Cannabis Live Resin vs Distillate: What’re the Differences

Cannabis Live Resin vs Distillate: What're the Differences
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Cannabis Live Resin vs Distillate: A Comparison of Two Popular Concentrates

Cannabis concentrates are products that contain a high concentration of cannabinoids, such as THC or CBD, extracted from the cannabis plant. They come in various forms, textures, and flavors, depending on the extraction method and the starting material. Two of the most popular types of cannabis concentrates are live resin and distillate. But what are the differences between them, and which one should you choose? Here is a comparison of live resin vs distillate to help you decide.

What is live resin?

Cannabis Live Resin vs Distillate: A Comparison of Two Popular Concentrates
Live resin

Live resin is a type of cannabis concentrate extracted from fresh frozen cannabis plants, instead of dried and cured buds. This process preserves the terpenes, which are the compounds that give cannabis its flavor and aroma and makes live resin more potent and flavorful than other concentrates. Live resin can have a THC content of 80-90%, compared to 25% for smoked flowers.

How to consume live resin?

To consume live resin, you need a dab rig or a vape pen that is compatible with concentrates. A dab rig is a device that consists of a nail, a torch, a water pipe, and a dab tool. A vape pen is a portable device that heats up the concentrate and produces vapor. Here are the steps to consume live resin with a dab rig or a vape pen:

  • With a dab rig: Heat the nail with the torch until it glows red. Wait for it to cool down slightly, then use the dab tool to scoop up a small amount of live resin and place it on the nail. Inhale the vapor through the water pipe and exhale slowly. Be careful not to touch the hot nail or overheat the live resin, as this can degrade the terpenes and cannabinoids.
  • With a vape pen: Load the chamber of the vape pen with live resin and turn on the device. Adjust the temperature setting according to your preference and press the button to activate the heating element. Inhale the vapor through the mouthpiece and exhale slowly. Make sure to clean the chamber after each use to prevent residue buildup.

How is live resin made? Extraction method:

Live rosin is extracted using a solvent, usually butane or propane, at very low temperatures to prevent the loss of terpenes. The resulting product has a sticky, honey-like consistency and a golden color. Here is a summary of the steps involved in making live resin:

  1. Flash-freeze freshly harvested cannabis buds: Begin the extraction process by flash-freezing the cannabis buds 20 minutes after harvest. The temperature should be around -80F (-62C). This prevents the loss of terpenes and other volatile compounds during drying and curing.
  2. Crush the buds into smaller, chunkier pieces: This makes it easier to pack them into the extraction tube and allows for better solvent penetration.
  3. Stuff the buds into the extraction tube: The extraction tube is a cylindrical container with a filter at one end and a valve at the other. The tube should be made of stainless steel or glass and should be able to withstand high pressure.
  4. Extract the buds using the solvent: The solvent is cooled and liquefied using a closed-loop system, which recycles the solvent and prevents it from escaping into the air. The solvent is then passed through the extraction tube, where it dissolves the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material. The resulting liquid is collected in a container.
  5. Purge the solvent after extraction: The liquid is heated in a vacuum oven or chamber to evaporate the solvent and leave behind a thick, sticky substance called live resin. The purging process can take several hours or days, depending on the temperature, pressure, and amount of solvent used.
  6. Let the concentrate cure.: The live resin can be further processed into different consistencies and textures, such as shatter, wax, batter, or sauce, by manipulating factors such as heat, agitation, and time. The curing process can also affect the flavor and potency of the final product.

Live resin is a highly potent and flavorful cannabis extract that requires specialized equipment and skills to produce. It is not recommended to attempt this method at home, as it can be dangerous and illegal in some areas.

What is a THC distillate?

Vape cartridges THC distillate
Vape cartridges THC distillate

THC distillate is a type of cannabis concentrate obtained from dried and cured marijuana flowers. Distillate is extracted using a process called distillation, which involves heating the crude cannabis oil to separate the cannabinoids from the plant material and other impurities. The cannabinoids are then collected in a pure form, resulting in a clear, odorless, and tasteless liquid. Distillate can contain up to 99% THC or CBD.

How to consume a THC distillate?

