Most extraction companies have heard of, and many have integrated, a process called “live resin”. Simply put, live resin involves freezing freshly trimmed cannabis and, upon becoming frozen in about 24 – 36 hours, immediately thereafter extracting the material. This process is designed to preserve terpenes and prevent the aforementioned drying, oxidation, and heat that degrade terpenes. The result? Almost always a superior extract.
There are many facets to creating award winning cannabis concentrates. This article explores the basics of material preservation and its effect on producing high quality extracts.
Frozen Input Material is Better for the Extraction Process
Making great concentrates from live resin, unique to your extraction operation, is ultimately a process of trial and error that is strain, temperature and pressure dependent. However, there are some key variables to consider that can help produce and preserve a top-notch product free of chlorophyll, moisture and most lipids:
Freeze It! Live Resin Makes Better Concentrate
The retention of terpenes is also a crucial part of any hemp or cannabis extraction process as it contributes to not only flavor and smell, but also its pharmacological effects.
Freezing plant material not only contributes to terpene preservation, but also helps to lock out the water soluble components of the plant cellular structure from being extracted. Moisture present in the cannabis buds can impede butane to act as a solvent. This is why, even those processors that run cured or dried material, still opt to freeze it before processing it though an extraction machine.
In the ideal situation, you want to completely preserve the original essence of the plant. Things like drying, oxidation and heat degrade the natural smells and flavors of the plant. Aged material that has been stored and stockpiled by growers often lacks luster in the terpene department. Hence, you want to avoid such material degradation in your professional extraction process.
Take Away: As a general rule, freeze the plant upon harvesting and directly extract the frozen material.
Live resin extraction involves freezing freshly trimmed cannabis, then immediately processing the frozen material in an extraction machine.
While you may not have the capacity to purge your extract with an inert gas (e.g. dried CO2 gas), you do have the ability to extract at room temperature and pull a full vacuum, assuming you have a vacuum chamber. The boiling point of butane is -0.5C at standard atmospheric pressure (1 bar/1 atm/14.5 PSI). When you pull a vacuum, you reduce the boiling point, and a major factor becomes time. Give an extract enough time at room temperature while under vacuum, and you’ll be able to pull off all the butane while preserving terpenes.
This is a simple step that few extraction artists I’ve spoken to take advantage of. If there’s one thing that helps the extraction process, it’s this. If you don’t dehydrate your butane, you increase the chances of there being blockages in the column or even your braided stainless steel hoses caused by freezing water. In addition, it improves the extraction efficiency because water will change up the solubility properties of the butane.
Whether you’ve chosen to run fresh frozen, dry your buds to the point before curing, or cure your buds, you’re going to benefit from freezing them before extracting. This equilibrates the temperature of the buds to the temperature of the butane, and reduces the amount of plant waxes pulled during an extraction. In step 3, you’re going to freeze your butane. Now imagine this mass of buds packed into your column, and both the buds and the column are at room temperature. Now imagine that -50C butane rifling into the column and hitting buds and stainless steel that are at a warm 20C…
This is perhaps the simplest step to take to improve your extractions. If you’re going to take any steps towards making live resin, freeze your plant materials, column, and butane. You don’t necessarily have to dehydrate your butane, but if you take steps 2 and 3 into account, you’ll certainly improve your product.
While you may not have dry ice on hand, you do likely have ice on hand just for the sake of recovering your butane. Take the time to submerge your recovery cylinder in an ice bath. That ice bath can be dry ice with denatured alcohol, or it can just be ice, salt, and water. Either way, this step will reduce the amount of waxes that are butane soluble by reducing temperature.
Hands down, putting 3A molecular sieves in-line on the low pressure side of your recovery pump will improve your extraction efficiency. It’s not hard to do, and it will improve your process and end product.
While it’ll be different for every situation (elevation, room temperature, quality of vacuum), 5 days at room temperature with a full vacuum will purge out your butane and leave you with a terpene rich extract. For smokable forms, I always suggest having a residual solvents test run by your local testing facility to make sure that you’re below the threshold for butane.
So what is a bare bones method to making live resin? Well, just about any extractor can be made to meet the minimum standards of a terpene rich extract. Whether you’re trying to go with fresh frozen material, or material that is just about ready to start curing, you can do your best to preserve terpenes and minimize the amount of plant waxes that are extracted. I’ll keep this post short, since most of this information is covered in other posts.
These four steps will take you well on your way to higher quality extracts that preserve terpenes. If you can start working in this direction you’ll be using the trade secrets that some of the best extraction artists use day in and day out. Best of luck and enjoy those terpenes!
How to make live resin hash oil extracts So what is a bare bones method to making live resin? Well, just about any extractor can be made to meet the minimum standards of a terpene rich extract.