What is kief? How is it made?

The term “kief” has been used in Morocco for the powder made from glands (sometimes termed trichomes) that have been sifted or rubbed from the buds and leaves of the plant. The term is also used for a smoking mixture composed of the gland powder or possibly chopped hash mixed with finely chopped tobacco. This blend was traditionally smoked in waterpipes but now cigarettes and smaller pipes are popular there, too.

In North America and Europe, kief is also described as the glands of the mature female plant. Typically, it is made from “trash” ? the leaves and misshapen buds of little commercial value. They contain a considerable number of glands that are easily removed.

Kief powder refers to this loose collection. It can pressed to make hash using presses with heated iron or plates, although this is not the only method by which hash is made. In the US kief is sometimes pressed into hash, but it is more likely to be smoked or vaporized alone or used to top some bud in a pipe.

Kief can be collected by rubbing leaves or buds over a fine silkscreen or stainless steel mesh screen. The glands are pulled from the vegetative material and drop through the screen to be collected.

The Pollinator, invented by Holland’s Mila Jansen, revolutionized kief making. Large amounts of leaf can be processed with little human labor. The machine consists of a box enclosing a rotating drum made from silk or stainless mesh. As the drum rotates the leaf tumbles against the mesh and glands fall off.

Kief is prized because of its high concentration of glands and its smoothness when it is inhaled. Needless to say, there are many qualities of kief depending mostly on the qualities of the marijuana that was screened. Like olive oil pressing, the screening process is also a major determinant of quality.

Readers with grow questions (or answers) should send them to Ed at: Ask Ed, PMB 147, 530 Divisadero St., San Francisco, California 94117, USA. You can also email Ed at [email protected], and send queries via his websites at All featured questions will be rewarded with a copy of Ed’s new book, Best of Ask Ed: Your Marijuana Questions Answered. Sorry, Ed cannot send personal replies to your questions.



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