One question we often receive from patrons who are newer on the cannabis scene and not as familiar with cannabis concentrates is, “what’s the difference between distillate and live resin.” Simply put, cannabis distillate is cannabinoid oil that is extracted from dried and cured cannabis flower while live resin is a more complete cannabis concentrate containing cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that are extracted from fresh-frozen cannabis flower. While distillate is extracted using a significant amount of heat, live resin is traditionally extracted with minimum heat to preserve the plant’s compounds.
Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these concentrates and make sure as a new cannabis concentrate explorer you understand the degrees of separation between distillate and live resin.
Cannabis Distillate: What you need to know
Cannabis distillate is a purified, cannabis extract that has been isolated down to just the cannabinoid molecules. This extraction process removes all other plant materials including terpenes, flavonoids, and impurities. As a result, cannabis distillates are extremely potent with THC levels that can exceed 95% in some cases.
Cannabis distillate is most often consumed using a cannabis vaporizer, however, it can also be added to cannabis flower or used to make your own cannabis edibles. Due to its purity and potency, cannabis distillates are also very versatile in the kitchen and can be used to make all kinds of cannabis-infused recipes.
While cannabis distillates lack the utility and broad spectrum compounds found in live resin and other types of cannabis extracts, they make up for it in terms of potency.
Cannabis Live Resin: What you need to know
Live resin is a type of cannabis concentrate that is extracted from fresh-frozen cannabis flower. This process involves freezing the plant material immediately after harvest and then extracting it while it is still frozen. By extracting cannabis while it is frozen, live resins are able to capture a broad spectrum of compounds within the plant, including a higher concentration of cannabis terpenes.
Live resins are also a potent form of cannabis concentrates with THC levels that can range from 60-90%. Because they are produced using less heat, live resins are also much less processed than cannabis distillates. As a result, they have a more complete cannabis flavor profile and once consumed can provide a well-rounded high thanks to the entourage effect.
If you want to learn more about live resin and other types of live concentrates, check out our blog article Live Concentrates 101 that goes into more detail.
So, what’s the difference between cannabis distillate and live resin?
The primary difference between cannabis distillate and live resin is the extraction process. Cannabis distillates are extracted using more heat while live resins are extracted using colder temperatures. Cannabis distillates and live resins can be extracted using different methods (see the lower part of this article) but live resin is always extracted from fresh-frozen flower. These differences in extraction lead to two very different types of cannabis concentrates.
Cannabis distillates are typically more potent and have a higher THC content than live resins. They are also less flavorful with a more neutral taste. Live resins, on the other hand, are typically more flavorful and offer a more complete cannabis experience. They are also less potent than cannabis distillates with THC levels that typically max out at around 90%.
Other Types of Concentrates and Types of Extraction
Cannabis distillate oil and live resin are not the only two types of cannabis concentrates though! In fact, there are a lot of different types and forms of cannabis concentrates. See some of the most popular types of concentrates below that you might see in a Colorado dispensary:
- Live Resin
- Bubble hash
How are all of these different cannabis concentrates made? That’s a great question and the answer is complex, but to simplify it, they are produced by varying extraction methods, temperature levels, solvents used to extract, and even solventless extraction methods like cannabis rosin. Here are a few types of cannabis extraction techniques:
- Butane (BHO/Hydrocarbon) Extraction
- Supercritical CO2 Extraction
- Water Hash Extraction
- Rosin Press Extraction
- Manual Agitation Extraction
One of the most important things to do when purchasing cannabis concentrates is to see if the concentrate passes the test of the 3 C’s. Don’t be afraid to ask your budtender to show lab results as well. A good dab is a healthy dab!