The standard way to catch kief is to use a simple grinder. Put your weed in the top, grind that baby up and let the tiny pieces fall through to the bottom. But what you would say if I told you there was a better way?
Grinders are great, but they have their limits when it comes to catching kief. If you’re all about that kief (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?) then you’ll be interested to learn a bit more about a kief box.
In this article I’ll walk you through all you need to know. I’ll describe what this thing is, how it works, how it compares to a grinder, what the best features are, how to use one and then I’ll take you through my top suggestions for kief and pollen boxes.
Ready? Awesome, let’s get to it.
What is a Kief Box?
As one might expect, a kief box (also known as a pollen box, pollen sifter, kief tumbler, etc.) is a box that’s designed specifically for catching kief. While it does share some similarities with a grinder, there are quite a few major differences too.
The design of the box is pretty straightforward. Most boxes have two chambers and three pieces. The top chamber is where your whole bud is placed. On the bottom of that chamber is a small mesh screen – this is what you’ll use to sift your bud through. Below that is the chamber where you’ll collect and store your kief.
It works in a pretty simple way. You throw all your fresh bud in the top. Instead of grinding that bud up though you’ll simply shake the box, allowing the trichomes (what makes up kief) to sift through the filter down into the bottom tray.
When you’re done shaking and sifting, simply open the bottom tray and gather up your kief. You can do this using a small brush, pollen scraper or just simply dump it out. You’ll also want to retrieve your bud from the top and (probably) grind it up to use.
Kief Box vs. Grinders
Those who are familiar with the cannabis industry know that there’s a fair bit of debate around this. Which is better for kief? A box or a grinder? My personal opinion is that a kief box is better for gather kief. Let me explain why.
When you grind your bud up using a grinder you’re chopping all of it up – the bud, the stems, the trichimes. Nothing is spared. When the bud falls down to the second chamber, everything is getting filtered. Anything that’s small enough is going to filter down through the mesh screen into the kief chamber. That means that you’re not only getting the trichomes, you’re also getting tiny bits of bud and stems down there.
What you’re really looking for with kief is just the small trichomes. Those are the things that are the most powerful – anything else is diluting your supply.“A kief box will result in a more consistent, powerful and less diluted kief made up almost exclusively of trichomes, which is what you’re really after.”A pollen sifter doesn’t require you to grind your weed up. That means when you’re sifting your bud only the tiny trichomes will fall through because everything else is too big. It significantly reduces the risk that you’ve got tiny bits of stems or bud falling down to the bottom.
As such, a kief box will result in a more consistent, powerful and less diluted kief made up almost exclusively of trichomes, which is what you’re really after. Those who are a fan of kief will be a big fan of this box.
There are some downsides though. Sifter boxes tend to be pretty big, so you’ll need a fair bit of weed to get some good use out of it. If you’re only dealing with a few grams on a regular basis it’ll be hard for you to get a ton of use out of it.
Additionally, kief sifters can be a bit expensive and they really only have one purpose. A grinder will get you kief but you can also use it to, ya know, grind. Since that’s what it’s supposed to do.
What Should I Be Looking for In a Kief Box?
If you’re on board the Kief Box Train you’ll want to know what to look out for. Below are what I think are the main features to be aware of.
The biggest thing you’ll want to watch out for is a quality build. Since kief tumblers are built for pretty much one purpose there aren’t a lot of extra ‘luxary’ features that make a big impact on how it performs. The build quality of the box will be the biggest factor in its ability to catch your kief. A poorly built box will not only give you crappy performance, it’ll also fall apart easily and in the worst cases can be a bit dangerous (splinters are awful).
Another thing to watch out for is the size filter they include with the box. While a fine mesh filter will give you only the tiniest particles, ensuring that almost everything that falls through is tried and true kief, it’ll also take a lot longer.
Since you don’t have the grinding and mincing that you’d normally get with a grinder there’s a lot less opportunity for the trichomes to get dislodged. That means that even though you can sift a larger amount of bud at one time, you might not get as much as you’d think. A larger sized mesh screen can help with that, but your quality will go down just a tad.
