As the cannabis industry gets bigger, new methods come out to extract compounds better, or create stronger concentrates. This is the case with live resin concentrate, the first concentrate to be made using the benefit of well-below-freezing temperatures.
There are so many ways to consume cannabis products, from live resin concentrate to shatter to delta-8 THC. While the first two are generally high in delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC products provide users with an alternate form of THC which causes less anxiety and paranoia, and gives a clear-headed, energetic high. Some might even say this makes it the superior THC. We’ve got really great delta-8 THC deals for you to try this new version of THC, to see if it’s the better THC for you.
What are concentrates?
Cannabis concentrates are all the rage these days, but what does this actually mean? A concentrate is the final product of an extraction process in which specific parts of the plant are distilled down to a condensed level. Concentrates are made to contain the trichomes of the plant, the part that holds cannabinoids and terpenes, (or just the cannabinoids and terpenes from inside), without the rest of the plant material. There are different kinds of concentrates that can be made from cannabis. Most of them are nearly the same except for small differences in texture, strength, and what solvent/extraction method is used. Examples of concentrates are:
- Wax – An extract made by rinsing cannabis with a solvent like butane. It can be as high as 90% THC, and usually has at least 70% THC. Much like the name implies, the consistency is gooey, or syrup-like, and the color is opaque.
- Shatter – Another concentrate made using solvents like butane or another hydrocarbon. (When butane is used, it’s called butane hash oil). The solvent is pushed through a container with the cannabis, where it strips the plant of its compounds like THC and CBD, and then is refined further if necessary. In the end, excess solvent is purged out using a vacuum chamber. The primary difference between shatter and wax, is in the consistency. Shatter is hard and brittle like glass.
- Hash oil – This term is for oils that are extracted using solvents. This can be done with alcohol, carbon dioxide, or butane – which creates butane hash oil. Depending on the consistency of the final product, and the solvent used, hash oil can fit into other categories of concentrates.
What is live resin?
Most other concentrates besides live resin are made in similar fashions, and sometimes vary from each other in nothing more than consistency. Live resin concentrate is a bit different, however, because the process to create it is not like the other concentrates. Live resin concentrate is made using cryogenic temperatures in a closed-loop system.
A closed-loop system is a system/device/set of devices, that can operate automatically to regulate a process to get to a desired result. It can do so without human interaction, which is the opposite of an open-loop system, which requires human input. It also indicates a loop structure, meaning the process ends at the same place it begins. Many concentrates are made on a closed-loop system, but what sets live resin concentrate apart from other concentrates, is that it is extracted in sub-zero temperatures, using the freezing temperature to help preserve plant constituents. Live resin is also created using a solvent like butane, but because of the low temperature, terpenes and other plant materials, are not ruined by heat.
Live resin is generally dark yellow in color, with a consistency somewhere in between the more solid waxes, and the less solid oils, though the exact consistency will depend on the product and provider. Live resin, like other concentrates, is very sticky, and requires a dab tool in order to not end up being covered by it.
How is live resin made?
The process for creating live resin goes like this: freshly harvested plants are immediately frozen down to -292 F. This includes the entire plant, with no leaves, stalks, or branches removed. For this reason, it’s considered a ‘full spectrum’ process. Creating live resin is a more difficult and expensive process than creating other concentrates, because of the use of cryogenic temperatures.
To create live resin, butane or propane is cooled to a cryogenic level in one tank, and then pressurized and pushed through another tank which contains the cannabis. As with other extractions, the solvent dissolves the trichomes in order to bond directly with the terpenes and cannabinoids housed inside. It carries this material with it into another tank where it releases other accumulated material like waxes, fats, and lipids. From that tank it goes to another tank where its heated to remove the butane in a ‘purging’ session, which leaves behind a concentrated oil. Remaining solvent is filtered back through a tube to the first tank from which it started, ending the closed-loop cycle.
