What is Kief?
Although you may not know it as “kief,” that’s the correct term for those tiny, sticky crystals that cover cannabis flower. Kief is also known as dry sift or pollen.
Kief is the name for the resin glands that contain the terpenes and cannabinoids of cannabis. While marijuana without kief does still contain cannabinoids, the resin glands that develop on the buds pack the biggest punch in terms of producing a powerful high.
Built-in Protection for Cannabis Plants
While kief refers to the bulbous, crystal formations on flower, the substance itself is one part of what’s known as a “trichome” or a “hair.”
Several plants and algae have external trichomes — mostly for evolutionary puporses. For example, some carnivorous plants rely on their sticky trichomes to trap their prey — think of a Venus Fly Trap. Whil other plants, such as cannabis, use them to deter herbivores from eating them.
Trichomes on cannabis plants keep away hungry herbivores by producing intense psychoactive experiences which disorient the animal and prevent it from being able to eat the rest of the plant — evolution is pretty crazy, isn’t it? The strong odor of the resin also attracts pollinating insects and predators, which also help keep herbivores at bay.
Separating Kief from the Cannabis Plant
If you like to experience the effects of concentrates, but you don’t want to break the bank buying expensive wax or extraction equipment, you can sift through the kief manually. Because of the high concentration of terpenes and cannabinoids in resin glands, separating kief crystals from the plant is an excellent way to consume cannabis while reducing the amount of charred material you inhale into your body.
Extracting kief is quite simple. Follow these steps:
- Using a three-chamber herb grinder, finely grind the cannabis and let the kief crystals fall through a screen and collect into the compartment below.
- For larger quantities of kief, use a simple silk screening method that will allow you to separate kief from the rest of the plant matter.
When purchasing extracted kief at a dispensary or retail store, remember that the purer the kief, the lighter its color. Kief that’s still pretty green still has a decent amount of plant matter mixed in. Kief that’s been well cleaned will be off-white in color.
What do Do with Extracted Kief
- Sprinkle it onto packed bowls of marijuana — Known as a “crowning bowl,” this is the most obvious and simplest way to consume kief. The potency will increase dramatically with a generous dusting of kief on top of the bowl.
- Sprinkle it into a joint — Cannabis that’s freshly ground is just sticky enough to make rolling a joint pretty easy. Pepper your ground marijuana with a healthy dose of kief and mix it well.
- Make hash — One of the first steps of hash-making is extracting kief. Hash is basically just kief that’s been heated and pressurized to form a soft, green ball.