What is Kief?

What is Kief?

When was the last time you cleaned out the bottom part of your weed grinder? You know, the one under the screen you always forget about. The powder in there is the cream of the crop. When that falls off on your rolling tray or inside your grinder, the dust that you’ve collected is called “kief”. And what is kief? This powder is just part of the plant that gets broken off while it was being broken up, ground, or sifted. You might even notice it clinging to the inside of the container you store your bud in if it’s especially sticky. Separated into a pile it will have somewhere between a lightly golden sand color and a rich dark green. Don’t get rid of it though, it’s not something you want to just toss away! You’ve probably got a lot of questions, like: what is kief, how do you smoke kief, and what else can you do with kief? 

Let’s find out:

What is kief?

Sometimes called “crystal” or “pollen,” kief is a powder comprised of trichomes (resin glands) of the cannabis plant. Kief is a nickname that refers to the bulbous part of glandular trichomes. Under close inspection you can find these covering cannabis plants as a defence mechanism, essentially turning them into unpleasant snacks for animals and pests.

High quality bud, sometimes called “craft” cannabis, is where trichomes really shine. Literally! Flower that’s been grown in perfect conditions will be covered in a sticky, shiny, hairy exterior. These trichomes are in peak performance. Once the flower has been cured, these resin producers tend to fall off the buds like dust, but just the bulbous part of the trichome on the end.

The reason people love to save all their kief, or brag about an especially well coated strain they’re smoking, is because those trichomes are where the majority of the THC is being made. It’s worth cleaning your grinder out once in a while and setting aside the kief you collect out of it for a rainy day. Or if you have the patience to wait for a few rainy days, you may collect enough to make yourself some homemade hash! 

How to make kief (or how to separate it from the plant)

The best way to collect the most kief possible from cannabis is largely dependent on how much cannabis you’ll be working with. There are different ways that you could go about it, so let’s cover a few:

Trimming

Trimming weed can often be a time consuming job that isn’t immediately rewarding, but turn that frown upside down. When you clean up your trim space, you should find a nice pile of kief that’s ready to smoke right away. There are even products that make separating the kief from your trim even easier, like the Trim Bin. If you’re dying to get a taste of your fresh harvest before it’s dried and cured, this is the best way to get it. 

In your grinder

There’s a grinder out there for every movie, hobby, favourite musician or clothing brand. But there are grinders that are designed for functionality, too. 3 compartment grinders are common these days, so chances are you might have one already. The third compartment always sits under a screen that your ground up weed will sit on top of, leaving just enough room for kief to fall down and collect below. 

Unscrew the bottom section of your tiered grinder, below the screen, to find and collect the kief that builds up in your grinder.

Dry sift/kief tumblers

Tumblers come in all different sizes, but are better suited for a home grower trying to collect kief from low grade flower. There’s other methods for larger volumes that would work way better, but for an at home method this is a great step up. Some are manually operated while others are electric, rotating a cylinder full of flower to knock the buds around breaking off the trichome heads. The final product will sift through screen(s) to be easily gathered and used later. 

If you’re processing larger amounts of flower, as in a pound at a time or so, something like the PollenMaster 500 is a solid choice. For smaller amounts, in the ~150g range, look to an option like the Bubble Magic Pollen Tumbler.

Dry ice / screens

Probably the most efficient way of separating all your kief from your flower would be with dry ice and micron screens. These screens, usually 5-6 of them, range between 190-25 micron sizes (microns are micrometers, and micron size refers to how many micrometers wide the openings in the screen are).

Some people call the result of this process “dry ice hash,” but the difference between dry ice hash and kief is negligible.

You’ll throw a bunch of flower into a big bucket with a handful of dry ice chunks, pull the screens over the top of the bucket one over the other until all your screens are on top. The dry ice makes the trichomes extremely brittle, causing them to detach from the flower easily. Once they’re on there, flip the bucket upside down and start shaking. You’ll want to shake the bucket over a large smooth surface like a pane of glass or a countertop, that way you can take a card and scrape it all into one big pile. 

GrowWeedEasy has a fantastic guide to making dry ice hash that is definitely worth a look if you’re interested in collecting your own kief.

Dry Sift

Dry sift is the same process as the dry ice method, but without the dry ice or the bucket. It’s just bud being shaken and vibrated through increasingly tighter micron screens. The difference here is that there’s no dry ice making the trichomes fragile. The more stable they are, the less broken or ruptured trichome heads you’ll get, and that’s the goal. Your yields might be lower than with the dry ice method, but some hash connoisseurs believe that dry sifting produces a higher quality product.

Can you smoke kief?

You can, and should, smoke your kief! It’s a great way to add a bit more strength to the effects of flower. Try mixing it into a joint, or sprinkling a pinch on top of a bowl in your bong for a little kief-weed combo. Kief usually smokes a little harsher than just flower, but the effects are quite a bit stronger than flower on its own.

How else can you use kief?

