What’s Kief and How Can You Use It?
For the uninitiated, getting to know kief is getting to know the deep plant medicine. Kief, also known as dry sift or pollen, represents the next step in your weed education. It is the delicious leftover crumbs from your most recent grind. It’s the tiny crystallized resin, typically found in the third chamber of your grinder. Most importantly, it’s about to make your next smoke session all the more powerful.
Smokers have long been making use of what could easily be considered the byproduct of marijuana production. Every time you process straight cannabis flower, inevitably, pollen is left behind. At some point, someone reached the bottom of their weed supply and got desperate. They scrapped the bottom of their grinder and decided to experiment with the crystalized crumbs they found.
What is Kief?
Kief is a byproduct of marijuana production. It is frustrating in some circumstances, as it’s usually stuck to the machinery, the bottom of a grinder, or to the sides of trim scissors. The sticky substance is a defensive characteristic of cannabis, developed over the course of the plant’s evolution. It’s thought that cannabis developed this sticky, skunky property to deter hungry insects and animals wanting to find a quick meal.
Found at the end of a cannabis trichome, dry sift looks a little hairy under a microscope. Made up of cannabinoids and terpenes, it contains all the properties of weed you’ve come to know and love. The terpenes it contains could also be a way for the cannabis plant to attract pollinators in the wild.
What is a Pollen High Like?
Pollen is potent, much more so than a simple flower. A typical bud, which hasn’t undergone any processing, is usually between 12 to 25 percent THC content. Some strains have more; some have less, it all depends on quality.
Leafly, the number one resource for all things strain related, recommends focusing on strains with high trichome content. Even if you don’t know the strain specifically, those with higher trichome content should look frosted with tiny hairs. Crystalized hairs are an indication of potency.
For those looking for higher potency or higher output, Leafly recommends looking for trichome heavy strains. They suggest Hash Plant, White Dawg, and G13 for Indica heavy strains and Sour Diesel and Chernobyl for Sativa heavy strains.
Typically kief tests over 50 percent THC content, but with some fancy equipment, some producers can reach potency of 99 percent THC. This highly potent kief is called Pure Kief. No matter what kief you are smoking, it’s guaranteed to deliver a more powerful punch than just smoking straight bud.
Determining what a kief-only high is like can sometimes be difficult because most people just mix it in with their weed. Deciphering what aspects of the high are from the pollen and which ones are from the flower isn’t clear-cut.
The general consensus on a dry sift high is that it is quick to come on and hard-hitting. Depending on the strain, the pollen might put you straight on the couch or get you energized and creative. It will always deliver more psychoactivity than the straight flower because it is mostly made up of terpenes and cannabinoids. The dry sift contains relatively little plant matter.
How to Collect Kief
At this point in your life, you’ve likely collected kief while scraping out your grinder. Beyond an accidental collection of the crystal, there are definitely more effective ways to get the job done. It all comes down to how much you plan on using, what you use it for, and most importantly how much ganja your processing in the first place.
Small time weed smokers won’t need much in terms of equipment. On the other hand, large-scale processing facilities, handling many pounds of weed a day, will very clearly need something larger than a three chamber grinder to collect their kief.
All grinders will naturally collect pollen as you grind more and more bud, but some are designed specifically with pollen in mind. A two-chamber grinder, the standard type, usually ends up getting clogged with the sticky crystals, which are hard to remove from the sides and teeth. Moving up to a three chamber grinder facilitates collecting kief and also protects your grinder to some extent from clogging.
In a three chamber kief grinder, kief sifts through a fine screen that sits between the second and third chambers. This way, the powder separates from the flower, and also stores safely for future collection.
The next step up, for a more avid kief collector, is the kief box, also called a pollen box. These boxes expand on the methods used in a grinder. Usually, they are designed to look like a chessboard or jewelry box. They have two compartments, separated by a fine screen. Because they don’t grind marijuana, you must do this step first.
Most pollen boxes use two coins in the top section, plus the flower. Once shaken, less than a minute should do it, the coins help agitate the kief away from the plant material. It also forces the small crystals through the screen. Using a coin is also a great hack in a standard grinder.
Once thoroughly shaken, pollen lands on a smooth surface at the bottom of the box. Most pollen boxes also have a quick and clean pollen removal system. Just pull out the drawer and scrape clean. Perfect dry sift collection every time.
Commercial Kief Collection
For the big players on the market, looking to improve their kief production, using grinders or pollen boxes are just not an option. Thankfully, cannabis masters have developed industrial pollen collection units, under brand names like the O’Kief Tumbler and Pollen Master.
These commercial pollen collection units process pounds upon pounds of weed at a time. Instead of a sifter technique, they tumble the weed in a spinning micron fiber tube. To avoid hours of manual labor they also use an electronic motor.
What to Do With Kief?
