Kief: what it is, how to make it, and how to use it

Kief: what it is, how to make it, and how to use it
Steven Voser

Guess what! You might have some kief right now and not even know it. Check out the bottom of your grinder and explore what you can do with this sensational concentrate. Moonrocks and rosin are just a couple of potential options.

If you have ever looked at cannabis plants or buds from up close, you must have seen that they are covered in mushroom-shaped resin glands, also called trichomes or crystals. They're most concentrated on the buds, but the leaves and even the stems have some too.

Break off those crystals, and you have kief. It is the same stuff you might have found it in the bottom of your grinder. And it’s great!

Kief is at least twice as potent as the dried herb it comes from, and it contains virtually all of marijuana's beneficial chemicals including THC, CBD, and terpenes. Varying in color from white to light green (depending on how much plant matter is mixed in with the loose trichomes), kief looks like a powder. It's sticky to the touch, but a puff of air can scatter it all over the place.


Kief is mechanically separated from the plant material, so it's a pure, solventless concentrate with little to no impurities.

Other types of extracts, including honey oil, QWISO, and Rick Simpson Oil are made by washing buds and trim with solvents like butane, alcohol, or acetone to dissolve the trichomes. This chemical reaction releases the resin into the solvent. The solvent is evaporated away before a final purge, in theory, cleans the extract of any remaining traces of solvent.


The easiest way to collect kief in small amounts is to use a three or four-chamber grinder. Grind your buds up, use them as you normally would in a joint or pipe, then check under the fine screen in the bottom section of the grinder. The powder you find there is kief.

If you want to collect kief on a larger scale, you can dry-sift it. This is an ancient process which is still being used in places like the Rif Mountains in Northern Morocco. It basically consists of hitting the buds and trim on top of a series of progressively finer screens mounted on frames so just the finer powder gets trough. This is a fairly labor-intensive process, but it will produce a high-quality concentrate without using any solvents.


You can use kief in just about any way you use dried buds. It can be combined with your flowers to make them stronger, or it can be smoked or vaped on its own. Don't forget, it's way more potent, so you won't need to use nearly as much and should be aware of how to dose it.


Joint with kief

Mix kief with dried herb to boost its potency. This can be done whether you're smoking a joint, a pipe, or a bong. Simply sprinkle a small amount on top of the dried flowers, then light up.

Lately people have been getting really creative with kief, and use it for twaxing their joints. A popular way is to roll the finished joint in some weed oil, and then sprinkle some kief on it.

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For a seriously stronger high, you can smoke a bowl of pure kief. For the best experience, use a pipe with a screen and gently heat the kief from underneath the bowl. This will ensure you don't inhale any solids or burn the kief.

If you prefer vaping or dabbing over smoking, any rig designed for oils or concentrates will work with kief. Add a small amount to the nail or combustion chamber and enjoy.


If you like edibles that don't taste or smell like weed, then kief is the way to go. Whether you use a little kief to achieve the same potency you'd get from buds or double-up for a stronger end result, the taste will be just about the same, and your kitchen won't smell like a Dutch coffeeshop.


Press and heat kief enough and you'll end up with hash. Press and heat more and you'll end up with rosin. Heat and pressure causes the trichomes in kief to burst, releasing the resin holding cannabinoids and terpenes. The color, flavor, and even the high will change as a result of this process.

Roll your kief around with your fingers until it forms a greenish ball and you have finger hash. If you'd like a more sophisticated product made from your collected kief, invest in a pollen press. You can even buy devices that will imprint a stamped image on your hash puck to give it a customized look.

Rosin is creating a lot of buzz in the cannabis community right now, and you can make this at home too. Instead of placing dried flowers in a specialized press like the professionals do, you can get similar results by putting kief in between two pieces of parchment paper and pressing them together with a standard hair straightener. Rosin should look almost exactly like shatter.


A combination of high-grade buds and extracts, moonrocks are one of the most stunning and potent cannabis products you'll ever see.

To make these glittery creations, dip a dried flower in warmed hash oil, then roll it in kief. Your moonrock will harden as it cools and turn into a real masterpiece.

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.