Distillate vs Live Resin Cart: Unraveling the Key Differences

Distillate vs Live Resin
Table of Contents

In recent years, cannabis enthusiasts have taken an interest in exploring different ways to consume their favorite plant, with distillate and live resin cartridges emerging as popular options. 

Distillate and live resin cartridges offer a convenient and discreet way to enjoy the benefits of cannabis while also providing distinct experiences due to their unique extraction processes and nuanced differences in potency, flavor, and effects.

Distillate cartridges are made by refining cannabis oil through a complex purification process that isolates specific cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, resulting in a potent, highly concentrated product. 

This process removes most terpenes and other impurities, creating an odorless and flavorless oil ideal for those seeking a powerful yet discreet experience. 

On the other hand, live resin cartridges capture the full profile of a cannabis plant by extracting its essential oils and terpenes from freshly frozen plants. 

This method of extraction yields a more robust, flavorful, and aromatic product that closely mirrors the natural essence of the plant, making it a favorite among cannabis connoisseurs who value the sensory components of cannabis consumption.

Key Takeaways

  • Distillate cartridges offer a potent, concentrated experience while live resin cartridges provide a rich, flavorful, and aromatic profile.
  • Both options utilize unique extraction methods, resulting in different potencies, flavors, and effects.
  • Choosing the right cartridge ultimately depends on your personal preferences and desired cannabis experience.

Understanding Distillate and Live Resin

In the world of cannabis concentrates, distillate and live resin are two popular options for consumers. Both products offer unique properties and experiences, making them suitable for different preferences and purposes. 

This section provides a brief overview of distillate and live resin, highlighting the key differences and similarities between them.


Distillate, also known as cannabis distillate, is a highly refined and purified concentrate that contains a high percentage of cannabinoids, usually in the form of THC or CBD. The production process involves the use of a short path distillation technique, which separates the various compounds found in the cannabis plant through heat and pressure. The result is a clear, odorless, and tasteless viscous oil that can be consumed in various ways, such as vaporizing, dabbing, or used as an ingredient in edibles.

Distillate cannabis

Some advantages of distillate include:

  • High potency: Distillate typically boasts a very high concentration of THC or CBD, providing potent effects with minimal consumption.
  • Versatility: Due to its lack of flavor and aroma, distillate can be incorporated into a wide range of products or recipes without altering their taste.
  • Consistency: The distillation process ensures a consistent and controlled amount of cannabinoids and terpenes in each batch, making it easier to dose accurately.

Live Resin

Live resin, on the other hand, is a type of cannabis concentrate produced using a unique method that aims to preserve the aromatic and flavorful terpene profile of the cannabis plant. Unlike distillate, live resin is created by using fresh, flash-frozen cannabis buds rather than cured and dried ones. 

The extraction process typically involves a closed-loop system with a solvent, such as butane or propane, that helps to retain the full spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids found in the original plant material.

Live resin from cannabis

The main characteristics of live resin include:

  • Rich flavor and aroma: The preservation of terpenes during the extraction process leads to a concentrate that offers a more complex and authentic cannabis flavor and aroma, resulting in a more enjoyable sensory experience.
  • Full-spectrum benefits: Live resin contains a broader range of compounds, such as cannabinoids and terpenes, which can result in a more well-rounded and potentially synergistic effect, sometimes referred to as the “entourage effect.”
  • Texture: Live resin often has a more viscous and sticky consistency compared to distillate, making it suitable for dabbing or vaping.

In summary, both distillate and live resin cannabis concentrates offer unique properties and benefits. Distillate is a versatile option known for its high potency and consistency, while live resin is favored for its rich flavors and full-spectrum effects. 

Choosing between the two ultimately depends on the individual’s preferences and desired experiences.

Extraction Processes


Distillation is a common extraction method used for producing cannabis concentrates like distillate carts. This process involves using solvents such as butane, CO2, or ethanol to separate the desired cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material. 

The solvent-cannabinoid mixture is then passed through a vacuum chamber to evaporate the solvent, leaving behind a highly concentrated product1.

There are various distillation methods used in the cannabis industry, including:

  • CO2 extraction: In this method, carbon dioxide is used as the solvent to extract cannabinoids and terpenes. CO2 extraction is considered a cleaner and more efficient method compared to other solvent-based extraction methods2.
  • Ethanol extraction: This method uses ethanol as the solvent to extract desired compounds. It often requires a winterization step to remove unwanted fats, waxes, and lipids from the extracted product3.


