The quest to create the finest marijuana extract is and endless one, but in the last few years we’ve achieved a new pinnacle of excellence in the form of what we call “live resin.” Live resin has steadily been gaining traction amongst dispensaries and extract enthusiasts (as well as quite a bit of attention from the various cannabis competitions this year), but what sets live resin apart from other high-grade extracts?
What Is Live Resin?
Put simply, live resin contains far more terpenes than your usual “cured nug-run” concentrate— as much as 5 times more by weight. If you’ll recall from our previous article on terpenes, these compounds are responsible for the incredible flavors and aromas found in marijuana and exhibit beneficial medicinal properties; live resin offers a massive terpene profile previously unavailable through traditional extraction methods and patients are taking notice of the vibrant flavors and terpene-mediated effects.
Processing and Extraction
The key to achieving such a high terpene profile is a special processing and handling of raw plant material before and during the extraction process. Since terpenes are volatile compounds (meaning they evaporate at room temperature), the total terpene concentration in a given marijuana plant steadily decreases once the plant has been cut; research shows that a plant can lose as much as 60% of its total terpene content during the drying and curing process.
live resin, entire fresh plants (not just the nice buds) are frozen immediately after being cut which both partially dries the plant and dramatically slows the loss of terpenes over time. Since frozen trichomes are very brittle, plant material must be handled carefully to prevent trichome heads from being lost. The fresh-frozen plant material has a much higher water content than traditionally dried buds and must therefore be extracted at very cold temperatures (sometimes sub-zero temperatures with the help of what’s called a “dewaxing column”) to reduce the number of impurities and lipids that make their way into the collection chamber (remember chemistry fans, butane is slightly water soluble at room conditions… by bringing the temperature down water solubility becomes essentially 0 and waxes precipitate out of solution).
The result is a much lighter yield than you might expect from extracting an equivalent amount of dried buds but the end product tends to be both lighter in color, less stable (more gooey) and absolutely more flavorful. To be clear, live resin isn’t any more potent than regular nug-run shatter. In fact, most live resins should theoretically be slightly less THC-rich than regular shatter— but with the high THC concentrations both products offer, it would take the most discerning of tolerances to be able to tell the difference. No, the notable difference between regular shatter and live resin is the incredible, floral, aromatic flavor.
Next time you’re in a dispensary shopping for concentrate and wondering whether its worth a little extra to pick up some live resin, remember it takes extra effort to produce a lower yield than traditional shatter… maybe give it a try and see what the future of cannabis is all about! We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.