It’s up to you – both sides have their pros and cons. If you’re someone who can tell the difference in purities in kief you’ll want to opt for a finer mesh. If not, just go with the larger one so you can get more.
If you’ve read any of my other articles you’ll know that I’ve got a strange (and probably annoying) fascination with out things look. Beyond what I normally say, there’s something particularly magical about a nice, well-crafted wood box.
Does the look have any significance on how well it works? No, there are some cheap options that are great. But if you’ve got a larger box it’ll probably be sitting out somewhere. It might be worth it to spend the extra $10 and get something that you’ll enjoy looking at all the time.
There are some idiots out there who will tell you that having a plastic bottom on your box is a bad thing. The keyword there is ‘idiots’.
There is absolutely no way that you will ever be scraping up any plastic when collecting your kief unless you happen to be doing your sifting in a volcano with a flamethrower being blasted at you. That’s simply not how plastic works. At all.
The truth of the matter is that plastic is a less expensive, effective way to help you not only gather up all the tiny kief particles on the bottom, but also clean your box. And those savings can be passed off to you.
It’s not these fat cat businessmen who are stuffing extra dollars into their pockets. It’s a cheaper box that makes it more accessible to the masses.“The truth of the matter is that plastic is a less expensive, effective way to help you not only gather up all the tiny kief particles on the bottom, but also clean your box.”A glass bottom is great too, but then you’re increasing the risk that it can shatter, making it much more of a liability when travelling around.
If you plan on carrying this thing around in your backpack or glove compartment then there’s a good chance something can smash into it and crack the screen. Then your box is ruined.
My opinion is that plastic is a great (and completely 100% safe) material to use as a bottom to the kief collecting chamber.
There are a few manufactures who’ve added some cool extra features to their boxes. These range from extra compartments, joint rollers, paper holders and other cool features. While these don’t add to the quality kief you get or the quality of the set, it can still be a nice addition.
My Top Picks for the Best Kief Boxes
If you’re looking to pick up a kief box/pollen sifter, I’ve listed my favorites below. Take a look through and grab the one that fits you best.
My #1 Pick: Green Goddess Supply Pollen Sifter
The Green Goddess Supply Pollen Sifter is my favorite box of the bunch. Not only is it an extremely well made piece of equipment, it looks beautiful, works extremely well and comes with some really neat extras.
A Gorgeous Box
First, let’s talk about how this thing looks – it really is beautiful. While it’s not actually my favorite looking box on this list (that falls to the RYOT box, #2) I still think it’s gorgeous. The natural wood finish is smooth and gives it a calming, organic feel. The sides are well sanded so you don’t need to worry about splinters or cutting yourself.
The box divides out into three section, all connected by magnets. The magnets are pretty small, circular and are embedded into the different sections of the box. They all line up well and they’re strong enough to keep the box tightly closed, but aren’t too strong that it’s a pain in the ass to take apart.
Nifty Little Extras
On the bottom of the lid you’ll find two little goodies. The first is a slot that’s big enough to hold a standard package of RAW rolling papers. The second is a rolling jig – something one would use as a guide to roll a good joint or blunt. The jig is magnetized and fits snugly in the underside of the lid.
Those two additions transform this box from a simple kief shaker to a mobile weed command center. It has all the bare essentials to not only sift through your bud, but roll up a joint too. The only nice addition would be a small storage compartment (for a lighter or something) but I think that’s asking a bit too much.
The mid-section of the Green Goddess Sifter has a 100 micron stainless steel screen. This is a pretty standard size for kief shakers and works pretty well. The stainless steel makes it pretty wear proof. It’s important to keep in mind that a 100 micron screen is pretty damned fragile thing.
Be careful with this – if you’re not it’ll tear/rip pretty easily. Just because this is a well-made box doesn’t mean it’s indestructible. Take care of your shit.
The bottom of the box has an acrylic floor. I really like this for a few reasons.
First, it makes it really easy to remove your kief – nothing gets caught, snagged or stuck.
Second, it makes cleaning it about a billion times easier. A simply non-toxic cleaning spray and a paper towel will polish the bottom up in no time.
Third, it keeps bits of pollen from getting stuck. A wood bottom has tons of tiny crack/crevices, making it possible for the tiny trichomes to fall inbetween, get stuck and never be seen again. No issues with that when you’ve got acrylic.
