When walking into any dispensary, you're greeted with nearly limitless vaping options. Among all the choices, two types of oil are the most abundant—live resin, and predominantly distillate.
For beginners, it can be tricky to know which is the right choice. Now you might be thinking—they're both cannabis concentrates, so they must be almost the same thing if they’re both in a cart!
However, there are some pretty significant differences between live resin and distillate.
One thing is certain—both types will likely provide you with a fantastic experience, yet both have unique properties that keep people coming back for more.
We'll tell you all about the differences when it comes to live resin vs distillate, how they're both made, and which type of oil may be right for you. Read on!
What Are Cannabis Concentrates?
If you've never had cannabis concentrates or extracts before, then you're in for a real treat. These products are much more potent and longer-lasting than most other cannabis products.
On average, extracts are often two to three times more potent than dry herbs.
Concentrates are so powerful because, as their name implies, they're a concentrated form of cannabis. The thing is, concentrates must be created from a process called extraction.
Basically, extraction strips away all the excess plant material and keeps only the desirable compounds like terpenes, and cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBG, etc.
However, there are many different ways to make extracts, which results in many different types of products. Most of the time, the end result is an amber-colored cannabis oil that's chock full of cannabinoids.
Some extracts will be more flavorful and have a diverse range of cannabinoids, while others are focused on raw potency.
The most popular types of cannabis concentrates that you'll find in dispensaries are cannabis oils packaged into vape cartridges. They are an easy choice over conventional concentrates meant for dabbing (like shatter, crumble, sugar, badder, etc.) because they're powerful, economical, discreet, and easy to use.
Among other cannabis vape oils, you'll find that live resin cartridges and distillate cartridges dominate the selection. There are definitely a few differences when it comes to distillate vs live resin, but don’t fret, we assure you we will make them clear!
What Is Distillate?
Distillates are highly refined and pure cannabis oils. You can think of distillate as high-octane jet fuel compared to the gas you find at the gas station.
That means that most distillates are incredibly potent. In fact, many THC distillates push the 95% THC range—making them almost pure THC.
Most of the time, distillates are composed of mostly THC, with a lower quantity of other cannabinoids, and terpenes reintroduced for flavor/effect. A raw THC distillate will only contain THC and nothing else.
Distillate Extraction Process
Since distillates are more refined, they have a much more complex extraction process. Distillates start with cannabis plants that have already been dried and cured or concentrates that have been winterized and dewaxed.
The cannabinoids are then extracted using a solvent—usually CO2 or ethanol. This initial extraction takes place at high temperatures and pressures.
The oil from this extraction process is already quite potent, but to become a genuine distillate, it must go through a distillation step.
Basically, a distillation apparatus heats the cannabis oil to an exact temperature depending on what cannabinoid is being focused on. The cannabinoid will evaporate from the oil and then condense back into a liquid in another container.
After distillation, the cannabis oil is extremely potent and pure.
There are definitely more steps than this, but to keep it simple we are just giving you the basics!
What Is Live Resin?
Live resins are concentrates that attempt to capture the essence of the cannabis plant. Live resins try to preserve all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
The resulting cannabis oil is tasty, has a wide variety of effects, and is powerful as well (though usually less potent than distillate in terms of THC%). Live resin is for those who want an experience closer to that of cannabis flower.
Live Resin Extraction Process
Since live resin is more like fresh-squeezed juice, extractors must start with fresh material. Once the cannabis plants are finished growing, they are immediately flash frozen.
This ensures that all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds are kept intact. Then, the plants are extracted using a solvent like CO2 or ethanol.
With live resin, the extraction process is done at lower temperatures to preserve the plant compounds. The extract can either be sold as is or refined a little further through winterization/dewaxing. Oftentimes, brands will even blend the two to get a product known as “live distillate”, “HTE”, “live terpene oil”, and other similar names.
Live Resin vs Distillate
Now that you know what's in your live resin or distillate cart, we'll go over the differences. Some of these differences might seem insignificant, but they're bigger than they appear.
The most obvious difference is the extraction process. Distillates are extracted at high temperatures and live resins are extracted at low temps.
Not only that, but distillates need more refining and usually contain mainly one cannabinoid. Live resins are less refined and contain many different compounds.
Terpenes (Taste and Smell)
Perhaps the most significant difference between each oil is the terpenes. Terpenes, or terps, are natural molecules that are responsible for the tastes and flavors your cannabis provides.
If you've ever enjoyed the scent of a pine forest or an orange peel, what you're smelling is terpenes. Any natural oil from plants is just a combination of terpenes.
The thing is, cannabis is loaded with terpenes. That's why it has such a powerful and fantastic aroma.
In distillate cartridges, terpenes are usually stripped away. However, like we mentioned previously, cartridge brands add terpenes back in to give their products a little flavor.
Live resin cartridges usually have the same flavor as the strain it was extracted from. So, if you have a granddaddy purple (GDP) live resin, it will most likely taste like GDP.
Have you ever wondered how cannabis can have so many different effects? Some strains are great for sleep, while others keep you wide awake.
All these different effects may be due to a theory called the entourage effect, which is the idea that all cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis work in synergy together.
In the theory, each compound builds on the next to create a unique combination of supportive benefits, and the composition is unique to each strain’s profile. Basically, the more cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids—the merrier, and effects will vary!
That means that live resin cartridges benefit from this effect while distillates may not because live resins contain most of the original, or "true to plant", cannabis compounds.
The fact that many cartridge brands found in dispensaries often use the word "live" as a marketing tactic can make the differentiation even more confusing. For example, cartridges that are marketed as being "live" may consist of:
100% live resin
A mix of distillate and live resin (percentages will vary by brand)
Distillate with live terpenes added
Distillate vs Live Resin: Which Is Better?
Now of course you might be wondering—which of the two is better—live resin or distillate? The answer is, of course—neither.
That's because each has its own benefits and downsides.
Live resins might be tastier, but at the same time smell like cannabis way more than conventional distillate vapes (unless they are packed with cannabis terpenes or are mixed with live resin). Cannabis odor is important for those who want to be discreet.
Or, someone might want the wide variety of effects common in live resin cartridges. Others might want the consistent experience of a distillate and not have to wonder if they'll feel energetic in the middle of the night when they aren’t expecting it.
It all comes down to personal preference, and neither is better than the other. However, the way that you vape your cannabis oil and what device you use does matter.
You should always choose live resin or distillate oils that are packaged in CCELL cartridges because they will have no problem vaping the thickest or runniest cannabis oils. Simply look for the CCELL logo on your device.
The sky's the limit once you use a CCELL cartridge, and your vaping experience will never be the same after!