IMG_9362There 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.

The Basics of Terpenes & Material Preservation

The cannabis plant’s smells and flavors are created by naturally occurring terpenes. Terpenes are a large group of volatile, unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants. In the case of cannabis, terpenes contribute to thousands of diverse smells and flavors.

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.

Because terpenes are so essential to making professional extract, it is very important that the material preparation process has terpene preservation top of mind. In order to get the largest diversity of terpenes, it should be noted to use the whole plant while excluding its low cannabinoid containing parts (fan leaves, stems, and roots).

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.

Freeze It! Live Resin Makes Better Concentrate

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.

If you can’t immediately begin the extraction process upon freezing, keep in mind that frozen plant material will still result in a better extract than starting from dried leaf. Freezing stops the metabolic process and prevents degradation of the plant material. In the same way you would buy frozen fruit from the grocery store or freeze all types of food for later consumption, the cannabis plant’s “freshness” is preserved for a much greater period of time than at room temperature or in a refrigerator.

Frozen Input Material is Better for the Extraction Process

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.

Factors to Consider

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:

  • Store plant material for live resin in a deep freezer at -10°F or below until ready to extract
  • Run the material as soon as possible, preferably within less than 36 hours after frozen
  • Use chilled solvent to pass over your material (use only a certified closed-loop extractor suitable for such low temperatures)
  • Use only top-quality frozen whole plants including flowers and sugar leaf (exclude fan leaves, stems and roots). Avoid aged or dried material.

Take Away: As a general rule, freeze the plant upon harvesting and directly extract the frozen material.

IMG_9364Historical Note/Attribution: The invention of live resin is attributed to a grower named William “Kind Bill” Fenger, a Colorado native who specialized in cannabinoid extractions since 1980, and who directed the first legal crop exclusively dedicated to the production of marijuana concentrates in 2010. Soon thereafter, he had the idea of extracting cannabinoids from fresh plant material using butane. He then named the resulting product “Live Resin”. Ultimately, Kind Bill became a user of the Precision® PX1 extractor for his live resin line of concentrates.