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It’s All About the Kief

By Rich Hamilton
Published: October 8, 2021
Key Takeaways

Economical, easy to make, and potent, kief will give your day that little kick you were looking for.

Dry-sift kief is a soft sand-like powder that you have most probably seen in the bottom of your grinder. Originating from the Arabic word meaning “pleasure,” kief is one of the most economical and potent forms of cannabis concentrate that is derived naturally from the cannabis plant.

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Dry-sift kief is a concentrate collected from the tiny resinous trichome glands of the cannabis plant. Trichomes are those microscopic, bulbous protrusions that look like frosting you will see covering your weed nugs or mature female cannabis plants. It is in these tiny parts of the plant where an abundance of the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes that make up your chosen strain are created.

Think of trichomes like the ripe fruit on a tree. If you shake the tree the fruit will fall off but so will some leaves and branches. It is a similar situation when you want to collect kief. In order to get the good stuff, you have to get rid of the leaves and other plant material first.

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You can remove most of the plant material through sifting, leaving you with the real deal — a full spectrum of pure cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. It is no surprise, then, that kief produces relatively strong effects.

Kief being weighed on a kitchen scale. Pure kief can be collected and refined. | Photo courtesy of Green Cedar Retreat

Collecting Kief

If you regularly smoke cannabis, then collecting kief can be easy. The simplest way to do this by using a three-chamber grinder designed to have a layer specifically for sifting and managing kief.

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If you grow your cannabis, you will have the opportunity to process more significant amounts of kief when trimming buds after harvest. Most trimming machinery has a function to separate and collect kief. If you are trimming by hand, you can use mesh sifting screens to separate the kief from your plant material. Sifting screens are relatively inexpensive and readily available from most hydro stores.

Kief powder consists of tiny particles measuring in the range of 75-125 microns (one-millionth of a meter). Therefore, the size of the holes in your mesh sifting screen is very important to take note of. Normally measured in microns or lines per inch (LPI) the correct sifting screen will help you collect the maximum amount of kief at the highest quality levels. As it can be challenging to separate kief from plant material, you can stack several screens on top of each other. If the screens have consecutively smaller LPIs or microns, it will refine the kief into grades of purity.

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Kief being sifted through a mesh screen. A mesh sifting screen can be used. | Photo courtesy of Green Cedar Retreat

Once the kief starts to collect on your screen, you should use a clean sieving card to push it around the screen with gentle force to allow it to pass through the mesh. Once collected, keep your kief in an airtight container in a cool, dry place out of the light to avoid THC degradation. To maintain quality, stir it every few days to stop it from sticking together. If you are looking at storing the kief long term, however, then your best option is to vacuum seal and keep it in the freezer in a glass jar for ultimate freshness.

Overall, kief is a pretty versatile and easy-to-use concentrate you can use to enhance most cannabis experiences. You can add kief to your bong or mix it into your blunt or joint with your regular cannabis flower. It’s common now for people to make a “twaxed joint” by moistening the outside of the joint with cannabis wax or by licking it and then adding kief for an extra kick. You can also make cannabutter or oil with kief and then use it for cooking edibles.

Full melt hash (Chemberrly)Full melt hash (Chemberrly) | Photo courtesy of Pineapple Reserve

Heavenly Hash

Hash is another excellent example of the versatility of kief. Hash (short for hashish) is made by heating and pressurizing kief, turning it from a powder into a malleable solid. This new substance can then be pressed into a small brick shape and crumbled into a joint, bowl, bong, or pipe.

It is possible to put hash in your dab rig, however, remember not all hash is equal in this respect. The quality of the kief will dictate how well it will melt. The purer the quality, and the better it melts.

As a general rule of thumb, the greener your kief is the less pure it is. Green kief indicates there is an excess of plant material present and thus the kief has not been very well processed. When kief is cleaned and processed thoroughly, it should ideally be an off-white or light tan color. The potent trichomes are separated from all the other plant material and collected together, forming a whitish/beige powder.

You can even use kief to make rosin. Rosin is an extraction process that exposes your trichomes to excessive heat and pressure, forcing the maximum amount of terpenes and cannabinoids (in the form of a resinous sap) out of the trichome glands. You can buy a rosin press for home use and the result will be a fully melted hash oil you can use in place of shatter or vape oil with the confidence that it is solvent free.

Kief can be made into rosin with a rosin press.Kief can be made into rosin with a rosin press. | Photo courtesy of Green Cedar Retreat

Kief Adds An Extra Kick

If you crave a quick fix, nothing can be simpler than adding a kief shot to your daily hot drink of choice. The high temperature of your drink should activate the THC to some degree without much effort. Just a tiny pinch of kief added straight to your hot drink can have a speedy, noticeable effect. Simultaneously, the feeling won’t overpower you or diminish your abilities to get stuff done. It’s a great way to microdose. A tiny pinch in a single drink is more than enough; a tip worth remembering when using kief in any scenario. Kief can often have more than double the potency of cannabis flower.

While you can collect kief from any strain, some produce significantly more resin than others. If you are after the maximum amount of kief, you might like to try White Widow, Chem Dawg, OG Kush, White Dawg, or the aptly named Hash Plant.

Regardless of the strain you are smoking, you would be crazy to ignore the fantastic potential of that magic dust collecting in the bottom of your grinder. You really should give it a try if you want to take your experience to the next level.

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Written by Rich Hamilton | Writer, Consultant, Author of The Growers Guide

Profile Picture of Rich Hamilton

Rich Hamilton has been in the hydroponics industry for more than 20 years, working originally as a general manager in a hydroponics retail outlet before becoming an account manager at Century Growsystems. He enjoys working on a daily basis with shop owners, manufacturers, distributors, and end users to develop premium products.

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