CURED RESIN AND LIVE RESIN CANNABIS EXTRACTS
In the world of cannabis concentrates, solvent-based products crafted from cured and live resin still take the lion’s share when it comes to popularity and sales.
Purists may find solventless concentrates like live rosin appealing because solvents aren’t used during the process of extraction. But the fact of the matter is when cured and live resin concentrates are properly produced and purged at licensed labs, the safety, cleanliness, and quality of the end products are simply indisputable.
We’re talking about some of the richest, most flavorful, and potent cannabis concentrates out there. And also among the most affordable, especially when compared to high-grade bubble hash and live rosin concentrates.
What are cannabis concentrates and extracts?
Concentrates are the product of extracting the specific parts of the cannabis plant containing its most desirable properties and offering them in a compact form.
The part that’s extracted is the trichomes, or the tiny, mushroom-shaped resin glands. They contain each flower’s unique profile of cannabinoids and terpenes, offering a variety of flavors, aromas, and levels of psychoactivity.
When the resin glands are extracted using solvents such as butane, propane, CO2, and alcohol, they’re called extracts. When they’re extracted without solvents, they’re just concentrates.
In other words, concentrates can be both solvent-based and solventless. But extracts are exclusively solvent-based.
If you think about it, you could argue that all concentrates are extracts since you’re extracting and sifting out the same parts of the plant.
But when dealing with dispensaries, it’s good to know that concentrates are an umbrella term for all cannabis products created by extracting and concentrating the trichomes.
Extracts: solvent-based concentrates
The most popular solvent-based concentrates are from cured resin and live resin.
Solvent-based concentrates can be highly efficient at extracting and flushing out the cannabis trichomes. This way, the end product retains more terpenes and cannabinoids, including THC, the chemical compound that makes you high.
Due to the efficiency of solvent-based extraction methods, extracts derived from the live resin can offer the richest “entourage effect”: that complex interplay between the multitude of cannabis compounds working collectively to produce a unique sensorial experience.
It’s as though you are experiencing the natural essence of the plant itself.
Freezing cannabis flower for live resin
Both cured and live resin extracts use solvent-based extraction methods, but the primary distinction between the two processes is that for live resin, the cannabis plant is flash-frozen upon harvest.
When manufacturers use live resin to make their concentrates, they ensure a live resin end-product that’s much richer in both terpenes and cannabinoids, which translates to elevated levels of flavor, aroma, and psychoactivity.
It may seem like a minor difference, but ensuring the flash-frozen plant is properly stored is a real challenge when producing live resin.
Frozen trichomes are brittle and easily break. Manufacturers need to handle the plants with extreme care to avoid losing the terpenes and cannabinoids that make each cannabis concentrate and extract so special.
Unlike dried and cured cannabis, for live resin, the whole plant is cut, frozen, and stored, which means it requires much more space. Extracting live resin from the larger plant means the process takes longer than it would with cured resin.
There’s more at work here than this. The point is that live resin adds an extra layer of complexity to what is already a sophisticated procedure of extracting resin using solvents.
Using solvents to make live resin
While harvesting, handling, and maintaining frozen plants can be a resource and labor-intensive process, needless to say, the hardest part of making cured and live resin is the extraction itself.
There’s a reason why only licensed labs should be manufacturing solvent-based cured and live resin concentrates: the process is dangerous.
Since flammable solvents such as carbon dioxide, butane, alcohol, and propane are often employed, only trained experts should be carrying out the procedure.
There have been cases of explosions occurring at makeshift labs put together by those attempting to produce cured and live resin without the proper training and equipment.
Butane hash oil
For most extracts of choice, butane is the preferred solvent to flush out the resin from the trichomes.
Manufacturers infuse cured or frozen cannabis buds with the solvent, usually with a “closed-loop system,” which allows the solvent to be reused after the process is completed, as opposed to having it dissipated into the atmosphere.
The butane chemicals bond with the cannabinoid and terpene receptors in the trichomes, to flush them out into a cannabinoid, terpene-rich slurry.
