Ever noticed, while admiring your cannabis, those lovely little crystals that cover it? What you’re looking at is, in fact, kief.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at what kief is, how to collect it and what some of its uses are. Without further ado:
What is Kief?
Kief refers to a highly potent and concentrated form of cannabis. Even though at first glance, it looks like powder, what you’re actually seeing are tiny pieces of crystallised resin that are sticky to the touch.
These resin glands contain cannabinoids and terpenes which makes cannabis quite unique – even though marijuana sans kief contains cannabinoids, the resin glands on top of flower buds boast the highest potency.
Kief typically collects at the bottom of grinders and jars and can be used in many ways, which we’ll be discussing shortly in the article.
Understanding the Relationship between Kief and Trichomes
Even though kief refers to the white crystal formation on top of the flower gland, the substance in itself is merely a part of a trichome or “hair”. Therefore, trichomes are highly potent bulbous tips from kief. These not only serve a protective and evolutionary purpose for the plant but also offer an assortment of recreational uses.
What is a Trichome?
When cannabis plants mature, they will leave traces of trichomes on buds and leaves – the high potency they boast comes from the high cannabinoid concentration they house. So, the hairy white layer you see on top of your bud is the formation of these resin glands or trichomes; which serve to protect the cannabis plant in a way.
These appendages which resemble mushrooms, act as a barrier between predators such as insects and the plant’s leaves and flower. In addition, they produce a highly psychoactive effect which leaves predators disoriented, with the result that they eventually give up.
How to Collect Kief from Cannabis Plants
If you like the idea of consuming cannabis concentrates without burning a hole in your pocket (buying expensive extraction equipment or wax), what you should do is sift kief, which is quite simple, really.
Since resin glands have a high concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes, separating the plant matter from kief crystals is an ideal way to consume cannabis while also cutting down the percentage of charred material your body absorbs.
Kief can be easily extracted using a 3-chamber herb grinder so that your cannabis can be finely grinded while allowing the kief crystals to be passed through a screen, after which it can be collected into a small box or compartment.
You may be wondering why the above can’t be accomplished with a 2-chamber grinder? Well, using a 2-chamber one can be a mistake because some of the potent kief might be wasted – crystals can fall off the dried herb and remain stuck to the walls of the grinder.
However, if you’re looking to extract significantly larger amounts of kief, simply silk screening materials will do just fine, as it easily allows you to separate the kief and plant matter.
Users generally prefer to make their own sifters using a few layers of screens, such as framed speedball printing screens. Since kief typically measures anywhere between 75 and 125 microns, it can prove to be cumbersome as you try to separate all the resin from the plant materials.
Therefore, in order to ensure that only the cleanest kief is collected without any of that undesirable plant matter, you need to stack up 3-4 layers of the speedball screen printing screens or any fine mesh screen, right one top of each other.
Many home extractors will typically stack up consecutive screen sizes in a largest-smallest order, to get the best results. When you set out to buy screens, the LPI value or lines per inch (aka. thread per inch) is an important factor to consider. Therefore, a larger screen will have a smaller LPI number. As a general rule of thumb, we’d recommend a screen mesh that’s between 80 and 270 LPI.
Also, keep in mind that purer varieties of kief will have a lighter colour – keep this in mind the next time you buy extracted kief from a retail store or dispensary. Just to give you an example, fairly green-looking kief means it has not been separated properly from the plant material. Conversely, more pure kief will boast a near off-white colour.
Best Uses for Kief
Kief can easily be used, more or less like a cannabis concentrate or flower. Since it’s a little more potent than a cannabis flower but not really as strong as cannabis concentrates, it provides just the right balance which translates into a number of uses:
Give Your Bowl “High Impact”
Kief can be very conveniently smoked straight up – unfortunately, this can not only prove to be intense for some users but can also get messy, given its potency and powdery makeup.
Instead, try giving your packed cannabis bowl that high impact by sprinkling a little kief on top of the buds and coating some on the sides. Lining the sides is always a good idea because kief not only burns quickly but continues to burn until it’s all used up – coating the sides will help you stretch out your supply to some extent.
Finally, bear in mind that kief is quite potent – you don’t need to sprinkle a lot of it to get a noticeable effect.
Mocha Kief Latte
Adding a little kief to your daily cup of java happens to be a very popular way of consuming it. This was not discovered by chance because the heat from coffee activates or “decarboxylates” the cannabinoids in kief. And, it’s no coincidence that kief is chock full of cannabinoids.
You don’t need a lot to get a nice buzz – just between half to a full gram of kief to a 6oz cup of coffee. Since cannabis and caffeine both stimulate dopamine production (the brain’s feel-good hormone), you can certainly expect an enhanced and highly pleasurable high.
Kief Tea or “Chai”
This is pretty much the same concept as the above, where you will experience a body high that begins just 15 minutes after consumptions and lasts fairly long. Although one thing you want to keep in mind is that infusing your kief with tea and milk especially will increase its potency – fat aids in extracting the THC (the main psychoactive component in cannabis), making for a more potent high.
Alternatively, you could activate the cannabinoids in kief and mix it with a variety of tea leaves.
Cook with Kief
Interestingly, kief has a far more subtle taste than the cannabis plant it comes from, yet it packs more cannabinoids, which makes it a very welcome addition to meals.
You can make some kief butter which can be added to meals directly while cooking. Bear in mind, however, that kief has to be decarboxylated prior to cooking, because the cannabinoids need to be activated.
Use it in a Joint
If you want to dust some kief into a joint, that can be done easily, but it can also get messy. If you still want to add some to your joint, mix it with the bud beforehand – this allows the kief to snugly fit inside the joint. So sandwich it between the bud and wrap it up in your joint or rizla.
The bud will now properly hold the kief and you will definitely feel the extra kick as you smoke your joint.
Turn Kief into Hashish
In case you’re not already aware, hashish is the separation of resin glands (trichomes) from the cannabis plant. You may already know that kief has a dust-like texture – what you may not know is that hashish is actually kief pressed down into a thick sheet, block or ball for easy consumption.
To make hashish from your kief, you will need the rather obvious ingredient and some wax paper plus a glass jar and lid.
Place the kief right in the middle of a square on the wax paper. Fold it over the kief in a way that it resembles a square package or tight rectangle. You might want to tape it close so that it holds the kief properly.
Now fill the jar with boiling hot water and tightly place the lid on top. Since you’ll be rolling around the hot jar, you need to check again to make sure the lid is tightly shut and that you’re handling it using a piece of cloth. Roll the jar over the folded kief for about 8-10 minutes.
Place the folded kief in the fridge and allow it to cool off for 45-60 minutes. The cooling off lets you easily remove freshly produced hashish from the wax paper.
Tuck it Away for Later
The more cannabis plant you smoke, the more kief you will collect over time. Seeing how potent kief is, you certainly don’t want to use it all up in one or two goes. And, throwing away such a potent and versatile part of the plant makes little sense.
Store your kief for later in a container as it is, in a cool and dark place.