Many cannabis consumers have heard the term kief, but a shockingly high percentage of them have no idea what it means, what it refers to or why they should care in the first place. This is a shame, as kief is one of the richest THC sources in the world, and it provides a potent high for recreational users and plenty of medicinal value for those suffering from arthritis pain, insomnia or a number of other health conditions.
What Is Kief?
Kief is the name given to the trichomes – commonly called crystals or pollen – that coat the surface of cannabis plants, especially the flowers. Trichomes are actually found on a variety of different plant species, but they have special importance for marijuana consumers: Trichomes are absurdly rich in THC and other cannabinoids that provide the desired effects attributed to cannabis.
In addition to cannabinoids, kief also contains terpenes – the volatile compounds that give cannabis its flavor and contribute to its odor. Different strains have different terpenes, causing some buds to smell floral, while others smell musky or citrus-like.
You can collect kief by simply rubbing or knocking the trichomes off of some dried cannabis – that’s how they’ve done it in Asia for hundreds of years. However, there are other, more efficient ways to collect kief as well. The most common way to do so involves placing the raw cannabis in a grinder, which has a “pollen catcher” or kief screen in between the components. This screen will collect the kief, which you can then dump out and use.
Alternatively, ice water, alcohol and other solvents can be used to help remove the kief from the raw cannabis. However, these methods are more difficult, often require specialized equipment and may be dangerous.
Just as there are several ways to collect kief, there are several different ways to consume it too.
Press It and Store for Later Use – You can use a kief press to compress the kief into small “tablets” for later use. This makes it easy to store your kief (which, once pressed, is essentially hash), but it also makes it easy to break up the kief into specific quantities. For example, some presses are designed to make kief tablets in ½ gram increments.
Cooking – Kief makes an excellent source for the THC in your next batch of edibles. You can use it in just about any recipe calling for raw, whole cannabis. Because kief is composed of much more THC than raw cannabis, it is usually wise to use half as much kief as you would raw cannabis. One of the best ways to use kief is in the manufacture of cannabis oils and butters; because it doesn’t contribute as much flavor as whole cannabis does, it won’t alter the taste of your food as much.
Smoking – You can pack kief into a pipe and smoke it just as you would raw cannabis, or you can sprinkle it over some cannabis and roll it into a joint to help increase its potency.
Vaporizing – If you have a vaporizer that works with dry cannabis, you can load it with kief instead and use it as you normally would.