How to get kief out of a grinder
Lush buds of dank flower are great and all, but who here hasn’t hit a bowl of pure kief at least once?
Kief, sometimes spelled “keef,” is the name for the glandular resin sacs produced by cannabis flower, otherwise known as trichomes. If you’re still scratching your head, it’s all the crystally, dusty, sticky stuff that builds up in the bottom of your weed containers and grinders.
Kief contains more cannabinoids, like THC or CBD, and terpenes, like limonene or myrcene, than any other part of the plant, which is why its one of the major ingredients for crafting quality pressed hashish or dabbable extracts. Some dispensaries sell small bags or bottles of kief, too.
Kief can be consumed several ways, as well. It can top-off a bowl, get twisted up into a joint, or smoked all by its lonesome, no buds needed. Vaporizing kief draws in most of the good stuff while leaving behind just a smidge of ashy residue. But to get enough kief to catch a buzz can be a bit of a challenge, which is why MERRY JANE’s got your back with some ideas for making your adventures in kief-scraping a little less time-consuming — and frustrating.
First off, if you don’t have a multi-compartment weed grinder with a kief-catch, get one. These grinders come equipped with a metallic screen and a detachable bottom compartment (called a “kief tray”) where the ground-up weed drops all the kief dislodged during the grinding process.
Not much kief will drop from a single bud, so it may require several rounds of grinding flower before you get enough kief to actually smoke.
While regular and consistent grinder use will eventually separate enough kief to puff on, there are a couple of tricks to maximize kief collection. The first is to simply shake the grinder left-to-right after grinding, but before removing the ground-up buds. (Shaking up-and-down jostles the kief up into and back down through the buds, so it’s not the most efficient method.)
The second is to shake the grinder with the addition of a “grinder coin.” Just add a coin, like a penny or a quarter, to the same grinder compartment where you’ll find the kief screen. The coin further agitates the shaking process, knocking off a few more pieces of kief than you would without it.
Cheesecloth / Silk Screens
If you’re really trying to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to consuming kief, go with cheesecloth or silk screens instead. Rubbing buds over these screens works just like a grinder, except finer cloths/screens will sift out larger, extraneous plant particles. This screening process is what traditional hashish makers use to make hash.
Spatulas, Spoons, and Razors
Okay, great. You’ve got a wafer of pure kief chillin’ on the bottom of your grinder. What now? How do you get it all out?
Cannabis trichomes are notoriously fragile. Just pressing on the kief can make the resinous sacs explode, leaving behind a glue-like smear across the bottom of your kief-catcher. Thankfully, many grinders come with a tiny plastic spatula designed for transferring the kief from your grinder to your pipe.
If you didn’t get a spatula with your grinder, spoons marketed for babies work just as well. If a razor blade can fit in the kief-catcher, that can also work wonders for scraping kief. If a razor blade is a tad too Scarface for you, try a small paint brush or even a screw or toothpick instead.
Sometimes scraping that delicious kief can be a chore, especially if you’re doing it in a heated environment. Because kief is basically tiny sacs of oil, heat can make them melt, including the heat generated by the friction caused from scraping.
To avoid a gooey mess, try refrigerating the kief first, such as by placing the grinder in a freezer for a few minutes. You could let it sit in there long enough to freeze, but freezing kief isn’t necessary.
Keep in mind that the tools you use to scrape kief could also transfer heat, so placing those in a refrigerator beforehand can help, too.
Basically, you just need three steps to get kief: agitation to knock the kief off the buds, separation to sift the kief from the buds, and then scraping to transfer the kief into a smoking or vaping device. Kief serves as an excellent way to consume cannabis while minimizing the toxic free-radical production from plant material that happens when burning it.
However, just because there’s less plant matter being combusted doesn’t mean you won’t cough up a lung, so keep some cold water handy in the event you inhale more than you can blaze, so to speak.Sometimes scraping that delicious, potent kief can be a chore, but MERRY JANE’s got your back with some ideas for making the process a little less time-consuming.
The 5 Best Methods for Collecting Kief
Saturday August 24, 2019
H ere at PotGuide, we recently covered some of the ways to put your kief collection to good use, and we figured that it might be a good time to go over some of the ways to collect that kief in the first place. In general, there are three ways of collecting kief without the use of solvents: shake it off, freeze it off, or force through a screen to be caught in some form of reservoir. The best collection methods combine these methods to capture as many trichomes as possible. Take a look below to learn more and start collecting that precious kief!
