What Is Live Resin and How Is It Made?

Sophia Delphi June 28, 2022 - 7 min read
Fact Checked
Image of Live Resin Cannabis

Keeping up with the weed world can be confusing.

You finally figured out the difference between resin and rosin, two different types of cannabis extracts. Now you have to understand what live resin means — and there’s live rosin, too.

Resin can actually be two different substances, adding to the confusion even more. Resin on weed plants is the sticky stuff that contains the plants’ trichomes. It’s collected and compressed to make hash.

The word “resin” is also used to refer to the sticky mess that’s left in a pipe after smoking. Back in the days when weed was difficult to obtain, some people smoked that disgusting, unhealthy resin. Now, it’s just the stuff that has to be cleaned out before loading another bowl.

Rosin, on the other hand, is a potent cannabis concentrate that’s made without the use of solvents. You can easily make it at home.

That brings us to live resin — which in some ways is more like rosin than resin. Let’s unpack.

What Is Live Resin?

Here’s the bottom line: live resin is a cannabis concentrate that’s one of the most potent products you can buy. It’s also one of the most flavorful concentrates on the market. It was first made by a Colorado producer in 2013, who chose the name “live resin” because the end product smells almost like it’s still alive, even after extensive production.

Like other weed concentrates, live resin is primarily used for dabbing. It’s sticky, with a consistency that’s a little more flexible than wax to work with. High-quality live resin is usually dark yellow and is pure in appearance, and can have a THC concentration as high as 95%.

Most concentrates are essentially the same. The difference between wax, shatter and budder, for example, is simply their consistency; they’re made from the cannabis plant in virtually the same way.

Live resin, though, is different in an important way: it’s created from frozen weed.

How Live Resin Is Made

Almost all marijuana concentrates are produced by extracting THC (and/or other cannabis components) with the use of a solvent like butane or alcohol. Weed is put into a tube and the solvent extracts the “good stuff.” Heat and pressure remove the solvent, leaving potent hash oil.

The same basic process is used to make live resin, but the cannabis exposed to the solvent has been flash frozen.

That’s done as soon as the weed is harvested. High-quality producers dip the plant into liquid nitrogen, although a freezer filled with dry ice can also be used. Instead of being trimmed, dried, and cured, the plant is kept frozen until extraction is done. In most cases, live resin is made within a day or two of harvest.

The actual production process is complicated and requires special equipment.

The weed is washed with chilled solvent (often a butane/propane mix) at temperatures well below zero. The product takes the form of oil when it extracts the trichomes, it’s heated so it becomes vapor, the solvent is allowed to evaporate with the help of pressure, and the remaining vapor is converted back into a liquid. Any remaining solvent is boiled off.

There are two benefits to creating live resin instead of another type of concentrate. One is that additional filtration processes like winterization aren’t necessary; the live resin is already pure.

The other is more important to the end-user: live resin is quite simply a better product — thanks to the flash freezing of the cannabis.

Why Live Resin is a Superior Concentrate

When you buy meat and leave it in the refrigerator for a few days, it loses its freshness. Freezing the meat immediately, though, preserves most of its flavor and quality. And if you could flash freeze it, it would retain all of its flavor and quality.

The same is true for weed.

Cannabis plants normally have to be dried and cured quickly after harvest. Those processes are required to remove most of the plants’ moisture, so the dried flower can be packaged and sold.

But drying and curing do something else to weed. They cause THC to begin to degrade and eliminate as much as one-half of the bud’s terpenes. Terps, of course, are responsible for the weed’s flavor and aroma. But they also provide their own medical benefits and enhance the effectiveness of its cannabinoids through the entourage effect.

That’s not all. Research has found that the terpenes generally eliminated through curing and drying are lighter, fresher terps known as monoterpenes. That leaves a greater amount of heavier terpenes (sesquiterpenes) in dried weed. Flash freezing leaves the monoterpenes in cannabis — making live resin lighter, fresher, and more flavorful.

The product also retains more of its other cannabinoids, including CBD. That makes live resin a great choice for medical patients who want a concentrate with higher CBD content.

That’s why live resin is so tasty and potent. It’s not the actual freezing of the weed plant; it’s being able to skip the drying and curing process. In short, live resin ends up containing the true essence of cannabis.

Producers like manufacturing live resin, too. It allows them to create a valuable product without spending the time and money necessary for trimming, drying, and curing their plants.

Buying Live Resin

Live resin describes the actual product that’s created at a producer’s manufacturing facility. You’ll see live resin displayed on the shelves at dispensaries, but it’s likely to have been processed further to assume one of the dabbing consistencies that most connoisseurs are familiar with.

The most common form of live resin sold in dispensaries is known as sugar, a grainy wax containing visible crystals. Live resin can also be sold as cannabis wax, shatter, badder, pull-and-snap, sap, or jelly. Each has a different consistency, but all are suitable for use in a dab rig. Some outlets also sell vape cartridges containing live resin.

The fact that this resin contains all of the plant’s natural terpenes gives buyers a much greater range of choices as well. Other weed extracts are essentially concentrated THC; the strain that they come from doesn’t really matter. Live resin, though, is sold by strain — since it retains the distinctive properties of the plant it comes from.

You’ll certainly find a larger selection of strains when purchasing flowers than when you’re buying live resin. A good dispensary will still have some outstanding sativa and indica strains available, though. Sour Diesel, Northern Lights, GSC, White Widow, and Gelato are just some of the popular strains commonly available as live resin.

Live Resin: FAQ

Q: OK, so what’s “live rosin?”
A: The “live” part indicates the same thing that it does for live resin; it means that the cannabis plant is frozen before extraction, without going through the drying and curing process. The “rosin” part means that the concentrate isn’t made with a solvent; it’s turned into bubble hash, dried, and pressed in a rosin press. If you buy it at a dispensary, it can be just as potent and tasty as live resin. If you try to make it home, you’ll get a good but not comparable product.

Q: Is live resin expensive?
A: Yes, but not as expensive as it was when it first hit the market. Prices are now comparable to what you’ll pay for hash oils like shatter and wax. Live resin will certainly cost more than flower but the high you’ll experience is worth it.

Q: Can you smoke live resin?
A: It’s possible, but quite frankly it’s a waste; you’ll probably be blazed after a few tokes. A better approach is to roll a little live resin in a joint, or top a bowl with it. That will boost your smoke’s potency without wasting most of the concentrate you never get to smoke.


Ferber, S. G., Namdar, D., Hen-Shoval, D., Eger, G., Koltai, H., Shoval, G., … & Weller, A. (2020). The “entourage effect”: terpenes coupled with cannabinoids for the treatment of mood disorders and anxiety disorders. Current neuropharmacology, 18(2), 87-96. [1]