What is kief?
Kief (sometimes referred to as keef) is the sticky, crystal-like substance that sparkles on cannabis flower. Notice a sticky residue on your fingers after handling cannabis — that’s kief that’s getting left behind.
Inside this resin, you’ll find a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes which give cannabis it’s therapeutic effects, aromas, and flavors.
It’s a highly concentrated form of cannabis that can be used in several ways. Its versatility and high concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes make it one of the most sought after forms of cannabis today.
Let’s dive deep into the world of kief to learn why it’s such a hot topic in the cannabis industry.
What is Kief?
The name “kief” comes from the Arabic word كيف (kayf) — which interestingly enough, translates into pleasure. Some people also call it pollen or dry sift.
In technical terms, kief is one part of a trichrome. Trichomes appear throughout the plant world — the word used to describe small hair-like appendages growing on plants, algae, lichens, and more.
Plants may grow trichomes for many different reasons including to trap prey while other plants, like cannabis, use them to ward off animals who may otherwise eat them. They produce bitter flavors and strong aromas to protect the plant from harm while attracting insects and other pollinators to spread the seeds far and wide. They may also prevent some forms of fungal growth or disease.
In regard to cannabis, trichomes are responsible for the sparkling little crystals covering the flower. Examine cannabis flowers up close or with a magnifying glass and you’ll notice these sparkling crystals are shaped somewhat like a mushroom.
Kief is the head of the mushroom — where many of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes are stored. When isolated from the plant, kief is highly potent, packed with THC, and classified as a cannabis concentrate. Kief also limits the amount of charred plant material entering your lungs.
How is Kief Made?
Cannabis concentrates (like hash, oil, or crystals) can be purchased in dispensaries but they tend to come with a hefty price tag. The good news is that kief can be made right at home and is often a natural side product of breaking down your flower.
To make kief, simply rub the flower on a fine screen that filters out the plant material — leaving behind only a sticky, powdered resin. Hundreds of years ago, in countries like Morocco, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, kief was made by gently rubbing dried cannabis on a soft silk sheet stretched over a bowl. The silk would allow the kief to pass through into the bowl while preventing plant material from falling through.
Many modern grinders have several levels that break the cannabis down to varying degrees. This is by far the easiest way to collect your own, as it only requires the purchase of a high-quality grinder.
As you grind up your flower, the plant material will pass through each layer, getting smaller and smaller. Often, the bottom level contains a fine mesh screen with a catch below where kief slowly accumulates over time with regular use.
Although it largely depends on how frequently you use cannabis, you may be surprised at how quickly you can build up a solid stock of kief. For frequent users, it may only take a few weeks before you have a nice and full kief catch, ready to be smoked.
If you’d like to accumulate as much kief as possible in the shortest amount of time, the screen method is the better way to go.
You’ll need to purchase a few silkscreens which can be found at many local art stores. Ideally, you’ll purchase three or more so you can stack them with consecutively smaller holes — although you can start collecting with just one. The screens are generally classified by “lines per inch.”
These particles are tiny — measuring between 75 and 125 microns. If you’re going to use a silkscreen sifter, make sure it falls between 80 –200 at most.
Now that you’ve got your silkscreen, place a catching container below. Put your ground flower on the screen and lightly press it around — it may be helpful to use an old credit card to keep the pressure even. The kief will fall into the container and you’re good to go.
The more pure the kief is, the lighter the color will be. If you choose to purchase your kief from a dispensary, look for light greens — the darker the color, the more plant material the kief contains.
How to Use Kief
Kief, like other concentrates, is highly versatile. It can be consumed in the same fashion as many other cannabis products — but remember, it’s incredibly potent. You’ll likely only need to use a little bit to achieve the result you’re looking for.
