Kief

ˈkēf | Noun

Definition:

An accumulation of the trichomes, or resin glands, sifted from cannabis flowers with a mesh screen or sieve. Kief is the most potent part of the cannabis plant in terms of cannabinoids with a high concentration of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). It can be pressed into hash, used as an ingredient to infuse food, or to top off joints and blunts.

 

“He sprinkled some kief on top of the joint to give it an extra kick.”

 

“The grinder came equipped with a kief catcher.”

What is Kief?

Kief is made by separating the trichomes, which contain the marijuana plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes, from the rest of the cannabis flower. Because it is more potent than cannabis flower, less is needed in order to feel the desired effects.

How to Get Kief

Kief is also the name for the trichome glands that collect at the bottom of your grinder, and grinding your flower is the easiest way to get it at home.

What is a Kief Catcher?

Many grinders, typically those made of aluminum or stainless steel, come with a kief catcher, which is the bottom chamber of the grinder that uses a screen to catch the trichomes as you grind your cannabis flower. As you grind your flower, the trichomes will sift through the screen and collect kief in the catcher. Once you’ve accumulated a decent amount, you can remove it with a scraper.

 

If you’re looking to process large quantities at home, you can purchase a kief box, which typically has two chambers — one for sifting cannabis flower and the other for catching kief. Put your cannabis into the chamber, close the box and shake. As you shake the flower, the trichomes fall off, get sifted through the mesh screen, and end up in the chamber.  

What is Dry Sift?

On a commercial level, cannabis is sieved in a vibratory sifter over a series of screens to create dry sift. The term “dry sift” is essentially another term to describe kief, only it typically denotes the process of collecting large amounts of kief. Though collecting dry sift is typically a commercial endeavor, there are a couple of options for making dry sift at home, namely through a set of sifting screens or a tumbler — a mesh cylinder or drum that rotates and sifts kief into a catch surface or container. 

Making Dry Sift or Kief with Sifting Screens

When making dry sift with sifting screens, hash makers use three screens of varying micron sizes to most effectively separate and capture trichome heads from the rest of the plant. Microns are a measurement for the openings in a filter screen. The sizes of screens should start at roughly 140 microns, then 100, and 70 at the bottom. 

 

Hash makers also use enclosed sift boxes, which encase separated stacks of screens. Dropping dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) pellets onto a sifting screen prior to a sift is a common method of making purer kief. Dry ice will make the trichome glands more brittle, which helps them break off faster and more easily. Sifting will then require less agitation, which in turn reduces the amount of marijuana plant material that sneaks into the sift.

The 6-Star Melt System

Kief is a solventless concentrate, so its quality is generally measured by how well it melts. The six-star rating system is the most popular way to measure the quality of solventless concentrates among hash makers, and it’s also used to separate dry sift into different levels of purity. The six-star system divides dry sift into the following categories:

  • 1-2 star melt: cooking-grade hash with relatively high amounts of plant matter. 
  • 3-4 star melt: AKA “halfmelt,” a lower-grade hash that only melts halfway. 
  • 5-6 star: AKA “full melt,” the purest form of dabbable dry sift.

Though highly subjective, the six-star melt system offers a sufficient rubric with which to identify both high and lower-quality dry sift.

Is Kief Dangerous?

Kief offers high concentrations of THC, but when properly consumed, it presents no more of a danger to the consumer than cannabis concentrates and extracts. Can you get high from sniffing kief? Not likely, as THC requires a lot of heat to decarboxylate and activate for its intoxicating effect. So, it’s best not to snort kief, but instead use any one of the following, more effective ways:

How to Use Kief

Sprinkle it on top of a Bowl, Joint, Blunt, or into a Hookah

Sprinkling a generous dusting of kief to the top of a packed bowl, joint, or blunt can dramatically increase the potency, making for a more intense and longer-lasting high. When smoking kief, it will also burn slowly, extending the time it takes to smoke — perfect if you enjoy long smoke sessions with friends. If you’re a fan of smoking shisha out of a hookah, you can sprinkle it on top of the tobacco before adding the hot coals. 

Make ‘Moonrocks’ 

Kief can also be used to make what are known as “moonrocks.” To create moonrocks, high-quality cannabis flowers are covered in hot oil and sprinkled with kief. Once the rocks harden, they can be broken up and smoked, delivering a potent high. Moonrocks typically average at more than 50% THC. 

Add it to Tea or Coffee

Heat can activate cannabinoids, so if you add kief to hot beverages such as coffee or tea, it can produce similar effects to edible weed products. If added to your favorite hot morning beverage, expect the effects to kick in 15 to 45 minutes after you consume. 

Are Hash and Kief the Same Thing? 

No, but you can press kief into hash and dab it. The most common way to consume hash is to smoke it, either by itself or with flower, as dab rigs have become a popular mode of consuming concentrates, dabbing hash has become a more common alternative. Hash is made by removing the trichome glands from a cannabis plant and compressing the resin into a hardened, solid piece.

 

Kief is easily used to make hash. All it needs is heat and pressure. Add it to the center of a piece of parchment paper. Fold the paper tightly around the kief, and then apply heat and pressure. 

 

Typically the heat from your hand should be enough, but you can also use a hair straightener or a temperature-controlled press.