Let’s face it, it can be difficult to keep up with the evolving world of cannabis, whether you’re a newbie or an experienced user. We now see innovative new edibles, tinctures, strains, and concentrates popping up daily in dispensaries and online stores.
People are drawn to the cannabis plant for many reasons, from its therapeutic benefits to its psychoactive properties, and as such, choosing the right product requires some research.
In this article, we will take a deep dive into live resin—a unique cannabis concentrate designed to capture the fullest spectrum of the cannabis plant and harness the power of the entourage effect.*
What is live resin?
Of the many concentrates currently available, live resin is one of the newest options, developed about ten years ago. Concentrates are known as a potent version of cannabis with high amounts of active compounds in a smaller product volume, typically in the form of liquid wax, soft solid balms, or harder solids with an amber color.*
Many people love concentrates for their convenience, effectiveness, and efficient consumption process.* For those accustomed to THC, concentrates offer a direct route to experiencing a powerful psychoactive experience, but not all concentrates are formulated to maximize the high.
In fact, live resin is one of the more versatile cannabis concentrates, offering much more than just a pure THC experience.
Live resin is a type of cannabis concentrate made using fresh cannabis plants that are flash-frozen immediately after harvest. This helps preserve the active compounds in the plant more quickly and completely, allowing users to get the benefits of a fresh plant without going straight to the source. *
Unlike other concentrates made from dried and cured cannabis, live resin also captures the entire terpene profile of the plant, resulting in an extract with all the desirable flavors and aromas of the fresh plant. Terpenes are plant compounds attributed with properties like scent, flavor, and various benefits for the body and mind.
As a quick summary—live resin is a unique concentrate that emphasizes the many compounds found in cannabis, rather than focusing strictly on THC. For users in search of quality hemp extracts and therapeutic benefits, live resin is an appealing option with many possible applications.*
How is live resin made?
Live resin is extracted by flash freezing the highest quality plants available immediately after harvest. Once frozen, these plants are processed in a hydrocarbon machine using a combination of propane and butane solvents or the butane hash oil (BHO) method to efficiently extract the oils from the plant.
These solvents are preferred because they capture the full spectrum of the plant–unlike other methods of extraction that cause a significant loss of flavonoids, cannabinoids, and terpenes.
Once extracted, the mixture is gently heated to remove any impurities from the oil and purge any remaining solvents.
At this point, the resulting oil can be treated in a few different ways. Often it is whipped to create the viscous butter-like badder or budder, or left in its original oily form. Live resin can also be infused into gummies or further liquified into tinctures with other active ingredients and flavors.
Because it’s such a resilient compound with preserved potent cannabis compounds, live resin is super versatile and opens new pathways for innovative products and delivery methods. We’ve only just begun to see new types of live resin emerge in the cannabis industry, and with methods improving constantly, there is likely more to come.
How do live resin and live rosin differ?
These two concentrates often get confused because of their similar names, and although they share some similarities, their extraction methods create two distinct products with unique properties and attributes.
Before we understand the differences between these concentrates, let's clarify the term “live.” Cannabis resins and rosins can be extracted from dried and cured cannabis, but in order for a concentrate to be considered “live,” it must be created using freshly harvested, flash-frozen plants.
The number one difference between these concentrates is the use of solvents. Live resin is extracted from flash-frozen plants in a hydrocarbon machine using butane, propane, ethanol, or other solvents, before being gently heated to purify the extract.
On the other hand, live rosin is extracted without solvents, most commonly using a combination of heat and pressure to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the fresh plant material.
Although live rosin generally retains fewer terpenes than live resin, it still captures many desirable flavors and aromas. Its texture ranges from a sticky, taffy consistency to a more crumbly texture. The highest quality rosins are typically off-white to light yellow in color.
Despite their different textures, live resin and live rosin can be consumed in similar manners. The most common are dabbing and vaping, but the concentrates can be infused into certain ingestibles, or added to a bowl or joint for increased potency.
What does live resin look like?
Since live resin is an extraction process rather than a texture description, live resins rarely appear alike. Fortunately, their names make understanding their different appearances intuitive.
Live resin can be handled in a few different ways post-extraction, typically left as is or whipped. As a result of these processes, live resin concentrates may appear slightly wet (sauce), sugary (sugar), or waxy and butter-like (budder and badder).
Sometimes referred to as liquid gold, live resin can range in color from amber to yellow, to white. Also, remember that live resin can be infused into edibles like gummies, baked goods, and other ingestible products.
Products often include live resin in the name because it’s a premium ingredient, but it’s still important to look at ingredient lists and know exactly what’s in store. You should also prioritize high-caliber live resin with a complete cannabis profile, which is made available in lab reports and certificates of analysis.
Simply looking at live resin isn’t enough to know about its quality, so never skip the labels and be sure to find out more about the production process behind the scenes.
What are the benefits of live resin?
So now we have an understanding of live resin, but why should we care about it when there are so many concentrates to choose from?
