What’s the Difference Between THC Live Resin & Distillate?

What's the Difference Between THC Live Resin & Distillate?

It’s hard to keep up with the ever-changing lingo of the cannabis industry. This is especially true when it comes to the various extraction methods used for vape and dab concentrates. You’ve probably heard the terms live resin and distillate thrown around, but we don’t blame you if you don’t yet understand the difference. 

These two terms refer to different ways THC is extracted. Fresh frozen live resin is produced by freezing and then processing fresh live flower to maintain all plant compounds. On the other hand, distillates use heat to extract the desired cannabinoids and produce only THC. 

Continue reading to educate yourself on the two extraction methods and how to decide which one is right for you.  

What is True THC Live Resin?

Live resin refers to an extraction technique where the fresh flower is frozen. The plant is chopped in the field at peak bloom, then it is immediately frozen to lock in all of the beneficial plant compounds.

This process preserves the trichomes and all the various terpenes and cannabinoids within the flower. These trichomes are where a majority of THC, terpenes, and additional cannabinoids are stored. From there, manufacturers use natural butane to separate the oil from the plant matter. The result, a waxy potent concentrate. 

The History of Live Resin

The live resin process rose to popularity due to the fact that this form of extraction leaves all of the original terpenes intact. These terpenes activate and burn off in even moderate temperatures, which is why freezing the flower before extracting is so important. This also means that for an extract to be a true ‘live resin’ you should never need to add in any additional terpenes.

If you want a true-to-the-strain extract experience, live resin concentrates are your best bet. This is something cannabis connoisseurs agree on across the board. 

All Live Resin Isn’t Created Equal 

Something to keep in mind is that not all products marketed as ‘live resin’ are true live resin. For example, some live resin products are marketed as ‘refined’ live resin, or just contain the word ‘LIVE’. We aren’t sure what process is used to create products with this kind of labeling, but we’re not convinced it is 100% live resin. Another form of concentrate you can find is ‘cured live resin’ which comes from plant matter that has been dried out. This tastes worse than live resin and is usually listed at lower prices.

What is THC Distillate? 

Unlike the BHO process of live resin, distillate strips the plant of everything besides THC. In this refinement process, the terpenes and flavonoids of the original plant are destroyed.  Because those terpenes are removed – the end result is a pure concentrate that is potent and high in THC, but is tasteless and odorless. So brands using distillate often add terpenes into the distillate to give it a taste. 

There are two categories of terpenes – botanically-derived terpenes & cannabis-derived terpenes. Botanically-derived terpenes originate from plants, (non-cannabis plants). Cannabis-derived terpenes are from cannabis. With botanically derived terpenes, it’s impossible to achieve the exact flavor profile from the original fresh flower. But these terpenes cost less because non-cannabis plants are less expensive to grow. This results in a cheaper price but a less authentic experience.

Some enjoy the manufactured taste of botanical terpenes. Users looking to get a similar experience to smoking fresh flower tend to prefer live resin extract. Distillate concentrates will indeed get you very high, but you’ll miss out on the benefits of the full spectrum of plant chemicals. This idea that the terpenes and various cannabinoids influence your overall high and experience with cannabis is called the entourage effect

From a mass-production perspective, distillate is much cheaper to process because it is often made from cannabis trim (the leftovers after trimming a bud). If you saw what most distillate products are made of, you probably wouldn’t buy them anymore. 

What is the Entourage Effect? 

According to Healthline, “The entourage effect is the process through which cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis are thought to interact with each other as well as with your brain’s receptors.” More specifically, it is believed that when all cannabis plant compounds are taken together, you receive a better effect than when THC is isolated and taken on its own.

To better understand the entourage effect, it’s important to have some knowledge of what terpenes do. Cannabis terpenes are aromatic oils that give weed its distinctive flavor and scent profiles. Beyond that, new research shows that terpenes play an important role in differentiating the effects of different strains. 

However, we can’t just stop at terpenes. The cannabis plant also hosts a range of flavonoids as well as cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, CBD, and CBC. When you take a puff from a full-spectrum live resin extract, all of these various plant chemicals interact with each other as well as with your own receptors to give you the entourage effect. 

It’s important to note that consuming terpenes alone will not produce a high. 

Are URSA Live Resin Carts 100% Live Resin?

Live Resin Cartridges from URSA, are true-to-strain and 100% live resin. The beauty of this premium live resin concentrate is its combination of original plant terpenes and potent THC diamonds for a robust and full-bodied high. You can find this golden diamond saucy goodness in all of URSA’s Live Resin Carts. 

The advanced preservation of terpenes and diamonds in the carts will dazzle your senses with an authentic high. That’s because the oil always comes from the specific strain listed on the package. This allows you to experience an entourage effect the way the plant intended. 

The characteristic feature in the fresh frozen process of Live Resin extraction is the ability to capture all of the plant’s chemical compounds at peak freshness. That means plants aren’t dried or cured at all prior to extraction. Rather, live resin needs to be flash-frozen at peak freshness prior to extraction. 

How to Choose Between a Live Resin Cart and Distillate? 

We may be biased, but we believe Live Resin Carts are well worth their premium reputation.

The biggest difference between the two extraction methods is that URSA’s 100% Live Resin Carts keep the terpenes and various plant compounds intact. On the other hand, a distillate cart contains just the distilled pure THC extract.

If you want the closest experience to smoking fresh flower, live resin is the way to go. If you don’t like the natural tastes or want a higher potency, a URSA STRATOS cartridge may be the way to go. Made solely from top-grade THCa diamonds, a URSA Stratos cart offers THC levels above 80% without any added distillates. 

Some prefer to choose their concentrates like a college student chooses their alcohol, which is the higher the percentage the better. When it comes to cannabis, the THC ratio doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. This is, once again, due to the entourage effect. People often think distillates make you more stoned, but a live resin extract with lower THC levels may just provide a more intense high than an extremely concentrated distillate. 


Hopefully, you now understand the basic differences between these two THC extraction methods. Next time you visit the dispensary remember that fresh frozen live resin is considered the ‘higher end’ concentrate despite lower THC numbers than distillate. A live resin concentrate gives you pungent terpene flavors along with the amplified potency that comes along with full-spectrum products. If you’re looking for a more flavorful, lively, and potently pungent high…URSA has you covered. Check out our fresh selection of Live Resin Cartridges and dabbable goods on weedmaps. 



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