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What is Kief?

What is kief? If you randomly strawpolled a group of random people and asked them to list words they associate with marijuana, we doubt that the word kief would come up too often. On the other hand, if you went up to a group of weed connoisseurs and asked them “what is kief?”, they would almost certainly be able to tell you all about it and explain why kief is so great.

What is kief?

In simple terms, kief is a product made from those gorgeous frosty white trichomes which glitter so appealingly on marijuana plants. You may already know that these trichomes are packed full of the beneficial cannabinoids which are the source of marijuana’s medical benefits and that the more trichomes you can see on a plant, the higher the level of THC it probably has. What you may not know is that the trichomes you can see on a marijuana plant are only one of the three types of trichomes produced by marijuana plants. They just happen to be the largest and because they are the largest, they contain the most cannabinoids.

You may also not have known that marijuana plants produce these trichomes as a self-defence mechanism, mainly for protection against insects, who find the smell and taste bitter, but also, to a certain extent against bad weather and even some forms of fungus. In short, kief is more or less the equivalent of essential oil. It’s pure, concentrated marijuana goodness and as such needs and deserves to be treated and used with respect and common sense. One clear sign of this is the fact that the THC content of kief can easily go over 50%, in other words it can go over double what would be expected from a high-THC marijuana strain.

How to separate kief from the cannabis plant

So now that we’ve answered the question “what is kief?”, the obvious question is “how do you make it?”. The simplest way is to use a good-quality, three-chamber grinder. Chamber one holds the unground bud, chamber two catches the plant matter and chamber three collects those precious trichomes. Then put the grinder in the fridge and leave it for about half an hour, which will make the kief much less sticky and therefore a whole lot easier to get out of your grinder. Coins are the traditional method for this, but these days plastic gift cards can also be a handy tool. Kief can be stored for a month or more in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. For those with limited storage space and/or who are particularly keen on tidiness, a pollen presser can compress your kief into tidy round disks, for compact storage and neat appearance.

Alternatively, you can extract kief from the plant in one of many different ways. Extraction techniques range from CO2 extraction (the choice of connoisseurs) to solvent extraction (effective but potentially dangerous) to extraction into fats, which may technically be the least effective method and has the potential disadvantage that the shelf-life of the extracted kief will only be as long as the shelf-life of the fat into which it is extracted, but it has the three great advantages of being affordable, safe and straightforward, which means that it may be the best option for many people.

Great ways to use kief

So now that you’ve made your kief, how do you use it?

Use it to adjust your smoked/vaped dosage

Let’s say you have a medical condition, for which a medium-THC strain is completely adequate - most of the time. Sometimes, however, when your symptoms are particularly severe, you need a THC boost. Rather than keeping a stock of two strains, your regular strain and your “power strain”, you can simply use your main strain plus keep a supply of kief handy for when you need that extra pain-relieving/mood-enhancing power. Simply add it to your standard dosage and consume your marijuana as you usually would.

Use it for a super-powered coffee


You can add kief to any hot beverage, although coffee is the obvious choice since it’s what gets so much of the world moving in the morning. It’s also a hot drink, which is important since it’s heat which activates the cannabinoids. If you really want to go for gold in the morning (or any other time you need some help to wake and bake) you could also add some MCT oil or standard coconut oil for an extra mental boost. Think of this as being a super-fast and super-easy way to access the benefits of cannabis edibles. Depending on your metabolism and whether or not you’re also having food, you can feel the effects of this super-coffee in as little as 15 minutes.

Use it for regular cannabis edibles

You can extract kief into cannabutter or just add it to recipes as a powder. In principle, you can use kief in any recipe you like. In practice, probably the best way to get the most from it is to use it in lighter edibles, like smoothies or sweets, so you can digest it quickly and get the fast-acting pain relief for which THC is renowned.

Use it for cannabis topicals

With so much emphasis on consuming cannabis internally in one way or another, it can be easy to forget that cannabis topicals can be a great way of providing localised pain relief or even make great beauty treatments. THC has been shown to have great antioxidant properties, which means it’s a wonderful treatment for dry skin and can help to combat the progress of wrinkles. So if your face is your fortune (or you’d like it to be), making your own face masks with kief, or just adding kief to a face mask you’ve bought, could be a marvellous treat for your skin.

Use it for hash

There are lots of articles which explain how to turn kief into hash by using the ice-water-solvent method but if you just want a sweet and simple approach, take your kief and put it into something which will hold it in a nice, compact form, parchment paper is your best bet. Wrap this in a towel and then run a warm (not hot) iron over it to compress the kief into your chosen shape.

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