily vaporized terpenes leave the plant, thus the final product is deprived of its unique scent and therapeutic qualities. Moreover, the balance between cannabinoids and terpenes gets broke so the product cannot be considered full spectrum.
It is interesting that the potency of the flower also depends on the drying process. The longer it is, the smaller THC content of the concentrate will be. It is because when dried, THC transforms into cannabinol or other inactive compounds.
Live resin technology is a successful effort to get the high-THC product without losing any essential oils. Using fresh frozen buds instead of a dried and cured material together with a zealous temperature control allows to create a unique full-spectrum concentrate called live resin.
Production of live resin
Specific character of live resin makes its production process different from manufacturing of any other concentrates. It includes three main stages: freezing the material, extraction and purging. Learn more about each of them:
Stage 1. Freezing the plant material
To avoid drying, cannabis buds must be frozen as soon as they get harvested. The longer the delay is, the more terpenes will be lost. The commercial shock-freeze process involves the use of liquid nitrogen, though there is the alternative solution - placing the buds in a cool container with dry ice. All freezing measures serve two aims: to save the valuable components and to make trichomes more brittle and easily breakable.
Stage 2. Extraction process
The desirable parts that have to be extracted from the flower trichomes are cannabinoids and terpenes. The separation technique requires the introduction of solvents like butane, propane or CO2. This stage includes the following steps:
the frozen cannabis material is packed into a closed-loop extraction system;
a chosen solvent is chilled to very low temperatures (a common range is from -20 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit);
solvent gets added to the plant material to start the extraction.
Stage 3. Purging
Solvent residuals in the final product are highly undesirable because they might cause significant health problems. This fact underlines the importance of proper purging stage. Unlike the production of other solvent-based concentrates, the purging process for live resin does not allow the use of high temperatures that can make the terpenes vaporize. That is why to achieve the desirable effect, it is required that purging takes longer time that usual. The range of permitted temperatures for vacuum purge is from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. After purging is over, the concentrates get chilled and stored. It is important that the production of live resin should never be performed in non-professional conditions. Getting through the indicated stages requires special equipment (extraction system, commercial low-temperature freezers, vacuum oven) and the use of dangerous materials (liquid nitrogen, solvents). Note that such hazardous activity can cause explosions and is thus prohibited by the government.
Are all live resins the same?
The market is full of live resin concentrates. Do they differ from each other? How close are they to being identical?
You probably know that with marijuana, it is impossible to find two identical products. With live resin, this difference is even more intense. There are two main diverse characteristics of this extract:
Considering that marijuana flowers contain more than 100 types of essential oils, it becomes obvious that each strain has a unique terpene profile. Even more, different samples within one strain might also have a different terpene profile. If you try to repeat your previous consuming experience, select the same strain: the likeness will be not absolute but the highest possible.
Live resin is a technique rather than the concentrate that is why it may take different forms. The most common products on live resin basis are sap, budder and sauce. The harder concentrates like shatter are more difficult to materialize because of the chemical structure of live resin.
Why is live resin so expensive?
There are two reasons that influence the price: the low yield and the complexity of production.
Live resin has much greater terpene level than the other concentrates, sometimes the difference is five times more than with other popular extracts. To produce a gram of terpene-rich live resin, it is necessary to take a few times more starting material than with the other concentrates. That is why live resin production is always a low-yield one and thus expensive.
The second reason is the complexity of a whole manufacturing process and the need for professional approach, equipment and time. All these taken together increase the prime cost of live resin and other full-spectrum products.