What Is Cannabis Resin?

Sophia Delphi May 14, 2022 - 7 min read
Fact Checked
Golden resin concentrate was and cannabis bud

What’s the “sticky” in “sticky icky?” It’s resin.
What’s the gunk that builds up in your piece after you’ve smoked? It’s resin.
What’s the yellow concentrate made from flash-frozen weed? It’s resin.

There’s a lot of slang that can be confusing to those new to the weed world: quarters vs. QPs, dank vs. chronic, joint vs. spliff.

Then there are terms that mean different things depending on the context. Resin is a great example.

So what exactly is weed resin? There’s no simple definition; it depends on how the word is used.

There’s cannabis resin, pipe resin, and live resin. They’re all very different — and you definitely don’t want to confuse them. Let’s explain.

What is Cannabis Resin?

When you’re in search of top-shelf weed, one of the things you look for is an ample amount of the gooey, sticky, golden substance that covers the buds.

That’s stuff is resin, often called weed resin.

Resin is produced in the trichomes of the cannabis plant. Trichomes, of course, produce and contain the bulk of marijuana’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, the compounds responsible for weed’s psychoactive effects and health benefits.

What’s the purpose of resin? It’s the plant’s first line of defense against predatory insects and animals, which are repelled by the aroma of some of the terpenes in resin. It protects the delicate trichomes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and helps prevent them from drying out. Finally, it’s the “glue” that holds the buds and trichomes together until harvest time.

Most cannabis connoisseurs value unpollinated female plants because of their large yields. What’s not as well-known is that those plants also produce the most resin.

And that resin can be particularly valuable after the flower is harvested.

Types of Weed Resin Extracts

If you collect resin directly from the cannabis plant it can be used to create concentrated — and therefore, very strong — psychoactive products.

There are many different types of resin, depending on what compounds are allowed to remain in the final product and what’s removed.

1. Hashish

Everyone’s heard of hashish. Not everyone knows where it comes from.

Hash is made from the trichomes contained in weed resin. They’re compressed, with the help of low heat, into the shape of a brick or ball.

Hash is the easiest cannabis concentrate to make, and it’s a potent form of marijuana that’s commonly smoked on its own or added to a bowl or joint. It can be eaten as well, although the powerful experience is not for the faint of heart.

(Bubble hash is a similar concentrate that’s made in a slightly more complicated way. Sieves and ice water are used to separate the trichomes to create a crumbly substance for smoking.)

2. Rosin

Don’t confuse resin with rosin. The latter is concentrated oil that’s extracted from resin, with the help of heat and pressure.

The “professional” way to create rosin is to squeeze resin in a press that has heated pads so the potent oil drips right out. The shortcut is to fold a piece of parchment paper, put resin inside, and then compress the folded paper in a hair straightener set on “low heat.” That method will create solid rosin rather than oil.

Rosin oil is usually vaped, while solid rosin is usually dabbed. Rosin can also be made from flower, kief or trim; many devotees prefer rosin to other concentrates because it’s made without the use of solvents, meaning it’s a “clean” product.

3. BHO (Butane Hash Oil)

Butane hash oil may be the most popular dab concentrate made from resin. It’s produced by using highly-flammable butane as a solvent to “push” cannabis oil from the resin and then letting the butane evaporate. Other material used for dabbing, like shatter and wax, is created in a similar way; CO2 oil is produced by using carbon dioxide instead of butane as a solvent.

Needless to say, experience and the right equipment are needed to accomplish the production of BHO. The process can be dangerous, and traces of butane can remain in the oil. But the concentrate is extremely potent if produced properly.

That brings us to our next definition.

4. Live Resin

Live resin is another type of weed concentrate. It can also be produced from cannabis resin — but not just any resin.

To make live resin, the weed plant is frozen immediately after harvest without the normal trimming, drying, and curing processes. Here’s why: those usual post-harvest steps often damage the THC and terpenes in weed resin. Freezing preserves all of the plant’s potency and flavor.

Solvents like butane are then used to extract a concentrate used for dabbing or vaping; it’s often more powerful and flavorful than some of the other products we’ve mentioned.

5. Pipe Resin?

Here’s where the context we mentioned earlier becomes very important.

Most people refer to both cannabis resin and pipe resin as “resin.” If they’re talking about raw bud, everyone understands they’re referring to cannabis resin. But if they’re talking about cleaning out their piece after a smoke sesh, they obviously mean the sticky, nasty stuff that’s also commonly called resin. Another name for it is “reclaim.”

The gunk primarily consists of ash, tar, and carbon — and as just about every reader knows, it can be difficult to clean resin out of a bowl. The easiest way is to use a scraper or “multi-tool,” sold at all smoke shops, but most of us usually resort to a paper clip or bobby pin. Some people first heat the pipe to make the resin more flexible, but that also makes it goopier and it will stick to everything.

What do you do with the resin after you’ve cleaned it? If you aren’t broke, you toss it. If you’re out of weed and out of money, though? Yes, there is some THC in the resin and yes, you can smoke it. It just won’t be as satisfying as flower and it won’t get you as high.

If you’re going to smoke resin, try to scrape it out of the bowl in chunks because they’re easier to reuse. It burns best in a piece, although you can also roll it into a joint. Don’t put resin into a vaporizer; at best, it will leave the vape smelly and gross. At worst, it will destroy the machine.

Be prepared for a somewhat-disgusting experience if you’re going to smoke pipe resin, and be aware that reusing the tar that’s accumulated isn’t very good for you.

But also don’t be ashamed that you have to resort to smoking resin. We’ve all been there.

What Is Weed Resin: FAQ

Q: Are concentrates made from resin really that much better than flower?
A: Yes, because they’re much more potent. The plant material has been removed, leaving just the active components of cannabis. That’s the big reason why dabbing has become so popular in recent years.

Q: Can you get sick from smoking resin?
A: It’s certainly possible. Sore throats and headaches are the most common complaints, but some people have trouble breathing after inhaling the thick, harsh smoke that resin produces.


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  2. Lazarjani, M. P., Young, O., Kebede, L., & Seyfoddin, A. (2021). Processing and extraction methods of medicinal cannabis: a narrative review. Journal of cannabis research, 3(1), 1-15 [2].