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Live Resin vs Live Rosin vs Distillate: Differences Explained


One of the best things about cannabis legalization sweeping the nation is the evolution of consuming it. Classic smokers will always have a plethora of fresh herb to choose from, and edible lovers are swimming in tasty treats to sink their teeth into. Seasoned smokers may opt for extracts for their powerful punch and exceptional taste.

Flavorful extracts like live resin and live rosin are likened to the complex flavors of wine, with rich terpene profiles that add depth to the smoke itself and the high it produces. However, if you’re not a cannabis connoisseur, it’s easy to get lost in the sauce of the latest and greatest ways to get high. 

Whether you like to roll a joint, use a vape pen, or take dabs, cannabis extracts are a sublime way to experiment with cannabis flavors and textures. No matter where you’re at in your cannabis journey, read on to learn about many types of extracts and concentrates and what distinguishes them from each other. 

What is Live Resin?

It's difficult (making live resin) like the diamonds seen in this picture here from your home.

Live resin is a cannabis extract made from fresh cannabis flowers. Traditional extracts like crumble, shatter, sugar wax, and snap ‘n pull are made with dried, cured buds. To make live resin, the plants are harvested when the trichomes are ripe and bursting with flavor. 

The plant is immediately flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen, typically on-site. The intention is to preserve the plant in its natural state, avoiding any potential harm to the precious trichomes, and prevent the plant matter from beginning decomposition into its dried form. 

The resulting product is exceptionally flavorful and terpene-rich, with an aroma and flavor that is true to the genetics. Because of its high terpene concentration and the gentle nature of its handling, live resin boasts a powerful entourage effect and typically produces test results with a robust variety of terpenes and cannabinoids. It is usually bright orange, yellow, or amber, and the texture is crystallized, like what you might find at the bottom of a jar of honey. 

What is Live Rosin?

The live resin process involves freezing newly harvested marijuana plants in a lab to extract concentrated THC. This extracted cannabis material is called (live resin).

Live rosin is technically not an extract at all, but a concentrate. Extracts are made with cannabis and a solvent. Cannabis extracts undergo a specific extraction process that involves a closed-loop extraction machine and post-extraction purging to remove any residual solvents. The process is just what it sounds like – the valuable compounds are extracted and the remaining plant waxes, fibers, and fats are left behind. 

A concentrate is a concentrated form of cannabis. Rosin is made by pressing fresh cannabis buds in a heated press. When the rosin craze first began, people were making rosin with hair straighteners and t-shirt presses. Now, there are many commercial rosin presses designed to create rosin.

In the case of live rosin, this tasty concentrate is made by concentrating the essence of the plant in a two-part process. First, you make ice wax, also known as ice hash or bubble hash. Then, you press the ice wax into a rosin press, and the resulting concentrate is live rosin. 

Live rosin is usually golden or amber in color and has a texture that resembles butter at room temperature. Smoking live rosin is one of the purest ways to experience the flavor and aroma of the originating plant. 

Differences Explained

Although cannabis extracts and concentrates share similarities, they often share even more differences. 

Live Resin vs Rosin

Although both live resin and rosin are full-spectrum, the process to make them is pretty different. Live resin is made with fresh, frozen cannabis extracted with a solvent and processed with the help of specialized equipment. Rosin is made with fresh, live cannabis that has not been frozen. It is pressed by hand in a special press that uses heat and pressure to slowly squeeze the buds until they produce a sticky, concentrated version of the bud. 

Live Resin vs Distillate

Distillate is a cannabis extract typically produced with the same type of equipment used to make live resin. However, distillate is made with dried bud and trimmings rather than live cannabis. Distillate undergoes another step after extraction to distill the crude oil further. This step aims to obtain the highest percentage possible of a particular cannabinoid – most often THC. 

Because of the refining process, much of the terpene content is lost. Distillate is a thin, translucent liquid that is ideal for vape pens.

