What is Fresh Frozen Marijuana?
Published on Aug 3, 2020
Updated: Apr 25, 2022
Thanks to rapidly growing legalization, America's cannabis industry has seen cannabis plant science and legal product development advance more in the past decade than possibly ever before. Along with the growing wave of legalization, with 18 states and U.S. territories legalizing recreationally and another 39 states plus Washington D.C. establishing state-level medical programs, legal weed has never been more popular with the American people than it is right now. As a result of legalization and normalization, we’ve seen massive investment capital poured into cannabis businesses worldwide. That’s part of the reason why we’ve seen so much innovation in the past few years. And no place is that rapid-fire R&D more readily apparent than the world of cannabis concentrates.
After decades of mixing bubble hash into spliffs and sprinkling kief on top of bowl packs, the dab revolution has revolutionized the extract market over the past ten years. Starting with butane hash oil (BHO) blasted in backyards, the cannabis community now obsesses over solventless rosins, low-temp dabs, hand-blown rigs worth $20 thousand, and more highly refined extracts and accouterments. That consumer obsession is why concentrate sales have spiked more than 40 percent in the past few years.
At the top of that list of consumer favorites are the so-called “live” concentrates. This diverse range of concentrates is made using whole-plant fresh frozen material. Live dabs and vape cartridges are highly sought after and often carry a higher price than their dry counterparts. If you're still wondering why fresh frozen cannabis is so popular, what is live resin, or can you freeze marijuana at home, we've got everything you need to know about going the cold route with your next harvest.
Go in-depth with us on why fresh frozen live resin is a consumer favorite, break down exactly what makes it so popular with consumers, and detail exactly how to make it and why it benefits the consumer!
Why Are Weed Growers Freezing Marijuana?
Before we get into the hyper-specific aspects of fresh frozen cannabis production, it is essential to know why cultivators across the country are buying up dry ice and deep freezers every harvest season.
Fresh frozen cannabis is used for concentrated extraction purposes only. Sure, the bud still looks fantastic, and trichomes still shine. But freezing cannabis directly opposes the drying and curing process that produces the standard dried, packaged cannabis flower for smoking.
Instead, fresh frozen techniques forego the drying process and head directly from the garden to the freezer. While the drying room is a necessary step for smokable buds, the lengthy open-air process also degrades delicate terpenes and converts THC into the heavy-handed cannabinoid CBN. By using dry ice and deep freezers to lower the temperature of the weed quickly after cutting, growers can retain the most characteristics of the living plant possible. It’s a lot like flash-freezing freshly picked fruit. It seals in the peak nutrients and flavors before they can escape by just sitting around off the vine. It’s the same concept for cannabis!
When the extraction process starts, the solvents freeze so that the resulting concentrates contain extremely high terpene and cannabinoid contents. This process gives users an experience that many growers say is the most authentic essence of the cannabis plant.
How Do You Freeze Weed?
Alright, so now we know why growers are buying up deep freezers and what happens when you freeze weed; let's dig into the process of producing concentrates from the fresh frozen pot. Like all cannabis products, it all starts in the garden.
Whether the weed is grown in soil or hydroponically, under the sun in the great outdoors, or in a greenhouse entirely indoors, harvest season comes along with universal characteristics. Big buds begin to dwarf broad fan leaves, the smell of strong terpenes permeates the entire cultivation site, and cannabinoid-rich trichomes quickly transition from transparent to cloudy to deep amber. This time of the year is usually deemed “Croptober,” widely renowned as the best time to mass harvest your cannabis crops that year before things go downhill weather-wise. But once it's ready to cut, the next step will determine the future of your crop.
For cultivators freezing cannabis for extraction, dry ice containers are brought into the garden so that plants can be frozen as soon as they are cut from their roots. The cannabis is sealed in vacuum bags and stored in deep freezers that drop to temperatures as low as -38 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, that's very, very cold.
There are two ways to extract fresh frozen marijuana. In a traditional hydrocarbon extraction process, flower is ground up and washed with chemicals like butane, propane, or hexane. Or, with solventless concentrates, the flower is agitated in ice water to create a solventless concentrate. The extraction process for the fresh frozen flower is very similar to that of dried and cured bud but with decidedly different results.
What Is Fresh Frozen Bud Used For?
When shopping at a dispensary, the easiest way to know if the concentrated cannabis product you're buying came from a fresh frozen extraction process is the word "live." Whether it is fresh frozen live resin or live rosin, any cannabis product with the word "live" in the name - live budder, live wax, live sugar, etc. - denotes a fresh frozen production method. Many consider these products some of the best when it comes to concentrates. The types of products cost consumers an arm and a leg at the checkout counter if they’re not careful!
So what is the difference between fresh-frozen rosin and live resin? The former describes any fresh frozen extracts made using a chemical solvent. The live resin category covers concentrates made with butane, CO2, ethanol, propane, and other solvents. Similarly, live resins can come in various consistencies depending on the quality of the flower and environmental factors during the extraction process.
On the other hand, we produce live rosins using a solventless method. Usually, that means agitating fresh frozen buds in a giant vat of ice water until the THC and terpene-packed trichome heads separate from the rest of the bud. Once the wash is complete, fine mesh bags trap the precious gold hash and let the water wash out. Next, the resulting trichomes are collected and freeze-dried. Lastly, the fresh frozen solventless hash is pressed into live rosin. Both live rosin and live resin are perfect for dabbing and carry broad spectrums of cannabinoids and terpenes that make for face-melting smells, otherworldly flavors, and an exceptional high.
Live resins are taking on another life in vape cartridges outside of dabs. Vape cartridges have undergone a few product make-overs despite their short lifespan. Originally made with BHO cut with food-grade glycols, carts went mass market with the introduction of distillate extracts. However, health concerns and demand for strain-specific vapes have made live resins incredibly popular with cartridge manufacturers. In addition to carts, live resins and rosins can be infused into foods, beverages, and even topicals for an authentic full-spectrum experience.
Cannabis Companies That Are Freezing Fresh Bud
Across the legal weed industry, cannabis companies are reserving larger quantities of every harvest for fresh frozen concentrate production. Raw Gardens freezes its entire crop in California for live resin concentrates and cartridges. In Colorado, 710 Labs has become one of the industry's most popular brands, thanks mainly to their top-shelf selection of live rosins. Likewise, multi-state operator Blue River Terps uses proprietary mechanical separation techniques to produce a variety of solventless live rosins in a slew of different consistencies, including one of the industry's first fully solventless rosin vape cartridges.
If there's one thing that's for sure, fresh frozen cannabis concentrates aren't going anywhere soon.
The Bottom Line
No matter how they’re made, stored, or sold in dispensaries, it’s clear that cannabis concentrates are on the rise. They capture consumer attention because of their potency, but they’re often seen as the best value for the consumer dollar as well! After all, you only need a tiny bit of cannabis concentrate in a dab rig to feel profound effects. It hits harder than the standard cannabis joint and even has more cannabinoids than the average joint or bowl of cannabis flower. So it’s no wonder that cannabis consumers are all over it, whether it’s flash-frozen or not!
Simply put, fresh-frozen cannabis concentrates are the way to go! They seal the terpenes and cannabinoids into the product for longer. They can be made into a massive array of different cannabis concentrate products to enjoy regardless of your budget or what style of concentrate you love most. Make sure to pick some up on your next trip to your local dispensary!
Are you prepping your own harvest to put your next batch of weed in the freezer? Or do you have a favorite brand of live rosin that we missed? Hit us up in the comments and let us know your thoughts on fresh frozen bud.