What is Kief?

“'Kief’ is one of those words I’ve heard in connection to weed, but I’m not sure what it means. Is it something to do with hash?” Anton C.

You’re right, kief is used for hash, among other things. Basically, kief (commonly misspelled as ‘keef’) is the small, sticky crystals you see on the outside of cannabis plants. They’re the external resin pockets that contain many of the cannabinoid compounds — such as THCCBD, and terpenes — which make marijuana such an interesting plant. It can provide a high for recreational use and a host of health benefits for medical use.


On the plant, kief is part of the trichomes, aka “hairs,” covering it. Trichomes are used by different plants for different reasons — often for self-preservation. In the case of the Venus flytrap, the predatory plant uses them to sense prey before trapping and consuming it.

With marijuana plants, trichomes could serve to deter predators by making them high as they seek to consume them. The trichomes’ resin smell would also attract insects that could pollinate cannabis plants and spread their seeds.

In any event, kief is a highly psychoactive marijuana compound that can be consumed and used in different ways. For example, some people who like to use weed concentrates but find them too costly will turn to kief to get similar effects.

Processing Kief

Before you use it, kief has to be processed. But this is no biggie for a home user. You can process kief (and also make hash) quite easily.

The kief crystals must be separated from other plant materials to ensure their purity and get them ready for consumption. To do this, you would use a multi-chamber herb grinder, filtering the kief through a series of increasingly fine screens.

You can also collect greater quantities of kief by rubbing marijuana plant material onto a silkscreen and often using a stack of silkscreens with increasingly fine mesh, as with grinders.

Consuming Kief

Then you might ask, what to do with kief? You could smoke it, rolling it into a joint or tobacco cigarette.

You can consume it in a variety of ways. Perhaps sprinkle it on your morning coffee or tea or over some meal you’ve cooked to give it an extra “kick.” Or you could make kief butter, which can be used to make edibles such as brownies and cookies.

And then you can make hash in a heating and pressurization process, pressing the kief pollen into bricks, which become darker the more you press them.

Hash is generally stronger than other weed products, so you can have quite an intense experience using only a little. And while hash doesn’t have a lot of mainstream popularity these days, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a cannabis outlier, enjoying kief as an affordable and highly enjoyable form of marijuana.

With its potency, it can also be a good choice for medical uses, such as chronic pain and some mood disorders.

Marianne F.

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