If you’re a fan of cannabis concentrates, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about live resin. Live resins have an aromatic profile that is just like a live cannabis plant.
Since the process of safely making live resin requires specialized equipment, it requires serious investment. We don’t recommend it as a weekend project. If you’re a hobby grower, we recommend making bubble hash instead.
That said, if you’re a small to mid-scale farmer, producing live resin can be a way to get an edge on the market. Let’s take a look at live resin production.
What is Live Resin?
Live resin is a special kind of cannabis concentrate. It is made from freshly harvested cannabis that is immediately frozen instead of being dried and cured. After the extraction process, the result is a hash oil that has the flavor profile of a living cannabis plant.
Live resin is the only cannabis product available that isn’t made from dried cannabis. Whether you’re purchasing flowers, edibles, or even most cannabis concentrates, most cannabis products are made with dried plant material.
Is Live Resin Different from Other Cannabis Concentrates?
Live resin is a special type of butane hash oil, also known as BHO. Most BHO is a type of cured resin. In terms of THC content, both live resin and cured resin are about the same. That said, the flavor in your dab rig with live resin is no comparison to regular cannabis concentrate.
Live resin may also give you a different high due to the entourage effect of terpenes and cannabinoids, but this is unverified. That said, the flavor of live resin is second to none.
To understand what sets live resin apart, you have to understand terpenes. They are the aromatic compounds that make cannabis smell the way it does. Terpenes determine what cannabis smells and tastes like.
When cannabis users are talking about the “terpene profile,” of live resin it’s the fancy way of saying “this is what the hash oil smells and tastes like.”
Now, if you grow weed you know that growing plants stink a lot more than the regular cured bud that you smoke. That’s because live cannabis has about twice as many terpenes compared to cannabis flowers that have undergone the curing process. Live resin extraction preserves these terpenes so you can smell them when you open the little air tight container.
Live Resin vs Live Rosin
While live resin and live rosin have very similar names, they are made differently. Cannabis users love both because they both contain that live cannabis plant flavor. However, live resin is cheaper because it’s easier to scale up production for live resin.
Live resin is made using solvents at very low temperatures to extract the THC. Rosin, on the other hand, is created by applying intense heat and pressure to fresh buds. Rosin can also be made from hash or kief. Both have the flavor of fresh cannabis.
History of Live Resin
The first maker of live resin is a Colorado resident known as Kind Bill. His real name is William Fenger. Back in 2010, there was a boom in Colorado’s cannabis world thanks to the legalization of recreational marijuana. People could suddenly develop large-scale extraction methods of cannabis oil, and dispensaries started rolling out dab rigs and vape pens.
Kind Bill was riding the wave of the dabbing craze when inspiration struck. Since he was a grower, he was quite passionate about the smell of a growing cannabis flower. He wanted to create a concentrate that had the taste and smell of fresh cannabis.
Now, the first few attempts to extract live resins at room temperature resulted in an ok product, but clearly there was room for improvement. Through trial and error, Kind Bill discovered the keys to live resin extraction are frozen plants and very low temperatures throughout the extraction process.
How To Make Live Resin
Before we go into details about how this process works, it’s important to briefly talk about different extraction processes. There are two ways to get cannabis concentrate extracted: open and closed-loop systems.
Open-loop extraction is more straightforward and requires far less specialized equipment. The volatile compounds used in this process are a huge fire hazard and are known to blow up homes.
But let’s say you’ve got a well-ventilated space and have made your own cured resin many times. You still can’t get good live resin extract from an open loop system. While you can technically run flash-frozen buds through it, the solvents that open loop systems leave behind in the final product will pretty much ruin the flavor of your live resin.
On the other hand, closed-loop extraction requires a lab-grade device that needs to pass government safety standards. It is far more expensive, and requires special training, but is also much safer and the final product will be good enough to sell in medical marijuana dispensaries.
What You Need To Make Live Resin
You need the following to make live resin:
- Freshly harvested whole plants
- Liquid nitrogen or dry ice
- Chemical solvents like butane
- Closed-loop hydrocarbon extractor
As you can see, the equipment necessary to make live resin means it’s not a beginner-level project. That said, if you’re a farmer or a growing collective, live resin making isn’t totally out of reach.
Steps For Making Live Resin
Here’s a quick overview of how to make live resin. If you’re serious about this, you’ll need training on extraction processes.
Step 1: Freeze Your Harvested Cannabis Plants
Since the starting material for the live resin is frozen cannabis, this is the first thing you need to do. Here are a few tips:
- Freeze whole buds and sugar leaves. Dispose of the stems and fan leaves.
- Plant matter must be at -10F (-23C) or lower
- Begin extraction no later than 36 hours post-freezing.
Flash freezing the buds rather than putting them through the drying process preserves the terpene profile of live cannabis plants.
Step 2: Cannabis Extraction
Solvent extraction is where you use light hydrocarbons to extract the THC from the plant matter. In addition to your plant matter being frozen, your solvent needs to be chilled. Your materials need to be cold throughout the extraction process to preserve the terpenes.
Ideally, you want it around -112F, but -40F will do. The colder you can get your solvent, the more you can keep out the water-soluble components of your plant.
You’ll need to then put your plants through the closed loop-extraction system. This is a multi-chamber piece of equipment that runs your solvent through the plant matter creating your cannabis extract.
Please note that you can use dried buds in a closed loop system to create cured resin and other concentrates. They will be of a very high quality, they simply will not have the same natural flavors as live resins.
Step 3: Post-Processing
The final step is removing the excess solvent. This is necessary for making both live and cured resin. Here, you’ll want to use a vacuum oven to pull out the remaining butane.
Failure to complete this step can result in cannabis extracts that spark when you try to dab them. It also isn’t good for your health to be consuming solvent. After this step, let your live resin cool before you move to packaging.
Step 4: Packaging
Yes, you can store live resin in any jar you have around the house. But since the process of creating live resin concentrate from frozen plant material is so cost-heavy, we’re guessing nobody is doing this on a personal use scale.
So before you start, you’ll want to know how you intend to sell your live resin. You can either store live resin in an air tight container or put it in cartridges that can be loaded into a vape pen. Even though live resin vape cartridges can be more costly to begin producing, they have a high return margin.
You’ve got questions about live resin, we have answers!
Is live resin easy to make?
No! Due to the expensive equipment you would need for it, the creation of live resins is best left to the extraction technicians. Bubble hash is a much more doable project for a beginner hash maker.
What’s the difference between live resin and BHO?
Live resin is BHO, it’s just made with frozen cannabis instead of buds that have gone through the curing process. This way, it tastes better.
How do you consume live resin?
The easiest way is to put it on weed and smoke live resin. You can also dab it or buy special pen cartridges. Vape pens are the trendiest and most convenient ways to consume live resin.
Does live resin get you higher than regular wax?
Live resin and other concentrates have similar THC levels. Some people believe live resin produces a different high due to the entourage effect of cannabinoids and other natural plant compounds. This effect is unverified.
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- How to make live resin at home, step-by-step