best THC cartridges

THC Cartridges 101: Live Resin vs Cured Resin and More

by Deb Powers

If there’s one true fact about the modern world of cannabis, it’s this: there have never been so many ways to get high. You can mix drops into your favorite drink, light up a pre-roll, chew a gummy, or eat a handful of infused snack mix — and that’s just for starters. 

Every method has its own benefits, but none of them deliver the unique combination of advantages you get with THC cartridges. Vape pens are discreet, easy to use, and convenient. You can slip one in your pocket or bag and hit it just about anywhere without raising eyebrows. They even come in a huge variety of flavors and potencies. Plus, you never have to hunt for fire — a vape pen packs its own. 

Cannabis connoisseurs agree, vapes are the way to go. According to figures from MJBizDaily, sales of vape pens and THC cartridges grew more than nearly any other category of cannabis in 2021. But growing popularity is a mixed blessing. Take a walk through your local dispensary and you’ll see dozens of brands, types, and flavors of pens and cartridges. As with anything, some of them (like Mistifi’s) are out of this world — and some of them don’t belong in this world at all. So how do you choose vape carts that will deliver the best experience every time? 

Buckle up for a little THC Cartridges 101 to give you the knowledge you need to always make the best choice.

What’s in the Cartridge — All About THC Vape Oil

The most beautiful, technologically perfect vape pen in the world is only as good as the oil that’s in the cartridge. It’s what carries the THC, along with any other cannabinoids, terpenes, and all the good stuff that contributes to the cannabis experience. 

If you’ve tried different strains of bud, you know that they each have a characteristic taste, aroma, and experience. Blueberry Kush is not Maui Wowie is not Sour Diesel. The reason for the differences between the strains is in the ratio of cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant. 

In order to get those goodies into the pen, they need to be extracted from the plant, and there are several different ways to do that. But, here’s the kicker — the extraction process can affect the taste, smell, and overall experience by messing with the ratio of those chemicals . So, let’s take a look at the most popular ways to extract THC from cannabis.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction uses high heat to extract THC from the cannabis plant. There are many different CO2 processes, and unfortunately, some of them also burn off all the terpenes and flavonoids that deliver taste, aroma, and other more subtle effects of the live plant. The result isa pure distillate. Because isolated THC has no taste or odor of its own, manufacturers must then add the lost terpenes back in, using flavorings, terpene blends, and other ingredients.  All those fancy flavors you’ll find in vape carts made with CO2 extraction are added to the THC oil after the fact. What you get affected by the origin and quality of the additives. Far too often, vaping with poor quality distillate vape oil is like the difference between eating a ripe strawberry and eating strawberry gelatin. It’s close, but not quite right. 

Solvent Extraction

One way to avoid destroying the terpenes is to use a solvent. Dried cannabis is soaked in butane or another solvent to break down the cell walls. That pulls out the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other things that make up the essence of the plant. This method has two big disadvantages. First, it tends to change the ratio of terpenes and cannabinoids, so it’s never quite the same as the flower. Second, and more importantly, it nearly always leaves behind traces of the solvent in the oil, which can potentially be harmful in low-quality extracts.

Distillate Carts

Some of the most popular carts — and most THC carts, in general — are filled with distillate that has been enhanced with additives. Those additives are meant to replace the taste, smell, and other effects of the terpenes removed during the extraction process. The additives often include  potentially unsafe non-botanical, food-grade flavoring, botanical non-cannabis terpenes, or cannabis terpenes. Even when cannabis terpenes are used, the resulting oil is not as complex as the original flower because they only use the top few terpenes to restore. This misses out on the subtlety and nuance that characterizes the experience of consuming the highest quality, most popular cannabis strains. Some carts are filled with distillate with High Terpene Extract (HTE), which is marginally closer to the original flower. Because of this, they’re often sold as “live resin” carts. However, it’s not unusual for the distillate and the HTE to be from completely different strains, which affects the overall experience.

Cured Resin vs Live Resin

One of the big discussions in the world of cannabis lately is about the difference between cured resin and live resin. The difference is all about the first step in the extraction process. Cured resin is extracted from plants harvested at peak ripeness, that are then allowed to dry and cure. . Live resin is extracted from plants that have been flash-frozen to preserve their freshness. 

Live Resin

The theory behind live resin concentrates is that they deliver an experience that’s closer to smoking premium flower becausethey start with fresher plants. Drying cannabis, they suggest, strips some of the THC content and terpenes away. In reality, people don’t smoke fresh weed for a reason — the drying and curing process allows time for the terpenes to mature and reach their full flavor and ripeness. You wouldn’t brew coffee from green coffee beans, after all. The very process of drying and curing adds depth and richness that you don’t get from green plant material. Live resin products are a cut above distillates, but they don’t come close to capturing the complex profile of expertly dried and cured flower. Live resins are extracted using solvents like butane. 

 Cured Resin

Cured resin is made with cannabis flowers that have been harvested at precisely the perfect point in their growth cycle, then properly dried in a way that preserves the full profile of terpenes and other botanical components. It can then be used with any extraction method. 

Hi Phi Extraction (Solventless Cured Resin)

Hi Phi extraction is a solventless extraction method that preserves all the terpenes in the plant, in the precise ratio of the original plant. It uses a fine-tuned combination of low temperature and high pressure to extract all the compounds in the native plant. It’s the only extraction method that preserves the Golden Ratio, delivering the taste, aroma, and experience of the original plant strain. In other words, unlike other extraction methods which need to recreate the characteristics of the original strain with added ingredients, Hi Phi extraction actually preserves all the botanical components of the original plant, ensuring that the final product is as close in flavor and effect as possible to the complexity of the original strain.

Final Thoughts

Mistifi uses Solventless Cured Resin in all of its vape carts because it delivers an experience that’s closest to fresh flower. Try it out for yourself in one of their three signature triple blends using craft cannabis oils, expertly blended to deliver a unique, multi-layered experience. 

  • Over the Rainbow — Uplifting sativa blend for a powerful high 2020 High Times Cannabis Cup Winner
  • Houdini – Deliciously relaxing indica blend 2021 Emerald Cup Winner 
  • Phantom – A smooth, 1:1 blend for balance and serenity

Deb Powers is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer and long-time cannabis connoisseur.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





Join the flower lover’s community by MISTIFI™. Designed with you in mind, you will receive exclusives first, special offers from MISTIFI™, news, and local event invites in your area. Subscribe now.
Congrats. You are now officially a part of the Exclusive MISTIFI™ Cannabis Connoisseur Club. Please check your email to confirm. We will be sending you news, events, special offers, and more very soon…
Exclusives Pop-up
Checkboxes *