Refresh Checked Unchecked Menu Search Shopping bag Geolocation Person Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube Info Icon CBC Icon CBC Shape CBD Icon CBD Shape CBG Icon CBG Shape THC Icon THC Shape THCV Icon THCV Shape Loading…

What are live resin cannabis concentrates?

January 31, 2017
Getting up close and personal with a fully mature, living cannabis plant is somewhat of a transcendent experience. The bouquet of aromas captured in a single sniff off a living bud will completely redefine your expectations of the relationship between cannabis flowers and their many complex fragrances. However, facilitating a translation of these distinct flavors and aromas into a consumable product is easier said than done.


Cannabis anatomy: The parts of the plant

Once a cannabis plant has been harvested, the myriad of intermediary processes between when the shears touch the stalk and when you consume the final product has the potential to all but completely eliminate those valuable flavors and aromas. To add fuel to the fire, many cannabis extraction techniques intentionally purge these elements, leaving the consumer with an odorless concentrate completely void of the “essence” it once carried.

How is it possible to capture the flavors and aromas from a living plant and bring that experience to the cannabis consumer? The answer is with “live resin” concentrates.

What is live resin?

Photo courtesy of Arizona Natural Selections

Live resin is a type of cannabis concentrate that is manufactured using a technique that takes freshly harvested cannabis and freezes it to subcritical temperatures prior to and throughout the extraction process. Where these methods differ from other extraction processes is in the amount of time harvested cannabis plants are allowed to dry and cure before the extraction.

The drying and curing process that a cannabis plant typically undergoes can have a devastating impact on terpenes, the flavorful factory molecules present within the trichomes that line virtually every corner of a mature cannabis flower and its surrounding foliage. With cured concentrates, the cannabis plant is allowed a certain amount of time to wick itself of moisture and chlorophyll before the extraction occurs. During this time, trichomes are subjected to conditions not conducive to terpene preservation. Interactions such as increased exposure to heat, oxygen, physical agitation, and light all play a role in degrading terpenes.


Factors That Impact Your Cannabis Strain: Part 5, The Curing Process

However with live resin, the plant is flash frozen immediately following harvest and kept at freezing temperatures throughout the extraction process.. By doing this, the cannabis plant retains its valuable terpene profile, thus retaining the plant’s original flavor and fragrance that can then be carried over into the final product. (Learn more about live resin extraction in Episode 1 of our “The Art of Extraction” series, and explore how other concentrates are made in other episodes as well.)

Where did live resin originate?

Live resin is relatively new to the cannabis concentrate scene. Its humble origins stem back to between 2011-2013 with a small group of growers and extractors practicing out of Colorado. Among them, William Fenger, otherwise known as “Kind Bill,” and EmoTek Labs founder “Giddy Up” were the two pioneers largely coined with stabilizing and introducing live resin to the cannabis concentrate scene. They did this by developing a specialized BHO extractor capable of maintaining the incredibly low temperatures needed to produce live resin, and combined that with their vision of using freshly frozen plant material for their extract.

Together, these two were able to develop methods capable of extracting concentrates laden with very high levels of terpenes, on average much higher than the extracts produced using cured resins.

What makes live resin different from other concentrates?

GG (f.k.a Gorilla Glue) Shatter

The distinguishing factor that separates live resins from other concentrate products is the elevated terpene content that these extracts tend to contain. Live resins, on average, carry a more robust terpene concentration than traditional cured BHO extracts. In addition to producing a more pungent aroma, higher and more complex terpene profiles can also deliver an elevated psychoactive experience because terpenes can interact with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.

Both of these factors have influenced why live resins have risen to the top of cannabis concentrate market. Fans of cannabis extracts tend to place a high value on flavor and aroma as well as effect. Typically, concentrates bearing the name “live resin” sell for higher premium in the recreational market as a result of this.

What distinguishes live resins from one another?

Christmas Fir Tree

A live resin doesn’t necessarily contains a higher concentration of cannabinoids or terpenes than an extract made using a cured flower. Due to the plethora of strain types and extraction techniques used to make live resins, a spectrum of varieties exists today.

Products that are labeled as live resins can often differ in viscosity, ranging anywhere between saps to sugars, jellies, butters, and even more solid shatters. While terpene concentration can play an effect on viscosity, oftentimes products are mechanically altered post-extraction, such as when viscous saps are “whipped” into butters.


What Are Cannabis Oil, Shatter, and Wax Extracts?