What you get as a result is butane hash oil, referred to by its acronym, BHO, which is what’s used to make extracts like budder and badder, diamonds and sauce, shatter, and crumble.
But first, BHO, or any other solvent-based slurry, needs to be purged.
Purging live resin
The last thing you want in your cannabis extracts is chemical residue, which not only ruins the flavor of the product, but as you probably guessed, too much residue can be extremely harmful to you.
Enough said. You only want extracts manufactured at licensed labs with the proper equipment by artisans who understand the art of extraction.
Extract artists purge the extracted resin of solvents through evaporation, in a vacuum oven, and hand-whipping techniques.
Legitimate labs producing the highest quality live resin extracts will go to great lengths to ensure that their products have been properly purged.
They’ll ensure that the amount of residual solvent in the live resin product is well below what’s considered the acceptable levels for consumption.
The art of making live resin
All in all, a delicate balance of temperature, pressure, and time play a huge role in the production of live resin and the concentrates made from it.
Along with the actual strain of cannabis used, the three aforementioned factors are what make or break the quality of the concentrate.
One misstep at any stage of the process can result in a live resin product with inferior quality.
With too much heat, then cannabinoids and terpenes get lost, which means less flavor and potency. Too little heat, and not enough of the solvent chemicals get purged.
If the process takes too long, the resin can be corrupted through oxidization. If not enough time is taken, then the desired consistency for the live resin end product might not be achieved.
That’s why cannabis manufacturers are also called extract artists. They must find crafty ways to produce the richest of cannabis delicacies in a variety of cured and live resin concentrates while preserving as many terpenes and cannabinoids as they can.
It gets more complex than that. Each cannabis strain has its unique collection of cannabinoids and terpenes, each of which becomes activated or destroyed at different temperatures.
In-depth knowledge of the plant and how its properties react under precise amounts of pressure and heat is part of what goes into the magic of making extracts.
It’s what allows extract artists to ensure that the end-product provides the ultimate, all-around, cannabis experience.
Cured resin and live resin concentrates
Given that solvent-based concentrates use the same base substance—live resin or cured resin—you might be asking yourself what’s special about all the different products derived from them?
A lot of things. Each cured or live resin concentrate varies in consistency, flavor, and cannabinoids. The various methods of extraction can produce different consistencies and appearances.
An important point to always remember is that regardless of the consistency and appearance, if you’re dealing with live resin instead of cured resin concentrates, you’re getting better quality, but a more expensive product.
The price of live resin concentrates
What ultimately drives up the price of any concentrate, will be as much about the cannabis strain used and how it was harvested and processed, as it is about the terpene and THC levels present in the cured or live resin end product.
For example, it’s easier to extract resin from some cannabis strains than others. How much and how easy it is to extract will condition the price.
As you will find with lots of crops, such as coffee beans, single-sourced products are likely to be more expensive: only one supplier is involved, potentially because of the product’s unique characteristics, as opposed to having multiple “hands” dealing with production.
Brands that consistently produce a quality product charge more than brands whose quality changes with every batch.
A more superficial factor to pricing within each product type is appearance and colors.
Then there’s the consistency. Some live resin concentrates are easier to handle and manage, allowing users to more accurately gauge the quantity they’d like to consume.
Once the extract is ready, how it is treated in the final stage can determine the look of the cured or live resin concentrate.
You will find that extracts, and concentrates in general, are named according to their consistency.
Budder and Badder
Two names for the same thing: a substance with a consistency resembling butter or batter. Thick, stable, and manageable, budder offers some of the best combinations of flavor and potency.
Its oily, malleable consistency makes it especially easy for consumers to handle because they can control the exact quantities they want when dabbing.
During the purging stage, the slurry is heated at low temperatures and then aerated, or whipped into a budder.
The THC content can range from 55-88%, and the appearance can range from a light yellow to a pale white.
Sugar, Diamonds, and Sauce
This is what cannabis connoisseurs call the THC crystals that form when extracting live resin.
