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Home » Learn » Unmasking The Science Behind: LLR vs. Distillate

Unmasking The Science Behind: LLR vs. Distillate

Is there a real difference between a vape cartridge filled with cannabis distillate and one filled with liquid live resin (LLR)? How do those differences play into your session and desired experience? This handy guide breaks down the important differences between distillate and LLR cartridges so you can make the best choice for your needs.

What is a distillate cartridge?

A distillate cartridge refers to a cannabis cartridge that contains a highly distilled, nearly isolated cannabinoid extract. For example, CBD distillate may be greater than 99% pure CBD.

Distillate cartridges are made by drawing phytocannabinoids and terpenes out of the plant material. The resulting extract is winterized, a process that removes unwanted waxes and lipids from the concentrate. This substance then undergoes additional processes that apply certain temperatures and pressures to isolate the desired cannabinoid and separate it from the extract. The final product is placed into a vape cartridge or disposable vape pen. 

By isolating a particular phytocannabinoid such as THC and CBD, terpenes in the extract are completely removed in the process. This produces a  tasteless and odorless distillate. However, that doesn’t mean the final product has no taste or smell. Terpenes are typically added back into the final product to either mimic the source cultivar or elicit a particular, desired experience.

When to choose distillate cartridges

Distillate cartridges are great when a specific cannabinoid is what you’re after. For instance, if you find that CBD is a pain-relieving cannabinoid for you but want to avoid consuming any THC at all, a CBD distillate cartridge might be the right fit for your needs. Similarly, if you are looking for a precise percentage of THC, distillate cartridges will be more reliable.

Many distillate cartridges also contain a specific combination of terpenes that are designed to create a specific flavor or effect. If you are looking for a specific flavor or recipe, then distillate cartridges are most likely to provide the same recipe across multiple batches.

What is a liquid live resin cartridge?

For consumers that want an experience much like smoking the flower of their favorite strain, LLR cartridges provide a similar experience in a vape cartridge. Like distillate, these cartridges undergo an extraction process and are winterized, leaving behind a full spectrum cannabis concentrate that includes the same cannabinoids and terpenes as the source plant. Unlike distillate, though, this extract heads straight into a cartridge.

While that’s certainly a major difference, there’s an even bigger distinction to consider. Unlike distillate or even other cannabis concentrates, LLR cartridges are made with harvested cannabis that has been flash frozen, rather than dried and cured over weeks or months. The result is a more bountiful bouquet of terpenes, so LLR cartridges burst with flavors and aromas that even other full spectrum products don’t offer.

When to choose liquid live resin cartridges

An LLR cartridge is a great choice for any consumer that wants the compound profile of the whole plant in their product. LLR cartridges taste about as close to the source plant’s flower as possible for an extract. If you appreciate the flavors of a cannabis plant and want a concentrate product that is going to stay true to the strain, then an LLR cartridge is a great option for you. The tradeoff is that just like the plant, the specific combination of cannabinoids and terpenes will vary somewhat from batch to batch.

How to choose a cannabis cartridge

Choosing the right cannabis cartridge starts with understanding your personal needs. But there are a few universal rules to keep in mind when buying a cannabis vape cartridge. These tips can help you to tell a good cannabis cartridge from a bad cartridge:

  • Only buy from a licensed dispensary: Licensed dispensaries are required by law to only carry products that meet minimum quality and safety standards based on state regulations. Black market products can be counterfeit and harmful, especially cartridges; it was counterfeit cartridges containing Vitamin E Acetate that were deemed responsible by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the outbreak of Electronic Vape Associated Lung Illness (EVALI) in 2019. By purchasing your products from a licensed dispensary, you ensure they are inspected by a third-party and certified safe to consume.
  • Check the third-party lab test results: Every state with a legal cannabis program requires some level of third-party lab testing for quality assurance. These lab tests usually include detailed breakdowns of the compound profile of the product, as well as whether the product passed other safety tests, such as contaminants. Always check the cannabis lab test results and guarantee that batch numbers match so you know precisely what’s in the product you’re buying.
  • Know the compound profile: Cannabinoids and terpenes are the drivers of the cannabis consumption experience, so understanding the compound profile and how it could meet your needs is key to making the right choice. There are many options in both distillate and LLR cartridges, and each one may be more suitable for a specific purpose than another. Talk to an Ethos associate about your wellness goals for more information on the best options available at your local dispensary.
  • Select a compatible cartridge: Some vaporizer batteries are only compatible with certain types of cartridges or pods. The most common type of vaporizer battery for distillate cartridges and LLR cartridges features a 510 thread and works with 510 threaded cannabis cartridges of the same size. Other vaporizers, like the Pax Era Pro, are designed only to work with proprietary pods.

LLR vs. distillate: Which is right for you?

Both LLR cartridges and distillate cartridges have unique advantages. Which is best for you depends on your goals and preferences. Luckily, though, it’s not all down to trial and error. Ethos associates can help inform you about your options and offer insight into which products might work best for your needs. Whether you find relief from highly potent, isolated cannabinoids in distillate cartridges, or you prefer the broad-ranging effects and robust flavors of a full spectrum LLR cartridge, your local Ethos dispensary can help you make the right choice.

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