If you’ve been around the cannabis industry for any period of time you’ve probably heard the word ‘kief’ thrown around once or twice. Maybe more than that – it’s a bit of a popular thing in stoner culture. But what the hell is kief?
Keif (also spelled ‘keef’, ‘kif’, or ‘keif’) stems from the Arabic word kayf (كيف) meaning ‘pleasure’ or ‘intoxication’. Simply put, it’s the really good shit. It’s a very concentrated form of the plant that has a higher density of not only THC and CBD, but all cannabinoids. It takes the form of a very fine powder and is far more potent (and arguably popular) than your standard bud.
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If you’re looking for a bit more of an explanation though, we’ll need to dig a bit deeper. First, let’s cover some basic terminology.
Before we can dive too much deeper into what kief actually is and why it’s so powerful we’ll need to define a few terms. Below are the definitions for three concepts you’ll hear talked about a lot in your local weed shop.
Trichomes, based off the Greek word trichōma for ‘hair’, are the tiny, thin, hair-like outer growths on cannabis. If you look closely at a bud you’ll see a bunch of little whiskers sticking out every which way – those are trichomes.
These little guys are basically weed factories. They’re the part of the plant that produce both the cannabinoids and terpenes.
While Cannabinoids make up only 85 of the 500 active chemicals in cannabis, they’re pretty damn important. They’re the group of chemicals that actually get you high. While many of them aren’t known too well to the general public, there are two that most people are familiar with: THC and CBD.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compounds that causes weed to have psychoactive properties. CBD doesn’t include any psychoactive properties but is known to have numerous medicinal benefits including anti-inflammatory properties.
Terpenes are the fragrant oils that give cannabis (and other plants, fruits and flowers) its aromatic diversity. It’s one of the major substances (although not the only one) that differentiates different strains of cannabis. These are also produced in the trichomes.
A Deeper Explanation
“On average, a flower will see a concentration of anywhere from 8-30% THC, where trichomes tend to have a concentration of 30-60%”Now that we’ve got that covered we can get back to the topic at hand: what exactly is keif?
Keif is a simply a collection of trichomes. Since we know that trichomes are the actual source of the cannabinoids (the things that make you high) and terpenes (one of the things that give strains their ‘flavor’), it stands to reason that if you collect these trichomes all together you’ll have some pretty powerful shit. And that’s exactly what happens.
Trichomes simply have a higher concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes than the other parts of the bud.
On average, a flower will see a concentration of anywhere from 8-30% THC, where trichomes tend to have a concentration of 30-60%. That’s possibly 7 times the concentration of your normal bud. Add that to the fact that it’s smaller and can be packed in tighter and no wonder it’s so fuckin’ strong!
How to Collect Kief
The most common way to collect keif is by using a weed/herb grinder. If you’re not familiar, weed grinders are small circular devices that you use to crush a larger bud up into smaller pieces. You can then use that ground up weed in making blunts, bowls, packing a bong and sometimes baking edibles.
A three or four chamber grinder is a specialized type of herb grinder that specifically seeks to collect keif. This is done by a filtering the larger buds through a very fine mesh. In a three chambered grinder, the process looks like this:
- Weed is ground together in the top chamber of the container by rotating the top section of the grinder.
- When chunks become small enough to fit through the holes in the bottom of the grinding chamber, they’ll fall through to the second chamber. This is where the larger grounds will be stored.
- The smaller pieces that disconnect during the initial grinding process can fall through a second filter made of a very fine metal mesh (on the bottom of the second chamber). Anything that isn’t filtered by this mesh screen is considered kief. It is stored in the bottom container until needed.
A five piece (four chamber) grinder will usually have a second, even finer mesh at the bottom of the third chamber. This will only allow the tiniest and most powerful particles to fall through. It’s seriously powerful – you could consider it ‘super keif’.
Whether you’ve got a three of four chamber grinder, the bottom section is where the keif is collected. It often takes several grinds to collect enough kief to be useful, although some will use the kief after one grind to sprinkle on their ground up bud.
Note: Single and double chamber grinders don’t have the ability to collect keif because they don’t have a bottom chamber or a second filter.
What To Do With Kief
Kief is just as flexible as regular bud and can be used in a variety of ways. Like I mentioned before, many enthusiasts like to toss their kief on top of their standard grind just to give it a bit more of a kick.“Kief is just as flexible as regular bud and can be used in a variety of ways.”Other’s like to save their kief up and use it exclusively. This can be done using a blunt, a bowl or a bong. You could also toss this in to make stronger butter for edibles.
Another major use for kief is making hash. Hash is a more potent for of marijuana that takes the form of small bricks made of compressed kief. Manufacturers will make these by compacting the kief, baking it, pressing it again and then letting the brick dry.
How to Use Kief
Kief is used in the same way regular bud is. It should be noted however that if you smoke kief, expect it to burn up quite a bit faster than the normal stuff. Otherwise, just fill the same container you normally would (a bowl, blunt or bong) with the powder and you’re good to go… and go… and keep going.
For newer users, it’s suggested that you use a bit of caution. If you go all-in on the Kief Train you could end up with a pretty extreme experience. Use the rule “start low, go slow” to ensure that you don’t accidentally get your mind blow up, dissected and then reassembled. Or ya know… whatever else.
‘What is Kief’ Wrap Up
So there it is – keif is basically just really, really powerful weed. It’s a byproduct of the grinding process and is often times used to give the standard smoke, vape or snack a bit more of a kick. It can also be used the same way that your regular bud can, making it a pretty desirable part of the plant.
If you’ve never tried keif before, I wish you the best of luck on your first experience. It’s a pretty enjoyable part of the cannabis experience and is pretty easy to access. All you need is some bud and a $10 weed grinder (although nicer ones will work better).