What Is Cannabis Kief and What Can You Do With It?

If you are new to the world of cannabis, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the new things you have to learn. There is THC and CBD level information to understand, strains of cannabis to familiarize yourself with, devices you have to learn how to use, and an entirely new dictionary full of terms.

To make your trip to your local dispensary a bit less intimidating, let’s talk about kief, keef, or cannabis crystals, as they are also sometimes called. If you pick up a cannabis flower and look at it closely, you will find that it is covered in small sticky crystals. This pollen-like substance is what is known as kief. Kief can be separated from cannabis flowers and used in a variety of ways. The following guide to kief is an overview to help you understand what it is and the different ways that you can use it if you’re looking to explore this herbal wonder of the cannabis world.

What Is Marijuana Kief?

Marijuana Kief Trichomes
From a scientific perspective, kief is the resinous trichomes of cannabis flowers. These resin glands that develop on cannabis flowers contain both cannabinoids and terpenes. Kief is the crystal that forms on the top of this gland and is a part of the “hair” or trichome that forms on the plant. Kief and trichomes actually serve an important purpose from a plant biology standpoint. While some plants, like sundews, have trichomes to attract and trap insects, the trichomes on a cannabis plant are there to deter herbivores. Since the trichomes have the most concentrated amounts of THC and CBD, any predator that attempts to eat the plant experiences an extremely powerful psychoactive experience that stops them from devouring the plant.

If you are growing your own cannabis plants, the trichomes can help you determine when your plants are ready to harvest. If you inspect the trichomes, and they have turned an amber color or are cloudy like, this is a good indication that you are ready to harvest. Clear trichomes mean that your plant should mature a bit more. From a recreational perspective, kief is valued for its highly concentrated amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes. The high concentration of THC and CBD that is found in the resin glands makes kief an awesome way to consume cannabis without ingesting as much burnt plant matter. Most cannabis flowers contain up to 25% THC, while kief can contain nearly 70% THC.  This allows you to get a much more intense high than smoking typical cannabis flowers. Many seasoned cannabis users find it to be an ideal product for sleeping more soundly.

How to Extract Kief From Cannabis Flower

Extract Kief From Cannabis Flower

Kief can be extracted from the cannabis plants you have, or you can purchase kief at a dispensary. During the extraction process, the kief crystals fall off the top of the trichome shafts that are on the cannabis flower, collecting in the extractor’s reservoir for later use. If you buy your kief from a retail store or a dispensary, look for kief that is a light sandy color, without too much green, which indicates excess plant matter. The lighter the color, the more likely you are to have a purer, high-quality product. The easiest way to extract kief from your own plants is to use a three-compartment or 4-piece grinder. The grinder provides a fine grind of your cannabis flowers, making for a smoother burning, easier-to-pack bowl, and the finer grind makes it easier to roll your flower to smoke.  It also allows the kief crystal to sift through the screen and collect in the bottom reservoir. Many grinders also come with a tool you can use to scrape your kief from the screen. You can also construct a dry sifter to extract your kief without grinding up your flower. All you need is several wooden boxes with built-in screens. The “kief box” process is similar to sifting for gold. You just keep shaking, letting the crystals detach from the trichome head and separate from the flower. The multiple-sized micro screens will separate all plant matter, trichome heads, and other particles, with the resulting product being almost pure kief. The kief will collect in the bottom storage area. The grinder ranks as the easiest and most practical way to extract kief for your own use. Purchasing kief from your local retail store is easy but not quite as economical. Constructing your own screening apparatus can be a good option if you are working with larger quantities.

Uses for Your Kief Stash

Now that you have this highly concentrated kief, let’s look at what to do with kief. There is a wide array of options when it comes to utilizing kief. Like other concentrates, it can be smoked, made into edibles, and you can make hash from your kief. The following are just a few of the ways that you can use your kief.

Smoke Your Kief

Smoke Your Kief

The easiest way to make use of your prized kief is to smoke it. Smoking it straight up, although possible, is not really a great idea. The texture of kief makes it a bit messy to deal with, and the potency can make your buzz more intense than you may want. A better idea is to add a pinch of kief to a joint or top off a bowl that you are smoking. Adding a touch of kief to your bowl or “crowning your bowl” allows you to stretch your stash. Keep in mind that adding kief to your joint or bowl does increase the potency of your smoke dramatically. A little goes a long way.

Make Hash With Your Kief

Make Hash With Your Kief

Hashish or hash can be made by taking kief in its powder form and simply heating or pressing it into a dense little ball. This natural method of producing a concentrated form of cannabis dates back thousands of years. While there are several other methods of producing hash, this is by far the simplest and safest. When you apply heat and pressure to kief, it ruptures the resin glands. The pressure also darkens the color of kief and changes the taste. The effects of the kief are also changed once it is made into hash. You can now put your hash in a bowl and smoke it.

Infuse Butter and Cooking Oil With Kief

Infuse Butter and Cooking Oil With Kief

Kief can be added to butter and oils in the same way that you would use cannabis flower. Intermixing the kief with cannabis flower provides the best results for the infusing process while also adding an extra punch of THC and CBD to your baking and cooking. Remember that the kief should be decarboxylated prior to using it for cooking. This ensures the cannabinoids are activated.

Make a Mocha Latte or Chai Using Your Kief

Chai Tea with Kief

Kief can easily be added to your favorite hot latte or chai drink. The heat will activate the cannabinoids, providing you with a body high that should kick in within 30 minutes after you drink your delicious beverage. This long-lasting high can be had from less than a gram of kief in your latte. Since caffeine and cannabis both increase dopamine production, you can double your pleasure.

Make Moonrocks From Kief

Make Moonrocks From Kief

Moonrocks are becoming a popular way to enjoy cannabis. These extremely potent nuggets are easy to make. Simply take a bud of your favorite cannabis flower, heat your favorite concentrate oil until warmed, cover the bud with the oil, and then sprinkle your kief over the bud to cover it. Once hardened, the moonrocks can be broken up and smoked in a bowl. Beware, this is an extremely potent mashup with over 50% THC that should only be used by seasoned smokers.

Vaporize Your Kief

Vaporize Your Kief

You can sprinkle your kief onto the cannabis flower that you are using in your vaporizer. Just be on the lookout for any excess residue that may clog your vaporizer over time. You can also make your high-quality kief into an oil if you prefer vaping oil over flower.

Recommended Vaporizer for Dry Herb:

Store Your Kief for Later Use

The more cannabis flower that you consume, the more kief you will accumulate. Given kief’s high potency, you will likely have some extra kief that you will want to save and enjoy at a later date. You can either compress your kief into small disks using a pollen presser, or you can store it the way it is. Either way, choose an air-tight container and place it in a cool dark location.

Future Uses For Kief

Joint rolled in Kief

The world of cannabis is ever-expanding, with new ways to enjoy cannabis all of the time! We invite you to explore the different attributes of the hemp plant as well as various ways cannabis can be consumed so you can find the right fit for you. And, who knows, maybe you’ll come up with a new use for keif in the future. The possibilities are endless…



Chris Weatherall

I’m a kid at heart disguised as a cannabis researcher and business owner. I’ve always enjoyed providing insight in the form of reviews (anime, video games, etc.) So, when the cannabis industry took off, it sparked my interest in researching, reviewing, and chronicling all things within. When I’m not researching, I’m spending time with my family, riding my motorcycle, and finding new entrepreneurial pursuits.