Live rosin: is the premium pot extract worth the price?

In the world of cannabis concentrates, live rosin has been having its moment in the sun. The potent, often amber-colored substance is made without the use of solvents (aside from water), making it appealing for people seeking an all-natural craft experience.

Offering out-of-this-world taste, the creamy extract is gaining market share at a rapid pace.

“Based on same-store sales across the US, Cova has seen a 61% rise in rosin sales since 2021,” said Gary Cohen, CEO of Cova Software, a cannabis point-of-sale company. “It seems that as certain cannabis consumers have been exposed to this category of product, they’ve developed a preference and have been shifting their purchases.”

With more cannabis users seeking out live rosin—despite its premium price point—many wonder: is it actually worth it?

live rosin oil on parchment
Is live rosin worth the cost? Photo: Roman Budnyi / Getty

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What separates live rosin from other forms of cannabis concentrates?

To create any type of concentrate, active ingredients must be removed from cannabis flower. This includes cannabinoids like THC and CBD, as well as flavor-forward terpenes.

The main differentiator between live rosin and other concentrates lies in the extraction process. Many of the concentrates on the market are butane hash oils (BHO). To make these dabs, the plant matter is stripped using butane. The solvent is then removed, leaving behind a viscous oil.

Rosin is created by applying heat and extreme pressure to cannabis flower or trim. The cannabinoids and terpenes are literally squeezed out, resulting in thick, yellow oil. People who prefer to consume live rosin often use lower temperatures on their dab rigs to preserve the unique flavor.

Live defined

The “live” in live rosin refers to using freshly frozen cannabis plants as the source material. If the word “live” isn’t present, it means that cured buds were used instead.

Many people confuse live resin and live rosin. The word resin on a dispensary menu or package means that the oil was made using a solvent-based extraction method. Rosin only uses water and/or heat and pressure—no chemical solvents.

Hash rosin vs flower rosin

There are actually two types of rosin. One is made from flower, while the other is made from bubble hash.

Flower hash sees buds squished in a special rosin press. It can also be made at home using a hair straightener and parchment paper.

Hash rosin adds an extra step to that process. Prior to pressing, the cannabis flower is washed in an ice water bath. This gently removes the trichomes, which are crystals containing the majority of cannabinoids and terpenes. Because of the cool temperatures, the bulbous trichome heads freeze and stay intact.

A series of screens separate the trichomes from the plant, resulting in something called bubble hash. Rosin can then be created by pressing the hash.

Most cannabis connoisseurs prefer hash rosin since it typically contains less plant matter. It also tends to be more potent and contains far more terpenes than flower rosin, resulting in a tastier dab experience.

live rosin oil drips over parchment
Squishing rosin in a press can be satisfying and potent. Photo: Roman Budnyi / Getty

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Is rosin really better?

Because rosin is more expensive to manufacture at scale, those costs are passed along at the retail level. A gram of BHO in California can cost as little as $15. Designer rosin, on the other hand, may run close to $80 plus tax.

Many people believe that live rosin is of higher quality than BHO. They may also think it’s safer to consume because it’s “solventless.” However, both of these theories can be debunked.

Dr. John MacKay, a cannabis extraction expert and educator, says that the flower used is a better indicator of quality than the extraction method itself.

“All (extraction) processes are inherently dependent upon the type and condition of the starting material,” Dr. MacKay told GreenState.

For example, if buds have mold on them prior to being put in a rosin machine, it may end up in the final product. This risk is virtually eliminated in the BHO process since the solvents and remediation remove any pathogens that may be present.

“As with any technique, the person who’s using the technology also has to be aware of whether they are cutting corners based on doing things that are not as scientific. For example, making sure the material is clean before they press,” Dr. MacKay explained.

The regulations around the production of BHO means that any residual butane must be removed, making it fit for human consumption. The idea that rosin is solventless can come into question since technically water is the universal solvent.

It can also be argued that since solvent-based extraction is done at colder temperatures, it preserves more of the potency overall. Anytime heat is applied to cannabis, it may decarboxylate. This can change the overall chemical composition and could result in less than stellar effect.

live rosin concentrate on a dab tool
Is rosin actually superior to BHO? Photo: Roman Budnyi / Getty

Live rosin – a craft product at a premium price

Considered to be one of the most high-quality cannabis products on the market, live rosin gains popularity every year. Despite its hefty price tag, many consumers are drawn toward the concentrate.

While there’s a perception that rosin is a safer and more natural alternative to BHO, this may not always be the case. When done correctly, BHO can be just as dank as rosin in many ways—and perhaps even cleaner than some rosin.

Either way, the live rosin vs BHO debate continues to rage throughout the dab community. There are plenty of opinions on both sides of the rig, but if sales are any indicator, rosin is clearly making major waves.

Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist and Editor of She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, Cannabis and Tech Today, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter