Moroccans know kief as a mix between cannabis and tobacco, smoked in a traditional and narrow pipe with a clay bowl called a sebsi. Some people suggest the term kief originates from the Arabic kayf, meaning pleasure, intoxication, and good times. Russian and Hebrew languages have adopted the Arabic term to denote positive emotions and sensations. Kief has been spelled as “keef” or “kif” and called “dry sift” or “pollen.” All of this confusion leaves people wondering: "what is kief?" No matter what it’s called, kief is one of the most sought-after parts of the cannabis plant.
What Is Kief?
- Kief is the collection of tiny, resinous hairs on cannabis flower nugs known as trichomes. Sticky and amber-colored trichomes contain a high concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes. Trichome hairs can be found on cannabis leaves and stems but are primarily found on the flower itself. Although trichome levels vary by marijuana strain, there are three different types of trichomes found on the cannabis plant:1. Bulbous trichomes can’t be seen with the naked eye. Bulbous trichomes are small and bulbous, specifically, between 10 to 15 micrometers or microns. For reference, a single human hair is between 40 to 40 microns wide. 2. Capitate sessile trichomes are more abundant than bulbous trichomes and have a slightly longer stalk. 3. Capitate-stalked trichomes are the most plentiful trichomes ranging between 50 to 100 microns wide. Capitate-stalked trichomes contain a basal cell stalk and a gland head.
Since kief is comprised of cannabis trichomes, and trichomes contain precursor cannabinoids like THCA and CBDA, kief is very potent. Through various methods and techniques, kief is collected by manually removing the trichomes from the cannabis flower.
Growers separate trichomes when the plant has matured, and more than half of the trichomes have turned an amber color. Certain cannabis strains lend themselves to kief production better than others. White Widow is a prime example of an excellent choice for kief.
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How To Collect Kief
Now that we’ve answered the question, “what is kief,” we can talk about how to collect kief. As an alternative to high-cost concentrates and extraction equipment, kief can provide cannabis consumers with a potent way to medicate without smoking as much organic, plant material. There are multiple ways to collect kief, some more efficient than others. Since trichome colors vary, kief can range from a light green to darker green colors, the latter meaning it might contain some plant matter.
The easiest and most accessible way to collect kief is to use a three-chamber weed grinder. When using a weed grinder, a person puts bud in between the grinder's teeth, closes the top, and twists to grind the flower.
While not as effective as other methods, weed grinders may have a kief catcher in the bottom compartment where kief is stored. However, using a marijuana grinder can cause trichomes to stick to the inside of the grinding chamber, making it difficult to remove.
Dry sifting for cannabis trichomes is far more effective than simply using a grinder, especially for large quantities of cannabis flower. Consumers can buy multiple pollen-catching screens of varying sizes to improve the collection process. Dry sifting requires layering the screens from largest to smallest and hand-rubbing nugs across screens to remove as much plant matter as possible. Kief ranges between 75 to 125 microns wide. For dry sifting kief, experienced consumers recommend using screens between 80 and 270 lines per inch (LPI).
Dry ice kief separation is one of the most convenient and efficient ways to remove trichomes from the cannabis plant.
You'll need a clean work surface, some parchment or wax paper, cannabis nugs, dry ice, and a bubble bag with a wall thickness between 90 and 120 microns for dry ice kief separation.
After pouring the marijuana and dry ice into the bubble bag, consumers can shake the bag multiple times over a clean surface to remove as much kief as possible and then collect it.
How To Use Kief
Kief can be used in various ways, from adding it to your cannabis flower to introducing it into your daily meals. The most straightforward way to consume kief is to smoke or vape it.
Since kief tends to burn faster than any other part of the cannabis plant, consumers use it sparingly. For one, consumers can throw kief on top of a bowl of ground-up flower to increase its potency and flavor.
Kief can also be added into a joint to amplify the desired effects. For a larger dose, consumers can add wax to the outside of the joint and coat the sticky part or the entire joint with kief.
Hashish, or hash, has been used for centuries across ancient Persia, the Middle East, and India. Today, cannabis consumers can apply low to high-tech methods to make hash.
Applying intense heat and pressure to collected trichomes breaks apart the resin glands leaving a brick-like substance. The pressurized process decarboxylates the kief to activate the psychoactive THC.
Depending on the technology and process used, hash can range from green to brown color.
Kief can be used to top off the extremely potent moon rocks. Moon rocks feature a flower bud covered in oil and sprinkled or drenched in kief.
While messy to make, moon rocks can be made by heating cannabis oil and applying it over any marijuana strain. Consumers can sprinkle kief or roll the warm, wax-covered nug into kief using tongs.
After the concoction has hardened, consumers can break it down by hand and smoke it in a bowl. Avoid using a grinder since it can undo the process and grind the weed too much.
Cooking or Edible
Kief can be introduced into a meal or edible. Because of its subtle aroma, kief doesn’t alter the taste of a recipe or edible. Before adding it into an oil or making a cannabutter, you must decarboxylate your kief. An oven can do this while cooking at low temperatures.
Coffee or Tea
Many cannabis consumers add kief to their cups of coffee or tea. If you let it sit for between 15 and 30 minutes, the heat will be sufficient to carboxylate the kief and bring its effects to bear.
While this method may take some time, kief-infused beverages can add an extra level of stimulation and effects. The more kief is added, the more potent the effects will feel.
What About CBD Kief?
CBD flower can contain as much as 20 percent CBD with trace amounts of THC. Made from hemp plants, CBD flower can’t be efficiently collected through traditional manual separation.
For patients looking for an alternative to CBD kief, they may consider a distillate form of CBD. CBD distillates, or CBD isolates, are made from hemp oil and contain up to 99 percent crystalline CBD.
Molecular distillation to make isolates removes the waxes, chlorophyll, mold, residual solvents, heavy metals, and THC.
Compared with other extract forms, kief can provide medical and recreational consumers with all of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in a specific strain. Using all of the cannabinoids can enhance the effects due to the chemical’s synergistic behavior.
Kief consumers can avoid the potentially harmful solvents and byproducts of modern cannabinoid extraction methods. Because of the fine consistency of kief, it can be difficult to dose but is a noticeable and worthwhile addition to a packed bowl or meal.
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