Although it should be pretty easy to figure out what to do with kief, it might be hard to decide between all your options. Just like smoking traditional cannabis flower, there are unlimited ways to use kief.
Tuck it Inside a Joint or Blunt
One of the easiest ways to use your pollen, especially if you don’t want to wait for much to collect, is to sprinkle it inside a joint. Smoking a joint with the addition of kief is an easy way to increase the strength of the high. It’s also much quicker to come on.
Roll It Around Your Joint
If you’ve got a little more kief at your disposal, why not decorate the outside of your joint with it? Just like rainbow sprinkles on a birthday cake, kief on a joint is a perfect party favor. Sprinkle a layer of kief over a hard surface, and dampen the outside of a pre-rolled joint with your finger. Gently roll the joint around, it should quickly pick up a fine layer of crystal. Handle with care, and smoke immediately because the joint won’t travel well.
Put in a Pipe
Again, an easy way to make use of a small amount of dry sift. You can either smoke a pinch of 100 percent kief or sprinkle it on top of a tightly packed bowl. Smoking kief with a pipe is simple but effective.
Why not Make Hash?
Making kief into hash requires a little bit of forethought. You can’t just do a quick grind and expect to have enough pollen to make a small brick of hash. Depending on how much cannabis you smoke, it could take you months to build up enough to compress into a hash puck. But the juice is worth the squeeze, as they say. There are more detailed instructions available, but very briefly kief hash requires a hair straightener, parchment paper, a piece of newsprint and, of course, the kief. You’ll need at least a gram or two of dry sift to make this worthwhile. Pour the kief on to the middle of the parchment paper, and fold into a small sealed packet. Fold the newsprint around the packet for added protection. Once it’s nicely sealed up, use a hot hair straightener ( a clothing iron would also work) to press the package together. Whatever heat source you are using, give it a few passes. Use something with some heft, like a weight, a frying pan or that novel you’ve never gotten around to reading, to press down on the package firmly. Unfold the papers to uncover the pressed kief. You should be able to fold it in half and reseal. Repeat the process until you’ve reached the desired thickness.
Kief Rosin Extraction
Still, have that hair straightener handy? Get ready to turn your tiny bit of kief into a beautiful rosin extraction. It’s a very similar procedure, the primary difference being the addition of high pressure. For rosin, you’ll need a hair straighten, a coffee filter, kief, and parchment paper. Package the kief into a tiny packet using the coffee filter. You’ll need to double wrap it because it tends to burst during the extraction. Once you’re happy with the sealed kief package, fold it once inside a piece of parchment paper. Place this entire paper package between the blades of a hair straightener on a moderate setting, and gently press down. Slowly increase the pressure and attempt to flatten the package between the blades completely. Hold for four to five seconds, using as much pressure as possible. When you release and peel back the parchment, you’ll notice the glisten of beautiful rosin has expressed on to the parchment from the kief package.
A pollen press turns sticky, powdery dry sift into a stable, easy to handle and smokable format. Some people dislike smoking kief in its unprocessed format because it burns quickly. Transforming it into a pollen puck slows down the smoke, allowing for embers for form, and for many, a much gentler smoke. A pollen press does require a significant amount of kief to pump out a good sized puck. If you are desperate for a smoke, or just impatient, it might just be best to sprinkle it on your next joint. A pollen press could take a while to work up to.
Make Your Own E-Cig Juice
If you prefer to vape instead of smoke, kief is the primary cannabinoid ingredient in do-it-yourself vape juice. The process can take a time or two to master, but with the proper guidance, making vape juice at home from pollen you’ve collected yourself is rewarding. For most of us, making vape juice at home may need a little premeditation. You’ll likely need to place an order on Amazon for the vegetable glycerin and Propylene Glycol, perhaps even some of the specialty equipment.
Bake A Brownie
Like all weed, pollen is useless without heat. Heating cannabis, also known as decarboxylation, transforms and unlocks the essential cannabinoids of the plant. Without heat, eating weed or eating kief, would give you as much high as eating a dandelion. Transform the benign THCA into the THC you want through smoking, vaping, or baking. A Magical Butter machine makes quick work of kief, producing some seriously delectable kief budder. Once complete, kief butter makes a great addition to your next baked treat. Be warned; those brownies are going to be potent.
Get Fancy and Make a Moonrock
What’s a moonrock you ask? You’re not alone if this term throws you for a loop. Get ready to have your mind blown. A moonrock is a specialty cannabis creation, and difficult to find in dispensaries. It is best described as an artistic creation, handcrafted by a true marijuana lover. Moonrocks are expensive and difficult to find, but you can make them at home using your stash of kief. Creating a moonrock is a great way to let your kief shine. If you happen to find a particularly beautiful nug, why not decorate it with beautiful crystallized resin. A moonrock is a fabulous way to show off the most beautiful products produced from the same plant.