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Live Resin vs. Distillate: What’s the Difference?

Different forms of cannabis produce distinct effects, so it’s critical to know the contrasts. Read to learn about live resin vs. distillate.

Visiting a marijuana dispensary can be overwhelming and confusing, especially when confronting the differences between live resin vs. distillate. While these two concentrates may look somewhat similar to even a regular pot smoker’s eye, they produce quite distinct effects.

The two concentrates – live resin and distillate – are among many forms of marijuana available in dispensaries across the states. Without some background knowledge, however, you may accidentally purchase the wrong type of cannabis product. 

For example, if you had intentions of walking out of the dispensary with either live resin or distillate, but you bought the wrong type, your experience will be a lot different than what you were expecting. If you aren’t familiar with the dispensary you are visiting, don’t hesitate to ask a budtender to help guide you in the right direction. That’s what they’re there for!

Fire and Ice

Live resin and distillate produce varying effects; one is usually a mellow, relaxing high while the other is energizing and invigorating. As such, it is critical to understand the not-so-subtle differences between live resin vs. distillate before heading into your local dispensary.

The extraction process of live resin and distillate brings about the primary differences between the two cannabis oils. The original cannabis flower or concentrate undergoes either a heat-induced or cold-induced extraction method, transforming the marijuana into entirely different forms: live resin vs. distillate. Stemming from live resin or distillate concentrates include tinctures, concentrates, edibles, and traditional cannabis flower. 

It’s a bit like fire and ice, and the resulting compounds reflect that. Both help you relax and escape the stress of the day, but it depends on the type of high you want when you decide which compound to buy. Continue reading to find out what you need to know about live resin vs. distillate.

Live Resin: An Overview  

In 2010 or 2011, the state of Colorado first introduced its cannabis consumers to live resin. In comparison to distillate, live resin is nothing like the sticky, dark resin left behind in a bowl after smoking cannabis flower; it doesn’t smell or taste the same, either.

Instead, live resin is a waxy substance that is a highly concentrated oil of a certain marijuana strain, essentially preserving the 200+ therapeutic terpenes found in marijuana through its cold extraction processes. According to experimental theories, the heat drying and curing process of the extraction method traditionally associated with marijuana can adulterate those healing compounds by impairing their scientific benefits.

An Introduction to Live Resin

There are additional marijuana concentrates available to consume instead of live resin. However, you will only reap the therapeutic benefits of terpenes from live resin cannabis products. Due to its cold extraction method, live resin cannabis’ result retains nearly all original terpenes and cannabinoids from the flower. 

The synergy of terpenes and cannabinoids working together is known as the entourage effect, enhancing the overall psychoactive effects of the plant; it can help ease stress and anxiety, mild or chronic pain, or insomnia, along with a host of other health issues. In addition, the cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), made of neurotransmitters that play a role in sleep, mood, and appetite.

Live resin offers a milder high, although it is still concentrated and slightly more potent than smoking the cannabis flower itself. Moreover, live resin cannabis can be dabbed, vaped, or used to top a flower to intensify a traditional high.

Distillate: An Overview  

Distillate products are more versatile than live resin products because they are more liquid than wax, and the distillation process leaves the oil odorless and tasteless. Accordingly, cannabis manufacturers can purchase distillate oil and transform it into other forms of cannabis, like edibles or dab pens.

While the heat-based extraction process of distillates does not preserve the terpenes or cannabinoids, it does protect and activate THC, so it packs a potent high.

The intensity, along with its odorless feature, also allows distillates to be used discreetly virtually anywhere in a vape pen. The convenience of a vape pen makes distillates perfect for those who like to take their high on the go. In addition to vaping, consumers can use distillates to dab, but they can also be applied topically or added to various edible forms.

While the high from distillates depends on the original cannabis strain used, they usually provide a very intense high. After completing the extraction process, most distillate producers will add plant-based and strain-specific terpenes to the end product. For example, limonene from citrus is a popular Sativa dominant strain. Natural marijuana terpenes are stronger, more potent, and more effective than those taken from other sources and added to manipulate the effects. 

Live Resin vs. Distillate: The Key Differences

Live resin and distillates are two classic cannabis products to have as part of your marijuana collection. However, when comparing live resin vs. distillate, there are many differences. For instance, cannabis consumers can smoke distillates virtually anywhere, providing the user a unique smoking experience. On the other hand, live resin is much more similar to smoking traditional cannabis flower, or bud. 

With live resin, you will find the product still has the flavor and aroma of marijuana in its natural state. Additionally, live resins have a high natural terpene and cannabinoid content. In contrast, distillates contain outsourced terpenes extracted from citrus, pine, herbs, and other elements. However, experts are not confident outsourced terpenes provide the same effects as natural terpenes found in the cannabis plant. 

The Extraction Process

The extraction process methods are very different because live resins undergo freezing temperatures while distillates face boiling temperatures and solvents. Live resin is extracted from 24-hour flash-frozen plants – a process preserving the natural and holistic compounds in the marijuana plant. Terpenes specifically are known to produce many of the medicinal qualities of cannabis.

Distillates, however, are extracted from the marijuana flower using solvent and heat. It is then purified, which removes the terpenes that provide therapeutic benefits. It does, however, maintain THC (and also CBD in some extractions) in a highly concentrated form. As a result, it is more similar to an oil when it is done, making it much more versatile than live resin in specific applications.

Terpene Content

Because its extraction method used freezing temperatures, live resins retain the powerful terpenes: myrcene, limonene, caryophyllene, pinene, and others. These terpenes are incredibly valuable for those seeking relief from stress and anxiety, mild or chronic pain, and other health ailments and condition symptoms.

Each terpene provides different benefits. Yet, experts believe myrcene effectively provides stress and anxiety relief, while caryophyllene helps ease pain and muscle tension. In addition, terpenes and cannabinoids alike often work better together, known as the Entourage Effect.

The Entourage Effect

While many people select marijuana based on THC levels and potency, many other compounds interact with THC. So, the levels – usually around 45% – 50% in live resin and 85% – 90% percent in distillate – may not be the best motivation in selecting a product. Yet, high-quality live resin concentrates can have a THC potency of up to 80% – 90% as well.

Marijuana has become such an essential element of holistic medicine because of the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect is when the compounds in marijuana, including terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids, work in synergy to help achieve the desired effects. This incredible synergy between compounds is believed to be the reason why marijuana has become more openly recognized as a medicinal plant.

The Smoking Experience

Both live resin and distillate will get consumers high, but there are differences between the two. Because it contains all of the properties of traditional cannabis flower, live resin is more similar to smoking marijuana in its natural state, like a joint or from a bong. When smoking live resin, the effects are similar to what one considers a classic Sativa and Indica. Sativas tend to offer a cerebral high, while Indicas provide a relaxing, full-body high, and hybrids can provide a bit of both.

While it depends on the flower each product was derived from – Sativas tend to offer a cerebral high, while Indicas provide a relaxing, full-body high, and hybrids can provide a bit of both – the effects are similar when smoking live resin. However, because of the distillation process, distillates are missing the Sativa or Indica qualities in favor of a high THC content, so it is not for the inexperienced smoker. 

Final Thoughts

For those seeking the healing terpenes found in marijuana for relief from stress, anxiety, pain, and other health problems – marijuana’s medicinal qualities have been studied for decades – then live resin is the best choice for you.

Nonetheless, if your goal is to find a product with the greatest potency and intense high experience, distillates are a better option. That said, be sure to select the correct strain – Sativa for a more energized high or Indica for a more relaxed high.

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