What is kief and how do you use it?
Found a fine powder lining the bottom of your grinder? Congratulations, you've just made kief, an ancient, completely natural cannabis concentrate. Keep reading to learn more about its history, how to collect it, and how to put it to great use.
Kief is an ancient cannabis concentrate commonly traced back to Morocco, where it's the main ingredient of renowned Moroccan hash. In this article, we'll teach you all there is to know about kief, what it's made of, how to make it, and—most importantly—how to properly enjoy it at home.
WHAT EXACTLY IS KIEF?
Kief is composed of tiny trichomes that have been separated from dry cannabis plant material, and has a fine, powdery consistency. These trichomes naturally form on cannabis flowers (and leaves) as they mature, and contain high concentrations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds that give cannabis its unique aromas and effects. As cannabis flowers are harvested, dried, and cured, these trichomes become brittle and can be separated to form kief, or keef, a potent, concentrated form of cannabis that's traditionally processed to make hash.
The term kief is believed to come from the Moroccan Arabic word "kif", which means pleasure, to amuse, or to intoxicate. Morocco has long been recognised as one of the largest producers of hashish in the world, and Moroccan hash is typically made by heating and pressing kief into blocks.
WHY IS KIEF STRONGER THAN BUD?
Kief is very potent because it contains concentrated amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes (much higher concentrations than in dry flower). Whereas cannabis buds are made up mainly of plant material (calyxes and sugar leaves, essentially), high-quality kief contains pure, unadulterated trichomes, and therefore packs a much stronger high. For some perspective, consider that the THC levels of the most potent cannabis flowers typically clock in at about 25–30%, while high-quality kief from a dispensary or coffeeshop can contain 50–80% THC!
Besides its high potency, kief has a variety of other benefits, including:
- It's easy to make: You’ll learn how to make your own kief below.
- It's completely natural: Unlike some other forms of cannabis concentrate, kief isn't made with any toxic solvents.
- It's convenient: You don't need a specialised rig to enjoy kief—you can simply roll it up in a joint, blunt, or spliff.
- It makes for a smoother smoke: Since it contains no plant material, kief typically makes for a smoother smoke than regular flower.
IS HASH MORE POTENT THAN KIEF?
Kief is the precursor to traditional dry-sift hash. In order to create the final product, large quantities of kief are heated and pressed together (either by hand or using a specialised press). This is most likely done to create a product that's easier to transport, but the process of heating and pressing also produces a more concentrated, and hence more potent, product.
HOW DO YOU COLLECT KIEF?
Collecting kief is a lot simpler than you might think. Below you'll find brief descriptions on how to collect kief using a grinder or by sieving dry cannabis flower.
Arguably the easiest way to collect kief is to buy a 3-chamber grinder. As you grind up your favourite strains, any trichomes that separate from your bud will automatically sift through the screen and collect in the final chamber, forming kief. While it takes a fair bit of patience for a big-enough stash to build up, collecting kief this way is super simple.
This second method is how kief is traditionally collected in hash-producing regions of Morocco, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Lebanon. All you need to do is roughly chop dry flower and gently rub it across a fine mesh screen to separate the trichomes from the plant material. In Morocco, dried flower is typically sifted through silk fabric.
Note that this process requires a lot of cannabis. Kief producers typically report yields of around 10g of kief from 100g of flower. Sifting dry flower is also a slow process, as some finesse is required to limit the amount of plant material that makes its way through the screen. High-quality kief typically has a tan/sand-like colour, while lower-quality kief tends to be green (a sign that it contains more plant matter).
HOW TO USE KIEF
Whether you decide to roll it up in a joint or use it to add an extra kick to a cup of joe, there are many different ways to enjoy kief. Below are some of our favourites.
MAKE KIEF BUTTER
If you're lucky enough to have a large amount of kief, you can use it to infuse butter, which you can then use to make your favourite recipes. If you've tried cooking with weed before and were put off by the bitter flavour, try making kief butter for a much milder final product. Because kief naturally contains very little chlorophyll, it typically won't infuse that grassy flavour into your edibles. However, when infusing, you have to be even more careful about avoiding high heat than with regular flower—you don't want to destroy those precious trichomes.
ADD KIEF TO A JOINT
Kief burns extremely well in joints or blunts. While it is traditionally combined with tobacco, you can also mix it with regular cannabis flower or a herbal smoking mix if you prefer. If you're sensitive to THC or haven't much experience with cannabis concentrates, remember to take it easy when smoking kief. Given its high concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes, kief delivers a very strong high!
GIVE TEA OR COFFEE A KIEF KICK
Spicing up your regular cup of joe or Rosie Lee with kief is super simple. If you have an espresso machine, you can add ground kief into your portafilter along with your ground coffee beans and run a regular extraction. The natural oils present in the coffee will help to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the kief as the espresso brews, and the heat of the water will also help to activate some of the cannabinoids. Alternatively, you can add kief to coffee in a French press, AeroPress, percolator, or moka pot.
If you're making tea, on the other hand, add your kief, along with a small amount of coconut oil, to a pot of water and let it simmer for about 1 hour, before using that water to brew your favourite tea. Remember to decarboxylate your kief before using it in your brew to activate the cannabinoids and produce a more potent final product.
PRESS KIEF INTO HASH
There are a couple of simple ways to press kief into hash at home. One is to use a hot hair straightener to press the kief together between two pieces of parchment paper, until it forms a solid block. For the best results, we recommend pressing down on the kief for three seconds at a time to avoid burning the kief and ruining its flavour.
Alternatively, you can also press kief into hash using a hot glass (you can preheat it with hot water) to gently press the kief between parchment paper. This process is much slower and more labour intensive, but you'll run fewer risks of burning and ruining your kief than with the hair straightener.
MAKE YOUR OWN MOON ROCKS
Moon rocks are a super-potent form of cannabis bud. They're made by dipping regular buds in rosin, live resin, or any liquid BHO, before completely covering it in kief. Touted to have been created by rappers Kurupt and Dr Zodiak, moon rocks shouldn't be underestimated; they pack a huge amount of THC and a mind-boggling high, especially when made with high-quality ingredients. And while they're considered the crème de la crème of flower across North American dispensaries, you can easily make them at home if you have a surplus of flower, hash oil, and kief.
MAKE KIEF E-LIQUID
If you have a lot of kief on your hands and are feeling adventurous, you can make your own kief e-liquid. To do so, you'll want to heat vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, and kief together in a double boiler or bain-marie, before straining the mixture and loading it into vape cartridges.
HOW TO STORE KIEF
Storing kief is super simple. If you have a 3-chamber grinder, you can store your kief in the bottom chamber, aka the kief catcher, until you're ready to use it. Alternatively, you can keep your kief in a clean, airtight glass container and store it in a dark, dry place, just like you would with cannabis flower.
Kief is a simple, natural cannabis extract with a rich history in hash production in Morocco, Afghanistan, and many other countries. Best of all, unlike other forms of cannabis concentrate, kief is super easy to make and enjoy at home. If you've never tried concentrates before, just remember to take it easy, as kief packs a real punch!