Live Resin vs Sauce

Sauce, also called terp sauce, is often confused with live resin. Live resin indeed has a high terpene content due to the nature of its terpene-preservation efforts during harvest. However, live resin usually has a cannabinoid profile dominated by THC, whereas terp sauce is engineered to have a more customizable profile. 

Terp sauce is made by extracting the terpenes from a plant and combining them with an extract like distillate. Because this is a custom blend, there is plenty of room for expert formulation. For example, you could combine terp sauce with equal amounts CBD and THC distillate for a 1:1 experience. 

Live Resin vs Wax

The extraction process used to make live resin and wax is usually the same, despite wax being made with dried, cured flowers and trim. However, in the post-extraction process, wax – or sugar wax – is whipped or stirred during the purge process to create its malleable texture. Sugar wax is crystallized like live resin but is a bit drier and a little crumbly. 

Live Resin vs Shatter

Shatter is produced just like wax, so the same differences apply when comparing the extraction process to live resin. However, the post-extraction process involves multiple rounds of purification to achieve a thin, translucent sheet of oil that shatters if dropped. 

Due to the rigorous purification process, shatter is relatively low in terpene content when compared to live resin. The entourage effect is less pronounced with a lower terpene content, so shatter may not produce as intense of a high. Nevertheless, both are excellent extracts, and live resin vs shatter is merely personal preference. 

How to Smoke Live Resin or Rosin

Live resin, rosin, and live rosin are versatile extracts finding their way into different formats. Whether it’s dabbable extracts that you can vaporize with the use of a dab rig or oil pen, or in the form of Pax Era pods. You can also find them in pre-filled, disposable vape pens or cartridges. 

If dabbing and vaping isn’t your thing, smoke live resin on top of weed in a bowl or pipe for extra flavor and potency. Rosin is excellent when added to joints and blunts, and for a little artistic expression, roll out a chunk of rosin into a thin rope and wrap it around the outside of your joint. Have a stash of rosin but taking a break from smoking? Use it to make edibles!

Can You Vape Live Resin and Rosin

Absolutely! It’s a bit messy to attempt to add your own live resin or rosin to a vape cart. Their natural viscosity doesn’t pair well with the heating elements of a vape cartridge, and you might end up with a sticky mess that doesn’t produce any vapor. The good news is that many brands have perfected the art of live resin and rosin vapes so you don’t have to. 

The Bloom Brands is one such company that specializes in creating live resin vape cartridges with their fingerprinting process. They have evolved the process of making live resin by forgoing the freezing process and extracting freshly cut buds within hours after harvest. 

Obtaining the proper viscosity for live rosin is a fine art, and brands like Blue River Terps and CAMP have mastered this process. 

How is Live Resin Made?

(Live rosin) is a cannabis concentrate extracted from fresh, frozen cannabis.

Live resin is extracted with many solvents, such as butane, propane, or critical CO2. After freezing and storing the plant for 24-36 hours, extractors will mix their solvent solution. A 50/50 blend of butane and propane is common for live resin extraction because propane pulls more terpenes from the plant. The solvents are chilled to a minimum of -40 degrees Fahrenheit before going into a closed-loop hydrocarbon extractor with the live cannabis. 

The trichomes homogenize with the solvent and move into a collection vessel. Then, heat is applied to the vessel to evaporate the solvent, leaving behind the extract. It’s especially important to monitor temperatures at this step so as not to burn the terpenes. 

Some extraction equipment also uses an inline dewax column that removes the plant wax and fats from the plant material, but that’s not always the case with live resin. Since the solvents and starting material were used at much colder temperatures, there is no need to winterize live resin. The final step involves using a vacuum oven to boil off any residual solvent in the extract. 

How is Live Rosin Made?

Live rosin begins the same way live resin begins – by freezing freshly harvested cannabis flowers. However, the path to the end result couldn’t be more different. Live rosin is made without using any extraction equipment and solvents, relying on only ice, water, heat, and pressure. 

Live rosin begins with making bubble hash. Perhaps the original way to make hash, this method involves using bubble bags, a bucket, cold water, and ice. There are many bubble hash methods, though the end result is largely the same. By agitating the flowers in an ice water bath and filtering through a fine-mesh sieve, a dark brown crumbly hash bursting with trichomes is ready to become rosin. 

