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What is Live Resin? Freezing in the Flavor

Education Posted Aug 23 2019

For decades, cultivators have worked tirelessly to perfect the process of growing and harvesting marijuana. From finding the exact soil ph levels to timing the drying process down to the minute, growing weed has gradually become an art form. The days of backyard weed farmers are all but behind us, with many of today's growing operations looking reminiscent of  chemistry labs. As the marijuana cultivation process has evolved, so too have the resulting products.

For years now, cannabis concentrates have been in the spotlight with cannabis connoisseurs all over the world choosing these products for their high THC levels and potent effects. However, enthusiasts have long had to choose between the bountiful flavors associated with old-school buds or the unreal potency of cannabis concentrates. In 2010, a small group of cultivators and product developers attempted to remedy this dichotomy, creating what is now known as 'Live Resin.'

What is Live Resin?

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Live resin is a relatively new form of cannabis concentrate, utilizing freezing cold temperatures to preserve the array of flavors and bouquet of effects not normally found in cannabis concentrates. In conventional concentrates, the cultivated cannabis is subjected to a lengthy drying and curing process in an effort to reduce the moisture levels in the flower. This process is detrimental to terpenes in the flower, which are the flavor powerhouses of marijuana. The exposure to heat, air, light and other factors quickly degrade the terpenes, reducing the flavor profile and range of psychoactive effects present in the flower.

To prevent this travesty, the live resin process flash-freezes the harvested marijuana immediately after harvest and retains it at freezing temperatures throughout the entire extraction process. Turning the marijuana into a THC popsicle preserves the terpene profile of the weed, protecting the delicious flavor and aroma. Terpenes also have a role to play in the 'full-spectrum' effects of consuming all the available cannabinoids in the marijuana flower, so the psychoactive effects of live resin concentrates are subjectively superior to conventional concentrates.

Live Resin: A History

The creation of the live resin extraction process is largely attributed to Colorado cultivators William "Kind Bill" Fenger and Emotek Labs founder Jason "Giddy Up" Emo. Sometime in 2010, Kind Bill hypothesized that creating a concentrate from freshly harvested nugs would produce better flavors by preserving the terpenes present in the flower. However, like many great minds ahead of their time, the technology just wasn't there yet.

Flash forward 3 years to 2013, Emotek labs had just come out with the OBE-Dos extraction unit and installed it at a local Colorado dispensary. Employees of the dispensary had trouble deciphering the complex technology being employed by the unit and sought outside help. The dispensary hired Kind Bill as a tech consultant to help operate the OBE-Dos. After using the new extraction unit, Kind Bill was certain that this advanced piece of technology was the perfect device to facilitate his mad-scientist extraction process.

An extended collaboration process between Kind Bill and Jason Emo led to the first successful flash-freezing extraction process, creating flavor profiles never before been seen in concentrates. Kind Bill named the extraction process he had created 'live resin' extraction. The resulting concentrates of this process are what we now refer to as live resin.

Live Resin Vs. Conventional Concentrates

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If you have ever used any form of concentrate, like shatter or wax, you have likely noticed that while extremely potent, they lack the same flavors and aromas present in flower. This is because conventional forms of extraction entail drying and curing techniques that are detrimental to terpenes in the trichomes, lessening the flavors and aromas found in marijuana. Live resin often contains a more complete terpene profile, retaining the heavenly aroma and flavor of traditional weed. A more complete terpene profile can also lead to increased psychoactive effects, as additional cannabinoids contribute to the 'entourage effect.'

Types of Live Resin

Although all live resin extraction processes employ a  standard technique, no two resins will be the same. The terpene profile, color, viscosity and cannabinoid concentration is ultimately determined by the strain of weed used to make the resin as well as the specific techniques employed by the cultivator.  As live resin has increased in popularity, many extractors have begun to develop their own methods to create the resin. For this reason, you will find a myriad of live resin products, ranging in both physical appearance and quality.

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It is not uncommon to find live resin in many different colors or forms. The terpene concentration plays a role in determining the viscosity of the resin, with more terpenes equating to a lower viscosity (more malleable).  Due to this, live resins are generally less dense and brittle than traditional concentrates. Live resin can often be found in forms such as butter, sap, badder and sauce. Due to the malleable nature of live resin, it is less likely to be found as a dense, brittle shatter. Live resin is often 'whipped' after extraction, turning sticky saps into smooth butters.

Live Resin and the "Full Spectrum" Effect

Full spectrum cannabis products are designed to keep the entire cannabinoid profile intact, providing the user with the most complete cannabis experience possible. Terpenes, THC and CBD coalesce to create the most dynamic and complete psychoactive and physical effects for the user, ultimately creating a better product. An increased terpene and CBD profile can add to the 'entourage effect' when consuming the product, making the experience subjectively more enjoyable. Live resins do a better job of retaining terpenes than many other forms of extracts, a reason why live resin resonates with so many cannabis enthusiasts.

Storing Live Resin

Figuring out how to store live resin is not as complicated as one might expect. While live resin extraction is done at sub-freezing temperatures, there is no need to store the concentrate in your deep freezer. Simply keep the resin away from light, heat, air and moisture to increase the resin's longevity. Storing your live resin is a light-proof container in your refrigerator or a cool room is a perfect way to preserve the integrity of the product. Containers made of silicone or glass work best for storing resins.

How to Use Live Resin

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The most efficient way to smoke live resin is by "dabbing" the resin. If you are unfamiliar with dabbing, the process involves using a water-pipe reminiscent of a traditional bong, only with a solid-metal bowl known as a 'nail' rather than a glass bowl used for flower. A blow-torch is used to superheat the nail, allowing the added resin to be fully vaporized, unleashing the powerful effects of the cannabinoids stored inside. For live resins, opt for a spoon shaped tip on your dabber, rather than the traditional flat tip. The low viscosity of live resins will make them harder to use on a flat tipped dabber.

Live Resin Buying Guide

The rising popularity of live resin concentrates has led to an influx of new products, with some cultivators creating inferior resins. When buying live resins, don't opt for the cheapest option, as the saying 'you get what you pay for' applies just as much to concentrates as it does anything else. Buying from a brand or dispensary you know and trust is a great way to ensure you are paying for a superior product. Take into account the parent strain used during the extraction process, as that will have a large role in determining the effects and potency of the resin.

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