Nicknamed ‘the future of cannabis’, concentrates are incredibly potent marijuana extracts with a very high cannabinoid content. ‘Live resin’ is a relatively new type of cannabis concentrate that is all the rage right now and gets its name from the freshness of the plant from which it’s made. This is a powerful concentrate that gives you the chance to enjoy the true aromas and flavors of the cannabis plant.
'Live resin' is a type of cannabis concentrate obtained through a technique similar to CO2 or BHO (Butane Hash Oil), in so far as it requires experienced professionals and specialized equipment in order to complete the process successfully. However, many terpenes get lost on the way through conventional extraction methods based on these gases because they require high temperatures, which end up dissolving any terpene with a low boiling point.
In order to make this type of concentrate, harvested cannabis plants need to be dried and cured. But the drying and curing processes are also harmful to the terpene profile of the plants because the trichomes get exposed to heat, oxygen, physical agitation and light, plus the cannabis plants end up absorbing moisture and chlorophyll.
All these factors promote terpene deterioration, which leads to an end product that's lacking the aroma of the fresh plant as well as some of its potentially therapeutic ingredients. In fact, the vegetable material processed normally (i.e. dried and cured) can decrease terpene levels by up to 60%.
What makes 'live resin' different from other cannabis concentrates?
On the contrary to conventional methods, live resin is made from freshly harvested cannabis that is flash-frozen to a subcritical temperature before and throughout the extraction process, thus skipping the drying and curing stages. In short, 'live resin' implies freezing the freshly cut cannabis and then extracting the material immediately after.
This process is designed to preserve the terpenes and prevent oxidation and heat from degrading these compounds, as the rapid freezing stops the metabolic process and prevents deterioration of the plant matter. And what's the result? A top-quality extract that keeps the elegance, aroma and flavor of fresh marijuana.
A more complex terpene profile can also deliver a different experience due to the entourage effect, where all the different cannabis compounds work together to create a full experience. As extract fanatics tend to put a high value on flavor, aroma and powerful effects, there is currently a great demand for live resin concentrates.
What does live resin look like?
A live resin concentrate is typically dark yellow and is more malleable than a conventional BHO concentrate. It is somewhere between a sauce and a wax, not too viscous and not quite like taffy.
Like all cannabis concentrates, it is extremely sticky, so you'll need a dab tool to handle it. Depending on the producer, some of these resins may be runnier, whereas others may be more solid or waxy. The higher the terpene count, the more liquidy and malleable the concentrate will be.
As terpene content may affect the viscosity of the extract, full spectrum extracts that use the whole plant (including branches and leaves) can often have a more complex terpene profile than those made with only fresh frozen flowers.
How is live resin processed?
To make live resin, the plant is frozen immediately after harvest and is kept frozen during the whole extraction process. But we're not talking about the -64ºF of a conventional freezer, but rather a temperature close to -388ºF. So firms can spend a small fortune in extraction equipment which often requires the use of liquid nitrogen in a closed-loop system.
In this process, there's a tank filled with hydrocarbons that act as solvents (butane, propane, etc.) at cryogenic temperatures. Under pressure, these solvents are forced into another tank that contains the cannabis plant matter.
As soon as the butane reaches the cannabis, terpenes and cannabinoids bind together, so cannabis is stripped of its active compounds. Then the butane flows into the third chamber, also known as the cryogenic or dewaxing column, where vegetable fats, lipids and wax are purged to purify the extract even further.
Finally, the liquid reaches the collection chamber, where the butane evaporates. The final product is a concentrated oil loaded with cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes. Once the process is complete, the live resin concentrate has less than 4% of its original weight.
Where does it come from?
As live resin is a relatively new creation, its history is rather short. Most sources attribute its first elaboration to the North American 'Kind Bill' (real name William Fenger) and 'Giddy Up' (founder of EmoTek Labs), who seem to be the first to have stabilized and introduced this type of concentrate in the Colorado cannabis market sometime between 2011 and 2013.
With this aim in mind, they developed a unique BHO extractor capable of maintaining the extremely low temperatures associated with live resin, and combined it with their dream of using freshly frozen cannabis plants for making extracts. Their hypothesis was that, if you could extract the plant when its terpene profile was at its peak, before drying and curing, then you would be able to produce a concentrate with the same aroma as that of the living plant.
The result was an outstandingly potent and aromatic concentrate. In fact, the most potent terpene concentrates that have won the highest number of prizes at the Cannabis Cups of the last few years have been mainly live resin concentrates.
How to consume live resin
As live resin is available in fragments, this type of concentrate can be enjoyed in different ways: by 'dabbing', with a bong, a vaporizer, or even with a vape pen, in which you can insert a concentrate instead of a cartridge. You can also add a bit of live resin to your joint to enhance its flavor and effects.
One of the main advantages of live resin is that, if you wish, you can consume large amounts of THC in a single session. Some versions have THC levels that can go as high as 95%, so even though this can prove to be really useful therapeutically, inexperienced users must proceed with caution: consuming THC in excess can lead to adverse effects such as paranoia, hallucinations, or nausea.