Ever wondered what the sticky resin is that falls to the bottom of your grinder after each use?
These small, sticky crystals that collect in your grinder are called kief.
Kief is made up of trichome heads that have broken off from the flower due to physical agitation, such as when grinding or handling the bud. Trichomes are the resin glands found on cannabis flowers and leaves, which, under a microscope, look like hairs with a bulbous head at their tips.
Before you discard the bits that are left behind, learn why these are the most potent parts of the cannabis plant -- and how to avoid wasting it.
First, let’s discuss what makes kief such an important part of the flower as it contains two important compounds:
Terpenes are the compounds that give the strain its unique aromatic and flavour profile. Terpenes are not unique to cannabis; almost every plant has its own strong-smelling terpene profile which helps to protect it against predators [*]. Kief is the trichome head and is full of terpenes that help to protect it from herbivorous animals and insects.The trichomes help to protect cannabis from UV rays by acting as a shield.
The specific cannabis strain has a large effect on the terpene profile due to its genetics, but can vary widely depending on the environment in which it was grown. If the plant has an optimal environment with adequate nutrients, the amount of trichomes will increase, resulting in more terpenes and cannabinoids. Still limited depending on the strain’s genetic profile, the amount of trichomes depends on the quality, amount, and spectrum of light, nutrients (which are uptaken from the roots and leaves and transported throughout the plant), humidity, temperature, and CO2.
Kief contains cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds that interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body to produce their potential healing effects [*]. These receptors are found in different parts of the central nervous system [*]. Cannabinoids can influence appetite, memory, cognitive function, and even mood as they mimic endocannabinoids -- the body’s naturally occurring compounds [*].
Why use kief?
If you like the potency of concentrates but don’t have the budget for it, kief is a great option to consume. Since the resin glands are packed with terpenes and cannabinoids, you can get the potency you’re looking for alongside a price that won’t break the bank. The best part? All you have to do is grind your cannabis as you normally would and then collect the kief as a byproduct.
How to collect kief
To take advantage of kief’s potency, simply use a three-chamber herb grinder to grind your flower. Then, gather the kief crystals that have fallen through the screen into the small compartment below.
How Licenced Producers produce kief
Many LPs extract kief using water extraction, which is the process in which they use ice cold water to separate the trichomes at the bottom of an irrigation tank using different filters. LPs would do this water extraction using dried flower or trim, which is the byproduct from the trimming process.
How to consume kief
There are a few different ways you can consume kief; you can sprinkle it into a joint, add it to your vaping routine to increase potency, or even onto a packed bowl of cannabis flower. You can also consume it by adding it to your favourite cannabis infusion recipe, like cannabis butter, simple syrup, or oil.
As always, make sure to start low and go slow to consume safely.