With the sales growth rate for cannabis concentrates continuing to rise and potentially outpacing marijuana flower, one concentrate, in particular, is becoming especially popular: live rosin.
The live rosin concentrate is one of the unique cannabis products in the industry because of how it’s produced and the rich taste and sensorial experience it provides.
What are rosin and live rosin?
Rosin is another of the many concentrates made from the sap extracted out of a cannabis flower’s trichomes. These glandular crystal hairs covering the buds are what contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes so cherished by cannabis users.
By extracting and concentrating their desired properties, users get the best of what the plant has to offer all by itself, without the extra plant matter.
When the resin from a cured and dried cannabis flower is extracted without the use of solvents, it’s called rosin. When the resin from a frozen cannabis flower is extracted without solvents, it’s called live rosin.
What’s the main difference between rosin and live rosin, then? Both concentrates are extracted without solvents, but live rosin uses flash-frozen cannabis flower as its starting material. So the two similar concentrates have in common, then? They’re solventless.
So let’s explore a little more solventless extraction methods.
Solvent vs Solventless Extraction
As opposed to extraction methods that rely on solvents such as butane, propane, CO2, and alcohol, non-solvent-based concentrates use water, pressure, and heat.
Extracting a cannabis flower’s resin glands (trichomes) with solvents is no simple process, and can be dangerous because it involves the use of flammable chemicals. It’s a procedure only licensed cannabis labs should perform to ensure the end product is clean and safe, with a delicious taste and a spectacular sensorial experience.
Using equipment like a closed-loop extractor, a solvent is passed through the cured or frozen cannabis buds where it bonds with the trichomes’ cannabinoid and terpene compounds, to then flush them out. Then the solvents are purged from the remaining solution.
With solventless extraction, ice is commonly used to freeze the cannabis flowers down to sub-zero temperatures to extract the bud’s resin glands. Methods using heat and pressure can achieve this solventless extraction as well.
As with solvent-based extraction, producers need to be meticulous when creating solventless extracts. The quality of the end product, if the process is carried out properly, is a direct reflection of the quality of the starting material. A superior solventless concentrate will depend on the quality of the cannabis flower.
Solventless concentrates like rosin can be created at home using everyday household appliances like a hair presser. The process is neither dangerous nor illegal to do at home, but it’s time-consuming, and to do it right, it ultimately requires specialized tools and methodology to achieve the best effect.
Artisan extractors will use a more sophisticated press purposely built for the job of applying a precise amount of pressure and heat for a specific amount of time. This way, they can more efficiently extract the coveted rosin.
Kief, bubble hash, rosin, and live rosin are among the most common solventless concentrates produced, but it’s the latter three that cannabis connoisseurs consider delicacies.
Let’s learn why.
Making Bubble Hash and Live Rosin
Bubble hash and live rosin both rely on a similar process to be made properly, and it’s this process that endows them with their exceptional qualities: capturing the original plant’s unique terpene and cannabinoid profile.
Bubble hash requires ice, water, and micron bags known as “bubble bags” (hence the name of the product). The purpose is to filter out the unwanted plant material and extract the purest concentration of trichomes the flower has to offer.
Several layers of micron bags are placed inside a bucket and wrapped around the brim. Each bag has microns of varying measurements, and the layers are ordered sequentially by size. The bag with the largest microns is at the top, and the bag with the smallest microns is at the bottom.
This stack of sieves ensures that only the finest material will make it through the smallest micron screens at the bottom.
Now here’s one of the most important parts of the process: the starting material. Extract artists use flash-frozen cannabis flower buds, as that conserves the original plant’s unique cannabinoids and especially its terpene profile.
The bubble bags are packed with these fresh buds frozen upon harvest, and then the producers submerge the bags in buckets of ice water to freeze the flower’s desired trichomes, making them more brittle.
Frozen trichomes easily break off when the bags are agitated. The trichomes sink to the bottom of the water, while the unwanted plant material rises to the surface.
The plant matter is sieved and sifted out of each bag. The hash at the bottom of each bag is scraped off, dried, and squeezed to extrude any remaining moisture.