They vary in size from small grains to rocks, and their potency becomes active when dabbed or vaped—lighting them up in a joint or bong won’t get those psychoactive cannabinoids to work their magic.
While live resin diamond concentrates are sold alone, they don’t offer much terpene content, which means they’ll lack flavor and aroma. That’s often the reason why they’re combined with a live resin terpy sauce to compensate.
Diamonds are formidable competitors in the race for potency, ranking among the highest in THC concentration. At almost 100%!
Due to its greater concentration of THC, the high produced by diamonds and the flavor from the terpene-enriched sauce will likely be much more intense and last longer than with live resin concentrates like shatter or crumble (which we’ll discuss next).
The allure of diamonds is also visual. Usually, THC crystals look like grains of sand, but when given the space to form, as the name would suggest, they take on the look of large diamond formations, giving them a “cool” factor.
Larger diamonds combined with a clear-colored sauce will drive the price up.
Regarding consistency, the larger live resin diamonds inside the sauce can be annoying to deal with, especially if you’re looking to dab.
Consumers crush and break up the diamond into what looks like sugar, to mix it in better with the sauce.
Even if live fresh-frozen flower was used at the beginning of the process, the resin slurry produced is cured on a flat sheet until it reaches the desired consistency: a brittle, amber-hued sheet of resin that resembles easily breakable glass, hence the name.
The more transparent, brighter, and vibrant the color, the higher its price. Shatter is generally stable and seems easy to handle—until it shatters. Then it can be a mess.
It’s also high in terpenes.
A drier, less dense extract, it’s easy to break up, and its distinct consistency resembles a honeycomb or crumbles.
Good for dabbing, but since it’s so easily broken up, consumers sometimes sprinkle a little crumble on top of dry flower they’re smoking in a bong or joint.
Instead of whipping the resin after extraction, manufacturers carry out a gentler purging procedure over an extended period using low levels of heat and pressure to vaporize the solvent.
That is why some believe crumble retains a higher terpene content and exudes a much richer fragrance.
On the flip side, you will also hear connoisseurs claim that crumble’s claim to fame for being one of the more potent and flavorful extracts in the industry was short-lived.
Today, in the hierarchy of extracts, cannabis experts will argue that crumble, along with shatter, should be placed in the lowest tier, especially in terms of taste and aroma.
You may also find complaints that consumers can still taste the solvent when crumble is consumed.
Facts and questions about live and cured resin:
- What’s the difference between live resin and cured resin?
The answer is in the name. Live resin is extracted from cannabis flower that’s been flash-frozen immediately after harvest. Cured resin is extracted from cannabis flower that was dried and cured after harvest. By freezing cannabis flower, fewer terpenes and cannabinoids are lost during extraction. Any live resin extract will naturally be richer in taste, aroma, and potency.
- Why would someone choose one live resin product over the other?
As usual, it’s all about personal preference, and the decision will be influenced by several factors: cost, consistency, manageability, method of consumption, flavor, and potency.
For example, smoking shatter can be challenging because of how easily the concentrate falls apart, whereas badder is much more manageable, and tends to offer more flavor and potency when compared to shatters and sugars.
As extraction methods become more efficient at purging solvents without losing terpenes and cannabinoids, the types of products sold at dispensaries are likely to change.
Many dispensaries are replacing crumble and shatter altogether with diamond sauces and badders. While budget can impose limitations on a person’s choice, a preference for live resin over cured resin extracts has also become a growing trend.
- What are the pros of live resin?
Better terpenes than cured resin. Live resin sauce is some of the best tasting and smelling products available.
- What are the cons of live resin?
It is more expensive. Also, since live resin extracts are solvent-based concentrates, the quality of the end product can suffer due to incomplete purges or temperatures mishandled. That’s why you always want to ensure your live resin extracts come from properly licensed labs.
At STIIIZY, we only use premium flowers for all of our cannabis concentrates, including live resin pods, curated live resin, live resin diamonds, and much more. Explore all of STIIIZY's products here.