New extract trends in the cannabis industry are bound to crop up from time to time, and yet they’re still just a dime a dozen. New products often require years of research and development (R&D), in addition to trial and error testing, before they’re consistent enough for a viable, and scalable, business model.
Simply put: you do not want to be doing R&D on your vendor’s dime.
One of the newer crazes has been “live resin” which started to hit the scene between 2011 to 2013 (Leafly). Live resin extraction actually begins with the harvest, where the marijuana plant is “flash frozen” after being cut. This means that the plant does not hang dry, or cure, for any extended period of time.
Drying and curing are processes that wick away moisture and allow a slow chemical process to take place that changes the composition and terpene profile of the bud itself.
Since live resin buds are flash frozen before being dried or cured, they will contain the unpleasant, grassy tasting terpene known as “phytol” (Medicine Box 2018). That lawn-clipping taste and smell comes from ammonia, which is a natural side effect of chlorophyll decomposition.
According to the Medicine Box article, “Terpene Spotlight: Phytol,” phytol is a “by-product of chlorophyll breaking down and a precursor to both vitamin E and vitamin K” (Medicine Box 2018). Sacrificing product quality, consistency and scalability for the niche connoisseur consumer markets is certainly a noble cause, but it does not offer the best return on investment (ROI).
While other extraction techniques work, there are obvious pros and cons to each. Ethanol and butane extraction offer the cheapest equipment start-up prices, but require inflated budgets when it comes to infrastructure costs.
Scalability and efficiency are CO2’s strongest suits, while ethanol and butane methods struggle to keep up the more you scale. Not to mention, ethanol’s 16 different fire, electrical and safety code inspections can be costly; for example:
As far as live resin extraction goes, raw THC-A wants to break down to THC, which can create shelf life issues. So, the more you live resin product you plan to have, and store over longer periods of time, the more problems you will encounter.
Sourcing freshly harvested marijuana plants and freezing them right away becomes the responsibility of the grower or purchaser, which means you’re going to need some honest cultivators or a fleet freezer trucks.
If you want a clean and consistent product, without the funky fresh-cut grass taste and smell, then you should probably look into CO2 extraction. This is especially true if you value high THC percentage products.
CO2 oil will have over 80-90% THC potency compared to the “high teens" percentage of live resin (now slightly less than 80% THC), according to the article, “The Truth About Terp Sauce and Live Resin,” by Royal Queen Seeds - Cannabis Blog.
The process of supercritical CO2 extraction uses the clean and green solvent carbon dioxide to extract up to 99% of a strains cannabinoid content that comes from dried, cured and decarboxylated trim. The volatile terpenes, that affect product quality and shelf life as they degrade and escape, can be added into the concentrates down the manufacturing line. Reintroducing terpenes during post-processing allows for more control over your end products.
In a commodity industry where everyone’s striving for consistency and efficiency - do you really want to roll the dice on your ROI with new extract trends?
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Bennet, Patrick. “What Are Live Resin Cannabis Concentrates?” Leafly. Website: https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-live-resin-cannabis-concentrate
Medicine Box. “Terpene Spotlight: Phytol.” Medicine Box: 30 January 2018. Website: http://medicinebox.green/2018/01/terpene-spotlight-phytol/
Royal Queen Seeds. “The Truth About Terp Sauce and Live Resin.” Royal Queen Seeds - Cannabis Blog: 10 May 2018. Website: https://www.royalqueenseeds.com/blog-the-truth-about-terp-sauce-and-live-resin-n869