Smoke Kief By Itself
If kief is all you’ve got, it can definitely be smoked on its own. Simply pack the bowl of your pipe, bong, or bubbler and light it up as you would with regular flower. However, this method isn’t always ideal, as kief is fine and can easily pass right through the hole in the bowl. Make sure you inhale gently to prevent wasting your kief or having it enter your mouth.
Add it to a Joint, Blunt, or Packed Bowl
If you’re looking to add an extra kick to your joint, blunt, or bowl, you can also just mix the kief in with your finely ground flower before smoking. Kief tends to hold a flame quite well and mixing it in ensures an even burn. If you just sprinkle it on top you may find your joint burning one side much faster than the other.
Adding kief to your joints, blunts, and bowls is a great way to increase the effects of your flower, without needing to smoke more plant material.
The fine, powdered nature of kief means it’s the perfect cannabis concentrate to use for making edibles. With this method, it’s crucial that you make sure the kief gets hot enough to go through decarboxylation — the process in which inactive THCa is converted to the active THC through heat.
Hundreds of creative and delicious edible recipes can be found online. Remember, edibles can be deceiving, especially when made with kief. It may take an hour or longer for you to feel any effects. Make sure you wait before opening up that second jar of cookies.
Edibles are an excellent option for people who prefer not to smoke their cannabis — plus you get to have a treat for yourself at the same time.
Make Moon Rocks
Moon rocks are a novel way to use your kief — and they’re in high demand. Moonrocks are incredibly potent, beautiful to look at, and an easy DIY cannabis concentrate. You’ll need cannabis oil, kief, and high-quality flower.
Take your flower and generously coat it in the cannabis oil — you may have to gently heat the oil if it’s too thick. We don’t recommend dipping it into your oil as getting it too saturated may make it difficult to burn. Using tongs, grab your now coated flower and roll it in your kief. Once the flower fully coated in, set it aside to dry before smoking.
When you’re ready to smoke, break off bits with your fingers, rather than grinding it. Grinders will separate the three ingredients, which kind of defeats the point of making moon rocks in the first place. When the smoke enters your lungs, you’ll quickly learn why they’re called moonrocks.
Make it into Hash
Hash is one of the oldest and most famous forms of cannabis concentrates and it can be made quite easily right from the comfort of your own home.
To make hash, you’ll need to apply heat and pressure to your kief. You can press your kief into solid blocks of hash using a press. Inexpensive presses can be found online through a variety of retailers and in many local dispensaries.
You can also make hash by using a hair straightener, parchment paper, and kief. Simply place your powder on the parchment paper and fold it in half so that your kief is completely covered. Then take your hair straightener on low heat and pinch your kief in the parchment paper between the two hot plates. Hold for 10 – 20 seconds.
The end result is a nice flat puck of hash — made with items commonly found in any household. The process can be somewhat pungent so if you’re averse to your house smelling like cannabis, it might be a good idea to buy weed online instead.
Are Hash & Kief the Same Thing?
The two are closely intertwined but not entirely the same thing. Kief is the sticky substance found on cannabis flowers which is left behind when the flower is finely ground.
Hash is kief that has been heated and pressed into bricks or pucks. This process bursts the resin glands in the kief — which can change the taste and effects slightly. It may also cause the hash to become darker than the kief used to make it.
The two are the same in many ways, but come in different forms. Kief is a powdery, light-colored, concentrate while hash is a solid, darker, and generally more potent concentrate. You may also notice that kief tends to taste sweeter than hash — hash typically has earthier flavors.
Kief: One of the Most Versatile Cannabis Concentrates There Is
We love kief because of its high potency and versatility. It’s also a natural byproduct of grinding and smoking your flower — with the right grinder, you’ll be saving your kief without any effort. You can also create more sophisticated kief collectors using silkscreens found at your local art or craft supply store.
If you’re looking to boost the THC content of your joints, blunts, or bowls, kief can be added in a matter of seconds. It can also be used to make edibles, moonrocks, and hash.
It’s easy to see why kief has been used for thousands of years — and will continue to be used by people around the world.