With the way the cannabis industry is progressing, one day we might see commercials that pay homage to the past and the future. An old lady peddling Wendy’s, asking “Where’s the kief?” – just wait: it’s coming to a TV screen near you.
That’s just how cannabis rolls (no pun intended) – it’s no longer about joints and bongs and flowers; it’s about much more. And this includes kief.
So what is kief exactly and why should you care?
The key to understanding kief is understanding trichomes. After all, kief is essentially ground-up trichomes. Trichomes are dried resin glands that exist on the leaves of the cannabis plant. In scientific terms, they are “fine outgrowths or appendages on plants, algae, lichen, and certain protists.” In our terms, they are “where all the magic happens.”
Trichomes contain high concentrations of THC, the cannabinoid that allows marijuana to get you high. They’re small yet powerful and allow pot to be pot. The trichomes in cannabis make the cannabinoids as well as the terpenes (hydrocarbons found in a plant’s essential oils).
Kief is what happens when trichomes are ground up – it’s a powdery, sticky substance that can be consumed via edibles or inhalation; its texture is unique to the dried marijuana plant. Like the trichomes themselves, kief contains high amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes. This not only makes it very potent (in terms of psychoactivity), but it also makes it beneficial to health.
Of note, collecting kief is difficult with a two-chamber grinder. Most people recommend springing for a grinder that is at least three-chambers (four-chambers work as well).
How to Consume Kief
Kief can be used in ways typical of pot. Some people sprinkle it into their pipes, adding an extra zing to their flowers. This takes a little proactivity. First, use pipes that are either stainless steel or titanium. Second, heat it gently – getting the flame too close will burn the product.
You can also vape with kief. Vaping kief will elicit strong effects: it's concentrated and behaves as such. You can use it to make cannabutter and then make whatever edibles you’d like. Of course, this also produces a more potent product which may or may not be for everyone. If regular edibles get you too high, you might want to stay away from those made with kief. If you’re hoping your brownies will put the pot in “potency,” go ahead and give it a try. Using kief is also attractive to those who want their marijuana to last longer: a little kief can go a long way.
You can use it in other ways too
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade; when life gives you kief, make hash (someday, that’ll be on an inspirational poster in your boss’s office). It’s actually a fairly easy process and something that can be done with the use of your own hands. Simply roll the kief into a small, sticky ball. The downside is that it’s messy and it might interfere with your kief’s potency. But, again, it’s easy.
A more complicated process will leave you with a higher quality product: the bubble-hash method. This is done by soaking the buds in ice water, shaking them to release the heads of the trichomes, and gathering the kief through a filter. You can then press it into hash.
You can also make hash with heat. The hair straightener under your bathroom sink? It’s not just for high-humidity days!
No matter how you use kief, keep in mind that this is concentrated cannabis and not always the best starter drug for newbies (THC is typically over 50 percent). However, homemade kief isn’t as potent as what you’ll find at a dispensary – making more concentrated kief is a labor-intensive process that usually requires high tech equipment. It’s also not as potent as what you’ll find in certain other concentrates. Still, it’s more potent than a toke on a joint or a hit of a bong. Just something to be aware of if all of this is new to you.
If you’re curious about concentrates in general, kief may be a good place to begin. Unlike other concentrates that have additives you don’t want, kief is natural. This makes it a major player in the medical marijuana industry (but, clearly, it has its recreational fans as well).
The Perks of Kief
To quote George Michael, “Kief is natural, kief is fun, kief is best when it’s one on one.” Okay, so that’s not exactly how the song goes, but some of the lyrics are applicable. The perks of kief include its purity and its potency. Its purity helps you sidestep the dangers of solvents, tar, and other unwelcome chemicals. Its potency helps you find relief for whatever ails you (whether you’re consuming it because of chronic pain or anxiety).
Because kief is so high in cannabinoids, the benefits of those cannabinoids (in terms of health and everything else) are compounded. And we already know that cannabinoids are beneficial in many ways.
The Negatives of Kief
Ah, Mary Jane giveth and she taketh away. One of the biggest drawbacks of kief is that its potency can be hard to predict – this leaves the user unsure of dosing and sets the stage for a high that is either too high or not high enough. Other factors – like strain – can also influence potency.
The price is another drawback. Kief sold inside dispensaries can be quite pricey, but that’s the cost of good quality. As mentioned above, you can make your own kief at home, though it’ll likely be at the cost of potency. You can also invest in high-tech equipment if this is something you’ll engage in regularly.
Finally, kief can elicit the regular side effects of THC and then some. Because it’s so high in THC content, the bad parts of THC are more prevalent. This might leave you with worse dry-mouth or dry eyes or a faster-than-makes-you comfortable heart rate. Paranoia is also an issue, which might mean kief is something to avoid if you’re already prone to the nerves.