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What is kief and how can you use it?

What is kief?

The cannabis plant is covered in resinous glands called trichomes, which contain THC, CBD, terpenes, and other compounds. Trichomes look like crystals. When these trichomes dry and break off of the plant, they become kief.

Kief is usually darker than trichomes, ranging from gold to brown. It’s a powdery substance that is somewhat sticky, though less so than trichomes on a bud. Another name for kief is “pollen.”

The powder is commonly collected in grinders, which are used to break down cannabis into small, even pieces for rolling or to pack bowls. Grinders usually have a separate chamber at the bottom called a kief catcher for this purpose.

Kief can be added to bowls or joints for an added kick. It can also be pressed into hash.

When buying kief at a dispensary or retail store, keep in mind that purer kief will have a lighter color. Kief that looks dark or green still has a bit of plant matter mixed in, whereas kief that has been cleaned well tends to be more of an off-white color.

How to use a kief catcher

Stainless Steel Weed Grinder Image #6
Kief catchers in grinders. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

To collect kief crystals, you’ll need a grinder with a kief catcher, usually a 3- or 4-piece one.

When weed is ground up in a grinder, trichomes fall off of nugs and into the bottom of the grinder, where it is collected and stored as kief.

It will take time to collect kief crystals, likely weeks or months. To retrieve it, just unscrew the kief catcher and scoop out the kief. Some grinders even come with a special scraper for this purpose.

How to collect kief with screens

You can also collect kief by rubbing cannabis plant material onto a silk screen. This is a great methods for extracting large quantities of kief. These screens come in different sizes—between 75-125 microns is best.

For the best results, home extractors put kief through multiple screens of different sizes, stacking them in order from largest mesh to smallest, to refine the product.

How to use kief

Kief. (Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Now that you have a pile of kief, or weed pollen, what to do with it? Here are a few ways to amplify the potency of flower and refine the consistency of kief.

Sprinkle kief onto a bowl of cannabis

Also known as “crowning a bowl,” this is the most common way to use kief, and it will increase the potency of any bowl.

Corner your hits to get the most out of a kief-topped bowl, which entails burning a small quadrant of the bowl at a time as opposed to the whole thing, so you can enjoy multiple hits.

Sprinkle kief into a joint or roll a twax joint

When rolling a joint, blunt, or spliff, you can pepper your mix with a healthy pinch of kief. This is a great way to use pollen for an extra kick.

You can also “twax” a joint—dampen the outside of a joint with a lick, and roll the top 1/3 of the joint in some kief.

Make hash from kief

Hash is one of the oldest forms of cannabis extracts. To make hash, collect kief pollen and press it into bricks.

You can also roll kief into balls, called charas, and smoke it.

Pressing kief usually darkens its color, and the more pressure you apply, the darker the hash becomes.

Make moon rocks

Moon rocks are nugs covered in hash oil and then rolled in kief. They are very potent and easy to make at home.

Press rosin

Rosin involves pressing flower or kief between two heated plates and collecting the hot oil. You can make it at home with a hair straightener or buy a rosin press.

Add potency to cannabutter

Cannabutter has many uses, and you can add kief to it to boost potency. Remember to mix the kief in with the flower when you decarboxylate it.