The Difference in Processing Wax and Shatter Compared to Live Extracts

It’s a question we hear pretty often as cannabis workers, “What does it mean that an extract is live?”. It’s a confusing concept to be certain. Are other concentrates “dead” by comparison? Why does Live Resin demand such a significant price hike over other concentrates like shatter and wax?

To start to understand what constitutes a live concentrate, first we must have a basic understanding of how a concentrate is made. The process for shatter and wax is vastly similar, with a single step towards the end of production being the primary difference.

To begin, a fully mature cannabis plant is harvested & the major buds are removed and cured for flower. The leftover material used for wax and shatter typically consists of trim and other parts of the cannabis plant. Parts like sugar leaves, small buds from the underside of the plant, and the like are packed tightly into a large cylinder called an extraction column. Solvents, such as butane, hexane, propane or some combination of them, are then run over the material. The solvents separate the cannabinoids from the plant material, and after a few times, a liquid is left over and the plant material is usually discarded. The liquid at this point contains a large amount of inconsumable solvent, so it is placed in a vacuum oven. The oven heats and vacuums the solvents from the material. This is done several times. When the product is almost finished, it is either allowed to flatten into shatter, or it is whipped into wax, depending on the preference of the extraction artist.

Live resin on the other hand, differs in that it is properly made with full buds as opposed to trim. When the plant is harvested, instead of trimming the buds off the stem, the whole item is immediately frozen. This is meant to preserve the terpenes and some of the more sensitive cannabinoids. Terpenes are what make up all of the smells and tastes that we experience, so increased terpenes mean a more complex flavor profile of the concentrate when finished.  Terpenes are an incredibly volatile part of the plant, meaning the longer they sit to cure, are subjected to heat and other elements, etc the faster they disappear (ultimately meaning less flavor).  Besides this initial freezing of the material, dewaxing, the removal of lipids, is achieved by freezing the column as well. These two processes serve to produce the tastiest of terpene-rich resin.  Much like shatter & wax have the same predecessor where one is laid flat and another is whipped, the manufacturing of Live concentrates is similar.  While live shatter is not common due to the highly viscous nature of live resins, the final extract can be whipped and manipulated to create a wide variety of live products like live wax, live budder, etc.    

Ultimately, the thing to extract from all this is that Live Resin will usually fetch a higher price because of a better flavor profile, enhancing the enjoyment of the smoker. So be prepared to fork over a few more dollars if you wanna say “yum” when you exhale.  We promise the return is worth it!