What is Kief?
In Morocco, kief is a bowl of unpressed hash mixed with tobacco smoked out of a “sebsi” pipe. However, to most marijuana consumers, tobacco plays no part in the product we call kief. So what is kief? Outside of Morocco, kief is more commonly used to refer to the most potent form of unprocessed cannabis. It looks like fine sticky powder that can be brown, yellow or green in color.
There are many ways to use the kief we know and love but mixing it with tobacco is not one of them. You can use a vaporizer, papers, bowls, bongs or use it to make other marijuana products.
What is Kief?
When looking at a nug, the kief is the sticky crystal coating that sticks to your fingers.
Taking a closer look, kief is one part of the structure of a trichome. Up close, trichomes look like mushrooms because they consist of stalks and a bulbous head. Ideally, kief should only be the head without the stalk.
Trichome heads are the most desirable part of the plant to connoisseurs because they contain the highest percentage of cannabinoids like THC.
The majority of the weight in a trichome head consists of purely cannabinoids and terpenoids. Isolated trichome heads from quality material make full melt extracts which are the highest-quality of non-solvent extracts. They melt completely into a puddle of oil like a dab of butane hash oil.
On the other hand, a lower quality hash will only partially melt at best. The remaining residues and contaminants will burn alongside the bubbling hash oil.
Ways To Extract Kief
There are a few ways to extract kief from the rest of the plant. Most people rely on grinders with fine screens that will only allow finer material through. You will need to use other screens to further separate the trichome heads from the stalks and plant materials if you want pure kief.
The best way to extract and isolate trichomes is by using a dry sift screen and a little bit of elbow grease. You’ll want multiple screens so that you can separate the trichomes from the rest of the plant matter for a purer product.
Start with the biggest size screen and work your way down. Larger sized micron screens will allow plant material and other components along with the kief.
The smallest screens used for dry sifting will only allow trichome stalks to fall through. The trichome heads should be somewhere in between.
There isn’t a one size fits all formula for dry sifting kief. Different strains have different size trichome heads. So if you’re trying to isolate the heads you’ll definitely want to use several screens to separate the different components of the plant. Full-melt dry sift is the highest quality you can make.
It won’t be as pure as using several dry sifting screens but the easiest way to collect kief is by using a grinder with a screen and extra bottom chamber. In fact, kief is the main reason most grinders consist of more than two pieces.
As you grind weed, trichomes fall off. Grinders with screens allow trichomes to fall through the screen for later use. Unless the grinder comes with different sized screens, there will be trichome stalks and other plant materials likely mixed into the kief at the bottom chamber of your grinder. You can purify your kief by running it through a few dry sift screens.
What To Do With Kief
There are several ways to use your collection depending on your preference and the tools you have access to. Whether you’re a vaper, smoker or edible consumer, kief can enhance your experience.
One of the most efficient ways to use your kief is through a dry herb vaporizer. When you put a flame to kief some of your precious cannabinoids and terpenes are instantly burned off.
The best devices allow essential oils to vaporize at a low enough temperature that won’t destroy any of the main components like THC. Not every vaporizer is built to handle the finer, sticky material. It’s best to sandwich it between two layers of ground up cannabis flower.
If you’re an e-cig vaporizer, kief can be used to make THC oil to fill cartridges with wicks or atomizers for heating elements. You’ll need a syringe and additives such as propylene glycol (PG), polyethylene glycol (PEG), and vegetable glycerin (VG). The additives are used to make stable concentrates less viscous and easier to vaporize. High levels of additives can irritate the throat during vaporization.
Hashish has been made and used in the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years. In fact, hash in India, Nepal and Jamaica was called “charas.” It was made by rubbing live cannabis plants between the hands of harvesters. Eventually, the resin would build up in their hands and they would ball it up into charas or hash balls.
Today, you can easily make hash out of kief without getting your hands sticky. You just need to apply heat and pressure in another way. Once you turn it from a powder into solid hash chips, it’ll be much easier to smoke out of a bowl. High-quality hash oil or full melts are best used in a dab rig with one of the best quartz bangers.
There are ways to make hash on a budget. If you want hash oil you can dab, one of the easiest ways to is with the help of a hair straightener or rosin press. You’ll also want a rosin filtration bag to separate the plant materials from the oils. A rosin press can be set to a low enough temperature to preserve as many of the natural terpenes and cannabinoids as possible.
Top A Bowl
The best bowls have kief added to the mix. If you turned yours into hash, you won’t even need to mix anything in. Hash won’t sink into the bowl as easily as kief. As a result, you can fill a bowl, bubbler or bong with it and it will hold it’s share until it turns to ash.
You can also put unprocessed kief between your flowers or sprinkle them on top of a bowl and smoke them like that as well. Use a plastic or metal tool to scoop your kief from wherever it is stored in the bowl.
Add To Joint
One of the easiest ways to make use of the collection at the bottom of your grinder is by sprinkling some in when you roll a joint or blunt for a potency boost. Using a metal or plastic tool, add kief to a joint that is already filled with weed and continue to roll a joint as you normally would.
You can also add oil to the outside of a joint and roll that in kief if you want it to burn longer and stronger.
Kief can also be used in place of or in combination with cannabis flowers to make edibles for people with higher tolerances. The high cannabinoid content of kief makes it easier to infuse meals with less butter or cooking oil.
You’ll still need the decarboxylation step to make sure all the THCa converts to THC. So just treat kief like you would treat cannabis flowers and trim when making cannabutter. The butter and kief should be cooking at a low enough temperature to activate THC while preserving the cannabinoid and terpene content.
Once you have kief cannabutter, you can store it in the fridge for when you’re trying to make extra potent infused dishes.
One of the most fun ways to make use of your kief stash is to make moonrocks. Moonrocks are usually one of the most expensive nugs you’ll find on a dispensary menu. They aren’t a strain. They’re a mix of various cannabis products.
Traditional moonrocks consist of three components. Full nugs of girl scout cookies, rolled in cannabis concentrates and dipped in kief. However, we wouldn’t count on moonrocks being consistent from dispensary to dispensary. Some hide their lower-quality nugs and concentrates under kief. Unless you know a reputable brand making moonrocks near you, you’re better off making your own. You can use whatever strain, oil and kief you like.
Don’t pull your grinder out when you’re ready to smoke your moonrocks. The kief and oil coating will get stuck to the various parts of your grinder as you try to grind a moonrock.
To preserve as much of the potency as possible, gently tear the moonrock into smaller pieces before adding it to a joint or bowl with regular weed for a smooth smoke.
Final Hit: What is Kief?
Most people consider kief to be anything that makes its way to the bottom chamber of a grinder. However, the purity of the kief at the bottom of a grinder will vary. Pure kief is the head of a trichome and nothing else. Everything else is less pure due to less desirable materials making their way into the mix. Now you know what kief is, ways to accumulate it and what to do with it once you’ve got a nice collection saved up.