As recreational cannabis has legalized across the country, consumption methods have advanced far beyond joints and bowls of ground-up flower. Today, there are countless ways to consume cannabis—from eating it to using cannabis resin to absorbing it through your skin, getting high has drastically changed.
No matter how you choose to consume, it’s critical to know where your cannabis is coming from and how it’s made – and if you’re like a lot of cannabis users, it’s a little overwhelming. Specifically, the process of producing cannabis resin has left a lot of users confused. What does the word resin even mean? How does it compare to live resin? To cannabis rosin? In order for us to school you on all-things cannabis resin, we need to take a step back and discuss the cannabis plant in further detail.
Sit tight, put on your learning cap, and let’s dig into the sticky details surrounding cannabis resin.
What Is Cannabis Resin?
Have you ever found yourself in the company of a budding cannabis plant?
Maybe your roommate grew some in his closet way back when, or perhaps you even started growing a plant of your own. No matter where you’ve come into contact with cannabis flower, you’ve probably noticed that it can be sticky or even gooey.
Believe it or not, that stickiness you detect on your fingers is cannabis resin. And no matter where you find it—from the buds on a plant to the nugs in a dispensary—cannabis resin is valuable in more ways than one.
Much like the sap that sticks on trees, cannabis resin is a plant byproduct found on the dense buds of a cannabis plant. Considered the most valuable part of the plant, resin holds together specific fatty structures called trichomes—microscopic hair-like appendages that produce cannabinoids, terpenes, and various cannabis flavors. Unlike tree sap which is made from sugar and is liquid in nature, cannabis resin forms crystal-like structures that can be difficult to separate from the plant itself.
Contained within cannabis resin is a vast array of chemical compounds. From flavonoids that provide cannabis flavor to terpenoids that supply pungent aromas, cannabis resin houses a mixture of substances that make each strain unique. But perhaps most importantly, cannabis resin contains tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC—the stuff that gets you stoned.
Why Does Cannabis Resin Exist?
Though humans harvest cannabis resin because of its effects, the cannabis plant produces resin for a different reason entirely.
Just as a cactus grows thorns to protect itself, the cannabis plant produces resin to do the very same. From pests to herbivores to UV sunlight, resin acts as a deterrent network that’s capable of ensuring the cannabis plant remains healthy. However, the plant can also utilize resin to attract beneficial insects and pollinators as well, thus ensuring this stationary plant can engage with the outside world.
Cannabis Resin: How It’s Made
Ah, the answer you’ve been waiting for. We’ve come to understand the importance of cannabis resin and why it’s produced in the first place, so let’s discuss how we harvest resin from this magical herb.
Products that contain cannabis resin are known as concentrates, meaning they consist of concentrated cannabis resin that has been stripped from the plant for consumption. Cannabis resin can be harvested in many ways to produce different concentrates, but today, we’ll focus on three popular ways: butane hash oil, live resin, and rosin.
Butane Hash Oil
Butane hash oil (BHO) is the most common and popular cannabis concentrate on the market today. Made by using butane as a solvent to remove trichome resin from the plant, BHO is a rather pure resin, but it also degrades many of the beneficial terpenes we crave along the way. Because its potent effects come on almost immediately, BHO is most often used in dabs.
The chief complaint amongst concentrate users is the saddening reality that terpenes and other compounds often degrade when the cannabis plant is dried and cut. When we process the plant to make concentrates with solvents (as with BHO), even more of those terpenes are lost along the way that render the final product less palatable.
The solution to this dilemma takes shape in the form of live resin. To stop the degradation of terpenes, the cannabis plant is flash frozen immediately after harvest. From there, subcritical temperatures are maintained throughout the extraction process ensuring terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids are preserved, keeping the plant tasty and the high more natural. It should be noted that live resin is still made using a solvent (so degradation will still occur), but this will take place in lesser amounts than BHO.
Rosin is one of the simplest means to produce concentrates because it doesn’t require the use of a solvent. Instead, rosin is simply made by applying heat and pressure to the dried cannabis plant that causes the trichomes to melt. These can then be scraped onto a different surface for use.
Find the Right Cannabis Concentrate For You
The benefits that come from smoking cannabis concentrates over your typical flower are plentiful. From precise dosing to refined flavors, concentrates offer an immediate high and a taste that is incomparable. Consider setting yourself up with some tools designed specifically for dabbing and enjoy this modern means of getting high. If you’ve never experimented with concentrates before, take things slow and voice any concerns you may have to a licensed budtender. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself thoroughly enjoying this modern cannabis consumption method.