Live Resin Vs. Distillate - What’s The Difference?

Live Resin Vs. Distillate - What’s The Difference?

Live resin and distillate are both cannabis concentrates, but the way they are made is quite different. There are a few differences between the two, but the main one to call out is that live resins keep most of the plant’s terpenes and cannabinoids. Distillates, on the other hand, have a high percentage of cannabinoids, mainly THC. 

Read on to learn all the ways that live resin and distillate are different and who each version is best for. 

What is live resin?

Live resin is a cannabis concentrate that encapsulates the plant at its freshest. It’s made by flash-freezing the cannabis plant when it’s fresh to preserve the natural cannabinoids, terpenes, aroma, trichomes, flavor, and potency of the cannabis flower.

Live resin is usually sticky and viscous, making it perfect for vaping or dabbing. An added benefit of live resin is that it’s often fragrant, flavorful and packed with THC (so it’s quite strong.)

How it’s made

Live resin is made when farmers flash-freeze fresh cannabis plants immediately after harvest. They’re typically frozen at about 10 degrees Fahrenheit, which is crucial for retaining the plant’s chemical profile. 

After 1-2 days, the frozen cannabis flowers are put through a hydrocarbon extraction machine to squeeze the compounds out of the plant. Manufacturers typically use butane and propane because they’re quite good at preserving terpenes through the manufacturing process. While these may be some pretty serious chemicals, processors make sure to remove any residuals before moving to the next stage of the process. 

The extract is purified before going through its final processing stage, which results in the final live resin product. At this stage, some manufacturers will whip the product into a smooth mixture known as “budder or badder.” However, many leave it in its original form, a wet, sugary consistency. 

How it’s used

Live resin concentrates can be used in a few different ways, like smoking and vaping. Here’s a couple of options for using live cannabis resin:

Vape pens

Vaping live resin concentrates is one of the easiest consumption options. Vape pens are lightweight, easy to transport, and discrete. Plus, they allow you to take smaller hits and control your dosage, which is super helpful since live resin tends to be high in THC. Choose a high-quality vape pen, like Vessel, that has low-temperature settings so you can preserve all of those precious terpenes.

Dab rigs

Smoking live resin out of a dab rig is known as “dabbing,” and it’s one of the most popular ways to consume live resin cannabis concentrates. If you’ve ever used a water bong, then using a dab rig will be similar. The difference is that a water bong uses high heat, whereas dab rigs are designed to vaporize thick concentrates without excessive heat. 

Joints and bowls

Vaping and dabbing are, by far, the best ways to use live resin. However, many people add live resin to their dry herb in a bowl or joint. This gives each hit an extra punch of flavor, aroma, and THC. 

What is distillate?

A cannabis distillate is a concentrate that contains a potent cannabinoid. A few examples of one of these cannabinoids would be THC, CBG, CBD, or CBN. Distillates are made from dried, cured plants vs the freshly frozen plants of live resin. This is done using high heat, which degrades the terpenes, but preserving them isn’t the goal. Cannabis distillates usually contain around 90% potency. 

How it’s made

There are a couple of steps involved in making cannabis distillate - we’ll run through them now.


Cannabis that is grown for distillate production is typically picked and then dried by hanging them upside down or laying them out on racks. Farmers will then cure the dried plant using airtight contains to get rid of bacteria and help the cannabinoids stabilize. 


Once the cannabis is dried, processors will use chemicals like butane, ethanol, and propane to extract the cannabinoids from the plant. 


Next is the winterization phase, which uses cold temperatures to filter out plant compounds that don’t bring any benefit (like sugars and chlorophyll.) This filtration process also removes any leftover chemicals used in the extraction process above. 


This step involves heating the mixture to make certain cannabinoids more potent, like THC, for example. 


This final step is when processors distill the mixture down to its final form. It heats and cools the mixture to remove any residual chemicals. 

How it’s used

You can consume cannabis distillate with dab rigs or add it to cannabis joints or bowls. Vaping distillates is easy, too!

Live Resin Vs. Distillate 

Live resin and distillate are quite similar, but the way they’re made is different. Another main differentiator between distillate and live resin is that distillate is created to provide a high potency of a certain cannabinoid, like THC, while live resin includes more of the cannabis compounds like trichomes and terpenes. 



How it’s made

How to use

Best for

Live Resin

A cannabis concentrate containing extra plant materials like terpenes and trichomes

A freezing process and then a hydrocarbon extraction to preserves terpenes

Dab rigs, vape pens, joints, bowls

Experiencing more flavor, fragrance, and additional cannabinoids and terpenes

Cannabis Distillate

A cannabis concentrate distilled down to a high potency of a cannabinoid (like THC)

A process of drying, extracting, winterization, decarboxylation, and extraction

Dab rigs, vape pens, joints, bowls

Experiencing a super high potency of certain cannabinoids like THC or CBD

Key differences of distillate vs live resin

Let’s really dig into the main differences between live resin and distillates. 


The THC content of live resin ranges from 40% to 90% and is often quite high in CBD. On the other hand, cannabis distillates are much higher in cannabinoids, like THC, at a range of 90% to 99%.


Live resin contains up to 12% terpenes, while cannabis distillates have hardly any terpenes at all. 


Live resin offers an experience that’s similar to cannabis flower. While live resin is more potent, it offers a similar fragrance and taste to cannabis flower. Distillates are more intense than live resin or cannabis flower because they are distilled down to a very high potency. 


Live resin is much more versatile than distillate. It comes in some of the following forms:

  • Shatter
  • Badder
  • Butter
  • Crumble
  • Vape oil
  • Sauce
  • Sugar

Distillate has less options, but comes in the following forms:

  • Topicals
  • Edibles
  • Suppositories
  • Beverages

Live resin vs distillate edibles: What’s the difference?

The difference between these cannabis concentrate edibles is the same as the core differences we covered above. Live resin edibles will offer a well-rounded cannabis profile with terpenes and trichomes, while a distillate edible will be more potent. You may find more options for distillate edibles vs. live resin edibles. 

Live resin vs distillate cartridges: What’s the difference?

Live resin and distillate vape cartridges will provide different experiences based on the core differences we discussed earlier. Live resin vapes will offer well-rounded cannabis experiences with terpenes and trichomes, while distillate cartridges will be more potent. You may have an easier time finding live resin vape cartridges vs. distillates. 

To sum it up

Live resin and distillate are both cannabis concentrates that provide a stronger, more potent experience than cannabis flower. Live resin is made in a way that preserves a lot of the cannabis plant, like terpenes, trichomes, and a variety of cannabinoids. Cannabis distillate is made in a way that strips the extract down to just one very potent cannabinoid, like THC. The one that is best for you depends on the experience you’re looking for. 


Is live resin better than distillate?

It depends on what you're using it for. Live resin is better for someone who wants to experience a wide range of cannabis benefits, including terpenes, trichomes, flavors, and cannabinoids. Distillate may be better for someone who wants the highest potency of a certain cannabinoid, like THC or CBD. 

Are live resin carts healthier?

Not necessarily. There’s no way to say which option is healthier. However, live resin carts do contain more trichomes, terpenes, and cannabinoids, which may have extra health benefits.

Why is live resin more expensive?

Live resin is typically more expensive because the process to make it is quite labor-intensive. 

Do live resin vapes smell?

Yes. Live resin vapes contain many of the plant’s terpenes, so you’ll get a strong smell that is similar to cannabis flower. 

Live resin vs distillate - which gets you higher?

Distillate will typically get you higher because it has very high potency levels of cannabinoids, like THC.

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