Another common misconception with live resins is the complexity of their terpene profiles. There are over 100 identifiable terpenes found in cannabis plants, all ranging in molecular weight and structure. Many live resins only contain blowouts of certain lighter monoterpenes such as as pinene and myrcene compared to their flower counterpart.

These extracts, in many cases, lack the existence of many other less prevalent varieties of terpenes, which can have an impact on the flavor and effects. Variations occur in part due to the fact that some extraction processes fail to capture these terpenes. However, this is also largely influenced by the terpene profile of the starting material being used. A concentrate, no matter how it has been extracted, is only as potent and palatable as the cannabis plant (including which parts) it came from. Extracts utilizing the whole plant can often have a more complex profile of terpenes than those utilizing only the fresh frozen flowers.


The entourage effect: How cannabis compounds may be working together

Live resins have come quite a long way since their Colorado inception. As recently as a few years ago, they were an enigmatic and rare product only found in certain connoisseur markets at premium prices sometimes exceeding $100 per gram. Although live resins are still sold at a higher premium than other concentrate products, namely BHO’s, nowadays live resin prices are much more accessible and affordable, with most dispensaries carrying some variation.

As the market for cannabis concentrates continues to demand more flavorful options that offer a more complex experience, live resins will continue to become more available to the consumer. After all, enjoying a concentrate that remains loyal in fragrance to the flower it came from is a truly remarkable experience.

Patrick Bennett's Bio Image

Patrick Bennett

Patrick lives with his wife and daughter in Denver, where he spends his time writing, photographing, and creating content for the cannabis community.

View Patrick Bennett's articles

  • Louis Byron

    Live resin concentrates offer great medicinal potential when combined with Rick Simpson Oil type concentrates. For advanced cancer and HIV and chronic hepatitis, try 1 gram RSO + 1 gram Live Resin (either orally or by suppository) daily for one month, then as needed periodically after that. [Obviously, one MUST use some kind of titration schedule to slowly increase the dose over a week or two if one does not already have a very high tolerance for marijuana.]

    • William R. Jones

      Wow, that’s spendy. But considering it cures cancer it’s really cheap. It would be nice if insurance covered it as it would cost much less than chemo.

  • Austin

    RSO is a thing of the past, we now have distillates and full-spectrum terpene extracts that go beyond what the term “live resin” means. Check out High-Cannabinoid-Full-Spectrum-Extract or HTFSE for the true flavor experience.

    • Louis Byron

      In all fairness, let’s remember that RSO was developed exclusively for medicinal use i.e. to treat and/or cure cancer. Not for dabbing or vaping (although traditional RSO made with a naphtha extraction is indeed probably the closest we have to the 1960’s/1970’s hash oil of old). Tarry, beyond syrup viscosity, and Black as a moonless night. It wasn’t meant to be smoked but as a full cannabis medicinal extract (and if made properly with all the solvent properly washed off), it seems to have the most (albeit all anecdotal at this point) testimony as to its effectiveness in higher doses (>1 gr daily–by mouth or via suppository) for treating cancer, HIV, and chronic hepatitis. For it is in its curative effects, not its psychoactive or symptom reducing effects, that cannabis has so much further unexplored potential.

      • Austin

        Are you saying that vaping (dabbing, or otherwise) is not considered medicinal? I’ve always heard the opposite and find it to be true from my personal experience, as well… And distillate should be used the same exact way that RSO is, but is just better (purer, stronger, cleaner) as it is completely activated! Eat it, rub it, vape it, hell smoke it if you please! The more the merrier! ESPECIALLY for cancer. I’d be willing to bet that eating a gram/day of distillate is actually safer than a gram/day of the RSO you are referring to.

        • Louis Byron

          Sorry, I didn’t make myself clear. I am not saying that vaping or dabbing or any route of administration is medicinal vs. nonmedicinal use of cannabis. I was referring to medicinal in an admittedly imprecise way…defining it as “curative” or “treatment of an underlying condition” rather than how medical marijuana has been mostly used thus far in modern times i.e. in a palliative or “symptom reducing” manner. I absolutely agree that newer formulations of concentrates, particularly activated live resins & full spectrum-terpenoid retained extracts, have even greater potential than traditional RSO in the treatment & potential cure of serious diseases. However, the fact remains that Rick Simpson used his naphtha extracted oil to purportedly cure himself of advanced stage 4 cancer. And the other anecdotes on the WWW about cannabis “curing” (or at least significantly improving) advanced cancer and late-stage AIDS almost all (at least until now) use the original RSO protocol (60 grams, titrated up as necessary but preferably ingested over one to two months i.e. one or two grams daily). Please remember that RSO must indeed BE PROPERLY & CAREFULLY MADE as it uses toxic solvents that must be thoroughly removed (evaporated) from the final product. This is more true for RSO than other extracts as “light naphtha” is used as compared to butane or CO2 or even no solvent in new processes where only pressure and super-critical cold are used. And I agree…the more the merrier (-;} Thank God that closet door got kicked wide open…and cannabis and her users will never be forced back inside.

