What is Kief? A Rundown on its Origins and Uses

Ever grind your weed and discard the little sticky flakes that stay behind?

You might want to stop being so wasteful.

Cannabis is the gift that keeps on giving, and that little dust is kief.

What is Kief?

Kief is marijuana’s pixie dust granting one last (really good) high.

So let’s get into what exactly kief is, what you can do with it, and how to get more.

What is Kief: a Brief Kiefstory 

Perhaps you’ve heard of kief before.

However, it may have been under another name.

Sometimes kief is referred to as dry sift or pollen.

Kief is the tiny little crystals (trichomes) that lives on top of the cannabis flower.

This dust derives from the little hairs’ resin glands.

Inside the glands lie two distinct types of compounds that have given rise to the medical marijuana movement:

  • Terpenes - Aromatic compounds with their therapeutic abilities that also give weed its distinct, dank scent. These are found in all plants.
  • Cannabinoids - Compounds that interact with the endocannabinoid system, which is where your hormones are created, and pain receptors live. Found in only cannabis.

Much like how essential oils work, these two compounds extracted from the cannabis flower creates a concentrated, effective and therapeutic product.  

The Kief and Trichome Connection

There are three types of trichomes that may grow on a marijuana plant.

  • Bulbous - Smallest, about 25-30 microns in height
  • Capitate-sessile - More common than bulbous, run anywhere from 25-100 microns in height
  • Capitate-stalked (Glandular) - Most common in cannabis, they are 100-150 microns. This type is best for marijuana production because they are the only trichome long enough to have glands between the stalk and gland, producing a more high-quality product.

Trichomes are an evolutionary creation by numerous types of plant species intended to better their chances of survival in an ever-changing atmosphere.

In the case of some plants, they use the sticky residue created by trichomes to trap prey such as insects.

However, other plants, such as cannabis, use their odor (created by the terpenes) to repel predators from preying on them.

Trichomes and THC

Those same trichomes that repel insects and rodents from gnawing on it are the exact ones that attract bigger mammals such as human beings to it.

The reason marijuana grew trichomes was because it produced too much of an intense psychoactive experience for tiny predators to handle.

As they consumed the plant, these predators wouldn’t be able to finish because the trichomes caused too much disorientation.

People, on the other hand, welcome that disorientation.

Splitting Kief from Cannabis

To get kief off of your marijuana, there are many ways to go about it.

It all depends on how dedicated you are to getting the kief.

Using a Chamber  

The simplest method for beginners is to use a chamber.

There are two types of chambers:

  • Three-Chamber Grinder (Recommended) - Allows you to finely grind cannabis over a screen while it catches any loose kief in a bottom chamber.
  • Two-Chamber Grinder - While these are perfectly efficient for grinding up bud, the kief gets stuck in between the blades. Sure, you can try to bang it out, but you do lose out on some kief in the end.

Using a Silk Screen

A kief box is ideal for extracting larger quantities of kief.

Depending on how dedicated you are, they design silk screen boxes with multiple filters.

These filters contain mesh screens.

The holes are classified by their micron size (or LPI), which correlates with how deep into a trichome the screen can filter.

If you’re not in the market for a silk screen box, you can make a makeshift one yourself.

You would need to get screens of different sizes and layer one over the other, the largest on the bottom.

Place over a clean surface and put shake or flower on top of the first (and smallest) screen.

Shake the screen back and forth until the plant matter stops falling.

Put that screen aside and continue.

You can do this as many times as you want.

However, the first yield will be the most concentrated.

Some Tips on Screens

When purchasing screens, keep an eye out for the LPI number or micron number.

LPI stands for lines per inch.  

If you’re holding a smaller screen, it will have a larger LPI number.

Larger screen, small LPI number.

The same rings true for microns.

The smaller the micron number, the more lines it will have.

In turn, the more potent the kief will be.  

When you’re sifting kief use an LPI between 80 and 270

In micron sizes, around 72 microns to 120 tops.

What to Look For When Buying Kief

If sifting your kief sounds like too much work, you can also buy kief in a dispensary where recreational marijuana is legal.

When you walk into a cannabis headshop looking to buy kief, there’s a couple of things to look out for to ensure that you’re getting the best quality.

A more pure kief will have a lighter hue.

If the kief looks to have a vibrant green color, then that means a decent amount of plant matter is still present in the product.

Cleaned kief tends to have a more off-white hue.

Where to Buy Blunt Wraps

How to Enjoy Your Kief

Much like there are a few a ways to sift your kief, there are also a few ways you can enjoy it.

And just like there is no wrong way to eat a Reese’s, there’s no wrong way to toke your kief.

In a Joint

Kief is a bit stickier than your run-of-the-mill weed.

After all, it's the gooey flakes you had trouble getting off of your fingers when you broke up the pot, to begin with.

Since kief has a sticky exterior, it’s best to not roll it in a joint on its own.

For one, it could easily rip the joint while rolling.

But more importantly, there usually isn’t enough kief for a full joint anyway.

Mix a good pinch up in your grinder with flower.

If you have wax, it’s nice to add the kief mix at the top third of the joint and a little bit of wax on the bottom half for a “twaxed” experience.  

In a Bowl

This is probably the easiest way to enjoy kief.

All you need to do is pack your bowl, bong, or pipe like you usually would.

Sprinkle a little of that fairy kief dust on top.

Instantly, your high is heightened.

That is because sparking the flower is the least efficient way to get high.

Most of the trichomes get flamed by a lighter, rendering a good portion useless.

With using kief, the best of the trichomes are present, upping the THC potency of the drag you take.

To not waste your kief, square off your bowl hits.

Imagine your bowl is a personal pizza, and you are cutting it into four even slices for your friends.

Aim the lighter in each one of the areas that would be a pizza slice.

This allows for the kief to last at least four hits, rather than burning it off in one big opening toke.  

Create Hash

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

Taking leftovers from broken up weed, you can extract hash.

Apply heat or pressure to the kief and its resin glands will rupture.

In its wake will be a dark-greenish ball.

The more pressure you apply, the darker the ball will become.

There are many washes to create hash such as:

  • Dry sifting and screen pressing the outcome

  • Hand-rolling kief between palms

  • Blending with ice water

  • Making bubble hash

Create Moonrocks

Moonrocks is a great way to use kief and is starting to build quite a buzz in the cannabis community.

Heat oil of your choice (BHO or CBD oil is HIGHLY recommended)

Coat fresh bud with the warm oil.

While the oil is still warm, grab the buds with tongs.

Place the tong in a kief bath, rolling it around so that that the moonrocks pick up the little dustlings.

Allow the moonrocks to harden.

Once they do, break them up and sprinkle them into a bowl to smoke.

Try to do this by hand.

Using a grinder will break it up too much, making everything you just did pointless.  

Mix in with Cannabutter

It never hurts to give your cannabutter a little extra kick.

Stir your kief in with the bud that you plan on using to make your cannabutter.

From there, be sure to decarboxylate the mixture.

Breaking open the membranes within the kief is important so that all of the cannabinoids and terpenes come oozing out.


So what is kief?

Well, kief is where all of the magic happens.

You should always try and save as much keif as possible, so avoid using your fingers to break up your cannabis.

Use a kief box or a grinder, and then be patient and let it collect.

After awhile you’ll have enough to really enjoy it!

Do you collect kief? If not, you should be!

Tony Hand Jr

Tony Jr is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of THCoverdose.com. If he’s not smoking, writing or watching anime, then you can usually find him on the couch yelling over terrible play calling.

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