Kief is the name commonly used to describe the harvested sticky, powder-like crystals found on marijuana flower that can produce a more intense high.
Collected and used for thousands of years as a way to consume cannabis, kief or keef is a highly concentrated form of cannabis that collects the most potent part of the marijuana flower as a lightly colored, cannabinoid filled powder.
Because kief packs a much bigger level of cannabinoids than cannabis flower, it’s an ideal option if you’re looking to increase your cannabinoid intake or just want a versatile cannabis product that you can use a few different ways.
WHAT IS KIEF?
Kief powder is the accumulation of the luminous resin trichomes that form on the leaves and buds of marijuana. Trichomes are tiny, bulbous glands that protrude from the surface of the buds and leaves of late-stage cannabis plants. These trichomes can be removed from the plant material, producing kief, a powerfully concentrated form of cannabis.
An Arabic word meaning “pleasure” or “intoxication”, kief contains a high concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes, offering a more potent option than traditional marijuana flower. However, kief is less powerful than extracted concentrates like marijuana shatter or wax.
Kief, also known as “dry sift” or “pollen,” looks like shimmery, powder-like crystals. High-quality kief is generally light tan or blonde in color and produces a potent aroma. Kief that is green likely contains additional plant matter and isn’t as pure or concentrated as lightly colored tan or blonde kief.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF KIEF?
Weed connoisseurs typically enjoy kief because its potent concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes offers a more powerful high than many other cannabis products. While the potency of kief varies depending on the marijuana plant from which it’s sourced, it often tests at over 50 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a notable bump up from marijuana flower’s average THC of 12-25 percent.
Kief is both easy to collect and convenient to use. It doesn’t require expensive extraction equipment like some other concentrates, so it’s easy to collect kief yourself at home.
You can consume kief in several lung-friendly ways, such as using it in a vape pen or adding it to edibles, that avoid the dangers and toxins of combustion.
HOW TO COLLECT KIEF
While there are several methods you can use to collect kief, the easiest way to do it on your own is to use a three-chamber herb grinder when breaking down your marijuana. Three-chamber grinders typically feature fine stainless steel screens and a separate chamber specifically for catching any kief powder that breaks off your marijuana flower.
As the flower is ground, the second chamber catches the plant matter found in the herb, while the microscopic trichomes pass through the screen to the bottom of the grinder. In a single chamber grinder, these trichomes can stick to the inside of your grinder instead. A three-chamber grinder is great for passively catching small amounts of kief.
Learn more about picking the right grinder here.
To collect larger amounts of kief from your cannabis, all you need is a silk screen like those used in t-shirt printing. These can be found at most art supply stores. These screens are rated by LPI (lines per inch). To sift cannabis flower to collect its kief, you will want a screen between 80 and 270 LPI.
When sifting for kief, many will use a series of screens with consecutively smaller holes to further refine their kief with each screen. If you use a single screen, you will have less “green” material in your kief with a higher screen LPI.
You can invest a bit more and purchase a kief box or flat screen sifter online. Ideally designed to capture the highest quality kief with minimal loss, these specialty products are available in a number of cannabis accessories shops and even from some big box retailers.
The best way to sift your cannabis using the screen method is to add finely ground to the top of your screen and then push it around the screen with light force using an old gift card, credit card, etc. Be sure to sift your marijuana flower over a container to catch your kief. After sifting your cannabis flower for kief, it will have diminished potency, since the trichomes in kief contain the plant’s cannabinoids.
You can also purchase kief from many legal marijuana dispensaries. Preserve the potency and quality of your homemade or store bought kief by keeping it in an airtight container placed in a cool, dark, and dry place. Stir the kief every few days with a comb to keep it from sticking together.
HOW TO USE KIEF
Once you’ve collected your cannabis kief, there are several ways that it can be consumed. The high concentrations of cannabinoids must be exposed to heat to become active and produce a mind-altering effect.
Here are some common, popular ways to use kief:
Smoking kief by itself
Kief can be smoked by itself out of most smoking hardware like a glass pipe. There a few things to keep in mind when smoking kief by itself. Because it is powder, fine kief may fall into your bowl when you inhale. Kief tends to hold a flame, so once you light it, kief will likely stay lit.
Sprinkle kief on marijuana flower
One of the most popular ways to use kief is to sprinkle it on top of ground marijuana flower that is then smoked or vaped. Adding kief to your marijuana flower before using it boosts your flower’s potency, allowing you to smoke or vape less to achieve the same results.
Roll kief into joints or blunts
You can also sprinkle kief into a joint or blunt before you roll it. Simply mix your kief with your ground flower and roll your joint or blunt like you normally would.
You can also get creative by adding your kief to the outside of your blunt or joint. Most people who do this first lightly wet the outside of their joint with cannabis oil. Then roll your joint in your kief. This will create a fuzzy effect that has earned them the name “tarantula” joints.
Add kief into your morning coffee or tea
The heat of your coffee or tea can activate the kief’s cannabinoids. To make kief coffee or tea, simply sprinkle kief powder into your mug and stir. Since the cannabinoids will be digested before reaching your bloodstream, taking kief this way offers delayed, yet longer lasting and stronger effects.
Blend kief into butter
Kief butter can be used in baking recipes to make highly-potent marijuana edibles, such as kief cupcakes, kief brownies, and more.
Here’s how to do it:
- Melt the butter into a crockpot set to medium heat
- Add kief
- Stir the melted kief butter mix every 15 minutes for 5 hours
- Transfer the kief butter into a bowl
- Let it cool fully
- Cover the bowl and place it into the refrigerator to harden
Once you have infused your kief into your butter, you can use this kief butter to create a wide range of edibles, or you can simply spread it on toast and enjoy.
The potency of your butter will depend on how much kief you add. To avoid an unpleasant experience, start small. You can always take more of an edible if necessary and adjust up with your next batch of kief butter for greater potency.
You can also make cannabutter using ground marijuana flower.
You can also use kief to make homemade hash. This is done by applying heat and pressure in order to fuse powdery kief into a more solid block. To make hash at home using kief, you will want to carefully place your kief in a folded piece of parchment paper. Try to get all your kief together in a pile so that it fuses together completely. Then press the parchment paper with a hair flat iron or clothes iron, being careful not to overheat the hash or parchment paper. Because the process to make kief hash bursts the oil filled glands, hash is usually darker and stickier than kief. Whether you prefer to smoke kief vs hash will likely be a personal decision.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MARIJUANA
Marijuana is legal in some capacity in more than half of U.S. states. 33 states have legalized medical marijuana, while 11 have passed laws permitting marijuana for recreational purposes.
You can find more information about the marijuana laws where you live by visiting our education page, or learn how to grow your own weed, how to make homemade rosin, and how to make a gravity bong by visiting our Cannabis 101 page.