Marijuana use has moved from dark basement corners and abandoned houses to the cultural mainstream. With total legalization well underway in the US, scientists and researchers are working round the clock, finding new and exciting methods of consumption.
The industry has introduced various new forms of marijuana, like wax, shatter, and liquid THC. But one form stands out due to its current popularity — live resin. But what is live resin, and how does it differ from other consumption methods?
This article will cover everything you need to know. It will go over how live resin is made, how taking it compares to other methods of marijuana consumption, and what some of its benefits (or flaws) might be.
What Is Live Resin: the Definition
Live resin is a cannabis concentrate, in some ways similar to butane hash oil (BHO) in that it involves chemical extraction (vs live rosin which is just heat/mechanical extraction). However, there is a good reason why the ‘live’ adjective is in the name.
Normally, when you use a particular method to get marijuana extracts, you will lose some of its potency. That is because the process within the method usually involves drying and curing the plant. Once you do that, the concentrate will degrade or lose some of its terpenes.
With live rosin, you harvest the fresh plant, extract the rosin with some sort of low-temperature high-pressure rosin press, and then immediately freeze it to subcritical temperatures.
The freezing occurs both prior to and during the extraction process. There’s a very good reason behind freezing the plant; once it’s on ice, the cannabis preserves more of its terpene profile.
As a result, you have a concentrate that maintains the plant’s original aroma and flavor. Moreover, the potency of live rosin is quite strong, so the medicinal effects of the concentrate are better than those of decarboxylated cannabis.
If you have trouble keeping track of all these new-fangled cannabis derivatives then our friends at Goldleaf have just the piece of art for you!
Goldleaf are purveyors of growing journals and bespoke educational cannabis prints, which include this beautiful and helpful reference guide explaining all of the major types of cannabis concentrates and extracts, how they they are made and what makes them unique.
The Grandfather of Extracts: Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
The cannabis industry, more than many others, is particularly reverent towards the discoverers, creators and early adopters of various natural cannabis compounds.
Famous cannabis enthusiast, entrepreneur, cannabis decriminalization and legalization lobbyist. and two time presidential candidate Jack Herer for example has strains, glassware and merchandise reverently named after him.
Rick Simpson is a similarly tall legend in the community for his efforts in popularizing the non-psychedelic properties of raw cannabis oil.
As early as 2003 Rick Simpson was promoting the topical applications of cannabis extracts to treat ailments after successfully treating his own basal cell carcinoma after researching studies showing cancer cell killing properties of THC in mice.
Now that legalization is sweeping America, more people are exploring home growing and the natural homeopathic remedies that cannabis (THC and CBD) present, progress that was built off the early research and publishing of Rick Simpson.
Raw processed cannabis oil, particularly that pertaining to topical applications, is thus affectionately often referred to simply as RSO or Rick Simpson Oil.
The term is now applied quite loosely, however it should be noted the oil extraction processes will dictate which oils are best used for topical application and which others, without the use of solvents or chemicals, are better used for inhalation or ingestion.
Terpenes (and Why Our Cannabis Concentrates Need Them)
Answering the “what is live resin” question wouldn’t be complete without covering terpenes. Terpenes are oils that the cannabis plant secretes. Each strand of cannabis has its own terpene profile, which gives it a particular aroma and taste.
Goldleaf have an amazing poster/infographic print mapping all of the major known terpenes found in today’s cannabis and associates them with scent to help Budtenders and consumers alike better identify what type of flower they’re dealing with.
In total, there are over 100 known terpenes that come from cannabis, and each of them has different effects on the human body. For instance, some of the terpenes can help with health issues such as depression, anxiety, lack of appetite, cancer, and nausea.
So, if our concentrate loses these terpenes during the extraction process, it won’t be as potent or as beneficial for our health as we need it to be. The same can happen if the extraction process has adverse effects on the terpenes that do stay within the concentrate.
Thus, the type of extraction method will dictate the terpene profile and general complexity of an extract, with different extraction methods being better suited for various end uses like topical vs ingestion vs inhalation.
The differences in processing oils also dictates the efficacy and price of consumer products like therapeutic CBD oils for example, with less chemically (usually more mechanically) intense extraction processes yielding a higher, more complete terpene spectrum than those extracted with purely chemical processes.
This explains why there are such huge price differences in extracts like CBD oils, tinctures and creams.
How Do You Consume Live Resin?
Live resin is usually used for inhalation purposes given the extraction processes are designed to keep intact both THC and CBD as well as retain some of the inherent natural flavor profiles from the terpenes.