At this time, the resin has been left in a volatile state, meaning it has a high vapor pressure, with low water solubility. This makes it easy to vaporize. Remaining C02 molecules are vapored out, leaving just live resin at the end. The finished concentrate is often less than 4% of its original weight.
Why cold is beneficial
The idea of using cold to preserve things is hardly new at all. Everyone has a freezer, and we already know that nearly anything can be frozen and then thawed, like meat, veggies, bread, dairy products like ice cream, soups, fruit…and even batteries. (In terms of batteries, this only goes for NiCd and NiMH rechargeable batteries.)
Using freezing temperatures does two different things that are both beneficial for food, as well as cannabis and extracts. The first is that it works to preserve food and the nutrient content therein. Food biodegrades over time, and this process starts right after a plant is harvested (or the animal killed), and can go pretty fast. Think about the short period of time it takes for your bananas to become brown. And then black. Sometimes only days. Freezing essentially stops things in motion, freezing a product into its current state, and allowing it to remain that way. This helps slow down or stop the process of degradation and maintain the nutrients in food.
Freezing also does another thing, it keeps pests and microbes from getting into your food. This is important when considering bacteria like salmonella, and the accompanying food-poison it can cause, or thinking about why bread gets moldy so fast. It’s also why I put honey in the refrigerator, so I don’t find ants crawling up the side of the jar. Freezing creates an unhospitable environment for these life forms, and allows you to keep your food longer without having them in it. It should be remembered that freezing rarely kills microbes, but puts them in a dormant state where they can’t cause harm. When thawed, they can come out and multiply again.
Fresh frozen cannabis
Much like the idea of freezing cannabis to create an extract with less damage to constituent parts, cannabis can actually just be frozen on its own to reap the same general benefits. The term ‘fresh frozen cannabis’ describes cannabis that is harvested, has its leaves, branches and stems removed, and then is put immediately into a freezer set at -38 degrees F. The buds are generally put in vacuum seal bags, and weighed out to a precise amount before storage. The idea is to get the plants in the freezer within an hour of them being cut.
This is very different from a standard harvesting process which includes cutting the plant, taking off stems, leaves, and stalks, and then curing it by hanging it for an extended period of time to dry it out, before storing it in an airtight container. During this process, light, heat, mold, and standard degradation can effect the cannabis, sometimes even ruining the product.
Many producers choose to freeze their harvests right away now. This is beneficial considering that supply often exceeds demand, and producers are left with more product than they can immediately move. Keeping it frozen helps preserve the product until it can be sold, or processed into something else. The freezing process also reduces the amount of time necessary for harvesting, since the whole drying out part is removed.
Live resin brands to try
If you’re excited to try out this new concentrate, you have several options for companies and product types. Live resin can be vaped in a cartridge, with the following top companies offering live resin cartridges: Binske, MPX, AiroPro, Remedy, and Fuze. Then there’s live resin sugar, a delicious way to consume live resin, with companies like Apothecary Farms whipping up fresh frozen extracts in their Ambrosia Line.
Interested users should also check out the 2015 Oregon Dope Cup People’s Choice Award for Live Resin winner Dirty Ant Farm (also the 2016 runner-up in the same category). And for people who like their concentrates to come in gummy form, there’s PotMates, which produces Alien Food Gummies, a sweet live resin concentrate treat.
At this point, there are tons of ways to ingest cannabis, from the plant itself, to any number of extracts that can be gotten out of it. Live resin concentrate represents a new type of processing, and the employment of different technology to make it happen. Live resin and fresh frozen cannabis together illustrate well how cold can be used to create strong, less damaged concentrates, that contain more of the stuff we want from the plant.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a medical professional, I have no formal legal education, and I’ve never been to business school. All information in my articles is sourced from other places which are always mentioned, and all opinions stated are mine, and are made clear to be mine. I am not giving anyone advise of any kind, in any capacity. I am more than happy to discuss topics, but should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a professional in the relevant field for more information.