A concentrate created through the accumulation of trichome glands from cured cannabis. Dry sift, also called kief, is the least expensive type of concentrate to produce, but one of the hardest to make. It is made by sifting cannabis through dry sift screens that vary in size, depending on how large or small the trichomes are. Dry sift can be used on its own, mixed with tobacco, or mixed with cannabis buds for additional potency.

What is dry sift?

Dry sift is a concentrate made up of trichome glands characterized by its soft-sand texture and appearance. It is not considered an extract because the trichome glands that make up dry sift are mechanically removed from the plant material without the use of solvents. Dry sift can be made at home by sifting and sieving plant material over a screen. Commercial dry sift manufacturers employ the use of vibratory sieves in order to process industrial amounts of cannabis.

(Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

Trichome glands are the small appendages on the plants surface that produce the terpenes and cannabinoids. You can think of the trichome glands on cured plant material like ripe apples on trees. The easiest way to remove those apples would be to shake the entire tree and to help the fruits fall off. By shaking the tree, you would apply mechanical energy, which would allow the apples to break off the tree and fall to the ground. If you shake the tree hard enough to get most the apples off, it's likely that some branches might fall off as well. If you were to catch all material falling from the tree using a screen with holes the size of the apples, you would catch any “contaminants” that fell off the tree and ensure that only ripe apples were filtered through.

Dry sift is made the same way. Plant material is agitated over a screen with sizes that correspond with the size of trichome glands; allowing trichomes to fall through the screen while holding back any plant material that would reduce the purity of the sift. Trichome glands are in diameters of 20 to 120 microns, which correspond with the most commonly used screens.

The larger micron sizes capture the entire capillary-stalked trichomes (90- 120 microns), while the smaller micron sizes (20-40 microns) isolate the glands from the stalks.

The purity of dry sift largely depends on the size of the sifting screens, the technique employed throughout the process, and the moisture content of the plant material. Dry sift can be further refined by “carding,” or gently rubbing the sift with a card over smaller screens; or even pressing the lower-melt sift into rosin.

Consuming dry sift

Like every form of cannabis concentrates, dry sift has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest advantages of dry sift is that it's made through a solventless process, which keeps the entire trichome gland intact and yields a full-spectrum concentrate. The startup cost for making dry sift at home is also relatively inexpensive.

But while dry sift is relatively cheap to make, it's also labor- and time-intensive. It may also contain larger amounts of plant contaminants than solvent-based extracts. These contaminants are not harmful, but they do reduce the likelihood of producing a dabbable concentrate.

How to use dry sift

Dry sift is a fairly versatile concentrate. The method that is used to consume dry sift is typically associated with its star rating.

(Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

It's fairly easy to press a 5-star or 6-star kief into a dabbable hash by placing it in between two pieces of parchment paper and pressing with your hand. Three- to 4-star dry sift is great for sprinkling on a bowl of flower, or lacing in a joint or blunt. If you like smoking hookah, dry sift can also be added to hookah coals for a big boost in flavor and effect. Any product in the 1-star to 2-star category is usually used for making edibles.

How to store dry sift

Depending on the consistency, concentrates are typically stored in a glass or silicone jar or in parchment paper. Jars work great for short-term storage of kief, especially when kept in the refrigerator. For long-term storage, kief should be vacuum-sealed and kept in a glass container in the freezer.

Hash makers have two main options for making dry sift at home, with either a set of sifting screens or a tumbler. Sifting screens can either be bought on their own or as part of a siftbox, which encases, stacks, and separates the screens for full functionality inside a clean, enclosed box. A tumbler is a mesh cylinder or drum that holds plant material and sifts it when rotated, usually accompanied by a container or flat catch surface where the dry sift collects.

Making dry sift from trim or flower

To dry sift trim or flower, you'll need the following equipment:

  • A clean glass table
  • Dry sift boxes or silk screens for hash
  • Cannabis trim or cured flower
  • A utility blade, credit card, or plastic ID card for scraping the dry sift together
  • Gloves

With the necessary equipment in hand, here is how to sieve your plant material and harvest the precious trichomes:

  1. If you are using screens, clean the surface of your glass or table and place the screen on it.
  • It is extremely important to ensure that there are no small particulates on the screens.
  1. Gently place the trim or lightly ground flower onto the screen.
  • Add enough to almost fill the entire surface area of the screen.
  • Make sure that most of the plant material is making contact with the screen, not sitting on top of other plant material.
  • Note: At this point, the most ripe trichome glands may have made their way through the screen. Some processors will lift the screen and scrape that fraction to the side.
  1. Gently agitate the material. No excessive force or pressure is necessary.
  • You can run your hands over the material, shake the screens from side to side, or even shake the screen up and down, allowing the plant material to bounce off the screen.
  • The largest and most ripe trichomes will break off first with little effort. Smaller trichomes and those not on the immediate surface of the plant may require more agitation.
  • If it's your first time making a dry sift, agitate for 30-120 seconds.
  • Note: Agitating the material requires a delicate balance. Too much force can increase the amount of particulates that make their way into the final product.
  1. Collect your dry sift and repeat.
  • Move the screen to the side and use the utility blade or card to scrape the dry sift into a pile.
  • This will allow you to separate your dry sift into different grades.

What micron screen is best for kief?

The openings in a filter screen are measured in microns. Using screens of varying micron sizes is how hash makers capture the trichome heads and separate them from the rest of the plant.

Trichome glands exist in diameters of 20 to 120 microns, which correspond with the micron sizes on the most commonly used screens.

The larger micron sizes capture the entire capillary-stalked trichomes (90- 120 microns), while the smaller micron sizes (20-40 microns) isolate the glands from the stalks.

The purity of dry sift largely depends on the size of the sifting screens, the technique employed throughout the process, and the moisture content of the plant material.

Can you dry sift with bubble bags?

Dry sifting with bubble bags is fairly easy. All you need are two five-gallon buckets and pre-frozen plant material in order for the trichomes to break off and result in a top-quality bubble hash. In terms of dry sift vs. bubble hash, dry sifting is a somewhat easier process than producing bubble hash. With dry sifting, you use kief screens, but with bubble hash you work with water, ice, and bubble bags. The dry sifting process saves time and energy, but bubble hash may produce a richer flavor due to an increased quantity of terpenoids and flavonoids. 

What temperature should I press dry sift?

A temperature range of 170 degrees to 230 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for oil extraction. Specifically, the lower end of the range is more favorable for dry sift while the higher end of the range works better for flower. 

What is full melt dry sift?

The quality of solventless concentrates, including dry sift, is generally measured by how well it melts. Hash makers use a star rating system to grade hash quality. While there is no universal system, the six-star rating system is one of the most popular amongst hash makers. It's also useful for separating your dry sift into different grades of quality or purity. A one- to two-star melt is considered cooking-grade hash, primarily due to the relatively high amounts of plant matter. A three- to four-star melt, or “half melt,” is a lower-grade hash that only melts halfway. A five- to six-star “full melt” is considered the purest form of dry sift that can be dabbed on its own. 

The six-star rating system is subjective, but it does provide a sufficient avenue to single out pure, quality dry sift. The higher the rating, the better your kief will melt. The lower the rating, the more plant contaminants it will have.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on June 18, 2021.