          • Dmember

            “Thank God that closet door got kicked wide open…and cannabis and her users will never be forced back inside.”

            Oh Gawd…please don’t compare Cannabis to homosexual perversions!

          • Philip Cammarano

            Does no one at all read! Rick Simpson also used 190 grain alcohol to extract RSO and tell’s how to make it using both either the naptha or the alcohol

      • Jbkorn02

        Just because it’s good for medical reasons doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the best recreational out there as well.

    • Dmember

      But what’s flavor got to do with treating cancer?

      • Jbkorn02

        Why does that matter? It helps your cancer either way. Some like a better taste and different feeling. Especially those smoking for recreation. The one thing I don’t like about live resin is it’s hard to get around Chicago unless you know someone that can go in a shop. Another time the law gets ridiculous while I’m waiting in the liquor store parking lot……….

    • Austin

      It doesn’t. It’s a simple matter of cleaner, purer medicine.

  • dexcita57

    I apologize if I’m not in the right discussion as I am new to all of this. I have been reading quite a bit but I’m having trouble researching as to exactly what kind of cannabis to get for my chronic insomnia that I’ve had for years as well as treating my basal cell carcinoma. If anyone has any suggestions to help guide me I would appreciate it very much.

    • Ryan Conklin

      Kosher Kush Live Resin or just the strain in general is amazing for insomnia.

    • chessa

      I don’t have a particular strain to recommend but in my experience with insomnia, edible forms are much more affective than smoking and concentrates for sleep. Even a dosage as low as 10 mg at night about an hour or so before you intend to sleep. After ;you have been using it for a few weeks you will have the benefits of the edibles even if you miss a day or two of ingesting. That is awesome. And in the five years I have been using it, it has never lost it’s effectiveness.

      • Jbkorn02

        I still have some wax left from over a year ago. Got because was so “strong” but didn’t realize I couldn’t even make it through a TV show after taking a couple hits. Wish I knew the name but I used to take a sleeping pill when I knew I had to get a good night sleep. Now just a tiny piece of this wax in my pen and I’m out cold 20 min later. Even if I don’t want to be. lol

    • Jbkorn02

      If you get it legally just go to the shop and ask. They’ll direct you to exactly what you need. Defintely an Indica but every strain or concentrate has it’s little differences.

  • Dmember

    I wouldn’t want to pay more just to get ‘better’ flavor and taste…because it all tastes like plain ole marijuana to me.

    • Jbkorn02

      It’s a different feeling, leaves a very good taste on your tongue, and the flavors keep getting better and better as they make more. If your like me and love growing not just to get pot but because of the aroma or just love smoking something with a certain taste(some can be picky) then live resin is for you. If you just want to smoke and get high it really doesn’t matter. It’s like the difference from drinking straight tequila to having a flavorful mixed drink. They’ll do the same thing but one tastes so much better.

  • F Michael Addams

    ,,,Try some…you won’t be sorry..

    • Sylvia Jordan

      Yes! Did my first dab of Sour D Live Resin today and I actually tasted orange in this strain over the diesel taste that comes with flower. And I literally dabbed a really small amount and I am still feeling good. It was pricey, but since CA has legalized cannibas some of the cannibas at shops I frequented, the flower has been very dry. So for the amount of this Live Resin, and how little I needed to dab, this may be how I consume weed. It has been a long journey to find what I wanted to get from this plant, and with this Live Resin I think I found it.

  • Rita Walbert

    I’m relatively new to this and am here because of my husband (neuropathy). So far, we have not found the right cartridge for him to vape. I see the dispensary carries resin and I’m wondering what you do with this……

    • mark marcelis

      my son got a serious lung infection from vaping. icu for 5 days. i would try another avenue.

      • Chris Davidson

        u sure he vaped live res? sounds like he vapes some pesticides

      • Bernie Houston

        Sorry to hear about your Son, hope he’s doing better. Do you know if it was from a dispensary?

  • Jean_Teasdale

    If I’m planning to make concentrate (RSO) rather than smoke, can I freeze the fresh bud rather than dry and cure before extracting the oil? Will it still work?

    • MB670