Kief is a common name for the sticky, powder-like crystals found on marijuana flowers.
If you’re a marijuana smoker, chances are you’ve heard of kief. Kief is a powdery substance containing marijuana’s active compounds.
Like marijuana flowers, kief can be smoked, vaporized or made into edibles. Most commonly found as a fine green powder, kief is a great way to get the benefits of marijuana in a concentrated form.
Kief is a powder of fine crystals containing marijuana’s active compounds, including THC and CBD.
These crystals are known as trichomes, the microscopic mushroom-like structures on the surface of the bud, leaves and stalk of the cannabis plant. Kief is essentially a collection of separated trichomes.
Kief’s appearance will range from white to green depending on how much of the raw plant matter still remains.
Though kief can be considered a byproduct of the marijuana plant, it actually contains a very high concentration of both cannabinoids and terpenes. These active compounds have health benefits, and are responsible for marijuana’s effects.
Uses of Kief
Though kief is different from dried marijuana plant matter in both texture and appearance, it can be used in similar ways.
Some people like to sprinkle a little bit of kief on top of the flowers in their pipe, bong or joint. If you prefer to smoke the kief alone, it’s best to do so using either a stainless steel or titanium pipe screen to prevent accidentally breathing in the particles.
Gently heating the kief about 1-2 inches over a flame is the best way to release its active compounds while avoiding any chance of burning the product.
Another popular way to consume kief is to make hash. Hash is essentially just pressed kief. The easiest method is “finger hash”, made by simply massaging the kief powder in the user’s hands until a sticky ball forms.
Although making finger hash is a simple process, it can be messy and low-yield. So other methods, such as the bubble hash method, are often preferred.
To make bubble hash, marijuana buds are typically soaked in ice water and then shaken to release the trichome heads. The kief is then filtered out through a fine sieve and pressed into a hash cake.
Vaping, Dabbing, and Edibles
Kief can also be vaporized or dabbed. Because it is concentrated, it creates a very strong effect. Like other cannabis products, kief can also be used in marijuana edibles.
Kief is actually preferred by some people for making edibles. Since less kief needs to be used for the same potency, it’s less likely to affect the flavor and can be easier to cook or bake with.
The easiest way to cook with kief is to use it to make cannabutter, which can then be used in your favorite edible recipes.
Kief vs. Other Concentrates
Kief is considered to be one of the purest cannabis concentrates available. Solvent-based concentrates sometimes even attempt to mimic concentrates like kief by adding in terpenes and plant chemicals after separating them out.
Kief can be used as medical marijuana. It’s considered quite good for this purpose because it creates a “whole plant experience”, including all of the active compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes.
It also avoids producing excessive tar, and doesn’t contain any additives.
While concentrates such as oils and CO2 extracts are convenient, they often contain additional ingredients such as propylene glycol. Kief consists of pure trichomes, so it’s 100% natural.
How To Collect Kief
The easiest and most popular way to collect kief is to use a three-chamber grinder. While most grinders only contain two chambers, a three-chamber, or even four-chamber grinder will ensure you are separating out the fine powder.
Alternatively, three-layered screens can also be used to extract larger amounts of kief with the finest screen on the bottom and the broadest on top.
A more complicated method is called the “dry ice method”. This method involves shaking plant matter in a container with dry ice cubes, covering with a fine silk screen and then sifting out the kief.
Homemade methods will produce a kief that is amber or pale green in color. If you are looking for a paler, more concentrated kief, you may have to visit your local dispensary and seek out a trusted product.
Pure kief, also known as “99% sift”, requires the use of advanced equipment and professional extraction techniques which would be nearly impossible to accomplish at home.
“The very best kief can sell for upwards of $200 per gram because the yields are so very low and it is such a complicated, labor-intensive, skill-based process,” says cannabis photographer and expert Ry Prichard.
Benefits of Kief
Kief is a naturally concentrated form of marijuana, containing high levels of marijuana’s active compounds. Most kief tests at over 50% THC, while cannabis flowers tend to test between 12-25%. Pure kief (99% sift) can contain upwards of 80% THC.
Kief avoids the additives, solvents, and byproducts associated with hash oil or CO2 extraction concentrates. It’s a more natural form of concentrate because it comes directly from the marijuana plant.
Kief is also a great choice if you want to avoid the negative health effects of smoking marijuana. Because it contains no plant matter, kief produces very little tar, resulting in a cleaner and healthier hit.
Drawbacks of Kief
Though kief can be beneficial to those who use it, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of. Kief can be hard to dose, may be tough to collect, and the product can be inconsistent.
Kief is a highly concentrated product. As with other concentrates, kief can be challenging to dose. Because so little kief is required to get you high, it can be hard to measure the correct dose by just eyeballing.
It’s always important to use a scale and to start slow when experimenting with any concentrate.
Collecting kief can also be challenging. Because it is light, delicate, and powdery, it can be easy to lose some of the powder in the extraction process.
Finally, kief may vary in its strength and potency depending on the plant’s strain, growing conditions, and other factors.
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