Live resin in a grainy amber scoop served on a dabbing tool.

Live resin: is it safe to use?

Live resin is a popular cannabis product that people love to dab, vape, and eat. Over the past few years, you have seen it become one of cannabis’ fastest growing categories. That’s because live resin is packed full of highly potent cannabinoids and flavorful terpenes.

But what exactly is live resin? More specifically, is it safe to consume?

An extract artist handling live resin with a glass tool.
An extract artist handling live resin with a glass tool.

What is live resin?

Cannabis resin is the sticky stuff on your hands after you feel after you touch/hold/rub cannabis. It comes from the trichomes on cannabis plants, which house all the compounds that alter our mental and physical beings when we consume.

Live resin is a type of cannabis concentrate made from the extraction of those trichomes.  It comes in different textures, including badder, wax, shatter, crumble, and sauce. Each consistency is created by applying varying levels of temperature and pressure to the extracted trichomes.

How is live resin made? 

To make live resin, cannabis plant trichomes are extracted from the plant with the use of a chemical solvent, then processed into the extracts we dab, vape, and eat.

The extraction process uses fresh frozen cannabis plants as starting material. Immediately upon harvest, plants are thrown into deep freezers for 24 to 36 hours, versus dried and cured.

The goal of fresh frozen plants is to lock in the strain’s terpene profile, which might otherwise degrade through the drying and curing process. Resin made from cured plants is called cured resin.

Live resin is expected to be superior to cured resin. Why? Terpene content. Terpenes are the aromatic plant compounds responsible for the way your favorite weed strains smell, taste, and most likely feel. If you smoke Forbidden Fruit and taste tropical berries, thank the plant’s terpenes.

The higher the terpene content, the better the way your dabs and vapes taste. When plants dry and cure, volatile terpenes escape the plant, which is why dry and cure rooms at cultivation facilities smell so loud.

This is why people lean towards live concentrates these days. The fresh frozen process helps lock in the natural flavors of the cannabis strain being used.

That said, there is some debate that more full cannabinoid and terpene profiles come from cured plants whose compounds have been allowed to mature.

The extraction process of live resin includes a hydrocarbon solvent. Butane, ethanol, and propane are examples of hydrocarbons.

Carbon dioxide is also commonly used. The plants are washed in these solvents to separate trichomes from the plants. Once separated, the trichomes are then processed through heat and pressure to create a big ol’ pan of cannabis concentrates.

Then, these concentrates are purged of those contaminants with vacuums that essentially suck the ethanol, or other solvents, away from your trichomes and oils. In the end, we get a high-quality cannabis extract that is ONLY safe to consume when properly purged.

Live resin diamonds served on a dabbing tool has a rich amber color.
Rich amber-hued live resin diamonds served on a dabbing tool.

How is live resin purged?

All solvent-based concentrates, like live resin badder and diamonds, must be purged of solvents to be sold. It ensures that people aren’t dabbing and vaping harmful contaminants. Ya know because humans aren’t supposed to be inhaling and ingesting butane and propane.

To purge solvents from live resin, a vacuum oven is used. Essentially, extractors vacuum out the atmosphere inside the oven, then the solvents are boiled off at a temperature low enough to protect the terpenes in the concentrate. In the end, you’re left with tasty dabs that will get you properly stoned when consumed.

Live resin is consumed in different types of dab rigs.

What’s your favorite dab rig?

How do people consume live resin?

Live resin is consumed in many ways. The primary ways are dabbing, vaporizing, and through edibles. Each method offers its own pros and cons.

Dabbing live resin

For dabbing live resin sauce or badder, you need a dab rig. A dab rig is a smoking device that melts your concentrates into vapor that gets you extremely high.

Dabs are often consumed by people with very high tolerances, as a way to get more potency. Additionally, dabs are great for people that want to maximize their flavor experience.

Without burning through plant matter, like with joints, you’re getting direct-to-mouth cannabinoids, terpenes, etc. Those are the pros of dabbing live resin concentrates.

The cons are that dab rigs can be expensive, and so can concentrates in general. However, when you experience some really great dabs, you start to understand why they’re priced as such.

Vaping live resin

Live resin vapes are hugely popular right now. They are easily portable, relatively discrete, and the oil inside the cartridge will be a high terpene, full-spectrum extract (HTFSE).

So basically you can get tasty vapor in a sneaky way when using a vape pen, versus dabbing. The cons of vaping live resin are that vape pen highs are typically short-lived, and often a much weaker, experience than other consumption methods. 

Eating live resin

Cannabis edibles made with live resin are all over dispensary shelves right now. They offer a higher quality of edible than other methods like distillates.

There is no inhalation of vapor (or smoke) and the medium for consumption happens to be a tasty little treat, like a gummy.

The problem with edibles is that they can have an unpredictable onset time and experience. Edibles also remove the strain specificity that dabs and vape pens offer.

Is live resin dangerous?

There’s a long list of cannabis products made from live resin, but the big question is if they’re safe to consume. Short answer: yes. It's safe to consume—but not to make! So let’s elaborate.

Since live resin is created from solvents, which can be explosive, the process of extraction and of purging require extreme care. That is why it is imperative to purchase regulated products from legal dispensaries.

If the live resin is on dispensary shelves, it has passed testing protocols and has less than the acceptable amount of residual solvents in it.

So is live resin safe? Yes, live resin is safe to consume. If you ever have concerns about a product’s safety, check out its lab results via the product’s certificate of analysis (COA).

Every cannabis product must pass testing to prove it contains no harmful contaminants like heavy metals, mold, mildew, and of course, residual solvents.

Products that fail testing are either destroyed or remediated (further processed to remove the contaminants). Only purchase regulated cannabis products from legal dispensaries and you’ll be just fine.

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.