What is live resin? Benefits & Uses

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  • Live resin is a relatively new cannabis product, first created around 2013.
  • It is made using only fresh cannabis plant.
  • Live resin is best known for its rich flavor and aromatic profile.

When looking at cannabis concentrates currently on the market, the options can seem endless. Wax, shatter, sugar, jelly…there’s an abundance of products to choose from. One of the concentrates currently getting plenty of attention: live resin.

So, why is this product earning such a lofty reputation? To put it simply, live resin is a form of cannabis concentrate that is perhaps best known for its high quality, potency and rich aroma, making it a favorite of connoisseurs.

To learn more about what makes live resin so unique, read our breakdown—we’ll take you through key facts, potential benefits and more.

What is live resin, exactly?

Basically, live resin is a cannabis concentrate extracted from freshly harvested marijuana plant material that’s been flash-frozen (or fresh frozen) at sublevel temperatures, blasted with solvents like butane, propane, or butane hash oil (BHO), and pressed.

This unique extraction technique is exactly what makes this concentrate so valued. It allows the curing and drying steps to be skipped. Instead, the fresh or “live” plant is frozen soon after the harvesting. This explains why certain cannabis products you may have seen in the market are categorized as “live.”

So, how could this be beneficial for you?

The cannabis plant can go through a huge variety of processes before it becomes the product you can see on the shelf at your local dispensary. These can include the process of trimming, curing, drying and extraction among others that are used to preserve or prepare the final product. During these the natural terpene profile of marijuana is damaged and as a result almost 55% of terpenes and other natural plant compounds are usually lost.

The unique extraction process used to obtain live resin allows its terpene profile to stay as close to the natural fresh plant as possible, typically making it richer in aroma and flavor.

What do terpenes have to do with live resin?

The answer: pretty much everything.

Terpenes are natural compounds found in cannabis that are responsible for its unique smell. There are two main groups of these compounds in marijuana: monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes.

Monoterpenes have smaller molecules and are responsible for lighter and fresher aromas. These include terpenes like myrcene, limonene, terpinolene and linalool.

Sesquiterpenes have larger molecules and give cannabis its heavier aromatic undertones. Examples of these are caryophyllene and humulene.

A fresh marijuana plant has higher amounts of monoterpenes compared to sesquiterpenes. During the curing process, monoterpenes are first to evaporate due to their smaller size, and the terpene profile of the final product is usually richer in sesquiterpenes.

Products like live resin are 2% richer in monoterpenes according to High Times, and as a result, they have a fresher aroma than products that have gone through the curing process. According to the same research, “live resin contains 11% less sesquiterpenes by weight than non-live resin.”

The origins of live resin

The credit for creating the first batch of live resin goes to William “Kind Bill” Fenger and Jason “Giddy Up” Emo in 2013. While hemp has a long history, but dabbing, waxes, flavored edibles, cannabis oil, and live resin carts are relatively new. [Source]

For a little context, Kind Bill is a hero of sorts in the cannabis world, while Fenger, the first legal cannabis grower in Colorado, happened to love the smell of bud. It’s pretty distinctive, thanks to the marijuana plant’s terpenes.

Terpenes live in the trichomes—the sticky resin glands that cover nearly every part of the plant. These aromatic compounds give all plants like lemon, pine or mint their delicious scent.

According to researchers at the University of Mississippi, cannabis loses nearly 50% of its terpene content during drying and curing. Kind Bill considered this waste, so he and EmoTek Labs founder Giddy Up teamed up to create a different extraction technique.

How is live resin made?

People often describe live resin as “terpy,” and its easy to see why. Live resin contains the fresh aromas of monoterpenes, the heavier flavors of sesquiterpenes, and significant amounts of THC.

The production of live resin is not easy and trying it at home definitely isn’t recommended. It requires specialized equipment and a deep understanding of the process.

The bottom line: making live resin is best left to the professionals.

For centuries, growers have harvested cannabis buds and other plant material separated and left to dry out for up to ten days, and finally cured. Smokable flower, edibles and many oil extracts are developed during the curing process.

Back in the day, hash would be as close as you could easily get to live resin. And Kind Bill was a master hash-maker. He’d sift dried cannabis to separate and collect the terpene-rich trichomes, heat them, and press them into tightly compacted hash.

Here’s where things get a bit technical. Terpenes are in the trichomes, right? The terpenes are incredibly volatile, and a large amount evaporates when plants are hung and dried out. To make live resin, you need to separate the trichomes from the plant in a way that won’t compromise the terpenes.

Kind Bill took freshly harvested cannabis and froze it at a critically low temperature. Using butane or BHO as a solvent, he separated the beneficial cannabinoids from the trichomes of a “live” flower. The result? A super fresh concentrate known as “liquid gold” by live resin connoisseurs.

Luckily, technology caught up with Kind Bill. Growers now freeze cannabis at harvest with liquid nitrogen or dry ice to prevent evaporation. Extractors use specialized lab equipment to heat butane, BHO, or other hydrocarbon solvents and apply pressure to release live resin.

What does live resin look like?

The consistency of live resin can differ depending on the raw material used in the production. Its signature golden color develops based on the strain of flower. If you check the RISE products on our website, for example, you can see it comes in various shades of yellow to almost white.

Live resin can be sticky and soft, or fluid, like oil or sauce. The terpenes tend to be liquid-like oil. So, the amount and the type of terpenes determine the texture and consistency of live resin.

Live resin carts for vaping or dabbing and sauce are usually at the top of the flavor scale. Freshly extracted live resin is very pliable. You can break it into crumbles, mold it into wax, whip it into badder or fluffy butter, or form diamonds.

The best ways to consume live resin

A friendly reminder before we dive in: each state has unique regulations when it comes to cannabis consumption methods. As you consider what products might be right for you, make sure they’re legal in your location.

Prefer to smoke cannabis using more traditional methods? Add live resin to bowls or sprinkle on flower before smoking to take advantage of the potency.

Dabbing is one of the most common ways to consume live resin, especially in its solid form. Unlike the typical glass pipe and bowl, you use a dab rig (pipe) and a nail (flat bowl), which has a higher heating point than glass bowls. Dabbing also gives you more control over the amount and temperature.

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