Live resin is a cannabis extract made using a special freezing process that preserves the natural flavors of the plant.
You may have heard of cannabis concentrates like wax, shatter, glass, and honeycomb, which are often used for dabbing. Live resin is a new type of cannabis concentrate that is extremely flavorful because of the way that it’s made.
Manufacturers of live resin use cutting-edge methods like cryogenic freezing to preserve the terpenes in the plant. Terpenes are responsible for the scent of marijuana, and also work to enhance the effects of cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
When it comes to appearance, live resin looks more like tree sap than other concentrates. Shatter, glass, and wax tend to be harder and waxier than live resin.
For flavor and aroma enthusiasts, as well as those who want an authentic high, live resin is a great choice.
Benefits of Live Resin
The main benefit of live resin is that it preserves important compounds known as terpenes.
Normally, around half of the terpenes in marijuana are lost during the drying process. But when making live resin, a special flash-freezing process preserves these compounds before the drying process takes place.
Terpenes are a broad class of compounds that are found in many plants. In essence, they serve as fragrance molecules, and are sometimes called essential oils.
Terpenes are the compounds that give pine trees their characteristic “Christmas tree” scent. The terpene alpha-pinene is found in both evergreens and cannabis plants, for example.
Limonene is another common terpene. It gives a fresh citrus scent to lemon peel and other citrus fruits. Limonene is also found in cannabis plants, and contributes to the lemon scent that certain strains have.
Terpenes affect aroma, flavor, and even an individual’s experience when consuming cannabis. More importantly, terpenes can affect the high that you experience.
THC and CBD may be more potent when consumed with the terpenes originally present in the plant. The synergy that terpenes have with other active compounds in cannabis has been called the “entourage effect”.
Research suggests terpenes may also contribute to the medical benefits of cannabis.
The Extraction Process
Normally, fresh marijuana is dried and cured during harvesting. But more than half of a cannabis plant’s terpenes are typically lost during the drying process. Live resin uses flash-freezing to preserve these terpenes.
Live resin is made by extracting active compounds from marijuana flowers that are flash-frozen at the height of their potency.
First, fresh buds of marijuana are cryogenically frozen using liquid nitrogen. Then, workers extract the plant’s active ingredients into a resin-like substance using specialized chemicals.
Typically, either butane (as in BHO) or supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) is used as the chemical solvent when making live resin. Supercritical CO2 is a special, liquid form of carbon dioxide. The solvents used in extraction are later removed by curing for several days in a low-heat oven.
The process of making live resin does not necessarily produce more concentrated cannabinoids. The real difference between live resin and other extracts is that live resin retains more aroma and flavor. Unlike BHO and other concentrates, live resin evokes the flavor of a freshly-harvested bud.
Live resin extraction requires specialized equipment and know-how, and the cost of production is relatively high. Because of this, live resin is typically sold at a premium price.
What Experts Are Saying
Kymron deCesare, Chief Research Officer at Steep Hill Labs, a cannabis science and technology company based in California, emphasizes the importance of preserving as many terpenes as possible.
“If you were to remove them, you’d find the other cannabinoids wouldn’t work as well,” says deCesare.
He notes that many of these terpenes possess beneficial properties. “Some kill fungi,” explains deCesare. “Some are antiviral. Some are immunomodulators.” Immunomodulators are compounds that affect immune system function in the body.
Some terpenes influence how THC and CBD bind with cannabinoid receptors in the human body. Cannabinoid receptors are mostly found in the brain, and are responsible for the effects you experience when consuming cannabis.
Reggie Gaudino, PhD, is another scientist with Steep Hill Labs. Gaudino says CBD — the non-psychoactive cannabinoid known for its medical benefits — is far more effective when consumed with the plant’s natural terpenes intact.
Plant-derived cannabinoids are far more likely to bind with cannabinoid receptors in the body when cannabis terpenes are present, says Gaudino.
As deCesare puts it, “Terpenes [in cannabis] are the puppet masters.”
In other words, terpenes do more than provide aroma. They also play an important role in determining how a user will experience a given sample of cannabis.
Because live resin effectively preserves these terpenes, it is likely to provide an experience that is more similar to cannabis flowers than other extracts.
Live resin is a unique marijuana concentrate product that preserves key compounds known as terpenes. These terpenes provide flavor, and change the character of the marijuana high.
Because it preserves the terpenes, live resin mimics the experience of smoking fresh bud, but with the convenience and potency of a concentrate.
True fans of the flavor and aroma of fresh cannabis will enjoy the complex flavor and scent profile of live resin.