What is Kief?

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Article published by LeafScience.com
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Learn more about the most concentrated part of the cannabis flower.

Whether you’re new to cannabis or even a seasoned smoker, it’s likely you’ve heard of ‘kief’ before.

As it turns out, kief is a common name for the sticky, powder-like crystals found on the marijuana flower. This part of the flower can be extracted and is known to produce a different, more intense high.

Appearance

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The term kief refers to the powder collected from the resin glands of the plant, which are also known as trichomes. Trichomes are the small, white hairs that can be seen on the surface of the cannabis flower.

“Kief is a powdery beige-colored substance to the naked eye, but up close, you can see the piles of tiny mushroom-like structures making up the powder,” says Ry Prichard, a cannabis photographer and consultant.

Pure kief will be lighter in color, while kief with plant matter still remaining will appear green.

“Kief is a weird product because it is alternately seen as a byproduct and perhaps the highest form of cannabis extract,” adds Prichard.

Benefits of Kief

Kief is highly desired because the resin glands of the cannabis plant contain the majority of the cannabinoids and terpenes.

Kief is often associated with a powerful high — and that is because it typically tests at over 50% THC. Cannabis flowers, on the other hand, typically test between 12 and 25% THC.

The purest extractions of kief can test even higher, upwards of 80% THC, according to Prichard.

“Kief is more pure than standard flowers, as it is free of the vast majority of plant matter and other contaminants which cause off flavor, harshness, and other issues when smoking flower,” explains Prichard.

How is Kief Used?

The most common way to use kief is to smoke it. Kief can be added on top of the cannabis flowers in a joint or bowl.

Another common way to consume kief is to make hash, which is essentially just heated and pressurized kief. After this process, the kief becomes darker in color and the taste is altered. It can then be smoked with a hash-specific pipe if desired.

The purest forms of kief can also be vaporized or dabbed for a very strong effect.

Like other cannabis products, kief can be used in marijuana edibles — and is often preferred. Since less kief needs to be used for the same potency, it’s less likely to affect the flavor and can be easier to cook or bake with.

The easiest way to cook with kief is to add it to butter, which can then be used in your favorite edible recipes.

How To Extract Kief

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Many marijuana users extract and collect kief on their own, due to its higher potency.

The easiest way to extract kief at home is by using a three-chamber grinder. While a typical grinder only has two chambers, more expensive grinders have a third compartment specifically designed to capture and collect kief crystals.

Alternatively, three layered screens can also be used to extract larger amounts of kief.

Some people prefer to use dry ice to separate the dried plant material, which creates what is referred to as dry ice hash.

The purest form of kief is called “99% sift” or “99% heads sift.” In these forms, only the trichome’s oil-rich heads remain, which can only be done by a very skilled extractor.

“The very best kief can sell for upwards of $200 per gram because the yields are so very low and it is such a complicated, labor-intensive, skill-based process,” Prichard says.

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