What Is Cannabis Resin?

Sophia Delphi May 25, 2022 - 7 min read
Fact Checked
Image of Cannabis Resin with light smoke

The easy answer isn’t always the correct one.

For example, how do you smoke resin? The answer isn’t obvious, because that’s actually a trick question.

By resin, do you mean the gunk that builds up in your piece? The gooey, trichome-loaded stuff that can be collected from cannabis plants? Or the potent concentrate that’s sold at dispensaries at high prices?

They’re all known as resin in the weed world, and the optimal ways to consume them are quite different. In fact, you may not want to smoke one of them at all.

Let’s sort out the different “forms” of weed resin and figure out the best way to smoke (or enjoy) each of them.

What Is Pipe Resin?

Also known as “reclaim,” this is the hardened collection of tar, burned carbon, and ash that accumulates in a weed pipe over time. To put this as simply as possible, it’s gross.

Pipe resin has to be cleaned out of a piece regularly. If it’s just allowed to sit there, it will ruin the flavor and potency of the weed you smoke next. And it will eventually clog the pipe’s airflow, making it difficult to get a good hit.

Removing resin isn’t always easy because it gets baked onto the surface of the piece. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to pry it loose with a scraping tool or even a paper clip. (Don’t scrape plastic pipes because some of the plastic will come off, too.)

Otherwise, you may have to soak the pipe in a solution of rubbing alcohol and salt, which will usually dissolve the reclaim. Be sure to thoroughly wash the pipe afterward, because you should never consume or inhale rubbing alcohol.

What do you do with the resin once it’s been removed? Can you smoke it?

You can, but you probably won’t be thrilled with the experience since it’s unlikely that reclaim will get you high. There’s not much THC left in pipe resin, so smoking it is usually a last resort when you’re totally out of herb.

If you’re desperate, first try taking a dry hit before scraping. That just means putting the flame into your bowl as if you were smoking weed, and angling the flame in various ways to hit all of the resin. That may satisfy your cravings for a while, or it may convince you to never do it again.

You can also dab the scraped resin, or put it back into a piece for smoking, A bubbler or bong is the best choice because the water will cool the always-harsh smoke that resin produces. It’s not a great idea to roll it into a joint, because it will get gooey and messy. The same goes for trying to vape it; there’s a good chance you’ll ruin your device.

Here’s the best thing to do with resin: throw it away. If you smoke it, you won’t be happy with the experience.

What Is Cannabis Resin?

When you pick up high-quality bud, your fingers get sticky, right? That sticky stuff is weed resin.

This substance is very different than the reclaim in a pipe that’s also known as resin. Cannabis resin is the gooey material produced by the plant’s resin glands, and it contains the trichomes that make marijuana so special.

Trichomes, as you undoubtedly know, make and contain the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that give weed its psychoactive potency, aroma, flavor, and medical benefits. In short, cannabis resin is the “good stuff.”

Resin is produced as the plant grows, providing a number of important protective functions and holding the buds and trichomes in place. After harvest, however, it’s there for us to enjoy.

Weed resin is the most potent product of the cannabis plant. When you smoke an herb, the resin is essentially what contributes most of the benefits associated with the experience.

But there are ways to consume resin that make the experience even more enjoyable because resin can be used to make potent cannabis concentrates.

  • Hash: When the resin is physically compressed, sometimes with the help of heat, the trichomes are concentrated into a more-potent product known as hashish. Hash has been smoked for centuries, primarily in Asian nations, and it’s easy to make. Dry sift hash and bubble hash are two varieties that users can produce at home,
  • Rosin: That’s right, you can make rosin from resin. Pressure and heat are used to extract concentrated weed oil, which can also be turned into a solid form. Rosin oil is typically vaped; solid rosin is ideal for dabbing, although it can also be smoked. If you’ve ever heard of making cannabis concentrate at home with a hair straightener — that product is rosin.
  • Butane Hash Oil: This is the concentrate of choice for many dabbers. It comes in many textures including shatter, wax, and budder, but they are all created by taking resin and extracting its THC with the help of butane or another solvent. BHO, as it’s often called, can be as potent as 80-90% THC, but it’s difficult and dangerous to produce and shouldn’t be made at home.

That brings us to the final type of resin — which is similar to the ones we’ve just discussed.

What Is Live Resin?

Live resin is another type of cannabis concentrate that’s made from the plant’s resin.

What makes it special is that it’s not produced from just any weed plants. The plants are immediately flash-frozen right after harvest without being trimmed, dried, or cured first.

Here’s the advantage to using frozen cannabis: it doesn’t give the marijuana’s cannabinoids or terpenes any chance to degrade and lose their potency, flavor, and aroma. All of those qualities are “locked into” the weed immediately.

Soon after they’re frozen, the plants’ resin is used to produce a concentrate similar to BHO, with the use of the same type of solvent. That concentrate can be oil for vaping or a waxy product that’s commonly used for dabbing. The wax can also be mixed into joints or used to top a bowl for more traditional smoking.

Live resin is more potent, more flavorful, and more enjoyable than almost any other type of resin or concentrate on the market — and it’s certainly going to get you higher than cannabis resin or pipe resin.

How to Smoke Resin: FAQ

Q: Will smoking pipe resin make you sick?
A: Not necessarily. But it could, particularly if you’ve let it build up for quite a while before scraping it or removing it. Its smoke is harsh and often nasty, and it can cause headaches, sore throats, or occasionally even nausea.

Q: Is making hash or rosin from resin worth all of the extra work? Or is smoking it basically the same as smoking weed?
A: If you want more potent smoke or vapor, it’s worth the effort. The average strain of weed has a THC content of approximately 10-20%, hash can have anywhere from 30-60% THC content, and rosin often contains even more psychoactive THC than hash. If you want the strongest stuff, though, buy your concentrates at a dispensary instead of making it yourself.


Sharma, P., Murthy, P., & Bharath, M. S. (2012). Chemistry, metabolism, and toxicology of cannabis: clinical implications. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, 7(4), 149. [1]