The standard and by far most popular method of collecting kief is to use a four-piece grinder. The distinction from a two- or three-piece grinder is that it will have a “kief catcher,” a chamber in the bottom beneath a fine screen to catch the kief that falls off of your buds when shredded.
Want to upgrade your herb grinder? Check out PotGuide’s list of the 9 Best Weed Grinders on the Market.
A quality grinder need not be expensive, budtenders and head shop workers will usually have a good tip on which work best.
Many utilize the “coin trick” to get better efficiency out of their grinders’ kief catchers. Putting a coin in the middle chamber helps to knock trichomes off of the flower as well as push them through the screen to the collection chamber below. It’s important to wash the coin well before putting it in with your flower to avoid contaminants and ridge-less coins tend to work best (better surface contact).
Small pollen boxes, can be slightly time consuming for getting large yields, but are easy and tidy for small personal batches. Simply put some buds in the top and shake. The biggest benefit of pollen boxes are that they keep everything nicely contained, so you don’t have to worry about a gust of wind or clumsy roommate coming by and scattering your work to the wind. However for larger yields, you’ll want to scale up.
Silk screens can help you collect a pretty decent amount of kief in a short amount of time. To do so, you’ll need to take a trip to your local art store to grab a silk screen, the very same you might buy to DIY a few band t-shirts. For this method, a basin or clean surface is set to catch the kief underneath (a pane of glass or mirror works well) and then ground or shredded cannabis plant material is gently run over the screen to separate out the kief.
This method is ideal for medium-sized batches of plant matter. One downside to using silk screens is that they can tear easily from stems. It’s best to be gentle and work slowly, picking out any jagged pieces that might tear. Metal screens are available in this size as well, but can be harder to come by.
The oldest kief method is to create a drum with a silk screen. The screen is stretched over the whole drum basin (often just a plastic bucket), and then covered with a selection of bud or trimmings. Next, a tarp is secured over the top with a rubber band or tight rope, locking the plant material in between the tarp and the silk screen. This is then beaten with sticks and the kief falls through the silk screen. With the right micron-gage silk (the unit of measurement for small particles), one could easily make a traditional Moroccan kief drum at home. This is an ideal setup for larger amounts of plant matter, but also easy to scale in size.
For the ultimate kief collection method, we start introducing a little science. THC is not water soluble, meaning it won’t dissolve in water, and colder trichomes become more brittle and fall off with greater ease. This means that any method of freezing won’t disturb the THC, while making the kief easier to agitate and collect. Dry ice alone, or (or even your trusty freezer) can be used to cool the buds to a point where the kief can be shaken off in a jar or container. Freezing prior to using the coin and grinder trick will also improve yields.
However, submerging the plant in an ice bath with get the most out of it, one just needs to be able to collect the kief back out. To do so, hash producers use a dry ice bath and what’s known as a “bubble bag,” a type of sieve sleeve (say that five times fast) traditionally used for making bubble hash. Plant matter is put in the middle of the bag then stirred in the ice bath forcing the bud against the screen. The resulting kief is collected underneath the screen.
This is essentially the freezing method with a screen and collector attached to it and is ideal for collecting some of the highest quality kief, as the process can be repeated with finer and finer screens bags to get only the head of the trichome (ensuring the least possible amount of plant matter). It works well for large batches, a it’s possible to get quality hash out of things like trim and clippings this way as well.
Naturally, a large factor in how much kief accumulates is the quality of the cannabis plant to begin with. Buds with heavy trichome coverage will yield more kief and produce a higher quality smoke.
Ask your budtender to help select well-sugared strains in order to maximize yield. Also, wearing gloves, or using an object to manipulate the plant matter is ideal to minimize oil residue from your hands (which will also make the kief clump up). Happy kief collecting!
Do you have any experience collecting kief? Let us know some of your favorite methods in the comments below!
Matt Mongelia holds an MFA in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has worked in the cannabis industry in various roles for 4 years, from dispensaries, production and retail to events, content and marketing. He is a writer for the comic Dark Beach, and has previously covered music and cultural content for SOL REPUBLIC.In general, there are three ways of collecting kief without the use of solvents: shake it off, freeze it off, or force through a screen to be caught in some form of reservoir. Take a look below to learn more and start collecting that precious kief! ]]>