Kief comes from an Arabic word that means “pleasure” or “intoxication.” Also known as “dry sift” or “pollen”, people have harvested it from marijuana plants for thousands of years.
Kief’s high concentration of cannabinoids enhances the mind-altering properties of cannabis, making the high more potent than regular flower alone. So let’s learn more about what it is and the many different ways you can use this versatile cannabis concentrate.
What is Kief?
Kief is a powdery, crystal-like substance harvested from resin trichomes on marijuana flower.
The trichomes look like little white hairs or tiny bulbous resin glands that, from an evolutionary perspective, protect the plant from predators. The resins also have a strong smell that attracts pollinating insects, further deterring herbivores who might try to eat the plant. When you remove the trichomes from the plant, you get kief.
Kief is most often light tan or blonde in appearance. Generally, the lighter the colour, the higher the quality. A green colour means it contains other plant matter, therefore compromising its purity.
While the potency of kief varies by the plant, it generally tests at 50% THC, compared to regular flower that usually tests between 12-25%. It’s easy to collect on your own, too.
You’ve probably collected it yourself, even if you didn’t know it yet- just check your grinder! You’ll find kief built up over time in the nooks and crannies (or in the catch if you have one).
Which brings us to our next point…
How to Collect Kief
You can collect larger amounts of kief with a silkscreen (like people use to make T-shirts). You can find these at any art supply store. Make sure you purchase a screen between 80-270 LPI (lines per inch), as the higher the LPI you use, the less green matter will end up in your kief.
Some people use multiple screens with increasingly smaller holes to further refine it. You can also buy a flat-screen sifter or a kief box online or at a specialty store. It will cost more than a silkscreen, but these are built to produce the highest quality.
Add the finely ground cannabis to the top of the screen and gently move it around with an old credit card. Use a container underneath to catch it. When you sift the it from the marijuana flower, the leftover plant material will have less potency since the trichomes in the kief have the majority of the cannabinoids.
Store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place and go through it with a comb every couple of days. This will keep it from sticking together.
With a grinder
There are several ways to collect it, and a three-chamber herb grinder to break down your weed is one way to go. You can find these online.
Three-chamber grinders have screens and a separate chamber to catch the kief. The second chamber collects the plant matter, and the trichomes fall to the bottom of the device. Avoid single-chamber grinders, as the trichomes tend to get stuck on the inside, but you can always use a pick to scrape out the kief when you need it.
How to Use Kief
Kief butter can be used on toast or in recipes, such as brownies or cupcakes. Use discretion when determining how much kief to put in the cannabutter. Start small and add more to subsequent batches as needed for the desired effect.
To make kief butter:
- Melt the butter in a crockpot over medium heat.
- Add the decarbed kief.
- Stir the mix every 15 min for 5 hours.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl.
- Cool the mixture thoroughly.
- Refrigerate it to harden.
While not the first answer people think of when wondering what to do with kief, you can also add it to your coffee or tea.
Just make sure to decarboxylate your kief first or else it won’t do anything! For more detailed instructions on how to do that, click here.
Once it’s decarbed, simply sprinkle it into your hot coffee or tea, stir, and enjoy!
You can make homemade hash with parchment paper and a hair straightener or flat iron. Fold the kief into the parchment paper and press with the straightener or iron, being careful not to overheat it. Heating and pressurizing ruptures the resin glands, which makes the taste different and colour darker.
These are small, circular disks made of compressed cannabis crystals. They are made with a kief press and can be broken into pieces or smoked in one sitting.
Moonrocks, or kief coated buds, are highly potent and easy to make as long as you have the materials. You will need kief, buds, and an oil of your choice.
To make moonrocks:
- Heat the oil.
- Coat the buds in the oil (or dredge the buds in the oil using tongs).
- Sprinkle with the kief. Let them harden, then break them up into your bowl.
Rosin oil has health benefits over other options to consume kief and is also easy and reasonably safe to make. It entails a hair straightener or flat iron, parchment paper, a material such as kief or marijuana flower, and a dabber to collect the oil extracted. The process involves lining the folded parchment paper with the material, then pressing the paper until you hear a sizzling sound, which tells you the resin has melted from the material.
Smoking it is a popular option. You can smoke it by itself from a glass pipe or in a vape pen. It can also be used to “crown” a bowl by sprinkling it on top. You can light a quadrant of the bowl at a time for multiple hits (“cornering your hits”).
Rolling it into a blunt or joint is another option. A tarantula blunt or twaxed joint can be made by coating a blunt or joint in cannabis oil and adding kief to the outside.
How to Decarb
Decarboxylation is the process that activates the THC in cannabis for mind-altering effects. Decarboxylation occurs when the cannabinoid THC-acid (THCA), a precursor to THC found in live and fresh cannabis plants, is converted into THC and requires heat and time.
Drying and curing cannabis will cause partial decarboxylation while smoking and vaping cause immediate decarboxylation because of the exposure to extremely high temperatures. Using THC in cooking, however, is a longer process.
You must decarb kief before using it in cooking, or it will not have the desired effect.
The THCA in cannabis takes 30-45 minutes to decarboxylate at 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Full decarboxylation may take more time, but you cannot exceed 300 degrees Fahrenheit because it compromises the integrity of the cannabinoids and terpenoids.
To decarboxylate it at home, you will need parchment paper, an oven-safe glass baking pan, and access to an oven.
- Set the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread the kief thinly on the parchment.
- Place the parchment in the baking pan.
- Bake it for 25-30 min. Do not overcook.
You can also decarb in a slow cooker, infusing cooking oils or lecithin.
Q: Where can you get kief?
A: Kief comes from the flower of the marijuana plant and is made by separating the resinous glands known as trichomes from the flower. Buy cannabis online from us to start collecting your kief.
Q: How much marijuana does it take to make kief?
A: There isn’t a standardized marijuana-to-kief conversion rate, so to speak, because every strain—and even every harvest—will produce varying levels of trichomes. As a general guideline, you can expect at least 1-2 grams of kief per ounce of flower.
Q: How do you store it?
A: It should be stored in a cool, dark place with relatively low humidity. A glass airtight storage container is recommended.
Q: How long does it last?
A: When stored properly, it won’t go bad and will stay good indefinitely. However, with long-term storage, it may dry out a bit and be harder to work with. How airtight the storage container is and where it is kept can play a role in that regard.
Q: What happens if you overcook it?
A: The THC in the kief will eventually break down over long periods into CBN (cannabinol), which produces a sleepy effect on the person ingesting it. In fact, CBN is known as the “sleepy cannabinoid in old weed”.
Q: How does it compare to marijuana shatter or wax?
A: Kief is not as potent as extracted concentrates such as shatter or wax, but it is much easier and cheaper to make/collect.
Q: Kief vs. hash: What’s the difference?
A: Kief is essentially unprocessed hash. When it’s heated and pressed, hash is the result.
Q: Why is kief preferable to the marijuana flower itself?
A: Kief contains the majority of the THC found in marijuana (50% versus 12-25% found in flower), which provides a longer-lasting, more powerful high.