Diving Deep: The Differences Between Live Resin and Live Rosin Cannabis Extraction
As norms change and attitudes toward cannabis evolve, we are continuously exploring new ways to consume and produce products.
Long gone are the days of simple biomass or “flower” combustion, where more than 90% of the plant’s compounds are lost in the fire. Today, cannabis innovators have revolutionized how we access terpenes and cannabinoids.
Extracting these compounds—without degrading or outright destroying their valuable properties—has translated into a quantum leap in processing. Removal without significant degradation has allowed us to identify and study previously unknown components of the cannabis plant. The often confused live resin and live rosin (rosin vs. resin) are two of the newest, tastiest, and most potent cannabis extracts.
(A close up of rosin.)
What is Live Resin? What is Live Rosin?
While similar in nomenclature, the two products are results of wildly different extraction processes. The prefix live speaks to the one commonality shared between the processes; “live” refers to the use of plant material that has been immediately frozen after harvest, known as flash freezing.
This cryogenic process suspends the degradation of the plant’s valuable compounds, preserving its rich terpene content for future extraction. From here, the steps required to access the frozen plant’s natural resin depart one another significantly, falling into two categories – solvent and solvent-free.
Live resin and live rosin are coveted for their high-terpene content and full cannabinoid profile. Coupled with high THC levels, they are both sought after by the cannabis connoisseur. However, live resin is created from a process that uses solvents. The most common solvents on the market are butane and ethanol.
Solvents are used to separate (or dissolve) the desired compounds from the cannabis plant material. These solvents are then removed from the final product. Using the flash freezing method, the plant’s properties will ultimately carry through to the consumer product. This may be the only process shared by the equally popular live rosin.
What is Live Rosin? Solvent-free.
(We sell pneumatic rosin presses like the one pictured above.)
Live rosin is produced without the use of solvents. Extraction of the plant’s terpenes and cannabinoids are achieved through mechanical separation. The live rosin path also relies on flash freezing for preservation. However, instead of using solvents for separation, the frozen material is first converted to bubble hash, using micron filter bubble bags.
Both live rosin and live resin provide some of the best quality highs and terpene profiles, but rosin, specifically, relies on superior quality flower to produce its results.
Introducing the highest-quality plant material is vital, and the use of terpene and trichome-rich flower is recommended. The subsequent hash is then filtered and freeze-dried before being pressed. Water is able to dissolve many compounds. And while water—in this case ice water—is one of the most powerful solvents known to man, in this process it is being used as a carrier and not as a solvent.
(A view inside the PurePressure factory).
How to Make Live Resin
(The ExtractionTek Solutions MEP™)
Live resin extraction is a complex process that requires skillful operation and sophisticated equipment. This type of cannabis extraction often requires pharmaceutical-grade equipment for industrial processing.
Ethanol extraction can be performed with or without winterization – a process for removing compounds, such as fats, lipids, waxes, and chlorophyll from crude cannabis oil prior to the distillation process.
Live resin extraction requires a vessel (in which biomass and ethanol can be mixed), and a machine capable of separating biomass from the ethanol. A non-winterized process can be performed at volumes of just a few liters, using such various equipment from a Buchner Funnel with a water aspirator and full vacuum on the funnel, to Erlenmeyer Flasks or centrifuges.
Beginning with ethanol at -50°C, the alcohol is loaded into a tank. It is then pushed into a bag containing the biomass. Following agitation, the bag is run through a centrifuge where the ethanol is spun out to ensure effective collection of the plant’s cannabinoids.
That material is subsequently rinsed off into a separate container. The same process can be performed using room-temperature ethanol, after which the material is frozen. This allows for the filtering out of now solidified lipids and waxes. Adding additional filtration to the process creates further sterility before beginning downstream processes.
A four-step filter skid can be successful in removing larger finds, pesticides and heavy metals present in the biomass, and finally, microorganisms. The next step involves a method to evaporate off the alcohol in order to reduce the material to a full-spectrum oil containing all minor cannabinoids, some terpenes remaining from the evaporation process, and plant proteins and sugars.
Left with a very viscous, dark colored material, a short path distillation (using temperature and pressure to determine which products will come off and be collected through condensation) is used.
Hydrocarbon extraction requires the use of a jacketed, pressurized tank that allows for temperature control. The most widely used hydrocarbon is a combination of n-butane and isobutane. In this process, the biomass is placed in a tank, or spool —depending on the size of the vessel— and saturated with the solvent.
Because of the low temperatures, the solvent is pushed with pressure, but the same outcome can be achieved by pulling with a vacuum. By opening the solvent and lowering the temperature in another section of the tank, a vacuum is created. This vacuum creates a void, across which the solution is drawn.
Use of a collection vessel is required next. All the material is then passed through the biomass and collected, after which the temperature is raised, leaving the solvent to bubble off and leave oils behind. Once pressure reaches equilibrium, the collection vessel is closed off, leaving behind a small amount of residual solvent and cannabinoids.
Color remediation can be performed inline or post-process. Depending upon the amount of decarboxylation performed for consistency, and how much terpene is being left behind to determine viscosity levels, live resin diamonds, sugars, sauces, batter, and butters can now be created for consumer products. Both live resin and live rosin produce ultra-potent cannabis extracts that continue to grow in popularity. Live resin enjoys tremendous market share, with a suite of top-tier products occupying shelf space in most dispensaries. Live rosin, free of chemical solvents, provides a health-conscious alternative, equal in effect.
When it comes to live rosin vs. resin, both products represent the expanding methodology for consuming cannabis.
Interested in creating live rosin or live resin products?
Lab Society is your one-stop shop for all cannabis post-processing needs. We carry only the finest equipment for solvent recovery, and our trained technical staff is standing by to field your call. We are provider agnostic, meaning that we only supply our customers with the best systems without regard to the manufacturer. Our job is to get you up and running as quickly and as efficiently as possible, with no wasted capital.
Call us today: 720-600-2037.