Live resin is a newer form of BHO, a potent cannabis concentrate, with key differences making it a favorite for many cannabis connoisseurs. The major difference between classic BHO and live resin is the “live” factor. Unlike traditional concentrates which use dried and cured plant material, live resin comes from fresh plants.

Continue Reading Below

Live resin is loved for its pure flavor and aroma stemming from its dense collection of terpenes. The production of live resin is more complex than that of typical BHO, requiring specific equipment and knowledge to pull it off (that’s not to say regular BHO should ever be attempted DIY-style, either.)

How It's Made

Abstract background of cannabis concentrate live resin macro detail extracted from medical marijuana iStock / rgbspace
Unlike the standard practice of drying and curing weed before making concentrates, live resin relies on shock-freezing the fresh plants after harvest to preserve the cannabinoids, including those aromatic terpenes responsible for different flavors and effects.

A significant amount of terpenes can degrade and be lost when curing cannabis, regardless of how well the process is carried out. So many enthusiasts have turned to live resin because it completely bypasses this issue by way of flash freezing.

Continue Reading Below

The plants are frozen within minutes of harvesting because they begin to lose their terpenes right after being cut. This is not easy though, especially with big plants, because the frozen trichomes (resin glands carrying precious cannabinoids) quickly become brittle and subject to damage. Freezing the cannabis results in higher water content than regular concentrates and requires extremely cold temperatures to effectively extract.

We’re talking somewhere between -20 and -50 degrees Fahrenheit here, rendering it a process that cannot easily be done at home. If the temperature is higher than that, butane, the most common solvent used for extracting the live resin, may end up releasing toxins into the extract. After extraction, a low-temperature vacuum oven removes impurities from the extract. As a result, a properly extracted live resin will have a stronger, more pure terpene profile paired with a better high experience.

Live Resin vs Other Concentrates

When it comes to live resin, the magic is in the terpenes. Preserving the terpene profile of the plant is the most important aspect and the reason so many concentrate connoisseurs have switched to using it in the first place. Live resin extracts yield less final product than other traditional extraction methods, but in exchange, you get a more potent concentrate and can use less to get the same (or better) effect.

Continue Reading Below

Another difference lies in the state of the final product. The end result of some live resin extractions is a sap or jelly-like substance. These are often whipped into a product that is easier to handle, like butter. Live resins tend to be more expensive than other waxes or concentrates because they are both highly potent and require a complex extraction system to effectively make.

How To Use Live Resin

A man smoking a marijuana concentrate pipe. iStock / smileitsmccheeze
As with other concentrates, live resin will require a bit of a setup to enjoy. Dab rigs or vaporizers made for concentrates are popular ways to go about using live resin.

If you’re not sure what to look for when shopping for live resin, aim to find a concentrate with a golden-hue, resembling various types of honey. The color can range from light to a deep, darker-tinted resin. Look for visible crystals and liquids, ensuring a solid ratio of THC to terpenes. And when all else fails, give them all a sniff before locking down the perfect one.

Dabbing is probably the most common way to use live resin, and it is a great way to deliver. However, using quartz or glass nails is advised because other types may get too hot, effectively burning away the terpenes you probably paid extra to enjoy.

Vaporizer and dab pens are a good alternative to using live resin. Just be sure to get a high quality one, because you don’t want to use something that will damage your resin, rendering it no more effective than other concentrates.

Is It Worth the Extra Money?

Whether or not live resin is worth dropping the extra cash depends entirely on the individual. Some people really care about their experience, whereas others are more willing to use less expensive products and still achieve desirable effects.

Live resin may be the perfect choice for medical patients seeking stronger therapeutic effects from their cannabis. It’s well-understood that when all terpenes and cannabinoids present in the plant synergize with one another, they create stronger therapeutic effects.

If you’re looking for fast, potent relief, dabbing live resin is a great option. The whole-plant synergy creates a stronger effect and will set in very quickly.

For well-seasoned stoners, live resin is a great option because it packs a full-plant punch into a small concentrate. Though it’s typically more expensive and contains less product, the trade-off is higher potency, a complete terpene profile, and the freedom of needing to use less to get desired effects.