What Is Kief? Why Is It Important for Medical Cannabis?
The cannabis flower is a wonderous plant, rife with all sorts of features that make it a very special plant with various applications and uses. One thing you may have heard of is “kief”; it’s that crystally stuff that you may see collecting within the chambers of your grinder. What is kief, exactly? Why is it a special part of the cannabis plant? How can kief enhance the medical cannabis experience?
In this article, we provide an overview of everything you need to know about kief as a medical cannabis patient.
What is Kief?
As the cannabis plant matures, resinous glands called trichomes develop on its buds, containing compounds like THC, CBD, and terpenes. These trichomes resemble tiny crystals, akin to finely-milled sugar or salt. When they dry and break off, they form kief.
Kief, once separated from the plant, tends to have a darker color due to oxidation, ranging from light gold to brown. It has a powdery appearance and a slightly sticky texture, distinct from trichomes found on the buds. Another term for kief is “pollen,” and occasionally, it’s spelled as “keef,” though “kief” is the more accurate term.
Adding kief to vape chambers, bowls, or joints enhances the potency when your bud might be lacking. It can also be compressed into hash if a substantial amount is collected in your grinder.
When purchasing kief from a dispensary, note that purer and more potent kief usually has a lighter color, often slightly yellow or off-white. Dark or greenish kief may contain plant matter, while well-cleaned kief tends to be a brighter, eggshell color.
Is Kief More Potent than Flower?
Given that trichomes house the majority of cannabis cannabinoids, kief boasts a significantly higher THC content compared to the entire plant. The experience of a single hit of pure kief is likely to be more intense than a hit of full bud.
However, optimal results are achieved when blending kief with another substance like ground flower. Although pure kief carries a high THC content, it often presents a harsher sensation than flower, and the high tends to be shorter-lived without the additional compounds present in the whole plant.
It should be noted that kief lacks the terpenes and distinctive flavors that smoking the entire plant provides.
How to Collect Kief and What to Use It For
At our medical cannabis clinic, understanding the extraction and application of kief is crucial to enhancing the patient experience.
While kief naturally separates from buds through time and movement, many patients use grinders to gather this powder. Grinders break down cannabis buds into small, even pieces for various consumption methods like rolling joints, vaping, or filling pipe and bong bowls.
Grinders, typically equipped with a dedicated kief catcher at the bottom, simplify the collection process, minimizing mess and effort.
Utilizing a Kief Catcher
To collect kief crystals effectively, opt for a grinder with a kief catcher, preferably a 3- or 4-piece model. Seek advice from knowledgeable budtenders at your local dispensary for suitable recommendations for grinders with fierce kief catchers.
During the grinding process, the grinder’s force and teeth work in tandem, making the trichomes detach from the buds. These trichomes then descend into the bottom chamber, where they’re amassed as kief.
Patience plays a crucial role in kief collection. Building a substantial kief stash may take weeks or even months. Once you’ve amassed a sufficient amount, simply unscrew the kief catcher chamber and extract the kief. Some grinders even include a specialized scraper tool to facilitate even distribution and prevent sticking.
Gathering Kief Using Screens
In the event of a lost grinder, an alternative method involves collecting kief by rubbing cannabis plant material onto a silk screen. If you happen to have one lying around, this technique is particularly useful for extracting larger quantities of kief, especially if you have a substantial amount of cannabis. These screens are available in various sizes, with the optimal range falling between 75-125 microns (a unit of measurement indicating screen permeability).
For optimal outcomes, you may use a home extractor to pass kief through multiple screens of varying sizes. The screens are stacked from the largest mesh to the smallest, refining the product and effectively filtering out any plant matter or elements that could compromise the quality of the kief for smoking.
Enhance Your Medical Cannabis Experience With Kief
Unlock the full potential of your cannabis by incorporating kief into various consumption methods.
Here are some suggestions:
- Bowl Topping: Elevate your bowl by sprinkling kief on it, a technique known as “crowning a bowl.” To maximize efficiency, consider cornering your hits, burning a small section at a time.
- Joint Enrichment: When rolling joints, blunts, or spliffs, add a generous pinch of kief to the mix for an extra boost. Ensure an even distribution to promote consistent burning.
- Twax Joint: Take it a step further by “twaxing” a joint—lightly moisten the outer layer with a lick and roll the top third in kief for an intensified experience.
- Hash Creation: Explore the ancient tradition of making hash by collecting kief pollen and pressing it into bricks. Use parchment paper to avoid sticky fingers. Additionally, roll kief into charas for direct smoking in a pipe or bong.
- Moon Rocks: Elevate your cannabis even more by creating moon rocks, combining buds with kief and a layer of concentrate. This potent concoction provides a truly exceptional experience. See our recipe for Moon Rocks here.
- Rosin Pressing: Dive into the world of rosin by pressing flower or kief between heated plates. This DIY process can be done with a hair straightener or invested in a professional rosin press. Keep in mind that kief rosin may have a different taste compared to whole bud or hash rosin. Learn more about rosin here.
- Cannabutter Potency Boost: Enhance the potency of your cannabutter by adding kief during the decarboxylation process. This step ensures even distribution and a stronger infusion, perfect for adjusting the potency of your homemade batch. See our recipe for Cannabutter here.
Experiment with these methods to discover the kief-infused ritual that suits your preferences.
A Few Notes of Caution with Using Kief
Here are a few notes of caution when using kief as a medical cannabis patient.
You may be wondering whether you can drop kief into a dab nail since it is a concentrated version of cannabis. The short answer is that dropping kief into a dab nail may lead to undesirable consequences. The plant pollen and residual matter present in kief can burn and compromise the integrity of the nail. This could result in a suboptimal dabbing experience and premature damage to the equipment.
You may also be thinking that smoking a joint entirely made of kief is a great idea. In short, save yourself the trouble. Smoking kief directly in this manner often leads to a rapid burn, causing excessive coughing, which is not something beneficial to the medical cannabis experience. The absence of plant matter in pure kief compromises the joint’s ability to maintain an even burn, resulting in a harsh experience that diminishes the full THC potential.
A more enjoyable alternative involves incorporating kief thoughtfully when rolling a joint. Whether mixed into the rolling process or delicately added to the joint’s exterior, this method provides a superior way to harness the full experience of kief without compromising on burn quality.
Go Forth And Harness the Power of Kief
Now that you’ve learned a bit more about what kief is, and what it isn’t, you should be able to incorporate kief into your medical cannabis experience. It may take a few tries to figure out what method of collecting and utilizing kief works best for you.
If you are looking to get your medical cannabis card or renew your medical cannabis card, Compassionate Clinics of America offers medical cannabis certifications in 27 states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, & West Virginia,. Reach out today by clicking this link to get the process started!