Live Resin vs. Rosin: What Is The Difference?

live resin

Cannabis consumption has come a long way. From the Haight-Ashbury hippie heyday of the ‘60s and ‘70s, to the currently emerging battle to legalize marijuana, even for medical purposes, the methods people have come up with in order to get their ganja on have grown. New innovations like Live Resin and Rosin add to the complexity.

No longer are people fenced in merely by smoking joints or blunts, and even then, consuming weed has grown from smoking low-quality skunk, to being a source of connoisseurship, both of flavor and effect. In addition, there are various types of edibles, from “weed brownies” to molded cannabis-infused chocolate candies. Add to this the phenomenon called dabbing: using butane hash oil (BHO) to take in your daily dose of concentrated terpenes and you have set a near-perfect scene for a sativa sap fest.

But the dabbing phenomenon doesn’t end there, peeps! In the last thirty years, two specific methods of creating concentrated extracts have come about. One is live resin, and the other is a more recent development called rosin.

Terpenes 101

For those who are just joining the cannabis community, you’ll hear a lot about terpenes. Sounds insanely scientific, doesn’t it? Hardly the stuff of odd philosophizing and strange verses that have faint existential echoes of Paul McCartney’s “I am the walrus.”

Well, despite the slightly intimidating verbal lab-coat vibe, terpenes are nothing more or less than crazy-volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons (in short, carbon molecules bonded with water molecules) that are found in all essential oils of various plants. Yes, including your mother and grandmother’s rose and lavender scents (provided they’re using actual essential oils in an oil burner or warmer), as well as the strong aromas that come from the rosemary, oregano, basil, sage and thyme that flavor up your savory holiday eats. That hand-rolled sandalwood incense that’s puff-puffing its sexy aroma into the air? Yup, that sandalwood has terpenes galore.

Back to cannabis. Each cannabis strain has its own beautifully powerful mix of terpenes that give that strain its scent, taste and pharmacological effects. As to where they’re located, the frosty trichomes on a cannabis bud or leaf are the terpenes’ home address, which is why some people switch from smoking bud to vaping, eating or dabbing, because smoking burns those trichomes and terpenes to a crisp, and you end up losing quite a bit of Nature’s healing power.

A Little Dab’ll Do Ya!

So, now that you’ve got the takeaway on terpenes, let’s move on to the domain of dabbing.

If you’re a dabbing enthusiast, you’re most likely familiar with the usual butane hash oil extraction forms, “shatter” and “clear.” If you’re new to dabbing, though, “shatter” is simply a more solid, stable form that looks like glass, and “clear” is the more viscous, syrupy form.

Dabbing enthusiasts also might have come across what’s now known as two different results of hash oil extraction: live resin and rosin. If this is you, but you’re not yet completely familiar with either of them, here’s the 411 on the difference:

Live Resin

BHO that’s extracted a bit differently than traditional BHO is. Standard BHO is extracted from dried, cured bud or other trichome-bearing trim, but live resin is extracted from bud that’s been immediately frozen. They both use butane or propane as the solvent, but it’s the freezing part that keeps the terpenes intact with live resin. The process is far more professionally involved and complicated than you might think, and the fact that there are few extract producers out there that do live resin is the proof.


This is an extraction process that uses no solvent, but rather mere heat and pressure to extract the resin from your source material, and if done correctly, can be just as potent as traditional BHO or live resin.

More About Rosin

If the word “rosin” has made any musically-inclined ganja fans to perk up their ears and wonder if there’s a connection to violins, you’re not entirely wrong. The cannabis community has borrowed the term “rosin” from the world of violins, violas, cellos and the bows used to play these instruments, as cakes of bow rosin are made from the sap of pine trees, and the creation methods are somewhat similar, in that both cannabis “rosin” for dabbing, and violin rosin (for coating bow hair) have heat as one of the primary processes.

The word “rosin” in the cannabis world, however, has more to do with the extraction technique and less about the “name” of the product. Unlike the live resin technology, the rosin technique is something that anyone can attempt at home, because it requires no harmful solvents requiring a background in chemistry or extractions. Also, rosin is a good alternative source of terpenes if you’re at all squeamish about inhaling any amount of butane or propane residue, no matter how small. After all, if you’re using cannabis for holistic medical purposes, such as cancer relief, why risk poisoning yourself with residual solvents, right?

So how do you make cannabis Rosin?

All you need are:

• A hair straightener (Ladies who ‘dab’ will likely have one of these. If you’re a dude and you’re nervous about looking weird for purchasing one, tell the cashier it’s for your girlfriend or sister. Note: find one with a low setting of about 300 deg. Fahrenheit. Lower if you can swing it. Higher than 300 and you can start saying ‘bye-bye’ to those precious terpenes!)

• Parchment paper (Yes, the stuff you use for baking—unbleached is best)

• A collection tool (If you already have dabbing paraphernalia, good on you, but if you don’t, put your sativa-scented creativity cap on and hunt around for possibilities.)

• Heat-resistant gloves (Nothing ruins the mood of a good rosin collection like getting burnt!)

• Source material. (Because it’s not like you’re going to conjure rosin from thin air, man! This can be flowers, kief or even bubble-hash!)

There are videos and articles out there for making your own rosin, so we won’t repeat the process ad nauseum. Just collect the above materials and you’re halfway to happy rosin-land.

And once you’ve had a dab of your home-made rosin, especially if it’s from a creativity-inducing sativa, if you’ve got a violin or cello handy, go use the bow rosin and bring the music and cannabis connection full circle.


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