Kief. Oh man, that sweet, sweet herb. The crème de la crème of cannabis industry – guaranteed to spice up even the sweetest of buds.
She can be a cruel mistress though. While plentiful to some, she remains elusive to many. Grinding through plant after plant may only return a few specks of that green, magical dust. Some would say that makes the fruit taste even sweeter, but not me. I turn to the technology of the twenty first century to enslave this cruel mistress and capture ever bit of her that I can.
Analogies and poetry aside, keif is fucking awesome. It can be pretty damn tough to catch though, especially if you don’t have the right gear. But you’re here, so you understand that. The key to catching a shit ton of kief is to have a grinder that helps you out. Let the tool do the work for you, as they say.
In this guide I’ll go over everything you need to know about grabbing yourself a grinder to catch kief – what features to look for, what sizes to consider and which grinders gave me the best performance. By the end of this journey, no longer will your chase after the Mightiest of Mary Jane be fruitless. You’ll catch her and laugh as you take comfort in her love. Or… something like that.
Anyhow, let’s get to it.
Okay hold on… What is Kief?
For those of you who are totally confused, let’s take a step back. Let’s review what this shit actually is.
Kief (also spelled keef, kif or keif) comes from the Arabic word “kayf” meaning ‘pleasure’ or ‘intoxication.’ It usually comes in the form of a very fine powder and is extremely potent. This shit will literally knock your socks off. Like seriously, they’ll go flying across the room.
As one might expect, these mighty little factories have a higher concentration of the good stuff. Where a standard bud will have somewhere between 8-30% THC, trichomes contain anywhere from 30-60%. That’s a big jump. Add that to the fact that you can pack kief a lot tighter than standard bud and it’s no wonder it packs such a punch.
How Do We Catch It?
While the cannabis industry is always innovating with better and more effective ways to process bud, the most common way for enthusiasts to catch kief is using a grinder. Specifically, three and four chambered grinders (yes, four chamber grinders exist).
The idea is pretty simple. The top chamber of most any grinder is focused on actually grinding your bud up. This will be comprised of two sections, a top and a bottom, both of which will have teeth-like extrusions. On the floor of the bottom piece there’ll be tiny little holes. This is where your processed bud will fall through when it’s done being ground up. It’ll fall through these holes into a second chamber where the processed bud collects.
A grinder made for catching kief will have at least one more chamber below that. On the floor of the second chamber (the one where the processed bud collects) will be a very fine mesh screen. This will filter your primary bud, allowing only the tiniest specs to fall through.
Trichomes, as it turns out, are extremely tiny, so they’re pretty much the only ones that will make it through this screen. What your left with is a bottom chamber that’s filled almost exclusively with trichomes, which make up your kief.
Alright, What Features Should I Look At?
Now that we know the basics on how to catch kief, let’s take a look at the major features you’ll be looking for in the best grinder for kief.
Number of Chambers
Anyone looking to catch kief will need a grinder with at least two chambers. This is absolutely necessary. Single and double chamber grinders are only focused on grinding and catching regular bud. They won’t have the extra filtering or storage that’ll let you catch kief.
The big question is whether to go for a three chambered grinder (also known as a four piece) or a four chambered grinder (a five piece).
Five piece grinders add an extra chamber on the bottom in conjunction with a second, even finer mesh screen. This is added with the goal of only catching the tiniest particles, refining your kief into only the strongest of the strong. This added bottom chamber ends up making the grinder much taller than most enthusiasts are used to. This reduces its portability and makes it a lot bulkier.
To be honest, unless you’re regularly grinding up a lot of weed you’re not likely to get a ton of use out of the second kief chamber in a five piece grinder. It fills up pretty damn slow because so much is filtered out. Those of you who smoke several times a day pretty regularly may find use in this though. Still, only expect to empty that bottom chamber every so often. It’ll take a while to build up, but when you empty it that shit will light you up.
