kief Rare, exclusive and expensive, kief is the caviar of the cannabis world. It is not simply Moroccan hashish, as many people think, but rather it is the name for the resinous crystals that protect the cannabis plant against pests. Insects do not like aromatic terpenes and cannabinoids. But we humans do!
If you handle cannabis, you will notice your hands are often sticky. A resinous, crystalline layer a bit like pollen sticks to your fingertips. Have you ever wondered what this is? This is kief, the most potent form of unprocessed cannabis.
In Morocco, the term is used for a sebsi pipe (a traditional pipe from the Maghreb region) filled with hashish and tobacco. That is why kief is often used as a synonym for Moroccan hashish, which is actually incorrect. Kief is just one stage on the way to hashish.
You can do a lot of things with it, but mixing kief with tobacco is not really a good idea. But let’s start at the beginning.
What is kief?
If you look closely at cannabis, you will notice tiny crystals. That is kief. To be more precise, these are mushroom-shaped resin glands, also referred to as trichomes.
Trichomes are hair-like structures that are found on the surface of plants, algae and even single-cell organisms. They protect plants from external damage, such as from insects or major fluctuations in temperature. Botanists distinguish between many different types of trichomes.
On cannabis plants the trichomes have a secretion function. They are also referred to as glandular hairs. They produce cannabinoids and terpenes – two words that gladden the heart of all cannabis lovers. Seen under the microscope, the trichomes look like mushrooms. They have a stalk and a head like a mushroom cap.
The best kief contains only the cap. Trichome caps are the very best part of the cannabis plant, because they contain the highest percentage of cannabinoids. Almost all their weight consists of pure cannabinoids and terpenes.
The purest, solvent-free extracts are made from them. It is clearly evident why kief is so popular with cannabis smokers everywhere. Brimming with THC and with a captivating aroma, kief is a true delight.
How can kief be extracted?
Kief is mechanically separated from the plant material, so it is a pure, solvent-free concentrate with few if any impurities. Other extracts, such as Rick Simpson oil or Live Resin are produced using solvents like acetone, butane or alcohol.
There are various ways of harvesting kief. The easiest is by using a three-part grinder. Using it is child’s play. First remove the top, then place the buds between the grinder’s teeth, and close the grinder again. After a few turns, the kief will have reached the bottom section. But it will take a lot of plant material before you have any kind of volume in there.
Anyone who has travelled in the Rif Mountains in Morocco may be familiar with the traditional dry sieve method. The buds are hammered and filtered through a series of finer and finer sieves. The finer the sieve, the finer the end product. Ideally, only the potent trichome caps remain.
As can be seen in the video, these labour-intensive methods require a great deal of patience. What also makes it more difficult is that, depending on the plant material, different sieves need to be used. Depending on the variety of cannabis, the size of the trichome caps will vary.
Eight ways of using kief
Kief forms the basis for many other cannabis products, which I would now like to introduce to you. From upgrading a joint or a pipe to the production of an e-liquid and to cooking and baking – here are eight ways of using kief.
1. Vaporizing kief
One of the most efficient and healthiest methods of using kief is in a vaporizer. Because the active ingredients (THC and other cannabinoids) are carefully heated up to a predefined temperature, nothing is lost through overheating. Steam contains neither carbon nor half-burned solids, making it substantially healthier than smoke.
In particular, consumers who use cannabis as a medicine should consider using a vaporizer. The purchase cost is soon recovered, because only a little kief is needed for an optimum effect.
2. Producing hashish from kief
Hashish has been produced on the Indian sub-continent for millennia. The traditional method is as simple as can be. Cannabis plants are simply rubbed back and forth between the hands. Once enough resin has collected, this is formed into hash balls, referred to as Charas. This “finger hashish” can also be made from kief.
On a professional level this is all done using a pollen press. Pressure and heat convert the trichomes into resin. This changes not only the colour and aroma but also the effect of the end product. If you want to produce hashish, you do not need to invest in an expensive machine. Using the Rosin method you just need a hair straightener and some baking paper.
3. Upgrading a joint with kief
Most people still consume cannabis in a joint. Kief adds an extra kick to the buds. Because of its properties, it is not very easy to sprinkle into a joint, so it is better to mix it with the buds before rolling the joint. Alternatively, you could sprinkle some kief carefully on the moist outside of a rolled joint.
4. Smoking kief in a pipe
This is one of the best ways of smoking kief, especially if you use hashish made from kief. Of course, you could also smoke buds in a pipe or bong, and sprinkle kief on these. As with a joint, care needs to be taken with this method of consumption. Kief not only increases the potency of the cannabis you use but also creates a faster and more intensive high.
Inexperienced consumers in particular should take care that they do not smoke too much all at once.
5. Using kief in edibles
Cooking and baking with cannabis is in fashion. The Hashish, Marijuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam recently had a whole exhibition devoted to the subject. Almost every recipe that contains buds can also be prepared with kief. Cannabis butter is the perfect way to include kief in your food.
The effect of edibles is delayed compared to other forms of consumption, but is all the more intense for that. So take things slowly.
6. Making kief into moon rocks
Moon rocks consist of three ingredients. If you have them all available, you can easily make your own. A dried bud is dipped in hashish oil and then sprinkled with kief. That’s it! You should not mill moon rocks in a grinder, because they fall apart easily. It is better to break off a small piece and use it to top up a pipe or joint.
Because of their potency, moon rocks are only recommended for experienced smokers. You rarely see them in coffee shops or dispensaries.
7. Preparing e-liquids with kief
If you enjoy vaping, then kief is an interesting alternative to the normal aromas. Making your own e-liquids is simpler than you may think. To do so, you need propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, a coffee filter and two saucepans.
Mix the first two ingredients in a ratio of 1:1, plus the kief, in one of the saucepans. Fill the other saucepan with water and put it on the stove. Place the saucepan with the kief on top of it. Now light the stove and wait till the steam starts melting the kief mixture.
If you want to add a further aroma to your e-liquid, the best time to do this is when the mixture has reached a smooth consistency. If you want to be totally certain that no small pieces of plant debris end up in the e-liquid, pass the liquid through a coffee filter as the final step. Tip: To inject home-made e-liquids into an e-cigarette, it is best to use a syringe.
8. Making coffee with kief
You can use kief to improve not only joints and pipes but also your coffee. This only works with hot drinks, because the cannabinoids first need to be activated, or decarboxylated. In other words, no heat, no buzz, so don’t waste your kief on a cold brew or an iced coffee. If you don’t like coffee, you can just as easily make tea with kief, of course.