Here are a few benefits you can expect from live resin.
One of the major appeals of live resin is its potency. Live resins are a highly potent concentrate, retaining high levels of cannabinoids throughout their extraction.
These extracts retain potency by beginning with fresh rather than dried and cured plants. They are also exposed to minimal heat. All of these processes can degrade cannabinoid content in an extraction.
The onset of effects from live resin is quick, and because of the minimal loss of flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids in the extraction process—they may last longer than other cannabis concentrates.*
Typical potency lies in the range of 45-90% THC and up to 90% CBD, which is much higher than cannabis flower alone, but less than distillates that isolate specific cannabinoids.* Like any new cannabis product, live resin should be consumed slowly, in doses appropriate to a user's experience level.
While live resin is commonly used for intoxicating THC potency, it can also improve the efficacy of broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD products. This means that live resin's potency and ability to preserve cannabis compounds can elevate the experience of taking a CBD product as well. Utilizing live resin for wellness reasons is an innovative and relatively unheard of approach in the cannabis market—making our live resin wellness products some of the first of their kind.
And potency is just one metric to consider, of course. When exploring live resin products, you should look at the total milligram THC and CBD content to see exactly how much you get per serving. This will ensure a smooth entry into your live resin experience without the risk of taking too much.
Live resin is unique because, unlike flavorless and odorless distillate concentrates, the flavors are intense and resemble the original plant.
The desirable floral, earthy, citrus, pine, and spicy notes that are associated with fresh cannabis are retained throughout the extraction process. Terpene profiles vary widely by strain type and other factors, so it’s always worth investigating to learn what you like.
Many ingestibles also feature additional natural flavors to make the edible experience more enjoyable, though you’ll recognize the taste and sensations of live resin regardless.
Consumers are becoming more aware of the importance of terpenes to the experience of cannabis products; you’ll find many products labeled with not only cannabinoid content but their terpene profile as well.
These naturally occurring compounds are important in contributing much of the flavor and aroma of the plant, but they also work synergistically with other compounds to heighten the experience.*
This phenomenon, commonly known as the entourage effect, means that when terpenes work in harmony with cannabinoids and flavonoids, they produce a whole better than the sum of their parts.
Compared to some extracts containing little to no terpenes, live resin is the obvious choice for enthusiasts looking for a concentrate that captures the aromatic and experiential complexity of fresh cannabis flower.*
What is live resin used for?
As we’ve seen, live resin is a unique concentrate that comes as close to the experience of cannabis flower in a concentrate. This is why it is becoming popular amongst cannabis enthusiasts.
Here are a few of the ways versatile live resin is used.
Dabbing and vaping
Because of its highly flavorful and aromatic properties, live resin is most commonly enjoyed by dabbing or vaping.
Dabbing live resin requires a dab rig, a type of water pipe with a flat bowl called a “nail.” To dab live resin, the nail is heated to a high temperature before adding live resin to the heated surface.
When the live resin comes in contact with the nail, it vaporizes, giving the user a potent, aromatic, and flavorful hit. The effects of dabbing are intense and immediate.
Vaping live resin is usually done in one of two ways:
- By using a vaporizer that is specifically designed to handle concentrates. The live resin is loaded onto a coil or heating element, which vaporizes it without burning it. This method is less harsh on the lungs than dabbing and can be more discreet and convenient.
- By purchasing vape cartridges readily available at dispensaries and attaching them to a battery. Vape cartridges remove the DIY element and allow for more convenient consumption.
We do not recommend jumping into vaping or dabbing live resin unless you have some THC experience. It’s easy to go overboard with vaping, especially with the high potency of live resin and the technical learning curve of these implements.
Although dabbing and vaping are the most common applications for live resin, some companies offer ingestibles infused with live resin—like our Beyond gummies.
Just as live resin can be added to a joint or bowl, it can also be infused into baked goods in the home setting.
Like all cannabis products, starting low and going slow is important, especially regarding edibles. This is due to the longer onset and duration of edible products, as cannabinoids are processed in the stomach and liver.
Because of the extended time frame of edible product effects, it is easier to accidentally overconsume live-resin infusions, leading to nervousness, distress, and paranoia.
It is important to note that even amongst edible types, live resin-infused ingestibles can be highly potent in THC content and are not generally encouraged for consumption by less experienced cannabis users. When starting out, limit yourself to a dose of 2.5 mg THC or lower to assess your tolerance before leveling up.*
The bottom line
Live resin is a powerful extract, delivering the closest experience to cannabis flower in a concentrate.
People looking to engage the entourage effect and experience all the aromas and flavors from all the terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids in cannabis will likely find plenty to love about live resin.*
At Sunmed, we offer a range of full spectrum and broad spectrum products that capture all the desirable compounds and effects of the entire plant. Consider starting with a low-dose live resin product before leveling up to more potent versions, and be sure to track your results and tolerance levels as you progress.*