What is Kief and How to Use and Extract It

avatar WeedWeek / Jul 1, 2020

Kief is often considered the holy grail when it comes to consuming marijuana. Containing some of the highest and purest concentrations of the very best parts of weed, kief can add an extra kick to joints, drinks, or bong hits. Being cost-effective and healthier than smoking, it is definitely something you should learn about  – and we’re here to help. 

What Is Kief?

From a distance, kief appears as the sticky-feeling, sugary-looking coating on mature marijuana flowers. Up close, and especially under a magnifying glass or microscope, a whole new picture emerges. Weed flowers are covered in tiny mushroom-shaped structures known as trichomes. Kief refers specifically to the tips of these trichomes, or the mushroom caps, which is a resin gland containing the highest concentration of terpenes and cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, that are central to the experience of weed. 

What Are The Benefits Of Kief?

There are many benefits to consuming kief. For one, because of its potency and purity, it reduces the need to inhale charred plant material into your lungs. Like any type of smoking, this activity can be bad for your body, especially over time. Consuming concentrated products allows you to more precisely isolate cannabinoids without having to inhale the rest of the burning plant matter along with it. And because of its potency, you can consume less product overall to achieve desired results. 

Are Kief And Hash The Same Thing?

Kief is a collection of trichomes that have been separated from the cannabis sativa plant, appearing as a dusty or sandy dry substance ranging in color from light green to dark brown. Hash is the term for a mass of kief which has been heated and compressed for ease of use, transport or storage. Hash can take many different forms, from dark, hardened bricks, to more pliable, sticky balls. Cannabinoid and terpene concentrations within hash will vary based on the collection methods, some of which are described below. 

Ways To Extract Kief

Kief can be fairly pricey to purchase from a distributor. Fortunately, there are easy ways to extract it from cannabis flowers, some require little experience or equipment while others are suited for more industrial production. 

As previously noted, kief produced from any of these methods can range in color from a dark amber to off-white. The lighter the color, the purer it is. The color can change during the extraction process; in some cases, the initial stages of the extraction yield a purer product. This is why it’s recommended to do extraction in phases, so that the purer concentrate doesn’t become tainted with product containing higher quantities of plant material.

Below are three popular extraction methods to try. 

Cannabis Grinder

This method is so simple, you’ve likely already been extracting kief without even knowing it. Many typical hand-held grinders come with three chambers, which naturally filter weed as you grind bud for joints or other purposes. By the time the plant material reaches the bottom chamber, all that’s left are pure crystals. The only downside with the cannabis grinder method is that it yields relatively small amounts. 

Dry Ice

Anytime you lower the temperature of oil, it becomes brittle. This is the principle in play when it comes to dry ice kief extraction. In the process, the resin glands atop trichomes are exposed to cold temperatures and easily break off from the plant matter. Place dried and unground cannabis plants into a container of some kind (a can or bucket works well), along with a few hunks of dried ice. Then fit a sieve with 160-micron mesh over the top of the container, and turn the whole thing upside down. Shaking the container begins to break off the trichomes. 

The first few shakes will allow only the resinous glands to pass through, which is the highest quality kief you can get. Subsequent shakes will result in more plant matter passing through the sieve, which reduces the overall grade but still yields a highly concentrated product. The dry ice method is excellent for large quantities of bud and is a relatively quick process.  

Dry Sift

Dry sifting is a great method for extracting trichomes from larger volumes of plant material, and doesn’t require a ton of equipment – although it can be a bit labor intensive. Using mesh screens measuring from 80 to 270 microns wide, dried cannabis is rubbed across these surfaces so that the trichomes become separated and fall through the mesh. This method works best in colder environments, such as a basement. Hotter temperatures will make the resin too sticky to pass through the filter.

How To Use Kief

There are many ways to use kief, so don’t be afraid to get creative! It can be a great addition to a variety of foods, beverages or other cannabis consumption methods, providing an extra boost of cannabinoids and terpenes. Keep in mind that kief is a concentrated product, so generally consuming smaller quantities will be sufficient. 

Add To Joint

Sprinkling a little bit of kief into a regular joint is one way to seriously boost the THC content. A little will likely go a long way, especially for those who are occasional smokers. Another more adventurous way to add it to joints is to wet the outside of a rolled spliff and coat the paper with kief. The end result looks like a sugar-crusted joint – yum! 

Coffee Or Tea

Adding kief into coffee or tea can be a fun and delicious treat. To do so, it should first be put through a process of decarboxylation, meaning a slow and low cooking process that activates cannabinoids like THC into their potent form. Decarbing should be done at a temperature of around 220 to 245 degrees fahrenheit for around 20-40 minutes. Then simply add to your coffee with a full-fat milk, and enjoy.

Make Hash

Hash is kief that has been packed together to allow for easy storage or transport. There are many ways to turn kief into hash, but the basic ingredients are heat and pressure. The easiest is finger hash: take a bit of kief between your finger and thumb, and roll for a few minutes. The result will be a darkened, malleable bit of hash. Another simple method involves collecting kief into a pile, covering it with paper and running a warmed rolling pin over it, or a mason jar filled with hot water. The warmed surfaces and gentle pressure should result in a nicely-packed slab. 

Make Moon Rocks

Making Moon Rocks is a bit like making battered onion rings – the difference being, of course, that Moon Rocks will get you *extremely* high. Moon Rocks are dried marijuana flowers that are coated with hash oil, then sprinkled with kief. Proceed with caution! 

Smoking Kief By Itself

Using a bong is one way to smoke kief by itself. This is more easily accomplished when you use screens for your bowls to ensure that it doesn’t travel up the pipe. However, if you don’t have screens, lining the bowl with a small amount of tobacco or flower will do in a pinch.

Sprinkle Kief On Marijuana Flower

Kief can be sprinkled onto marijuana flower when it’s packed into a pipe or bong bowl. This is known as “crowning the bowl”. You can also layer the bowl with kief, then flower, and repeat, for additional effect. 

Vaporize

For best results, it’s recommended to use a little bit of dried flower to layer in with kief when vaporizing, to ensure that the cannabinoids and terpenes are heated to the ideal temperature. Using a dry-herb vaporizer is the best choice. 

What Are The Best Strains For Kief?

When making kief, its best to look for cannabis strains that are heavy in the trichome department – although it should be noted that new cannabis strains are always being created. Leafly has assembled a list of the 10 best strains for kief : 

  1. Hash plant
  2. G13
  3. White Widow
  4. Chemdawg
  5. OG Kush
  6. White Dawg
  7. Chernobyl
  8. Sour Diesel
  9. Hashberry
  10. Sharksbreath

How To Store Kief

Use a clean glass container with a good seal and keep it in a cool dark place. Ensure the kief is exposed to as little heat and light as possible, since these things will degrade the potency over time. Kief can keep for a relatively long time as long as it is stored correctly. 

Is Kief Dangerous?

Kief is not dangerous. However, as a concentrated product, a little goes a long way, so it is wise to begin with small amounts. As with all drugs, moderation is key in consuming responsibly and safely. It is important to learn and understand your limits for consuming cannabis in general. Keep in mind that each person reacts differently, based on factors including metabolism and body weight.

Conclusion

Kief is king when it comes to pure cannabinoid bliss. Whether smoking it, adding it to coffee, or being blasted to the moon with some truly outlandish recipes, there are so many ways to reap the benefits of this product. And being relatively easy to produce, even for beginners, it’s little wonder why kief is so sought-after. 

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