The Difference Between Live Resin and Distillate
Updated: May 31
Before legalization, you’d be considered lucky to come across cannabis oil. Now, not only are cannabis extracts widely available but there are over a dozen different types to choose from. Two concentrates that have become popular go-to's are live resin and distillate. Both are similar in nature, but also have many differences.
Continue reading to gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences between live resin and distillate. You can also head to one of our Washington dispensaries or give us a call to ask one of our knowledgeable budtenders any questions you may have about these products.
Live Resin vs. Distillate
Live resin and distillate are similar because they are both extracts of cannabis flower. However, the differences lie in the extraction methods, type of flower used, cannabinoid and terpene content, flavors and aromas, appearance, and more. To better understand the differences, it is first important to understand what exactly each of these concentrates is.
Image via Dabstract
Live resin is one of the most beloved cannabis concentrates due to the high preservation of terpenes during the extraction process, giving it strong flavors and aromas. The rich terpene profile may also result in a more complex and powerful high as well as more therapeutic benefits.
What makes live resin special is the live component. This means that the concentrate is extracted from fresh frozen flower, which is cannabis that is frozen immediately after harvest to preserve freshness until the extraction process. Fresh frozen flower skips the drying, curing, and trimming phases, all of which can have a devastating impact on the plant’s trichomes. The gentler process does a great job at preserving the plant’s terpenes, flavor, aroma, potency, and effects.
Live resin is not solventless. This concentrate is extracted from cannabis buds using butane or propane. However, this doesn’t affect the flavor, quality, or experience.
Live resin’s consistency sits between looser concentrates like sauce and distillate and more solid extracts like wax and rosin, and can sometimes be thicker and chunky with a crystally texture. It can range from a light yellow or orange to a golden-brown or tan color.
Because of its soft taffy consistency and strong flavor, live resin is often used in vape cartridges. It can also be found on its own and in edibles. Though to use in edibles, it must first be decarboxylated, aka decarbed or activated.
Image via Hellavated
Distillate is a highly desirable concentrate because of its high potency and versatility. However, distillate lacks the strong flavor, taste, and aroma that is found in live resin and other concentrates. But where it’s lacking is made up for in its potency and range of uses.
To make distillate, raw cannabis goes through a series of extraction and purification processes that removes all of the undesirable plant matter, resulting in an ultra-refined, nearly pure cannabis extract. Cannabis distillate can contain up to 98% cannabinoids, while undistilled extracts are typically around 60-80%. Further, it is commonly extracted with butane or CO2.
Cannabis distillate is typically a bold, translucent golden color with a smooth and runny consistency. It can be vaporized, dabbed, smoked, eaten, or used topically, which often makes it the go-to choice when creating vape cartridges, edibles, and topicals. Distillate is also commonly found in syringes, which can be used to dab, eat, or refill cartridges.
The main difference between distillate and other concentrates is that it’s already activated so it can be cooked with or eaten without having to decarb it first.
Summary: Differences & Similarities Between Live Resin and Distillate
Now that you have a grasp on what each concentrate is, let’s summarize the main similarities and differences between live resin and distillate.
Live resin and distillate are both oil extracts of cannabis.
Both concentrates can be vaporized, dabbed, or smoked and can be used in edibles, topicals, and other products.
Both are often used in vape cartridges and edibles.
Distillate and live resin are both extracted using solvents.
Live resin is made with fresh frozen flower, while distillate is not.
Live resin has a strong flavor and aroma due to its high terpene content, while distillate has a low terpene content resulting in weak flavors and aromas.
Distillate is already activated and does not need to be decarboxylated before consuming as an edible, while live resin needs to be decarbed first.
Consistency and textures vary.
Where to Find Live Resin and Distillate
Both live resin and distillate can be found at the majority of legal cannabis dispensaries. However, if you’re in Washington State, specifically near Seattle, you can find a large selection of concentrates at The Reef. If you still can’t decide which to choose after reading this, one of our budtenders can lend a recommendation and answer any questions you have.