The price is on the higher end. In fact, this is the most expensive box on the list by just a few dollars. But it’s the best one out there.
Not only does it work extremely well, it’s got some really intuitive additions that add a ton of value. Even with the increased price, you’ll be getting the most value for your dollar with this one.
My #2 Pick: RYOT Walnut Wood Sifting Box
Coming in at #2 on the list is the RYOT Walnut Wood Sifting Box. It was actually a bit of a struggle to decide between this and the Green Goddess Box for the #1 spot. Green Goddess ended up coming out first because of the cool little extras they added. That said, this is still an absolutely excellent pollen sifter that has a few cool design elements.
A Tiny Bundle of Joy
My favorite thing about the RYOT box is that it’s a fantastic size. It’s a bit wider, a bit longer and a bit shorter (only 1 inch tall). This makes it really easy to transport. Those of you with big pockets might even be able to fit this in one of them. If not, it’ll easily fit in the glove box of a car or a small backpack/purse.
That size does have a bit of a drawback. While it still works well with small amounts of weed (just a few grams) it works better with just a bit more. If you normally deal with an eighth or less, you won’t get quite as much yield as other options. Any more than that and you should be fine.
Some Fine Finishing
Concerning the looks, this thing is beautiful. You can get it in either a walnut or natural finish – both are terrific. The box itself is extremely well made with a smooth finish. I’m not a massive fan of the logo being on the top of the box, but it’s done tastefully so I’ll live with it.
The construction overall is fantastic. Similar to the Green Goddess the different sections are held together by embedded magnets. They all work very well, aren’t too strong and aren’t too weak.
A Smooth Bottom
The bottom of the kief chamber is made from a specific plastic called Lucite. This is very similar to acrylic and has all of the same benefits. It’s easier to collect your kief, easy to clean and prevents issues with particles getting embedded in an organic material.
This kief tumbler also comes with a nifty little plastic card for rounding up with your kief when you’re done sifter. In all reality, it’s exactly the same as an old gift card, but it’s still a nice little extra. It works pretty well to get your shit out of the bottom.
I really like this box a lot. I think it looks the best and performs extremely well. While the larger version (4x7x1 inches) is just about as expensive as the Green Goddess, the smaller version (3x5x1 inches) is several dollars cheaper, bringing it closer to $30 than $40.
If you’re looking for an excellent quality kief box that looks gorgeous, this is it. You’ll also get something that’s easier to carry around and it you go with the smaller one, something that’s a tad bit more affordable.
My #3 Pick: Aluminum Pollen Shaker
The Aluminum Pollen Shaker comes in at #3 mainly because it’s so cheap. While these other boxes can cost you $20-40, this one is priced at around the $10 mark, making it significantly more affordable than the others. If you’re looking for something that looks like crap but works, this is it.
Looks like crap? Yea, it does. It’s really, really ugly. You’re basically just buying a tin can with a mesh screen, a top, and a bottom. It’s not glorious, it’s not handcrafted, it’s ugly. But that’s fine, because it’s also really cheap.
This pollen sifter is quite a bit taller than the others in this list. That’s both a good and a bad thing. Given that it’s tall long with being cylindrical means it’ll be a pain in the ass to carry around. You won’t be transporting this kief tumbler in anything smaller than a backpack. It’s just too wide and too tall.
The awkward size does have a nice functional use though. It works well for both small and large amounts of weed. If needed, you could easily fit up to a full ounce in here, which is more than some of the smaller boxes on this list. You can also get away with only using a few grams.
Since the goal of a pollen shaker is to smash the buds into each other and the sides of the container to shake off the kief, the narrow but tall design allows you to stack buds on top of eachother. But that means that a small amount can still smash into the side of the container – it wouldn’t be able to do that as easily with a shorter and wider container.
I think this kief sifter has a great spot in this market. It’s cheap and useful. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money to get something that’ll still produce results. If you’re looking for a finely crafted, American made piece of equipment then this isn’t what you want. If you’re down with getting something that works for a just a few dollars, then this’ll definitely be your choice.