Some of the common ways to consume THC distillate are:

  • Vaping: This involves heating the THC distillate in a vaporizer device and inhaling the vapor. This method provides fast and efficient delivery of THC into your bloodstream, but it may also irritate your lungs or throat. You should use a low-temperature setting and a high-quality vaporizer to avoid burning or wasting the product.
  • Dabbing: This involves dropping a small amount of THC distillate onto a heated nail or banger and inhaling the vapor through a water pipe or rig. This method produces very strong and immediate effects, but it also requires special equipment and caution. You should use a torch or an electric nail to heat the surface to the optimal temperature (around 350°F) and avoid touching the hot nail or banger with your skin.
  • Oral ingestion: This involves swallowing the THC distillate directly or mixing it with food or drinks. This method provides a long-lasting and discreet way to consume THC, but it also takes longer for the effects to onset (around 30 minutes to 2 hours) and may cause stomach discomfort or nausea. You should use a syringe or a dropper to measure the dose accurately and avoid consuming too much at once.
  • Topical application: This involves applying the THC distillate onto your skin or mucous membranes. This method provides localized relief for pain, inflammation, or skin conditions, but it may not produce any psychoactive effects. You should use carrier oil or a lotion to dilute the product and enhance absorption, and avoid applying it to sensitive areas or open wounds.

How is THC distillate made? Extraction method:

Cannabis distillate is a highly purified form of cannabis oil that contains only the desired cannabinoids and terpenes, without any impurities or unwanted compounds. The process of making it involves several steps:

  1. Primary extraction: This is the first step that separates the cannabis plant matter from its resinous trichomes, which contain cannabinoids and terpenes. There are different methods of primary extraction, such as butane, propane, ethanol, or CO2 solvent extraction. The result is crude oil that contains a mixture of cannabinoids, terpenes, fats, waxes, chlorophyll, and other compounds.
  2. Winterization and filtration: This is the second step that removes the unwanted impurities from the crude oil, such as fats, waxes, and chlorophyll. This is done by adding ethanol to the crude oil and storing it at low temperatures for up to 24 hours. This causes the impurities to coagulate and precipitate out of the solution. Then, a filter press is used to separate the filtered oil (called miscella) from the solid impurities.
  3. Decarboxylation: This is the third step that converts the non-psychoactive cannabinoids (such as CBDa and THCa) into their active forms (such as CBD and THC). This is done by applying heat under a vacuum to the miscella, which causes a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide (CO2), residual solvent, and volatile compounds (such as terpenes). The decarboxylated oil is then ready for distillation.
  4. Distillation: This is the final step that separates the cannabinoids and terpenes from each other based on their boiling points. There are different methods of distillation, such as short path distillation, wiped film distillation, or spinning band distillation. The distillation process involves heating the decarboxylated oil under a vacuum and collecting the vapors that condense at different temperatures. The result is a clear and potent cannabis distillate that contains only the desired cannabinoids and terpenes.
Cannabis Live Resin vs Distillate: A Comparison of Two Popular Concentrates

What are the pros and cons of live resin vs distillate?

Live resin and distillate have different advantages and disadvantages depending on your preferences and needs. Here are some of the main pros and cons of each concentrate:

Live resin pros:

  • It has a full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that create a complex and enjoyable experience.
  • It has a strong terpene content that reflects the flavor and aroma of the original strain of cannabis.
  • It can provide more therapeutic benefits than distillate due to the entourage effect.
  • It can be consumed in various ways, such as dabbing, vaping, or smoking.

Live resin cons:

  • It is more expensive than distillate due to the higher production costs and lower yields.
  • It has a lower shelf life than distillate due to its volatile nature and needs to be stored in a cool and dark place.
  • It can be less potent than distillate due to its lower cannabinoid content.
  • It can be harder to find than distillate due to its limited availability.

Distillate pros:

  • It has a very high potency that can deliver powerful effects with minimal consumption.
  • It has a neutral flavor and odor that can be customized with added terpenes or cannabinoids.
  • It has a longer shelf life than live resin due to its stability and purity.
  • It can be used in various ways, such as edibles, vapes, topicals, or sublingual drops.

Distillate cons:

  • It lacks the natural terpene profile and other compounds that give cannabis its unique character and benefits.
  • It can have a harsher taste and feel than live resin due to its high concentration and lack of terpenes.
  • It can cause more tolerance buildup than live resin due to its high potency.
  • It can be less enjoyable than live resin for some users who prefer more flavor and variety.

Live Resin vs Distillate: Which one should you choose?

The choice between live resin vs distillate depends on your personal smoking experience, preferences, budget, availability, and desired effects. If you are looking for a more flavorful and natural experience that preserves the essence of the cannabis plant, you may prefer live resin. If you are looking for a more potent and versatile product that can be easily infused with other ingredients, you may prefer a distillate. Ultimately, both concentrates have their own merits and drawbacks, so you may want to experiment with both to find out which one suits you best.


