You don’t have to go far on our website to see pictures of a big, beautiful, crystal-covered bud of cannabis. These crystals, known as “resin glands” and “trichomes,” contain a large part of a marijuana plant’s THC content and, while not as delicate as they may appear, will gladly fall off with a bit of agitation. Once separated from the main part of the cannabis bud, the powder-like substance these trichomes form is known as “kief,” and kief…. is powerful stuff.
But just because you have kief doesn’t mean you know what to do with kief. After all, it isn’t like it’s easy to roll into a joint or pack into the average pipe/bowl, leaving some people to wonder if they should vaporize it (yes) or eat it raw (no) or exactly what should be done to get high from this THC-laden gold dust.
In today’s article, we’ll be going over the many different stages of using kief, offer some brief notes on the best ways to collect it, and even talk about a few recipe ideas for those looking to give their culinary skills a try. Let’s dive right in.
How to Collect Kief
As mentioned above, kief is the powdery substance made of trichomes and resin glands attached to – and removed from – the cannabis flower. There are many different ways to collect and make kief, from dry sifters to ice baths, many of which we discuss in detail in our article “How to Make Kief.” For this article, though, we’ll focus on the most common and possibly easiest way to collect kief – The multi-stage grinder.
Pretty much any grinder will gather kief inside as you’re grinding, though it may seem like more of a nuisance than a boon. As a grinder is used, the kief scraped off your cannabis flower is compressed, mashed together until it begins to form solid, sticky lumps. So, on the one hand, congratulations – You’ve just made a basic, simple version of hashish. But, on the other hand, this resin-like substance will also gunk up your grinding equipment, making it hard to turn or even pull apart to get at your weed.
Multi-stage grinders can help with this. Grinders with multiple compartments can give your kief a place to go, and though it won’t prevent your grinder from never getting stuck, it will help significantly while giving you a bonus stash of kief to boot.
Most often found in the form of three-chamber grinders, these consist of a top section where fresh cannabis buds are placed and ground, a middle chamber where the ground-up bud falls into, and a bottom chamber covered by a mesh screen.
As the buds rub against this screen, their trichomes fall into the final chamber, waiting to be collected at a later date. Though this will make your weed slightly less potent, it’s unlikely to be noticeable, and you’ll have a large amount of kief waiting at the bottom before you even know it.
Now that you have your kief, what should you do with it? If you don’t want to use it straight away, let’s talk about do’s-and-don’ts when it comes to storage.
How to Store Kief
Storing kief is similar to most other products made from cannabis plants, though not without its own specific needs due to its nature as a loose, fine-grained particulate.
First, it’s worth taking care in how you handle your kief. The trichomes from cannabis will easily absorb into the skin (and any layers of fat and dirt that might be on the fingers) so touching it with your bare hands is a definite no-no. If you absolutely must handle your kief, we recommend a pair of simple, latex, or nitrile gloves to keep the kief from being wasted at the touch.
Preferably you’ll remove your kief from your grinder using a small, simple tool – A flat piece of plastic or metal is recommended, though a stiff piece of cardboard will also work. A plastic knife works well, as does something like a small silicone spatula. You can use this to gently scrape your kief out of your grinder and into the containment vessel of your choice.
For storage, we recommend something air-tight and high quality, preferably made out of glass or metal. The hard plastic will work in a pinch, but it can be more difficult to remove the kief from plastic than other, less porous surfaces; for our money, it’s hard to beat the classic “glass jar with a lid.”
Once contained, it’s best to keep your kief away from sunlight and humidity – Two things that will absolutely wreck any fashion of cannabis product, even concentrates. We talk about this more in our article “The Best Way to Store Your Weed,” but needless to say, light, air & humidity are terrible things for all marijuana goods.
It’s also worth considering turning your kief into a concentrate and wrapping it in parchment paper before storing it away. We discuss making concentrates later in this article, but given kief’s somewhat volatile (and easily lost) nature, skipping straight to a concentrated form may be the best method for long-term storage.
3 Great Ways to Use Your Kief
1. Smoke it
Kief is a bit hard to work with on its own. It isn’t like you can easily roll up an entire joint of it, and packing it into the bowl of a pipe or bong can also present some hefty difficulties (good luck not sucking it all down past your filter and into your water chamber/lungs). That’s why, for most traditional smoking methods, it’s often recommended to use kief as an accouterment, not the star of the show.