At the bottom of the first chamber will be a pattern of holes – this is what allows the processed bud to fall into the second chamber. The larger these holes are, the less the bud needs to be ground up before it can fall through. If the holes are smaller the bud will need to be processed more before it’ll enter the second chamber, resulting in a finer grind.
Part of your hole selection should be based on your preference of grind. If you’re a fan of larger, fluffier chunks of bud you’ll probably want to opt for a grinder that’s got larger holes. If you’re a fan of a finer grind, go with the smaller holes.
Those intent on focusing entirely on catching kief should look for a grinder with a smaller hole pattern. This will require you to grind your weed up more, resulting in more opportunity for the trichomes to disconnect and fall down into the third chamber.
When measuring mesh sizes, there are two main forms of measurement that are generally used: LPI and microns. LPI stands for “Lines Per Inch”, meaning the number of strands that make up one inch of material. Something that’s 200 LPI has two hundred strands over one inch of material. In general, the more lines per inch (the higher the LPI) the finer the particles will be.
The big issue with LPI is that it doesn’t take into account the size of the strands. As such, two mesh screens that have a rating of 200 LPI could have very different hole sizes.
The solution to this is to measure using microns. A micron is a specific measurement that equals on millionth of a millimeter. That’s really small, but it’s useful for keeping measurements consistent. You’ll generally use microns to measure the size of the particle instead of the size of the hole it falls through.
In general, most grinders will have a mesh screen that falls somewhere between 100 and 250 microns. Obviously, the finer the mesh (fewer microns) the more fine your kief will be, but it’ll also take longer to catch it. A less compact mesh screen will result in more opportunity for the trichomes to fall through, but you may also end up getting small bits of the standard bud that flake off.
Removable Mesh Screens
For those of you in it for the long haul (which is probably most of us) having a device that you can upgrade and easily maintain is important. After all, you’ll be grinding up a living plant time and time again – there’s going to be some wear.
One of the quickest parts on a grinder to wear down is the mesh screen itself. These are very finely crafted pieces of metal and it after a fair bit of use, they’ll start to get clogged up. Regularly cleaning them is an excellent way to lengthen their lifespan but at some point you’ll probably need to replace it. Getting yourself a grinder that’s got the ability to remove the mesh screen will increase its lifespan significantly. Instead of having to buy a whole new grinder, you can just swap out the screen and keep on keepin’ on.
The size of your grinder plays a big role in how you’ll catch kief – both the height and the diameter. The diameter of your grinder is the main factor that determines how much bud you can grind up at once. In general, use the following guide for choosing the diameter of your grinder:
- Mini ( < 1.5 inches): This is mainly for portability. These things are very tiny and can’t grind up much weed at once.
- Small (1.5-2.5 inches): While small, these still have enough room to be effective for small doses such as a single blunt. If you generally consume alone, these will probably work pretty well. They’re also small enough to be very portable.
- Medium (2.5-3 inches): A grinder of this size is almost certainly large enough for a single enthusiast and good for small groups as well. It’s increase in size makes it less portable though, so unless you’ve got a larger container (like a large purse or backpack) don’t expect to be taking this one with you.
- Large (3 – 3.75 inches): These things are massive. Unless you’re regularly hosting parties where you’re dishing out for several people at once, this probably won’t be necessary. They’re also a huge pain in the ass to lug around.
Simply put, the more weed you can grind up at once the fast you’ll catch your kief. That said, you also have to smoke the regular bud that you grind up, so you’re partially limited by how often you smoke. Even still, if you’re going all in on the kief, a medium or large size grinder might be of interest to you.
Rounded Kief Tray
If you’ve ever tried digging your kief out of a non-rounded tray, you’ll know why they were invented. With particles that are extremely tiny, trying to unload your kief out of something that has corners is incredibly difficult.
A rounded kief tray is simply a bottom chamber that’s got a bit of a curve to it. This allows you to easily take a small brush or pollen scraper and push/pull your kief out of the tray. It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s way better than the standard tray.