Live resin is made from fresh frozen cannabis plants that are processed at low temperatures to preserve the terpenes and flavonoids that give cannabis its aroma and flavor. Distillate is made from dried cannabis plants that are processed at high temperatures to isolate a specific cannabinoid, such as THC or CBD. Distillate usually lacks terpenes and therefore has little to no smell or taste.

Because of these differences, live resin tends to smell more than distillate. Live resin has a complex and diverse terpene profile that reflects the original strain of the cannabis plant. Distillate, on the other hand, has a neutral or faint smell that depends on whether it has been infused with any added terpenes after extraction. Some people may prefer the natural and rich smell of live resin, while others may opt for the discreet and mild smell of distillate.

Because of the different extraction methods, live resin and distillate have different price points. Live resin is generally more expensive than distillate because it requires more specialized equipment, more plant material, and more labor to produce. Live resin also has a shorter shelf life than distillate because it degrades faster due to its high terpene content. Distillate is cheaper to produce because it uses less plant material, less equipment, and less labor. Distillate also has a longer shelf life because it is more stable and less prone to oxidation.

Live resin is made from fresh-frozen cannabis plants that are harvested and frozen immediately, skipping the drying and curing process that can degrade the terpenes, which are the compounds responsible for the smell and taste of cannabis. By using fresh-frozen plants, live resin captures the full essence and aroma of the living cannabis plant, resulting in a more complex and enjoyable dabbing or vaping experience. Live resin also contains a high concentration of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, which can provide potent effects and benefits for medical and recreational users. Live resin is typically a soft and sticky substance that can range from light yellow to white in color, depending on the strain and extraction method used. Some common forms of live resin are sap, sugar, butter, badder, and sauce. Live resin is considered a high-quality and connoisseur-level product that offers a superior flavor and aroma profile compared to other cannabis concentrates.

The answer is yes, live resin can make you high, depending on the strain, dosage, and method of consumption. Live resin can produce a range of effects, from euphoria and creativity to relaxation and sedation, depending on the terpene profile and cannabinoid ratio of the product. Some people may prefer live resin over other concentrates because it offers a more authentic representation of the original plant’s flavor and aroma, as well as a more nuanced and balanced high.

However, live resin is not for everyone, especially beginners or those with low tolerance. Live resin can be very potent and may cause adverse effects such as anxiety, paranoia, or drowsiness if consumed in excess or without proper guidance. Live resin should also be consumed responsibly and safely, using appropriate equipment and following best practices for dabbing or vaping. Live resin should not be eaten or smoked, as it will not produce the desired effects and may be harmful.

This is a common question among cannabis enthusiasts who are looking for a more potent and flavorful experience. Live resin and dabs are both types of cannabis concentrates that are extracted using solvents, such as butane, propane, or CO2. However, some key differences between them affect their strength and quality.

The main difference between live resin and dabs is the source material. Live resin is made from fresh frozen cannabis plants that are harvested and frozen immediately after cutting, skipping the drying and curing process. This preserves the terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids of the living plant, which are responsible for the aroma, flavor, and effects of cannabis. Dabs, on the other hand, are made from dried and cured cannabis plants that have lost some of their terpene content and potency during the harvesting process.

Another difference between live resin and dabs is the extraction temperature. Live resin is extracted using solvents that are cooled to below-freezing temperature, which helps to retain the volatile terpenes and cannabinoids. Dabs are extracted using solvents that are not cooled, which can degrade some of the compounds and create a harsher product.

The final difference between live resin and dabs is the texture and appearance. Live resin is a more malleable concentrate that ranges from light yellow to white in color. It has a runny consistency that resembles sauce or batter. Dabs are a more brittle concentrate that is dark yellow to amber in color. It has a hard texture that resembles shatter or wax.

So, is live resin stronger than dabs? The answer depends on what you are looking for. Live resin is stronger in terms of flavor and aroma, as it contains more terpenes and cannabinoids than dabs. It also delivers a more complex and nuanced experience that reflects the original strain of cannabis. Dabs are stronger in terms of THC content, as they are more purified and concentrated than live resin. They also produce a more intense and immediate high that can be overwhelming for some users.

Ultimately, the choice between live resin and dabs comes down to personal preference and tolerance. Both are potent forms of cannabis concentrates that can provide a satisfying dabbing experience. However, if you want to enjoy the full spectrum of cannabis effects and flavors, the live resin may be a better option for you.

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