Each bag will contain a different grade of concentrate, with the most refined at the bottom bag, the one with the smallest microns. The trichomes that have passed through its tiny holes are therefore the purest, with the least amount of unwanted plant material.
Of course, making bubble hash is a much more elaborate process than what’s been described here, involving intricate steps and extreme care, with each “wash” performed two to three times.
The point is that the process yields hash of varying quality according to each bag’s micron size. That is why bubble hash is commonly graded from 1 to 6 according to its purity, one representing the lowest quality and 6 representing the highest.
Extract artists seek the concentrated trichome heads with as little plant matter as possible, including the trichome stalks, mixed up with the hash. When the concentrate is primarily comprised of trichome heads, it’s considered the purest.
Bubble hash with grades 5 and 6 is the richest of them all and is why people say “full-melt bubble hash.” Due to its purity, when vaporized or dabbed, it completely dissolves or melts without leaving behind any plant residue. Lower-grade bubble hash with levels 3-4, won’t completely melt.
Naturally, the full-melt grade is harder to extract, requiring a gentler method of agitation and the best micron bags.
As mentioned before, because flash-frozen cannabis flower is used, the result will offer the most faithful rendition of the plant’s original cannabinoid and terpene profile. If high-grade flower was used and frozen from the beginning, the taste of the final product will be that much richer.
The standard method for consuming full-melt bubble hash is for vaping or dabbing.
One last step for live rosin
So, how does live rosin fit into all of this? The full-melt bubble hash can undergo one final step: heat and pressure. When you press bubble hash, you get live rosin. In a way, live rosin is essentially full-melt bubble hash that’s been pressed.
Others might point out that 6-grade bubble hash won’t be used for making live rosin, because it’s already pure enough. Lower-grade bubble hash between 3 and 5 is what producers will press to create live rosin as an extra step of filtration.
Keep in mind that live rosin can also be made just by pressing fresh, flash-frozen cannabis buds, skipping the whole process of making bubble hash.
But that’s far from ideal, due to the amount of moisture remaining within the bud, which will severely reduce the amount of terpenes present in the end product once it's heated and pressed. That weakens the overall quality of the experience users seek by using live rosin.
The appeal of making live rosin from bubble hash is that the final product is a cleaner, terpene-packed product with less unwanted plant material and an immensely rich flavor.
Different forms of rosin and live rosin
How live rosin is treated once it's been extruded from full-melt bubble hash will affect its consistency and end result.
Live rosin can look like a sticky, sap-like taffy with a golden hue. It can be made into flavored mints. There’s also live rosin that gets whipped up to look like budder.
As with cured and live resin, manufacturers can make a jam or sauce with diamonds out of rosin using a careful balance of pressure and high heat.
The rosin is placed in a vacuum-tight container where heat is applied, forcing the THC to crystallize, taking on the form of diamonds within the rest of the jam-like mixture.
Are rosin and live rosin worth the price?
It is believed that solventless extraction methods to make bubble hash, rosin, and live rosin offer purer cannabis concentrates, attracting those who seek the healthiest product.
That said, solvent-based concentrates like live resin created at licensed labs are properly purged to ensure that any residual chemicals from the solvents don’t surpass the levels established by FDA regulations.
But many people don’t want to concern themselves with what’s considered acceptable levels of solvent residue or not—they’d rather just not have any of it all.
Solventless concentrates like live rosin and full-melt bubble hash are more flavorful but not as potent as solvent-based concentrates like live resin. They are also more expensive than solvent-based products.
Although the percentage of THC present in live rosin isn’t as high as in concentrates like live resin, it still has an impressive amount, especially when compared to smoking cannabis flower.
All in all, the unique attraction to live rosin is that it’s chemical-free, rich in flavor and taste, with a THC potency high enough to satisfy even the most refined tastes among cannabis connoisseurs.
As with most things in the cannabis world, what experienced and new cannabis users choose is a highly subjective choice determined by their budget and preferences.
For those who prioritize a sweet high combined with the richest flavors and aromas, and they are willing to splurge, live rosin will be the way to go.