The Best Grinders for Kief
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at our top contenders. These are my favorite picks for the grinders that are best at catching kief. Let’s start off with my number 1 pick.
My #1 Pick: Cali Crusher Homegrown
Topping the charts at #1, we’ve got the Cali Crusher Homegrown. I’ll be honest, I did my best to remove the visual bias from this one, but this grinder just looks so damn good. But we don’t get style points in the world for kief catching – we need something that works. And the Cali Crusher works.
First off, it checks all the major boxes. It comes with a removable mesh screen (you’ll need a hex wrench though), a rounded kief tray,
Second, it’s really easy to use. The grind was smooth and loading is easy. Instead of the standard design with dozens of pegged teeth, the Cali Crusher only has 20 teeth overall – 8 on the bottom and 12 on the top. This gives you a lot of extra area to place your bud when you first insert it, meaning you won’t need to split it apart ahead of time.
The Cali Crusher is made from aerospace grade aluminum, meaning you won’t have any issues with flakes falling off and contaminating your weed. This aluminum is incredibly strong and won’t wear at all. It’s also coated in a scratch resistant finish. While that’s not a big deal to me personally, it’s nice to have.
But back to how it looks… damn. It comes in 10 different colors, all of which I think look gorgeous. I’ll admit though, I’m a bit sad they don’t have orange. C’mon Cali Crusher, get with it!
All in all, this is an excellent device that’ll not only up your kief game but it’ll quite possibly be the last weed grinder you’ll ever need to buy. If you’re looking to buy a quality piece of machinery that’ll last you a long time (along with getting you shit tons of kief), this is it.
My #2 Pick: Medium Santa Cruz Shredder (With Pollen Press)
Second on my list is the Medium Santa Cruz Shredder. Now, if you’ve been around cannabis for any period of time, you’ve probably heard of the Santa Cruz Shredder. It’s renown for being an excellent product and some would even go so far as to say it’s the best grinder out there. I won’t necessarily say that, but I will say that it’s a high quality grinder that’s great for catching kief.
One of the unique parts about the Shredder is the design of its teeth. While a lot of grinders have been trending towards sharper edges that slice right through your bud, the Shredder focuses more on pulling it apart. This gives you slightly larger, fluffier chunks of bud.
While I don’t have any science to back it up, my personal thoughts are this is a great way to grind up weed, especially for kief. Pulling the bud apart allows the tiny trichomes to detach more easily. A grinder the slices right through your bud won’t have that.
Another added bonus is since the Shredder doesn’t rely on super sharp teeth to do its grinding you won’t need to worry about them dulling down. This means that the shredder can keep on shredding for years to come.
It also includes a rounded kief tray on the bottom chamber. While I wouldn’t mind the bottom chamber being just a tad bit larger, it’ll probably hold enough for most purposes. Just keep in mind that it’s not quite as deep as other keif trays on the market.
Another added benefit of this package is the inclusion of a pollen press. A pollen press is a device designed for crushing kief down into small bricks of hash. While I don’t personally use one very often, it’s a nice addition and opens up the possibilities of how you consume in the future if you ever get curious.
The big drawback for this grinder is the lack of a removable screen. If it had that it’d easily get my #1 spot. The screen it comes with is just a bit finer than others on the market. The increased output from the ‘pulling teeth’ will make up for that though, so you should still get a good amount of kief and it’ll be a bit finer than you standard crop.
Overall, the Santa Cruz Shredder a fantastic grinder that’ll not only get you buttloads of kief, but also give you a wonderful grind on your regular bud too. And it comes in orange!
My #3 Pick: Masterdam Grinders Premium Large 2.5 Inch
Those of you looking to go kief catching on a bit of a smaller budget will enjoy pick number three: the Masterdam Large Grinder. This grinder is a fraction of the price of my last two picks, making it a lot more affordable.