How to Smoke Kief
To use kief for your preferred method of smoking, we recommend rolling your joint/blunt/spliff/etc. with regular cannabis buds just like you would usually do, then adding a healthy sprinkling of kief on the top of the ground marijuana flower. This gives your kief something to hold on to and prevents issues with the kief just getting sucked out of the back of your filter tip. Likewise, if using traditional glassware, just adding a little dusting of kief onto the top of your regular cannabis plant matter will likely have you very happy with the results.
If using a dab rig, you don’t really need a ‘base’ to put your kief on, though getting it into the banger or onto the nail via your usual dab tool might be challenging. If you have a glass or metal spoon, this can be used to dump a bit of kief onto your heated rig, but otherwise, we recommend using your usual dab tool to pick up a bit of concentrate and then dip said concentrate into your pile of kief.
Our recommendation for “smoking” kief, though, is to use it in a vaporizer, one designed to either handle concentrates or plant material. A vaporizer is designed to heat cannabis to just the right temperature to make it release its THC content and is ultimately less wasteful and more efficient than any of the other methods listed above. Then, either sprinkle the kief on top of your usual buds/concentrate or add it into your vaporizer’s herb chamber directly, and you’re good to go.
2. Cook With It/Eat it!
Before you go any further understand that kief, like any other cannabis product, must be decarbed before it can be consumed. We go over this in our “How to Decarb Your Weed” article but it is vitally important that this step be followed, else your kief will likely do literally no good for getting you high.
How to Cook with Kief
Once decarbed, your kief can be eaten outright if you’d like, or you can directly add your kief as a supplemental ingredient into any dish you’d like. Want to sprinkle kief on your cornflakes? How about on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Kief milk, kief coffee, kief smoothies, and even kief tea are possibilities. However you’d like to eat or drink your kief, you can do so and will likely have an excellent afternoon of it.
The taste (not to mention texture) of kief on its own can be somewhat unpleasant, though, and to remedy that, we recommend looking into infusions. An “infusion” is when you take cannabis and proceed to steep it in a double boiler with a (typically fatty) medium, such as cream, butter, or coconut oil (this can also be done with propylene glycol to make vape liquid).
After letting the cannabis plant matter (in our case, kief) brew like coffee for several hours at a low temperature, the majority of the cannabinoids contained within are leeched out into the surrounding liquid, meaning it can now be used for recipes in place of your kief – We recommend using something like a coffee filter to strain the remaining plant matter out first, though.
Though the type of infusion you’ll want to make will likely depend on your recipe, once you’ve made an infused oil or liquid, it can then be used 1:1 as a substitute for the same non-THC-infused ingredient in any recipe. Basting a steak with butter? Go ahead and use cannabutter instead. Looking to make some homemade gummies with coconut oil? Your cannabis-infused coconut oil will work just as well.
3. Make Your Own Concentrates
Of course, infusions aren’t the only concentrates available, and it’s worth exploring beyond the kitchen to see what sorts of products your kief can be turned into.
How to Make Concentrates Out of Kief
Of all the kief-related concentrates available, hash may be the most well-known and popular the world over. A hash brick is potent, easy to make, and portable, solving at least one issue of the powdery, easily lost dust that is kief. We list various ways to make hash in our “How to Make Hash” article and highly recommend heading over there to learn more.
Shatter can also be made out of kief, though not without some know-how and good technique. Common methods involve sandwiching kief between two pieces of parchment paper and squeezing it with a heated hair straightener, though this can have inconsistent results, to say the least.
Though there are many potential setups for making shatter at home, this is one technique we usually recommend being left to the professionals (and since this is a question we field a lot remember: Shatter is not live resin. These are very different things).
Tinctures are also a potent, fairly easy option. Much like the infusions mentioned above, tinctures are created from steeping cannabis material in an alcohol solution – This is usually done cold and over a very long period of time (up to weeks) by letting the plant material soak in high-proof alcohol (think Everclear or other grain alcohols) and stirring occasionally.
Tinctures have several benefits over regular cannabis edibles, including the fact that they don’t have to be eaten at all; simply holding them against the skin or along the gum line will allow the body to absorb the THC within, making them an excellent option for medical patients or those who simply can’t smoke.
The Wrap Up
Whether rolling it into your favorite joint paper, stuffing it in a bowl, or making your own hash at home, kief is a very versatile and potent product. Just remember that these delicate little trichomes are essentially cannabis gold, and treat them delicately if you can – The extra time and care will make your smoke all the better for it.
Make sure to check out our many links above for more reading and further information about this unique substance, and as always: Enjoy!