What is Kief? (& How it Gets You Really High)

What is Kief? (& How it Gets You Really High)

When you think of cannabis, it’s likely that the first thing that pops into mind is THC or CBD. However, there’s more to the plant than those two — kief, also known as “hash” or “cannabis crystals.” At first glance, kief may seem unassuming with its fine, powdery appearance, but this byproduct packs a potent punch, making it a popular choice for many cannabis enthusiasts.

So,what is kief, you ask? In this article, we'll go through everything there is to know about kief, from what it is to the benefits that make it a popular way to enjoy cannabis for many users.

What is Kief Weed?

Kief is a product collected from cannabis flowers and leaves. So, if you have weed, you have kief. But what is kief weed, exactly?

The cannabis plant's surface is usually covered with crystal-like resinous glands known as trichomes, which contain THC, CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids. When these trichomes dry and break away from the plant, they become kief – a beige, gold, or brown powdery substance. It usually has a stickier feel than trichomes on a bud. If it appears dark or green, that means it still contains plant matter, but expertly cleaned kief will have more of an off-white tinge. 

Cannabis enthusiasts add kief to hand pipe bowls or joints to enhance their hit potency. Otherwise, you can also press it to form "hash." 

What’s the point of kief?

 Kief plays an important role in the life of the cannabis plant. It’s actually made up of trichomes, which appear as tiny, crystal-like structures along the surface of the cannabis buds and leaves. They act as the plant's first line of defense against various threats, such as insects, herbivores, and even harmful UV rays.

To deter predators, these trichomes produce cannabinoids and terpenes that give off intense aromas and effects. Interestingly, the same aroma attracts pollinators for proliferation.

On the other hand, for cannabis enthusiasts, smoking kief provides them with a potent experience with benefits. Aside from its high potency, kief is also popular for its versatility since it can be sprinkled over bowls, rolled into joints, or even used to make homemade concentrates like hash.


How to Use Kief Weed 

Most people add kief to weed pipe bowls or joints to add a punch of potency or flavor to normal flowers. You can even go a step further to press your refined kief using low heat to make something similar to a shatter, which is easier to work with than powdery, dusty kief. 

But, what's the best way of consuming kief? Here are a few ways to amplify your smoking experience with kief. 

1. Sprinkle kief onto a bowl of cannabis

Also referred to as "crowning a bowl," this is the most common way of using kief, and it will enhance the potency of your ground marijuana. However, this method doesn't allow you to experience kief on its own. 

A recommended way of smoking kief is to use a screen on top of your glass pipe or chillum. You can buy specialty titanium screens at a well-stocked head shop or use a standard stainless steel pipe with no issues. 

Focus your hits on specific sections of your kief-laced bowl; that entails burning a small quadrant of the bowl at a time using an indirect flame (held at an inch or two above the kief). This method ensures the full release of essential oils while preventing the kief from burning. Refined trichome heads will begin to bubble and melt, delivering an enhanced, full-flavored hit and leaving behind little residue.

2. Sprinkle kief into a joint

Another way of smoking kief is to sprinkle a healthy pinch to your cannabis when rolling a joint, spliff, or blunt to get that extra kick. 

Alternatively, you can also "twax" your joint. To do that, dampen the outside of your joint with a lick, roll the top 1/3 of the joint in some kief, and light it up. 

Pros and Cons of Kief Weed

When trying kief (or any other form of cannabis), it's critical to understand the advantages and disadvantages (risks) to find the consumption method that suits your unique needs. 


  • Contains no plant materials, making for a smoother, flavored, and less harsh smoking experience
  • Has a higher potency as the dried trichomes contain a high concentration of THC, CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids
  • Is highly versatile – You can consume it in different ways


  • Kief can be too potent for some individuals
  • Storing trichomes can be challenging since trichome heads are so tiny and can be blown away easily
  • Solvent extraction is limited to professional sifters, as the process requires testing the product for residue.

Is kief stronger than regular bud?

Yes, kief is significantly stronger than regular bud. This is because kief is made up almost entirely of trichomes, where the cannabis plant's cannabinoids and terpenes are concentrated. Even when compared to the most THC-potent marijuana flower, kief is still more potent since it’s pretty much pure THC concentrate, containing anywhere from 60 to 80% THC. 

Is kief illegal?

It depends on the legal status of cannabis in your state. In states where cannabis is legal for either medical or recreational use, kief usually falls under the same regulations. However, in states where cannabis is illegal, possessing kief is also prohibited and can lead to the same legal consequences.

Kief side effects

Like cannabis, smoking kief also has its own set of side effects. Here are the most common ones you should be aware of:

  • Increased psychoactive effects: The high THC content in kief can amplify feelings of anxiety or paranoia, especially if you have low tolerance. Since it’s more potent than regular bud, it’s best to start with a small amount.
  • Dry mouth: A common cannabis side effect, dry mouth is often more noticeable with kief because of its concentrated potency.
  • Short-term memory impairment: Like other cannabis products, kief can affect short-term memory during use, especially in high doses.
  • Increased heart rate: If you have a heart condition or are particularly sensitive to THC’s effects, smoking kief can result in increased heart rate.
  • Respiratory issues: Similar to smoking cannabis, smoking kief has the potential to irritate the lungs, which can lead to coughing, wheezing, and other respiratory problems.

Is kief weed safe? 

Unlike hashish, which is made using solvents (such as water, propane, butane, and ethanol), kief has no safety or health risks. It's a great alternative for consumers who prefer not to have solvents in their concentrate. Kief extraction is a supremely natural technique of concentrating weed, dating back thousands of years to hash-making destinations, such as Afghanistan and Morocco. In the latter, however, kief doesn't refer to cannabis trichomes alone, but a mixture of ground cannabis and tobacco smoked through a weed pipe known as "sebsi."

Solvent-based hash can get moldy and pose safety and health risks if poorly made, but kief is fool-proof, meaning you'll always be using a safe and natural product that is more potent and pure than straight-up cannabis. 

To Sum Up

For cannabis buffs who want to take their smoking experience a notch higher, kief is an excellent option. Extracting it is super easy, and all you need is cannabis flowers and a 3- or 4-piece grinder with a kief catcher. The only caveat is that accumulating hit-worthy kief may take weeks or months, but once you have a substantial amount, you can crown your bowl with the dried trichome heads or sprinkle them on your cannabis when rolling your joint. The advantage is that kief is safe to smoke as it is a natural cannabis concentrate. It's also more potent and versatile. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I dab or vape kief?

Generally, no. Most kief isn't pure enough for traditional dabbing/vaping methods, but there are exceptions. If you can find something close to a 99% sift, you can dab it and even use it in vape devices. 

How potent is kief?

Typically, smoking kief offers a much stronger "high" than regular cannabis flowers. While normal marijuana contains 12-25% THC, kief can be up to 70% THC, depending on purity. That means you get a much stronger kick from less material smoked. 

Can I add kief to cannabutter?

Yes! If you've made cannabutter but think it's not potent enough, you can add a little decarboxylated kief to the butter to enhance potency. You can also add kief to your tea, coffee, or cream; or infuse it into your olive or coconut oil to make canna oil. 

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