Live Resin: A Fascinating New Cannabis Extract Product
The rapid expansion of the legal cannabis industry stimulates vast advancements in technology and processes. Similarly, these evolutions impact different verticals of the industry. Yet, perhaps no facet of the modern cannabis industry has seen the sort of overhauls in methodology and identity as the cannabis extracts field. This notion applies to both the U.S. and Canadian cannabis industry. To this end, newly sanctioned industry compliance standards, as well as good manufacturing practices (GMP), have forced extraction companies to reinvent themselves. These changes are occurring through processes, technology, and branding. Of the new types of extract products that have arisen in this new wave of business, perhaps none has gained as much notoriety as live resin.
For many seasoned cannabis connoisseurs, high-quality extracts are the holy grail of cannabis products. Looking specifically to live resin, serious smokers have taken notice of this extract due to its fresh taste, consistent strength, and otherworldly terpene profile. Yet, as seen with many new crazes in the industry today, live resin is intimately tied to the cannabis tech and methods that make it a reality. Either way, live resin takes craft cannabis production to a whole new level.
What is Live Resin?
Live resin is a form of butane hash oil, or “BHO,” that is originally sourced from fresh cannabis flowers. In the past, BHO has been made from dried flowers and trim. However, a rise in our knowledge of the chemical composition of cannabis has given extraction authorities the ability to test new theories. To this end, live resin was invented in Colorado around 2011-2013, where a burgeoning cannabis industry was spurring new innovations.
The primary selling point behind live resin is the fact that fresh cannabis flowers have a much more vibrant aroma and taste than dried products. As anyone who has grown or trimmed fresh cannabis knows, fresh flowers are strikingly pungent compared to their dried counterparts. In fact, it is not unusual to hear of an improperly ventilated grow room literally “stinking up” an entire neighborhood. It is precisely this pungency that is captured in live resin.
The pungent aroma and taste that have come to define live resin are both tied to a cannabis plant’s terpenes. For those that did not know, terpenes are the fragrant oils that are secreted from the resin glands of cannabis flowers. Moreover, it is precisely these terpenes that are responsible for giving different cannabis strains and extracts their distinct scents and flavors. In live resin, many of these terpenes are preserved. Conversely, as seen with normal BHO, terpenes rapidly diminish as cannabis is harvested, dried, cured, and handled. Generally speaking, cannabis testing laboratory results back these standards.
How is it Produced?
Live resin, like other BHO extracts, is considered a “hydrocarbon extract.” This group of cannabis extracts have this name because they are produced by way of hydrocarbon solvents, such as butane and propane. In the BHO manufacturing process, butane is used to isolate valuable cannabinoids and terpenes from other excess plant material. It accomplishes this as the solvent is passed through the plant material in an extraction system.
Closed-loop extraction systems use sophisticated scientific equipment to regulate the passage of harmful solvents trough cannabis plant material. As solvents pass through the cannabis, it extracts valuable cannabinoids and terpenes into a viscous substance that eventually dries. Also, closed-loop systems have advanced processes for isolating excess solvents and purging them with a vacuum system.
As discussed, live resin differs from traditional BHO extracts in the fact that it is made from fresh cannabis plants. In the manufacturing process, fresh cannabis is “flash frozen” immediately after harvest. However, freshly frozen cannabis causes some complications with hydrocarbon extractions. This is because, it contains significantly more water than dried cannabis flowers. This poses a health risk because butane is water-soluble and can easily mix with residual moisture in fresh plant material. Therefore, the temperature of the live resin extraction process is regulated to ensure no residual solvents remain. To this end, it has been found that extremely low temperatures of -20 to -50 deg Fahrenheit are required for the process. Because, these temps provide cold enough conditions to successfully keep excess plant water and butane from mixing in the live resin extraction process.
How is Live Resin Consumed?
The viscosity of live resin is similar to other more traditional cannabis concentrates like hash, wax, crumble, and butter. This fact affords people the ability to utilize their favorite consumption tools – like dab rigs and vape pens – in the use of live resin.
The rise of “dabbing” in the modern cannabis industry has come almost hand-in-hand with the growing popularity of live resin. For those who did not know, dabbing works in a fashion similar to standard pipes or bongs. However, it has a somewhat revised form of ignition. Instead of using a flame to burn a cannabis concentrate, dabbing requires the use of a red-hot nail. Live resin consumers enjoy the fact that dabbing gives them a strong, unfiltered experience of fresh cannabis.
Vaporizers also represent an extremely popular method for consuming live resin. As seen with dabbing, vape technology has also taken the cannabis industry by storm. Mainly because, “vape pens” offer a discreet and easy-to-use method for consuming extracts like live resin. Moreover, vaporizers don’t actually burn cannabis products. As such, many feel that vaporizers offer a safe alternative to smoking. Live resin consumers cherish the fact that vaporizers provide a satisfying “smoking experience” without the smell of smoke.
Live resin has become immensely popular in the few short years since it has entered the cannabis scene. Interestingly, it has come about with advancements in extraction technology and procedures only recently made possible by the legal cannabis industry. Experienced cannabis aficionados appreciate the full terpene profiles present in live resin. Importantly, we are just beginning to understand the potential benefits of more expressive terpene profiles in our cannabis. To this end, medical marijuana researchers are starting to link specific terpenes with relief from certain ailments. Looking to the future, it will be interesting to see how continued advancements in technology and methodology will work together in progressing our understanding of cannabis.
This article originally appeared in the September / October 2019 Edition of Maximum Yield Cannabis Magazine.
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