You wouldn’t know that by the packaging though. Masterdam is a master of presentation if nothing else. Upon opening your package you’ll find all four components neatly laid out in a specialized box. It also includes a handy dandy little carrying bag, making it easy to take with you on-the-go.
Concerning teeth, you’ll find Masterdam uses a pretty unique Lion’s Tooth curved diamond design. Unlike the Shredder, these are designed to be very sharp and mince your bud up. While I’m not personally as big of a fan of this, it still works well. You kief output won’t be quite as strong, but you’re not likely to notice much of a difference.
With the Lion’s Tooth design comes the need to keep your teeth sharp. I’d be a bit more concerned if this grinder was made out of standard aluminum but knowing that it’s made from aerospace grade aluminum gives me confidence that the teeth will stay sharp for years to come.
The Masterdam Grinder doesn’t allow for you to remove the mesh screen, but it does come with a rounded kief tray. It also comes with a really tiny (and super adorable) little scraper tool, which makes gathering up your kief incredibly easy.
All in all, this guy is a great option for the lower price bracket. The $10-30 range of grinders sees a bunch of cheap, low quality products. This isn’t one of them though. I’m extremely impressed with how this grinder performs given it’s so freakin’ cheap!
My #4 Pick: Space Case
Rounding out our list at spot #4 is the Space Case. Considered by many to be the ‘Godfather’ of grinders, it’s been around for a while. And with good reason – it’s a well-made product.
Similar to the Masterdam Grinder, the Space Case includes very sharp teeth. The thing is, it includes a lot of them. The top section has 30 and the bottom has 24. With a total of 54 teeth, this thing can do some serious grinding.
I personally feel that might be a bit too many teeth for my personal taste, but the thing really does shred like crazy. The big annoyance is you’ll definitely need to break your bud up into tinier pieces before you put it in your Space Case.
Apart from the number of teeth, you’ll see a lot of similarities between this grinder and the Masterdam. The space case is also made from aerospace grade aluminum and has a permanent mesh filter that cannot be removed. Instead of a rounded bottom tray it still uses the older flat version. Not a big deal, but a minor annoyance.
The big thing you’ll be paying for with this grinder is its unique teeth design. If you’re a fan of a tighter grinder you’ll absolutely love this thing. And it catches kief extremely well too. All said and done, the Space Case a fantastic grinder that’s earned its place in the annals of cannabis history
Kief Catching Tips
Now that you’ve got your grinder you’ll need some expert tips to up your output. Below we’ve got the best tricks of the trade for catching more kief.
Add Some Weight
Putting a small weight in the bottom chamber of your grinder will help tremendously with shaking out a few more of the trichomes. Just put a penny, nickel or some other small, dense object in the bottom and then shake it around.
The weight of it will knock against the sides of the grinder and knock off a bunch more of those trichomes, adding to your kief collection at the bottom.
Get The Right Stuff
If you’re a fan some of that super sticky, thick bud, I can’t blame you. That shit’s great. It’s not going to give you an optimal kief output though. For that, you’ll need some super dry kush. The drier the better, although make sure it was still alive at some point.
The idea here is that as the plant dries out its stems become more brittle. That makes it easier to knock the trichomes off and get them down into that bottom chamber.
Clean Your Screen
We talked about this earlier and we’ll talk about it again: clean your damned mesh screen. As great as some of these grinders are, they won’t work well if you don’t take care of it.
Need some help getting those tiny bits out? Take a small paintbrush (one of the little ones, not something you’d paint a wall with) and chop the end of it off so there’s only a tiny little bit left. Then use that to clean out the screen.
The shorter length will give you a bit more leverage for brushing and poking the bud that’s jammed in there. Spend 5-10 minutes working it and your screen will be good as new!
If you’ve read through this whole guide you now know about as much as I do about catching kief. All it takes is the right grinder along with a few tips and you’ll turn into a kief catching pro. Just make sure to take care of your stuff and get the right bud. After that, just grind her up and enjoy!