My #4 Pick: Buddies Wooden Pollen Sifter Storage Box
Finishing my list at #4 is the Buddies Wooden Pollen Sifter. It’s a nice box that isn’t as nice as others, but also comes at a cheaper price. It’s a fantastic choice for those that want to get something nicer than a tin can but still don’t want to spend $40 on a box.
One of the major differences in this box compared to others is that the top and bottom sections slide in using grooves in the side of the box instead of connecting with magnets. This work well enough, although I’ll be honest that I like the magnets better. I feel they’re a lot more secure.
The major concern I’ve got with the sliding mechanism is the ability for bits of pollen and bud to get stuck in there. While they fit in pretty tight, trichomes are extremely small. You’ll need to make sure you pay extra attention while cleaning this box to get all the junk out of the grooves.
A Glass Box
“This is a great in-between box for those looking for something that works, is nice but isn’t super expensive.”While the majority of this box is made from wood, the floor of the kief chamber is made of glass instead of acrylic. Some will tell you glass is better – I’m not in that camp. My major fear with glass is that it can shatter. The glass in this box is pretty strong so my concerns were alleviated a bit, but it’ll still be more of a liability when travelling than acrylic or Lucite.
It’s not a huge deal, but something to keep in mind. You might want to wrap the Buddies box in a towel or cloth before you take it anywhere.
Otherwise, it still has a lot of perks to it. The tray is easy to get your kief off of, easy to clean and you’ll have no concerns about bits of kief getting stuck in it.
Overall, this is a great in-between box for those looking for something that works, is nice but isn’t super expensive. No, it’s not the best product on the market but it’s also not the most expensive product on the market. Every purchase is a weight of value and cost. I think this still has a great value.
How to Use a Kief Box
Most of these devices are extremely simple to use – the process is pretty straightforward and intuitive. Below I’ve outlined the main steps you’ll use to get the most kief out of your box.
Insert the weed into your kief box. Packing too much or too little might not result in as big of a yield – the bud knocking against itself can really help loosen the smaller particles. If you can, try to keep the box about ½-2/3 full of weed. Keep this in mind when picking the size of your box.
Once your herb’s in the box, put the top on and make sure it’s sealed. Most boxes are attached via magnets, so make sure the magnetic areas line up so you get a tight fit. If your box is slightly rectangular but not square, make sure the top and bottom match up to each other
Depending on the size of your box you’ll sift your kief in a different way. If your box is small enough to grip with your hands, simply get a strong hold on both sides and shake it in all three directions. If your box has handles, use those to help you get a good hold on the box to shake it up.
If your pollen sifter is too large to pick up easily, simply slide it along the surface it’s sitting on. Setting a towel or cloth down underneath the box can help to reduce friction and make it easier to move around.
Be careful with how strongly you shake at first to ensure that you don’t mash your bud up too much. Use the rule ‘start low, grow slow’ when trying this out. You can always up your shake speed and intensity later.
After your initial shake, check both your bud and your kief to see how you’re doing. If you’re happy with the amount you’re getting, you’ll be done. Otherwise, close everything back up and shake again.
After a few times you’ll start to get an idea of how much you should be getting per amount of bud and you’ll have to check less frequently. Starting out though, it’ll be helpful to check constantly so you get an idea of what sort of results you’re getting from shaking.
When you’re done shaking open the top of the box and remove your bud. I don’t suggest leaving it sit in there for too long – it can dry it out and degrade the quality.
Same goes for the kief, although I know a lot fewer people who store it properly. If you’re serious about getting the optimal quality I’d look into picking up some purpose-specific weed storage to keep it hydrated. Especially if you’re collecting a lot to do something later (smoke a fat bowl or maybe mash up some hash) you’ll want to make sure it’s stored properly.
Do everything you can to get all the kief and bits of bud out. After that I’d suggest cleaning your box. The moisture from the bud combined with the dark space can make it easy for bacteria to grow in there. You don’t need to do anything crazy to clean it out – just wipe it down with a cloth. Every month or two you can clean it a bit more extensively.
There we are – just about everything you’d ever want to know about a kief box. I really think these have a special place in the cannabis industry and those looking to increase their kief output and quality will get a lot of value out of these.