There’s a lot more you can do with it than just mix it into your regular smoke. Just like the rest of the plant, it can be processed into different products for consumption. Yum! We’ll give you a simple breakdown on a few of the things you can do with yours:

Making hash with kief

What if I told you you could make some hash with the kief in your grinder right now? It doesn’t take much to make some low grade hash. Rolling kief between your fingers, or squeezing it in some parchment paper with your hands will be enough to rupture those trichome heads. That’s what helps kief go from a dry sandy texture to a sticky greenish brown ball. The oils will saturate the trichome heads and all the stickiness will give shape to the hash you’ve made. 

For a slightly more advanced technique, check out the Frenchy Cannoli Hot Water Bottle Method.

Making moonrocks with kief

Moonrocks are usually a “love it or hate it” kind of thing for most people. A moonrocks is a bud, coated in shatter or hash oil, then coated in kief. Obviously this is a very potent treat. The reason some people aren’t so fond of it is because while it’s great for your social media upload, it’s super hard to bust up for a joint, smokes pretty harsh, and takes a billion years to finish burning. Some folks love that, some don’t. 

Coating your joints with kief

This is another picture perfect use for your kief. Once you’ve got your joint or blunt rolled up, you can either baptize it (wet it with saliva), melt some shatter on it, or rub some rosin on it. Once it’s nice and sticky, roll it in a pile of kief and you’ve got yourself a kief coat. 

Making kief pucks

Pucks are a convenient way to keep your kief weighed out and separated. With just a little bit of moisture and a whole lot of pressure, you can squeeze down kief into any shape you wanted, but pucks are usually the go-to. Kief presses, or pollen presses, are relatively cheap and could be diy’d with plumbing parts very easily. 

Making edibles with kief

Just like the flower kief is collected from, it can be added into foods for a psychoactive experience. Once it’s been decarbed, the THCA is converted to THC making it bioavailable. The kief is especially potent so a little will go a long way. 

To make simple edibles with kief, spread your pollen on a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray, bake at 250f for 20-25 minutes, then mix it with something fatty like butter or oil. You can strain the oil or butter after 24hrs if you find the taste too strong.

Mixing kief with hot drinks

If you’re trying to start your day with a bit of extra vibrancy, try adding a teaspoon of kief to your morning cup of coffee or tea. As long as you have a bit of dairy in there, or something fatty, you’ll give the THC something to bind with so your body can absorb it. The heat from your drink will be enough to activate the THC and cannabinoids for the desired effect. 

Making rosin with kief

Using the dry sift method to separate kief from flower will give you top quality trichomes for processing. When pressed and heated, the trichomes release their oils, and all the psychoactive properties inside them. The final product is a sticky rosin substance that can be dabbed, cooked with, or added to blunts for an extra kick. 

While it’s possible to make low-grade rosin with household materials like a hair straightener, we definitely recommend getting a rosin press if you’re serious about making solventless extracts.

How do you decarb kief for edibles?

Decarbing kief won’t be too hard to do. If you’ve decarbed flower, follow the same instructions and you’ll be in the clear, though you may want to try a lower temperature than you normally would for flower.

You’ll want to put your kief in an oven safe container that you can cover with tinfoil. Set the oven to a low temperate between 225f and 250f and leave it in there for approximately 20 minutes. Once you’re done, you’re left with kief that’s been decarbed, meaning it’s ready to be mixed in with some sort of fat (ie. butter or oil) and eaten. Just be careful with your dosing, as kief can pack a heavier punch than flower and you don’t want to over do it with an edible. 

Can you dab kief?

Dabbing kief is doable, but it takes a bit of work first. If you were to dump a bit out of your grinder directly into a hot banger it would burn, rather than vaporize or melt, meaning you’re going to end up with a really dirty banger when you’re done. This is because the kief still has lots of “contaminants” or bits of plant material still mixed into it. To dab it, it would need to first be run through micron screens like the separation method mentioned earlier. The screens will grade out the impurities one by one with increasing quality for tighter screens. The highest quality kief is almost 100% broken trichome heads, full of natural oils, THC, and cannabinoids – this is the stuff you can dab. The quality that is ideal for dabbing is called “dry sift – full melt hash” and as the name implies it should fully melt leaving no dirt behind. 

For an even smoother dabbing experience, consider making rosin with your kief.

Can you vape kief?

Absolutely, it can be vaped. It might not vape as well as flower though, and this is due to a lower water content in the trichomes than the rest of the plant material. But that doesn’t mean it won’t still give you a really nice buzz from a vaporizer. A good quality vaporizer will make short work of your kief.

What's the difference between kief and keef?

Kief and keef are the same thing. It’s a term that’s been around since before the cannabis community was as big online as it is today. So when people started having more reasons to spell the word out, the actual spelling had a bit of variety from person to person. 

Zackariah Turner Written by: Zackariah Turner

Zackariah is a young professional working in the cannabis industry. With countless successful grows under his belt, he is passionate about educating cannabis consumers about growing their own cannabis, as well as advocating for the rights of home growers. He’s worked with a number of licensed cannabis producers in Canada, dedicated to helping shape the future of the cannabis industry.

Leave a Comment