You’re a veteran.
You’ve smoked too many bowls of kind bud to count, you’ve burnt plenty of big fatties and blunts, and you’ve enjoyed the communal experience of bong hits with friends. At this point, it’s only natural to wonder if there are other weed horizons left to discover.
Of course, there are. Among them are dabbing, vaping concentrate, and baking some tasty edibles.
But if you want to move to the next level of cannabis pleasure, you don’t have to purchase a dab rig or vaporizer or watch a few seasons of Buddy vs. Duff on Food Network.
The next step is waiting for you at the bottom of your weed grinder: potent kief.
Kief is the collection of sticky crystals that collect in the grinder after you’ve gotten your bud ready to smoke, and it’s even better than flower.
What Makes Kief So Potent?
You probably know that most of weed’s goodness is concentrated in the resin sacs, or trichomes, that make top-shelf weed look frosty and glistening.
Trichomes contain the bulk of marijuana’s cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. That’s why smart buyers look for buds with bountiful amounts of shiny white trichomes. It’s the weed that’s going to provide the best high (or the best pain relief).
Trichomes are delicate glands, and they fall off of the flower easily. Even the simple act of picking up a baggie or stash jar and putting it onto the table can cause many of them to fall into the bottom of the bag or jar.
That “leftover,” powdery substance is called kief.
When you grind weed in your grinder, you’re subjecting it to even more force, so lots of kief will fall off the herb. Kief is almost all trichomes, meaning almost all THC (and CBD) and terpenes. That’s what makes weed potent, so what’s in the bottom of your grinder is virtually pure potency.
That is if you have the right grinder.
Weed Grinders and Kief
Grinders come in a variety of designs.
Flat grinders are little more than flat cards on which you can grate your weed, created for convenience more than functionality.
Two-piece grinders are inexpensive models with a lid and a single compartment with built-in teeth; when you grind your flower, all of the product stays right in the compartment. Three-piece models are similar, but they have an extra compartment at the bottom to collect the ground weed.
None of those simple grinders allow you to collect kief separately. It’s mixed right in with your ground herb, or it sticks to the grinder blades.
Four-piece grinders are ideal for our purposes. There’s a fine screen attached to the weed compartment, allowing powdered kief to fall through the screen and collect in an extra chamber below.
(Five-piece grinders work similarly and let you collect two different sizes of kief, with the most-potent stuff collecting in the very bottom chamber. However, they’re quite large, and they’re overkill for most regular smokers.)
Using a four (or five) piece grinder maximizes the benefit you can get from your bud because you’re not losing any of its potent yields.
And there are a number of ways to use the potent kief you collect.
What to Do With Kief from a Grinder
Kief is the crown jewel of the weed plant, so here’s our humble suggestion: try all of these suggestions (but not all at once, of course).
Crown Your Bowl
The easiest and most popular use for kief is to put it on top of a packed bowl to add extra punch to your smoke.
Don’t overdo it; just sprinkle some over the weed. The best approach is to corner the bowl while you smoke (lighting just one corner at a time), so you get some of the kief’s potency with every hit.
Some people smoke kief by itself, and that certainly gets them high. The problem is that kief is so powdery that smoking it can be a logistical nightmare. You probably won’t want to give that a try until you’ve first tried crowning a bowl or two.
Roll it Into a Joint
Don’t leave a little space at the end of the joint for kief because it will probably just fall out or blow away. Instead, mix the kief into your flower before rolling. Again, don’t use too much; a little goes a long way.
Another approach is to lick the outside of a rolled joint and roll it in some kief. The moisture will make the powder stick to the paper. You may hear some people call this a twax joint, but using kief instead of wax concentrate doesn’t really create a twax — it just creates a terrifically-potent joint.
Take a small piece of parchment paper and fold the kief into the middle. Then squeeze the paper for about ten seconds between the two sides of a hair straightener set at low heat. You can use an iron if you don’t have a hair straightener.
The product left on the paper (and perhaps dripping out of it) will be rosin, also called hash oil. Once you’ve collected it, you can dab it, vape it, or use it in edibles.
This one’s a little more complicated. Spread a piece of parchment paper on a table, and wrap your kief completely in additional squares of parchment (making sure it’s completely covered).
Now fill a Mason jar with boiling water, and holding the jar with a towel or mitt, roll it back and forth over the parchment-wrapped kief for ten minutes, applying plenty of pressure as you roll. Then put the parchment squares in the freezer for 60 minutes.
You now have solid hash suitable for smoking (which is best done by mixing it with weed because hash melts easily), vaping, dabbing, or edibles.
Make Moon Rocks
If you’ve never tried a moon rock — where have you been? This incredibly-potent goodie is not to be missed since it can contain as much as 50% THC.
Take your bud and coat it with heated weed or hash oil, and once it’s cooled down, roll the coated flower in kief. That’s all there is to it; you can smoke moon rocks in a pipe (although they get quite messy) or add them to a bowl, joint or blunt. Just be sure you’ve cleared your calendar first; you’ll be out of commission for a while.
Adding decarbed kief to cannabutter or canna-oil increases its potency dramatically. That sounds great in theory, but it’s easy to overdo the kief. Make sure you have a good handle on how much weed you put into your edibles — and the effect it has — before you add that extra THC goodness into your baked treats.
Kief from a Grinder: FAQ
Q: Is there any way to make sure you get as much kief as possible into the bottom of the grinder?
A: There are several things you can do. First, grind small amounts of weed at a time. The more you grind, the stickier the inside of the unit will get, and less kief will fall through the screen. Second, after grinding, you should shake the unit from side to side before removing the ground weed; that will loosen any kief that’s still stuck to the flower. (Don’t shake up and down because that can push the kief back into the weed.) Some people also put a coin into the weed compartment before shaking, which will shake off the kief with more force.
Q: Do you just pick up the kief from the bottom of the grinder once you’re done?
A: That’s not the best idea because you can easily crush the trichomes onto the bottom of the kief compartment (or onto your fingers). Some grinders come with a tiny spoon to retrieve the kief. If yours didn’t, you can buy kief scrapers in smoke shops, or you can just use the edge of a razor blade.
Tanney, C. A., Backer, R., Geitmann, A., & Smith, D. L. (2021). Cannabis Glandular Trichomes: A Cellular Metabolite Factory. Frontiers in Plant Science, 1923 .