Flash-freezing is a crucial step in the process of creating live resin carts. Unlike distillate carts, live resin is produced by flash-freezing freshly-harvested cannabis plants, preserving their full cannabinoid and terpene profile4. This involves:

Rapidly freezing the cannabis flowers immediately after harvest to lock in their natural state, skipping the traditional drying and curing process.
Utilizing a butane-based extraction method to separate the desired therapeutic compounds from the frozen plant material. This results in a higher cannabinoid content and a richer, more flavorful product.

While both distillate and live resin carts offer potent and enjoyable cannabis experiences, they differ in their extraction processes and end products. Distillation methods prioritize the isolation of specific compounds, whereas flash-freezing aims to preserve the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes naturally found in the cannabis plant.

Comparing Distillate and Live Resin Cartridges

Potency and Cannabinoid Profiles

Distillate cartridges contain highly refined cannabis oil, with a focus on increasing the concentration of THC and/or CBD. This process results in a product with a high purity level, often exceeding 90% cannabinoid content. 

On the other hand, live resin cartridges are made from fresh cannabis plants that are flash-frozen immediately post-harvest, preserving a wide range of cannabinoids and other plant compounds. 

The live resin extraction process typically results in a product containing a lower purity of THC or CBD, usually around 60-80%, but it maintains a more diverse cannabinoid and terpene profile.

Cannabinoids contribute to the therapeutic effects of cannabis, while the entourage effect is influenced by the interaction of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. This interaction may enhance the overall experience when using live resin cartridges compared to distillate cartridges.

Terpene Content and Flavor

Terpenes are responsible for the distinct aromas and flavors of cannabis strains. The heat and refining process used in the production of distillate cartridges can result in the loss of many of these terpenes, leading to a less flavorful and aromatic vaping experience.

In contrast, live resin cartridges retain a majority of their original terpene content due to the flash-freezing and extraction process. This preservation results in a more flavorful and aromatic experience that closely resembles the natural aroma and taste of the cannabis plant.

Cost and Market Availability

In general, distillate cartridges tend to be more widely available and often more affordable than live resin cartridges. The higher production cost of live resin, due to the need for specialized equipment and careful handling of fresh cannabis plants, can lead to a more expensive end product.

Additionally, distillate cartridges are more easily mass-produced, which contributes to greater market availability. However, the increasing demand for full-spectrum and flavorful cannabis experiences has led to the growth in popularity and production of live resin cartridges.

In summary, distillate cartridges offer a highly potent and purified vaping experience, while live resin cartridges provide a more diverse cannabinoid and terpene profile with enhanced flavor and aroma. Each option has its advantages and drawbacks, making the choice between distillate and live resin cartridges dependent on the individual preferences and priorities of the consumer.

Products and Consumption Methods

When it comes to cannabis concentrates, distillate and live resin are two popular options available in various forms. This section will discuss the primary consumption methods for these products, including vape carts, dabbing and concentrates, edibles, and topicals.

Vape Carts

Vape carts, or vaporizer cartridges, are pre-filled containers with cannabis concentrate that can be attached to a vaporizer battery for easy and discreet vaping. Both distillate and live resin can be used in vape carts.

honeyroot wellness d8 cartridge pineapple kush
Distillate carts contain highly refined cannabis oil that has been stripped of impurities, terpenes, and other compounds. This results in a potent, pure product that is often clear and nearly odorless.
Live resin carts retain the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes present in the cannabis plant. They are made using a process that preserves these compounds, resulting in a product with a more robust flavor and aroma.

Dabbing and Concentrates

Dabbing is a popular method of consumption for both distillate and live resin concentrates. This process involves using a specialized tool called a dab rig that heats the concentrate to a high temperature, producing a vapor that is inhaled by the user. Both products have unique qualities when used for dabbing:

dazed8 gg4 dab
Distillate is an ideal choice for those seeking a potent, consistent high due to its high THC potency and lack of impurities. However, some users may find the taste and aroma lacking compared to other concentrates.
Live resin offers a more flavorful and aromatic experience, with a complex profile of terpenes and cannabinoids that remain intact during the extraction process.

Edibles and Topicals

Distillate and live resin can also be used in the production of edibles and topicals. Edibles are cannabis-infused foods and beverages, while topicals are creams, lotions, and balms that are applied directly to the skin.

Urb Honeydew Melon Delta 9 THC Vegan Gummies
Distillate is a popular choice for edibles due to its neutral flavor and high potency, allowing for accurate dosing and precise control over the final product’s cannabinoid content.
Live resin can also be used in edibles, but its strong flavor and aroma may transfer to the final product. This could be desirable for some users, particularly those seeking a cannabis-infused product with a more authentic taste.

