Live Resin vs Distillate: What’s the Difference?

Have you been curious about cannabis concentrates—but not known where to start?

We’ve written before about concentrates, the class of cannabis products that offer unparalleled potency and some truly mind-bending flavors. But if you’ve ever visited on of our dispensaries, you already know that concentrates can take a seemingly dizzying array of forms, ranging from wax to shatter to budder to rosin to resin and beyond. Where do you even begin?

Let us help. In today’s post, we will focus on live resin and distillate, two of the concentrates most sought after by our customers. Some of the questions we’ll tackle include:

  • What’s the difference between live resin and distillate?
  • How are live resin and distillate made?
  • What are some effects and potential benefits of live resin vs distillate?
  • Is live resin better than distillate? How do I choose?

By the end, you should know exactly how (and why!) to choose between live resin and distillate so you can feel confident about stepping into the bold new world of cannabis concentrates!

Distillate vs Live Resin: How They’re Made

In one sense, concentrates aren’t that mysterious. As a family of highly condensed cannabis products, they include everything from hashish—an ancient and legendary product with a mystique all its own—to the budder, shatter, and other forms many of us enjoy in high-tech dabbing rigs today.

All of them are made by extracting and then concentrating cannabinoids such as THC and CBD into a potent and shelf-stable format.

How Distillate Is Made

Distillate is a specific type of concentrate that comes in a liquid form. It’s produced by exposing cannabis to solvents that extract the active cannabinoids, leaving a relatively flavorless but highly potent concentrate. Cannabinoids, of course, are the family of compounds including THC and CBD, the two most important and medically active compounds found in the cannabis plant.

Because everything but the cannabinoids have been removed, distillate is a highly focused product calibrated to deliver potent, reliable effects and nothing more. That’s one reason it’s particularly popular among medical cannabis users or anyone who wants a simple, predictable, and fast-acting form of cannabis concentrate.

How Live Resin Is Made

Live resin superficially resembles distillate, frequently appearing as a liquid or semi-liquid form ranging from pale yellow to nearly white. But if it delivers lightly lower potency, it makes up for it in flavor. Because live resin is made from just-picked, flash-frozen cannabis, it preserves far more of the flavorful terpenes that give each strain its distinctive aromatic and flavor characteristics.

While terpenes are most often associated with fragrance and flavor, there’s far more to the story than meets the eye (or is that the nose?). As clinical research suggests, terpenes impart very real benefits, from the anti-inflammatory action of caryophyllene to the way limonene imparts subtle but lasting anti-anxiety and anti-stress effects.

All that said, if you’re interested in experiencing the power of terpenes for yourself, there’s no more potent way than with live resin. Even if you’ve had flower as fresh as the varieties we stock, it simply can’t compare with live resin’s “otherworldly” terpene content and flavors.

Live Resin vs Distillate: Consumption, Benefits, and Uses

Either style of concentrate is great at delivering cannabinoids to the body quickly and efficiently; the question is what you’re planning to use them for (and how you plan to access them). In our experience, the main difference between live resin and distillate breaks down along the question of consumption method, flavor, and the potential benefits of full-spectrum products.

Consumption Methods

Let’s begin with consumption methods. Concentrates such as live resin are typically consumed using a dab rig or purpose-made concentrate vaporizer. The dab rig is a topic unto itself, a specialized tool for consuming cannabis concentrates such as live resin. While it’s not hugely challenging, it does demand a little instruction and practice. Pro tip: Ask any of the friendly budtenders at our family of dispensaries for guidance.

By way of comparison, distillate is typically meant to be consumed on its own as a tincture, it’s often included in cannabis edibles as a simple way to add pure cannabinoids without a strong weed flavor, and it’s also often used in vape cartridges alongside additional terpenes added back for flavor.


If distillate is so pure, what does live resin contain that distillate doesn’t? If you’re interested in how cannabis partners with the body, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the phrase “full-spectrum” before. In this case, what it means is that a given cannabis product has been made with the goal of preserving all the compounds present in the plant, from the cannabinoids to the terpenes and even tertiary compounds such as flavonoids. For some people, it’s “the only way to fly” when it comes to taking advantage of all the cannabis plant’s benefits.


Is live resin better than distillate? That all depends on what you’re planning to use it for. If you’re looking to access the entire range of cannabis compounds in a a potent and incredibly flavorful format—and you’re comfortable using a dab rig or purpose-made concentrate vaporizer—it’s hard to beat a well-made live resin.

Because distillate is designed with purity and efficiency in mind, it lacks the range of flavors and complementary compounds present in a full-spectrum product like live resin. But again, for those who just want pure cannabinoids and nothing else, distillate is a highly versatile and economical option to keep in your back pocket.

Distillate vs Live Resin Carts: Two Ways to Get Your Vape On

As we mentioned earlier, distillate is popular in the medical cannabis world, where having a relatively flavorless concentrate that delivers specific cannabinoids and nothing more is beneficial. But even if you just love cannabis for its recreational effects, here’s something you might not know: You’ve probably already tried distillate for yourself!

That’s because distillate’s most popular use is in vapes, where it’s the perfect thing for those who want a portable, shelf-stable form of cannabis. Oftentimes, distillate cartridges (or “carts”) have natural terpenes added to them to add some flavor (as well as potential medical benefits).

Speaking of vapes, because live resin is typically liquid, it’s sometimes offered in cart form as well. Why would you choose a distillate vs live resin cart? In this case, the differences are largely economic. Because live resin is produced using the special flash-freezing process we outlined earlier, it tends to be a little costlier than distillate. That said, for those who love the out-of-this-world flavors—and the knowledge that they’re consuming a full-spectrum product that preserves all the secondary and tertiary compounds present in cannabis—live resin is typically the more popular choice.

Both Distillate and Live Resin Are High Potency and High Impact

In one sense, both distillate and live resin serve similar functions. Distillate is designed to deliver cannabinoids quickly and reliably, while live resin delivers lower potency but unprecedented flavor. How potent are we talking? Distillate potencies frequently top 90%, while live resin potency is more commonly seen in the 70 – 80% range. By comparison, the most potent cannabis strains top out in the low 30% THC range.

So here’s something to consider: Cannabis concentrates aren’t for everyone. Because they contain such high levels of THC, they demand caution and should be used with care. While it’s essentially impossible to “overdose” on THC, the side effects of overindulging are real, and they could include things like:

  • Anxiety
  • Altered senses and perceptions
  • Altered sense of time
  • Impaired memory

Especially if you’re using a sophisticated tool such as a dabbing rig for the first time, use the minimum amount of cannabis concentrate possible and wait at least ten minutes between doses. Remember: You can always have more cannabis later, but you can’t have less!

Live Resin vs Distillate: Wrapping It All Up

At the end of the day, is live resin “better” than distillate? Again, that’s really a question of personal preference.

If maximum potency, purity, and consistency are your goals, going with distillate is a simple and reliable way to access the medical benefits of cannabinoids.

While live resins deliver slightly less potency than distillate, their many fans insist they more than make up for it with their incredible terpene content and flavor. If you’re looking for a concentrate that includes the broadest possible spectrum of cannabis compounds, it’s hard to beat live resin.

Are you interested in trying distillate or live resin for yourself? We’d love to help! Start by choosing the dispensary closest to you to find an incredible selection of all types of cannabis concentrates, ranging from distillate and live resin to hash, shatter, wax, diamonds, badder, and beyond. Better yet, we invite you to visit any of our locations and ask your friendly budtender for more information on the difference between live resin and distillate. We hope to see you soon!