Historically resin was most commonly associated with grungy hash oils but in recent years more pure consumption techniques like “dabbing”, in which pure live resin is super heated with a torch for inhalation have become more popular ways for quicker, more intense highs.
Dabbing is by far the most effective way to consume live resin. In order to dab, you will need a specific type of water pipe, typically called a dab rig, and a flat bowl called a nail. Each dabbing nail is made from a material that can withstand high temperatures, since consuming live resin will include lots of heating and cooling.
The process seems complicated at first, but with some practice, you will dab live resin almost automatically.
- Use a gas torch to preheat the nail; keep the temperature between 315℉ and 400℉ (157–204℃)
- Let the nail cool a bit after you’ve set the torch aside
- Take your dabber and let the live resin drip onto the nail; the second you spot vapors emerging from the resin, inhale them slowly and patiently
- Exhale the vapor right away
- Clean the nail well after it’s cooled down completely.
The procedure gets its name from “dabs.” A dab is the cannabis concentrate you use and it’s usually roughly the size of a pinky finger. Dabs can come in different forms, some of which we’ve listed above (shatters, wax, etc.).
Vaping live resin without using the dab rig (or “classic vaping”) is also possible. You can either do it by using a dedicated device like the Nectar Collector or by using a resin cartridge.
Resin carts are, essentially, vaping cartridges filled with live resin. Therefore, they are as easy to use as any vaping cartridge out there.
Simply screw them onto the battery, activate the heat-inducing mechanism, and take a drag on the mouthpiece.
Most major extractors today are providing resin oil cartridges as they are compact, last a long time, and provide quick, pure effects for users.
How to Store Live Resin
Users that produce their own concentrates need to know about proper storage. So, the question moves from What is live resin? to How do I store live resin? After all, you want an effective way of maintaining that rich aroma and that potent flavor.
In order to store live resin properly, you need to find a good airtight container which is also lightproof. Excess light, open air, heat, and moisture can contaminate or degrade the terpenes within the concentrate.
With that in mind, your best solution would be a silicone container with an airtight seal, stored in a refrigerator or any other cool place. Silicone is the best material for a container since you can scrape off any remaining resin from it without much effort.
Whenever in doubt, just treat your live resin like you would an expensive bottle of red wine, with maximal effort going into preventing degradation from light, air, or excessive motion.
Benefits of Live Resin
Live resin has a lot of potential when it comes to pain relief. For instance, you get to consume large amounts of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids through a single inhale.
Normally, you would have to take a while smoking a joint or vaping in order to get the same effect. This single-sitting method of consumption is excellent if you need immediate relief from pain or if you’re feeling nauseous.
However, it also has the same long-term medicinal benefits that regular marijuana intake does.
For example, it can help alleviate the symptoms of conditions such as epilepsy, migraines, Alzheimer’s, stress, anxiety, insomnia, cancer, and others.
Some scientists believe that the higher concentration of terpenes might actually make live resin more effective than a joint or cannabis vape oil.
Disadvantages of Live Resin
Interestingly, live resin doesn’t have a lot of disadvantages, though it’s far from perfect. For example, because of its terpene content, this concentrate is extremely potent.
So, if you’re new to dabbing or vaping cannabis concentrates, you might want to start with something that’s low in potency.
The second major disadvantage of live resin is the fact that you can’t really make it yourself without taking huge risks and investing a lot of money.
The process of getting live resin includes cryogenic freezing, which is normally done using liquid nitrogen. Not only would you have to buy this dangerous coolant, but you’d also need all of the related equipment for the process.
All of that leads us nicely into the biggest disadvantage of live resin: its price. If you want a high-grade brand of live resin, you’ll need to pay a staggering $100 per gram.
There are other brands of live resin out there, which you can get for $60 per gram; however, those are usually low-grade concentrates that don’t have the same potency as the pricey stuff.
What Is Live Resin: the Conclusion
Googling What is live resin? will give you an astounding 141 million results! Article upon article will cover the various angles of this concentrate, from the process of getting it to the different strands of cannabis we can get it from.
Live resin is a concentrated form of cannabis with higher levels of THC and a stronger effect and involves chemical, heat, and pressure extraction. It is often confused with rosin, which is extracted with heat/pressure only, no chemical solvents.
It is easy to mix the two up. The best thing to do is head to your dispensary and get an overview from a qualified Budtender that knows his/her stuff. The key difference is the use of chemicals like butane for extraction, so if that’s not your jam, stick with the rosins.