The word kief is a homonym — the Moroccans refer to it as kif, which is a mix between cannabis and tobacco smoked in a small, narrow pipe called a sebsi, kayf in Arabic means pleasure, intoxication and good times, and keef is also how rolling stones member Keith Richards pronounces his first name.
But in cannabis biology, kief is perhaps the most hidden treasure of the cannabis plant. Even though most cannabis users are just getting wind of it, fact is that kief has been collected and used for thousands of years, and is regarded as the most potent part of the cannabis plant that can produce a more intense high.
What Exactly is Kief?
Have you ever noticed those tiny, sticky crystals that cover the cannabis flower? Some call them dry sift or pollen, but that’s kief! It contains a mix of both terpenes and cannabinoids that make cannabis so unique, and is a great option if you’re looking to increase your cannabinoid intake or simply want to explore cannabis in other ways apart from just smoking the whole flower.
The next time you have some leaves and buds in your hand, look closely and you will notice a cluster of luminous crystals aka kief. These shimmery, powder like crystals are the accumulation of trichomes — the tiny, bulbous, resin rich glands that protrude from the surface of buds, leaves and stems of the plant.
What are Trichomes?
Trichomes are infused with precursor cannabinoids such as terpenes, THCA, CBDA, and other phytocannabinoids that cannabis is noted for. Trichomes are available in three different types:
Bulbous trichomes – these trichomes are small and bulbous, and can’t be seen with the naked eye. They measure between 10 – 15 microns wide, which is tiny enough to only contain a handful of cells.
Capitate sessile trichomes – these are medium size resin glands that feature a single-cell stalk, topped with a larger rounded gland. Capitate sessile trichomes are more abundant than bulbous trichomes, consist of 8 – 16 cells, and measure between 25 – 100 microns in length, so are mostly only visible with the aid of a microscope.
Capitate-stalked trichomes – these trichomes are similar in shape to mushrooms, and feature a large bulb at the head of the stalk. They are the most abundant type of trichomes that are found on the surface of cannabis flowers, and can be seen with the naked eye.
Trichomes are found on several different plants and algae, and are essential for certain evolutionary purposes. For example, some carnivorous plants depend on sticky trichomes to trap their prey, whereas cannabis plants use them to ward of herbivores. The extra strong odor of the resin in cannabis trichomes also attracts pollinating insects and predators, which also helps keep herbivorous predators away.
Benefits of Kief
Now that you know what is kief, here’s the lowdown on why it’s received a surge of appeal among weed connoisseurs. Kief boasts a potent concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes, resulting in a more powerful high compared to most other cannabis products.
But it is worth noting that the potency of kief depends on the marijuana plant is extracted from. However, in most cases it often tests upwards of a whopping 50 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, which is considerably higher than marijuana’s flower average of between 12 percent to 15 percent THC.
Another noteworthy benefit of kief is that it allows you get rid of the plant material that causes a harsher smoking experience, but keep the THC, (CBD), (CBG), and other cannabinoids.
Kief is also becoming a go-to choice for those who require quick relief from several different ailments such as chronic pain. Furthermore, it can be extracted without using any expensive extraction equipment like some concentrates.
How to Collect Thief?
There are several different ways to extract kief, some methods more efficient than others. Speaking of which, there are different shades of kief, where the lighter the color, the purer, more potent the product. The colors of kief can range from a light shade of green to darker shades of green, where the latter isn’t as strong due to the plant material content in it.
Extracting kief with a three-chamber herb grinder is an easy way to collect kief. Most of the best grinders for kief are equipped with fine stainless steel screens and a dedicated chamber to collect any kief powder that falls of your marijuana flower.
As you grind the flower, the plant matter accumulates in the second chamber of the kief catcher, while the microscopic trichomes seep through the screen, and accumulate in the bottom of the grinder.
You can also use a single chamber grinder, but the downside is that it will not be able to catch small amounts of kief as the trichomes may stick to the inside of the grinding chamber.
If you’re looking to extract larger amounts of kief from your herb, you can use a silk screen similar to ones used in t-shirt printing. Silk screens are easily available at you’re your local art supply store, and are rated in LPI (lines per inch).
To collect kief, you should buy a silk screen that’s between 80 LPI and 270 LPI. You can also invest in a kief sifter screen to capture the highest quality kief with minimal loss. Regardless of which screen method you use, you should add finely ground herb to the top of the screen.
Lastly, spread and push it down across the screen using light force using a bank bard or gift card. Before you start sifting, ensure that you’ve placed a container under the screen to collect the kief.
Dry Ice Kief Separation
The main goal of the kief collection process is to separate the resin from the herb from the plant material. Dry ice is basically dry CO2 (solid form of carbon dioxide), and literally freezes the trichomes in the plant, making them easy to shake loose from foliage.
For this method, you will need a bubble bag with 120 – 220 micron mesh sleeve to sift the cannabis, and a container to collect the keep placed below it. To get started, place a few chunks of dry ice into a can or similar size container, then add roughly three times as many small buds into the container.
Next, let the pieces of dry ice blend well with the chilled herb, so that it freezes the trichomes effectively. Now, grab the bubble bag, and cover the opening of the can, and turn the can upside down to empty the content into.
Start shaking the bag vigorously with the mesh end at the bottom and the top closed over a collection container or large, flat table. Lastly, grab a scraper to gather the extracted kief.
4 Great Ways to Use Kief
Just like you can collect kief in several different ways, there are myriad ways to use it too!
Smoke Kief in a Joint or Glass Pipe
You can smoke kief in a glass pipe, but keep in mind that it may fall into your bowl when you inhale owing to its powdery state. It also tends to hold a flame, so it will most like stay lit.
If you’re going to roll it in a joint, it can get messy, again owing to its powdery form. As a solution, you can mix a bit of kief with your buds or better yet sandwich it between the buds, so that it stays intact in the joint.
Add Kief to Your Morning Tea or Coffee
The heat of your coffee or tea can booth the kief’s potency. To make kief the lung-friendly way, simply sprinkle it in your mug and stir. Take note that the effects of kief by consuming it this way will be delayed, because the cannabinoids go through the digestive before reaching your bloodstream.
You can make extremely potent moonrocks out of kief. To do this, take preferably high quality cannabis flowers, cover them in oil, and then sprinkle kief generously over them. After the rocks harden, you can break it down, and smoke it in a bowl, but avoid using a grinder as reverse the process, and grind the weed too much. Moonrocks deliver an average of 50 percent THC or more.
Make Kief Butter
Kief butter can be blended with other recipes to make edibles such as kief brownies, cupcakes, and more. Start by melting regular butter in a crockpot over medium heat, and then add kief. Stir this kief butter mix every ten minutes or so for five hours, and then transfer the mix into a bowl. Let it cool completely, cover the bowl, and refrigerate.
Pressing Kief into Hash
You can also create hash bricks with your kief, but it’s worth mentioning that the quality of the hash will probably be subpar. To do this, get a small piece of parchment paper, put the kief in it, and either put an iron over the top or press it between the hot plates of a hair straightener, while make sure the paper doesn’t burn.
Now that it’s been heated aka decarboxylated, you can use smoke this brick of hash or sprinkle it on your pizza as seasoning.
Kief is a highly potent and versatile cannabis by-product that can be extracted, and used in several different ways. You can also store unused kief in several ways such as in a small, tightly-lidded glass bottles in a cool dark place away from heat and sunlight. You can also buy including small-sized, airtight container to keep your kief fresh for a few months.