Live Resin Process: 6 Steps

Live resin up close

If you haven’t directly taken a dab or heated the nail on a rig, you might have encountered concentrates in vape form or as part of some “premier” mega blunt filled with kief and oil. Regardless of how you consume them, the world of cannabis is saturated with concentrates, each with their unique texture, consistency, potency, flavour profile and creation process. For this piece, we’re going to look at Live Resin, what makes it different from other concentrates, how it’s made and why concentrate users choose it.

First, what exactly is live resin and is it the same thing as rosin? Close but not quite. When you hear concentrate heads call something “live resin”, they mean a solvent-based extract made with fresh or recently frozen weed buds. The extraction process is done in one pass to preserve the weed’s terpenes before it has a chance to dry up. It has to be done before the plant dries or it will have significantly less potency and flavour. Now, change that ‘e’ to and ‘o’ and you have “live rosin”. They are basically the same type of extract, but rosin is drawn out without a solvent, usually by pressing bubble hash or some other type of fresh concentrate.

How Live Resin is Made

Just to get the disappointment out of the way, live resin can’t be done in your kitchen. Unless of course you own the technology necessary to press it and the technical skills to get the process right. But if that’s you, why are you reading this? For those like me, who are fascinated by all things weed but don’t have a greenthumb, here’s how a pristine bud goes from its natural glory to a live resin masterpiece. Once a plant has been designated for live resin extraction, it needs to be stored and frozen as soon as the buds have been cut off the stem. We lose over half the terpenes found in a growing plant by the time it reaches our pipe or rolling papers and that process starts immediately once it’s removed. Speed is the most important thing in the beginning, so the weed is quickly frozen.

Not only that, but once the weed is frozen it’s highly fragile and its gorgeous trichomes can be lost from a little nick. It’s a process far too careful and meticulous for the average stoner. From here, butane or some other solvent is used to extract the cannabis oil from the bud. You have to be careful with butane though, because it is toxic when consumed by humans. Extractors make sure there’s no butane left in the final product by lowering the temperature to sub zero levels. At such low temperatures, butane precipitates or “sweats” out of solution.

Experts used what’s called a “closed-loop” system to extract the oil using the solvent. The butane is put at extreme pressure and then cooled to the point that it could freeze Austin Powers. The butane is in liquid form here and gets pumped through tubes that contain the frozen weed you want to extract from. As the butane passes over the cannabis, it sucks out the cannabinoids by bonding with them atomically and carrying them from the physical plant into the solution. That liquid mixture of delicious cannabinoids and flavonoids and butane is then filtered to remove all of the harmful material and preserve the stuff we came for.

At the end of the process, when you finally have a clean solution, extractors apply a little bit of heat to boil off any remaining butane and then, boom, you have the final product, live resin.

What’s the big deal about all this?

Live resin stands out among concentrates for its terpene levels. The process we just described is one of the least efficient and doesn’t produce as much final product as other extraction methods. You get live resin for the quality though. While it might be less, more of the original terpenes are preserved that give cannabis its natural flavor. Whether you’re more interested in the floral scent of monoterpenes or the dank, musty, diesel-fuel sesquiterpenes, live resin will make you taste all of them. Live resin retains the originality of the plant as it’s found in nature. Often times our smoking apparatus or traditional methods taste good, but this is like getting your favorite meal cooked by a professional just to suit your taste. So, if you feel like a clean, even more flavorful version of your favorite strain, you should consider trying some live resin. Let us know what you think, if you use it and your favorite concentrate!