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What is Kief? How to Decarb it for Butter and Edibles

by TeamAlpha |

What is Kief?

Kief is the strongest part of the plant and fittingly means “pleasure” in Arabic. 

It’s the pollen of the plant, the fine, sticky crystals that cover the cannabis flower and sticks to your fingers. 

You’ve seen it in your grinder, it’s the brown or yellow “sand” at the bottom.  Depending on the plant variety, it ranges from powdery to gummy.

Why Kief?

Kief is a golden treasure to connoisseurs.  It contains the highest percentage of cannabinoids and THC.

Some of the benefits:

  • It’s strong. Kief tests between 40-70% THC.  Flower is typically 12-25%.
  • It’s pure & natural. You can extract without solvents.
  • It’s versatile and has limitless uses from adding it to your joint to sprinkling on your coffee.

How to Collect Kief?  What is a Kief Box?

Kief is easy and safe to collect vs solvent based extraction processes. 

For small quantities of kief, a grinder with kief catcher is a great place to start.  The kief falls through filtration screen and collects in a chamber below.   

For higher quality kief that is purer, use a dry sift, kief box.  Kief boxes filter out the plant and flower material with very fine mesh filters.  The screens range between 80 to 270 microns wide, just wide enough for the trichome gland heads to fall through.  Simply place finely ground cannabis inside the box, put the lid on and shake gently for about 30 seconds.   

Each sifting makes the kief batch purer.  The amount of filtration is a personal preference.

The purer the kief, the lighter the color will be, almost off-white.  If the kief looks green, there is still a lot of plant material mixed in.  To better separate all the resin from the plant materials, people typically stack 3-4 layers of fine mesh screen on top of each other. 

What to do with Kief?

There are endless, creative ways to enjoy kief.

Smoke it on its own.  Pack a bowl or roll a joint with kief.  Just remember it’s significantly more potent than flower so start small.

Sprinkle it onto flower.  “Crowning a bowl” is the most common method.  Sprinkling kief on top of your bowl adds a potency and flavor kick.  Or add to your joint, mix well and roll as normal.

Make Kief Edibles or Kief Butter

A canna chef once called kief his best friend when it comes to cooking with cannabis.  With the plant material filtered out, the taste is better and not “weedy” like ground bud.

Kief is versatile and can be stirred into all kinds of food.   Kief butter is easy to make and store.  Kief can be added to coffee and quickly dissolves.

Like any cannabis edible, your kief needs some type of fat or alcohol to be effective.  If added to a fat free food, be sure to eat something fatty at the same time so your body can absorb the fat-soluble cannabinoids.  For example, just add creamer to your coffee with kief.

Due to it’s potency, you will only need about half or a third of the flower you would normally use to make cannabutter.

Decarbing Kief

Kief must first be decarbed to be used in edibles.  (For the science and why’s of decarbing, check out “Why Decarb” or Decarb Down Low & FAQ.)

And, yes, decarbing kief will be just as pungent as decarbing flower.   No need to open every possible window in the house, turn on every fan, or mask the smell by cooking fish or garlic.  Simply use the EdiBox to lock in the smells.  Bonus: your sticky kief will easily slide on and off the non-stick silicone surface. 

Decarbing kief can be a bit tricky given it’s loose powdery nature.  It also decarbs faster than flower and is prone to burning so take care. 

Decarb at 240 for between 30-60 minutes depending on your amount.

In 2012, the Marijuana Growers HQ ran tests decarbing kief. 

Before Decarbing 24.5% 3.8%
30 Minute Decarb 2.6% 25.4%
60 Minute Decarb .1% 25.5%

Kief tends to ball up in a bag which could lead to uneven temperatures and decarboxylation.  Spread the kief out in a thin layer and break up any large chunks into smaller pieces.  The thickness of your kief will determine the amount of time you truly need.

Once decarbed, kief will darken a bit in color and gives a rich, nutty smell. 

Depending on your plant variety, the kief texture may change after decarbing.  Some will stay a fine powder while others might get even more sticky or gummy.


Slow and Low, with Notes

As with any homemade edibles, start low and slow.  Wait before you take that second cookie.  Kief can pack a powerful punch and you don’t want to accidentally consume too much.

Also, each time you cook with cannabis, take notes.  Write down what you did.  Include how much you ate and what the strength was.  Write down how you felt each time so you can adjust dosage as preferred in the future.

Dose and enjoy to your specifications and preferences.