Once fully dry (which can take up to one week), the ice wax is ready to be pressed into rosin. Parchment paper, rosin bags, storage containers, and a rosin press are all you need. Opt for one in the 15-37 micron range when choosing a rosin bag for live rosin. The bubble bag is filled to approximately 75% capacity with the dried bubble hash, or roughly ½ inch thick. 

The rosin bag is placed inside of a folded piece of parchment paper, large enough to cover the entirety of the bag fully. Depending on the type of rosin press and the quality of the hash, the temperature settings will vary. However, rosin should not be pressed at temperatures exceeding 220 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Once heated, the parchment containing the rosin bags is placed between the two metal plates. By using a lever, the plates are pressed together tightly to squeeze out the concentrated rosin. The rosin is scraped from the sides of the parchment and placed into a resealable, airtight container. This process is repeated several times until there is no more rosin coming out of the pressed bag. 

How to Store Live Resin or Rosin

Although live resin and live rosin are made from buds stored in subcritical temperatures, there is no need to keep the finished product in the same environment. For the most part, you want to store your resins like you store your weed. To increase the longevity of extracts, keep them in a tightly sealed container away from light, air, heat, and exposure to moisture. 

Live resin and rosin need to remain cool, so a light-proof container in the refrigerator is ideal. If you do not have a light-proof container, simply place the container inside a darker container to keep out the light. If exposed to heat, not only will live resin and rosin melt into a gooey, unmanageable mess, but the terpenes will begin to break down, and you’ll lose out on flavor and potency.

How Much Does Live Resin Cost?

A gram of live resin is $20-$30 for lower-end products, with some premium top-shelf grams pricing closer to $80. A small-batch, high-end gram may run closer to $100. A one-gram vape cartridge averages $50. However, keep in mind that prices vary state by state due to state and local cannabis taxes on top of the retail price, among other factors. 

While it's more expensive, (live resin) is worth the cost because it more accurately reflects the flavor and aroma of the cannabis strain of which it was extracted compared to rosin and (live rosin).

Why Is Live Rosin More Expensive?

Live rosin is usually much more expensive than live resin, running anywhere from $40 to $100  or more per gram. For a live rosin vape cart, you’re looking at spending roughly $100 for just a half gram. Live rosin is much more labor-intensive than live resin production and often yields less per batch, hence the heftier price tag to the consumer.

To insure (Rosin potency), a single drop of cannabis terpenes should be applied to each gram of rosin concentrate.

Live Rosin Vs. Live Resin FAQs

Is live resin better than distillate?

While distillate usually has a higher THC content than live resin, it does not mean it will necessarily produce a stronger high. Unlike distillate, live resin retains all of the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant in the final product which combine to make a more potent effect. Distillate, however, is preferred when making edibles because the THC has already been activated, or converted from THCA, when heated during the production process. The cannabis in edibles must be heated prior to infusion in order for consumers to feel the effects of the THC. 

Is rosin better than shatter?

If rosin and shatter are made correctly, there won’t be much difference in potency or THC content. However, shatter production and consumption can be more dangerous than rosin because shatter requires the solvent, butane. Butane is flammable and can cause explosions during shatter production, and residual butane not properly removed can cause health problems for consumers. 

How much is a gram of rosin?

Depending on regional pricing, a gram of rosin is usually between $40-$55, with an average of $45 nationwide. Rosin generally costs about $5-$10 more than shatter or wax. Unlike rosin, Shatter utilizes butane, a chemical solvent, in its extraction process which makes it more costly.  

Is live resin the same as wax?

Live resin vs wax? They are significantly different. Because live resin is produced without decarboxylating the cannabis with heat, the resulting concentrate retains a fuller terpene profile than wax which uses heat in its production. Terpenes create the cannabis plant’s flavor and aroma; therefore, live resin concentrates will produce a taste and smell more like the cannabis strain in which it was extracted compared to wax. 


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