Live rosin and live resin are two concentrates that can be made from cannabis plant material. While rosin can be made from either dried cannabis buds or fresh frozen/flash frozen cannabis plants that are processed into live bubble hash, live resin is always made from fresh or flash frozen material.
Both live resin and live rosin are high in cannabinoids and terpenes and are typically dabbed or vaped. They can also be added to pipes or joints or used to make edibles. A few key differences distinguish one cannabis concentrate from the other. Understanding these differences can help you decide which one best fits your purposes.
What Is Rosin?
Cannabis rosin is a solventless extract that is produced by pressing dried and cured cannabis flower, kief, dry sift, or (regular or live) bubble hash between two heated plates. The heat and pressure cause the trichome cuticles to melt, releasing the sticky resin inside.
What Is Live Rosin?
Live rosin is rosin that is pressed from live bubble hash—bubble hash that was made from fresh frozen cannabis. Because the cannabis buds did not go through a drying and curing process, live bubble hash and the subsequent live rosin are much richer in terpenes than their non-live counterparts.
The Live Rosin Extraction Process
Making live rosin involves the following steps:
- The extractor either buys or makes live bubble hash.
- The dried live bubble hash is placed in a micron-rated rosin bag (typically a 25µm rosin bag).
- The rosin bag is placed inside a folded piece of parchment paper, which is then placed between the plates of a rosin press.
- Heat and pressure are applied to the bag.
- The hash rosin flows onto the parchment paper and is jarred for cold storage.
- After the live rosin process, the rosin can be cold cured, if desired. This optional cold curing process creates a badder-like consistency.
The Taste of Live Rosin
Live rosin is known for its complex flavor profile. The flavors are both "full spectrum" and provide an accurate reflection of the starting strain.
The Cost of Live Rosin
Live rosin is sold at a higher price point than live resin in dispensaries. According to data from BDSA, rosin maintained its value in California at $35 per gram in Q3 of 2022 whereas live resin fell to $20 per gram in the same period. There are several reasons for live rosin’s premium price:
- The starting material must be of a very high quality as the resulting cannabis oil is not purged in the extraction process and any impurities will be present in the final product.
- Live rosin is an artisan product that is typically made in small batches. It is more labor-intensive than solvent extracts. However, recent innovations like our Medusa System allow one extractor to connect up to five rosin presses and press all five in tandem. This results in significant labor and cost savings.
- Solventless requires specific genetics to perform well when making bubble hash. The flower needs a specific type, size, and shape of trichome for it to make sense as an operator in terms of yields. This is not a concern for live resin because all of the compounds are dissolved.
What Is Live Resin?
Live resin is a high-end form of butane hash oil (BHO) made from fresh frozen (or flash frozen) cannabis via a light hydrocarbon extraction process using butane or propane. This concentrate is typically amber in color and is soft with a sugary texture.
How Live Resin Is Made
Fresh frozen cannabis material is submerged in a solvent. Light hydrocarbon solvents like butane and propane are most typically used for this process. The solvent binds to the chemical compounds in the plant material and dissolves them. The solvent is then removed, leaving live resin behind.
After the initial extraction, the soft and sugar-like live resin can be transformed into a range of cannabis products, including diamonds, sauce, badder, pull and snap, sugar, and wax. People typically consume live resin by dabbing or vaping it.
The Taste of Live Resin
Live resin has rich flavors thanks to the terpenes that are conserved when the cannabis plants are harvested and immediately frozen. Because the solvents used in the extraction process work like a magnet, some terpenes may be favored over others, creating a focused flavor.
The Cost of Live Resin
Live resin tends to be sold at a lower price point than rosin products because the extraction process is easier to scale. The end product is still of high quality, however, as modern processes allow extractors to remove the residual solvent with great precision.
Live Rosin vs Live Resin: Which Is Better?
In some respects, the live rosin vs live resin question comes down to personal preference:
- Some people choose one of these cannabis extracts over the other because they prefer the flavor.
- Some people prefer live rosin for its quality assurance and the fact that no solvents are used in the extraction process.
- Some people opt for live resin because of the lower price point.
From the extractor's point of view, it is both a question of scale and a question of philosophy:
Live resin is much easier to produce at scale. A closed-loop extraction system works with very little hands-on involvement and can produce a large quantity of concentrate. However, you would need to produce live resin at scale to recoup the initial investment of closed-loop extraction equipment and a C1D1 room, which can total in the six-figure range.
Live resin is fairly "safe" these days and it is possible to produce a solvent-free concentrate even if solvents are used in the extraction process, so health and safety are less of a concern than they once were. Most of the solvent is recovered and recycled, which also helps to reduce waste. The main difference as far as ethics, health, and environmental impact are concerned is that live resin made with hydrocarbons requires mining for petroleum, whereas rosin does not. It is "clean" from start to end, which is attractive to many modern consumers.
Live rosin can be produced in small to mid-size batches using our Medusa System. The initial investment is lower and the retail price per gram is higher compared to live resin, meaning that you would recover your initial investment much faster.
Some consumers like the artisan aspect of solventless extraction and the fact that the extraction process is more hands-on. A solventless approach could be described as an “art,” whereas solvent-based extraction could be described as a “science.” Identifying which one of these descriptions best fits your values and approach can help you choose the right method for you.
Find Your Perfect Match
Live rosin and live resin are both very popular with people who love consuming cannabis concentrates with rich flavors. The live rosin vs live resin question has similar pros and cons to the question of BHO vs rosin. In each case, the solvent and solventless concentrates being compared are potent extracts with rich flavors and probably no solvent in the final product.
The main difference between live rosin and live resin is that rosin gives the guarantee of a very high-quality starting material, no solvents are used in the extraction process, and the final product is "full spectrum." Live resin, in contrast, sells at a slightly lower price point, has more focused flavors, and may occasionally contain trace amounts of solvent. Whether you are an extractor or consumer, the best product for you will depend on your core values, budget, and personal preference.