Upon the mention of cannabis, the first thing that pops to mind is THC or CBD, but there's more to the plant than these two common compounds. One lesser-known byproduct of the cannabis plant is kief, which falls under the umbrella of products commonly referred to as "hash" or "cannabis concentrate."
Unlike other techniques of concentrating cannabis, making kief at home is pretty straightforward and fun, and the best part - it requires almost no extra investment.
What is Kief Weed?
Kief is a product collected from cannabis flowers and leaves. So, if you have weed, you have kief. But what is kief weed, exactly?
The cannabis plant's surface is usually covered with crystal-like resinous glands known as trichomes, which contain THC, CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids. When these trichomes dry and break away from the plant, they become kief – a beige, gold, or brown powdery substance. It usually has a stickier feel than trichomes on a bud. If it appears dark or green, that means it still contains plant matter, but expertly cleaned kief will have more of an off-white tinge.
Cannabis enthusiasts add kief to hand pipe bowls or joints to enhance their hit potency. Otherwise, you can also press it to form "hash."
How Do You Extract Kief?
Extracting kief from a cannabis flower or bud is easy. You can use a 3- or 4-piece grinder with an in-built filtration screen. When grinding cannabis, trichomes separate from the flower and fall off of nugs and into a chamber at the grinder's base called a kief catcher.
While the process is easy enough, collecting kief crystals takes time, typically weeks or months. Once a sufficient amount of kief has been collected, you can retrieve it by simply unscrewing the catcher and scooping out the kief.
Cannabis dispensaries and retail stores use a more professional technique that involves filtering and refining kief through a series of microscreens built into wooden boxes called "kief boxes." These boxes allow you to filter out various grades of the product to get to the ultimate goal, which is kief composed purely of tiny trichome heads, rather than the original mixture that comprises plant parts, trichome stalks, and other particulate matter.
This super-pure kief is often "99% sift, indicating that it's close to 99% pure trichome heads. You won't get that close on your first attempt, but if you're a dedicated kief sifter, you'll tend to make a better product with time.
How to Use Kief Weed
Most people add kief to weed pipe bowls or joints to add a punch of potency or flavor to normal flowers. You can even go a step further to press your refined kief using low heat to make something similar to a shatter, which is easier to work with than powdery, dusty kief.
But, what's the best way of consuming kief? Here are a few ways to amplify your smoking experience with kief.
1. Sprinkle kief onto a bowl of cannabis
Also referred to as "crowning a bowl," this is the most common way of using kief, and it will enhance the potency of your ground marijuana. However, this method doesn't allow you to experience kief on its own.
A recommended way of smoking kief is to use a screen on top of your glass pipe or chillum. You can buy specialty titanium screens at a well-stocked head shop or use a standard stainless steel pipe with no issues.
Focus your hits on specific sections of your kief-laced bowl; that entails burning a small quadrant of the bowl at a time using an indirect flame (held at an inch or two above the kief). This method ensures the full release of essential oils while preventing the kief from burning. Refined trichome heads will begin to bubble and melt, delivering an enhanced, full-flavored hit and leaving behind little residue.
2. Sprinkle kief into a joint
Another way of smoking kief is to sprinkle a healthy pinch to your cannabis when rolling a joint, spliff, or blunt to get that extra kick.
Alternatively, you can also "twax" your joint. To do that, dampen the outside of your joint with a lick, roll the top 1/3 of the joint in some kief, and light it up.
Pros and Cons of Kief Weed
When trying kief (or any other form of cannabis), it's critical to understand the advantages and disadvantages (risks) to find the consumption method that suits your unique needs.
- Contains no plant materials, making for a smoother, flavored, and less harsh smoking experience
- Has a higher potency as the dried trichomes contain a high concentration of THC, CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids
- Is highly versatile – You can consume it in different ways
- Kief can be too potent for some individuals
- Storing trichomes can be challenging since trichome heads are so tiny and can be blown away easily
- Solvent extraction is limited to professional sifters, as the process requires testing the product for residue.
Is Kief Weed Safe?
Unlike hashish, which is made using solvents (such as water, propane, butane, and ethanol), kief has no safety or health risks. It's a great alternative for consumers who prefer not to have solvents in their concentrat. Kief extraction is a supremely natural technique of concentrating weed, dating back thousands of years to hash-making destinations, such as Afghanistan and Morocco. In the latter, however, kief doesn't refer to cannabis trichomes alone, but a mixture of ground cannabis and tobacco smoked through a weed pipe known as "sebsi."
Solvent-based hash can get moldy and pose safety and health risks if poorly made, but kief is fool-proof, meaning you'll always be using a safe and natural product that is more potent and pure than straight-up cannabis.
To Sum Up
For cannabis buffs who want to take their smoking experience a notch higher, kief is an excellent option. Extracting it is super easy, and all you need is cannabis flowers and a 3- or 4-piece grinder with a kief catcher. The only caveat is that accumulating hit-worthy kief may take weeks or months, but once you have a substantial amount, you can crown your bowl with the dried trichome heads or sprinkle them on your cannabis when rolling your joint. The advantage is that kief is safe to smoke as it is a natural cannabis concentrate. It's also more potent and versatile.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I dab or vape kief?
Generally, no. Most kief isn't pure enough for traditional dabbing/vaping methods, but there are exceptions. If you can find something close to a 99% sift, you can dab it and even use it in vape devices.
How potent is kief?
Typically, smoking kief offers a much stronger "high" than regular cannabis flowers. While normal marijuana contains 12-25% THC, kief can be up to 70% THC, depending on purity. That means you get a much stronger kick from less material smoked.
Can I add kief to cannabutter?
Yes! If you've made cannabutter but think it's not potent enough, you can add a little decarboxylated kief to the butter to enhance potency. You can also add kief to your tea, coffee, or cream; or infuse it into your olive or coconut oil to make canna oil.
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