The world of cannabis extracts (concentrates) is growing rapidly and is quickly gaining increased popularity with cannabis consumers. There is a ton of different vocabulary and nomenclature to understand when diving into the world of cannabis concentrates. From vapes to dabs, every package seems to be gilded with words marketers have thrown together to make you think that the cannabis product you are purchasing is the best and cleanest possible product.
While in some cases this may ring true, in many others words like “live terpenes” or “full spectrum” product are thrown around loosely. But what does this actually mean, how can you understand it and how can you become an informed consumer when purchasing cannabis concentrates? While I am here to help!
What Are Cannabis Concentrates?
Cannabis concentrates or extracts often referred to as hash, rosin, resin, dabs, wax, shatter or budder are made by extracting or separating the cannabinoid and terpene rich resin gland
(trichome) away from the cannabis plant material.
Although all of the cannabis extracts listed have different appearances and names they are all the same thing, concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes that have been extracted off of cannabis plant material and amalgamated into a product that is able to be vaporized or combusted.
First let’s start with the “live” part of the word as both products share this similar indicating feature. When we are talking about live extracts we are talking about cannabis that has been harvested fresh, has not been through any drying process and is immediately frozen. This quick harvest and freezing technique of cannabis plant material is what is known as “live” starting material for extraction.
Processing Live Resin
Let’s examine the difference between solvent extraction and mechanical sieving of cannabis resin. Live resin is made using a process called hydrocarbon extraction. This involves using a solvent, typically butane or propane to extract the cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds from the fresh frozen cannabis plant material. The resulting concentrate can be manipulated through many forms of color remediation (CRC) during extraction, during post processing live resin extracted using solvent can take many forms, from glass like amber shatter to perfectly clear diamonds and sauce.
Post processing and the different media and filter types the extractor chooses to run the resin through will ultimately decide the taste, purity and look of the live resin. Live resin is typically 85%+ cannabinoids and has a very high retention of terpenes often 10%+. Live resin generally has a greater yield output then live rosin.
What is Live Rosin?
Live rosin in itself is a bit more work to create then live resin as it has a multi step process. Live rosin is inherently safer to make as you only use water, heat and pressure to create the extract where hydrocarbon extraction takes specialty equipment and skilled pressure vessel operators to achieve. Both processes result in delicious cannabis extracts ready to vaporize and both have very different steps to get there.
When creating live rosin you must first freshly harvest the plant. Once frozen you will start the process of mechanically sieving hash. What do I mean by mechanically sieving? When we separate trichome heads when making hash we are using different sized (micron) filter bags. These bags of microscopic sized weave pattern openings allow only select sizes of cannabis trichome heads to be able to move from bag to bag, collecting only the most desirable material.
This process is achieved by placing fresh frozen cannabis in water and ice and stirring the cannabis around in the mixture, the trichome heads begin to fall off and you collect the different sizes in your different micron screen size bags. Think about it like shaking an apple tree, you can bump the tree and some apples fall, but to get all the apples a good shaking, stirring or picking is required. Consider this same idea for mechanical separation, we are the mechanics operating the mechanism (bags, ice and stirring) to remove the trichome heads and separate them.
Once you finish separating your trichome head sizes and drying your hash (either using a freeze drier or the air) you are on to the next step of loading the hash into a rosin bag with a micron screen size between 20-35u. This bag will act as your last filter as you apply heat and pressure to the hash in the bag. The essential oil of the cannabis trichomes will be excreted through the rosin filter bag leaving the waxy cuticle of the trichome behind in the bag and leaving you with pure cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids. The resulting extract will be very high in THC 80%+ and will be a beautiful expression of the plant.
Is Rosin Better Than Resin?
Both live resin and live rosin create wonderfully intricate, delicate, complex and intriguing concentrates. Many consumers enjoy both products while some like to stick to one forum or another. Live resin has many advantages and is a very distinct reflection of the cannabis plant the trichomes were harvested from. In its production live resin is slightly more dangerous and does involve a highly skilled operator utilizing highly specialized and rated equipment to achieve. While live rosin is safer to create and does not take as much specialty equipment to create, it does take special and unique cannabis plant genetics to produce rosin of quality that is economically feasible. Generally yields of extraction are higher with hydrocarbon extraction. This is one of the main reasons there is a price difference on the shelf when looking at the two products side by side.
My advice, go buy both, blind taste them and experiment with yourself on which type of extract you look forward to consuming the most! In this article we have only touched on live resin vs live rosin but there are many different forums of extracts to explore from FSE (full spectrum extract) to distillate with re-introduced terpenes (not the connoisseurs choice but very economical and tasty depending on what you are looking for). The world of cannabis concentrates will only continue to expand and become more complex as cannabis legalization moves away from its infancy. Mature markets love concentrates, we love concentrates, we love LIVE concentrates!
So what are you waiting for!? Grab your dabs, slabs, rigs and vapes and lets get high on some live resin or live rosin!