With these consumption methods, both distillate and live resin offer unique benefits to users, depending on their preferences for potency, flavor, and aroma. Choosing the right product and method ultimately comes down to personal preference and individual needs.

Choosing the Right Option for You

When it comes to choosing between distillate and live resin carts, understanding the key differences between the two is crucial in order to make an informed decision that aligns with your preferences. Distillate carts are known for their potency, as they often contain a high percentage of cannabinoids. 

This makes them a popular choice for those seeking a strong and powerful experience. Live resin carts, on the other hand, prioritize the preservation of a strain’s full-spectrum profile, meaning they retain a wider variety of terpenes and cannabinoids. 

This offers a more authentic and flavor-rich experience, making it a favorite among cannabis connoisseurs.

Your personal opinion and preferences will play a significant role in deciding which type of cart is the best fit for you. If you appreciate the innovation and unique effects of specific strains, including sativa, indica, or hybrid options, live resin carts offer the opportunity to indulge in strain-specific experiences. 

Beginners, however, might opt to start with distillate carts as they provide a more predictable and straightforward experience.

When purchasing your carts, it’s important to consider the source of the product, as the black market is rife with counterfeit and potentially harmful options. 

Always aim to purchase from an authentic and reputable dispensary to ensure you’re getting high-quality, safe products.

Finally, consider factors such as discretion and ease of use when making your decision. Both distillate and live resin carts provide a discreet, portable, and convenient way to enjoy cannabis

However, live resin carts might emit a stronger and more recognizable aroma, while distillate carts tend to produce less noticeable scents.

By taking into account the various factors mentioned above, you can make a well-informed decision that aligns with your preferences and requirements, whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or just beginning your journey into the world of cannabis extracts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences in effects?

Distillate carts and live resin carts can produce different effects due to their unique extraction methods. Distillate carts are created through a process that removes most of the plant’s natural compounds, resulting in a product with a high concentration of THC. This can lead to a more potent, intense, and sometimes more clear-headed high.

On the other hand, live resin carts retain more of the plant’s terpenes and cannabinoids, providing a more well-rounded and authentic cannabis experience similar to consuming whole flowers. Users often report a more balanced and flavorful experience with live resin carts, with the potential for more pronounced effects related to specific strains and terpene profiles.

Which produces a better high?

The “better” high depends on individual preferences and desired effects. Distillate carts produce a strong and potent high, which some users might prefer for its intensity and direct effects. Conversely, live resin carts offer a more nuanced and complex experience, preserving more of the original plant’s characteristics and often aligning more closely with the effects of specific strains. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual user to determine which best suits their preferences.

How do their potencies compare?

Distillate carts generally have higher THC concentrations due to their isolation during the extraction process, making them more potent on average. Live resin carts contain a wider range of cannabinoids and terpenes, so while they may not be as potent in terms of THC content, they offer a more comprehensive and nuanced entourage effect. This can still result in potent and varied experiences for users, depending on the specific strain and terpene profile.

Which has better flavor?

Live resin carts are often praised for their superior flavor, as they retain more of the plant’s original terpenes and aromatics. The CO2 extraction process used to create live resin preserves these volatile compounds, resulting in a final product that encapsulates the flower’s natural taste and smell.

On the contrary, distillate carts can sometimes have a muted or generic flavor due to the loss of these terpenes during the distillation process. However, some companies may reintroduce terpenes for improved flavor, but this typically does not achieve the same level of complexity as natural live resin.

Which type lasts longer?

In terms of shelf life, both live resin and distillate carts can have similar durations, depending on storage conditions. Store them away from direct sunlight, heat, and humidity to prolong their shelf life. Additionally, the THC potency in distillate carts may degrade slower than the wider range of compounds found in live resin. Personal usage habits, such as frequency and intensity, will also factor into how long a cart lasts.

Are there differences in cost?

Distillate carts tend to be less expensive than live resin carts due to the extensive refining process used to create distillate products. The equipment and labor involved in producing live resin, along with the preservation of a higher number of compounds, can drive up the price. As a result, live resin carts often have a higher cost, but many users find the enhanced flavor and experience worth the additional expense.


Jennifer Williams
Jennifer Williams
In my early twenties, I had everything in the palm of my hand. I was a journalist, published author, and was passionate about cannabis. Quickly realizing that the cannabis industry wasn't going to take off the way I wanted it to, I decided I needed a change.After some soul searching and self-reflection, I realized that all of my passions were centered on wellness. CBD is an incredible healing tool with scientific research backing its effectiveness in alleviating anxiety and promoting restorative sleep. With CBD becoming a more mainstream topic every day (not just among the medical community), it seemed like this was something that could be well worth pursuing!