What is Kief?
You might have heard what kief is but for those of you who are newbies, this term might sound unfamiliar to you. Kief is the name given to those little sparkly crystalized structures that cling to the surface of pure cannabis. The sticky stuff.
Kief is essentially marijuana pollen. It functions as a defense mechanism to ward off predators. Should an animal consume the kief, they will experience a sensory experience that should ward them off from the plant.
In short, animals that might prey on the marijuana plant would get high thanks to kief. While in the wild, this functions as a defense mechanism, to the stoner, this is a desired effect.
What is Decarboxylation?
When marijuana is harvested, there is an abundance of THCA in its trichomes. While THCA is neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory, it is not psychoactive. THC is the psychoactive compound that produces the “high” feeling most people associate with marijuana. When you smoke cannabis, the THCA molecule loses its carboxyl group (COOH) in the form of water vapor and carbon dioxide (CO2). This chemical reaction produces THC which is psychoactive. The process of losing the carboxyl group is called “decarboxylation” or “decarbing”.
When you smoke or vaporize, the cannabis is decarbed by the heat. If you eat or ingest cannabis and want the full psychoactive effect, you need to first decarb your cannabis before you cook with it to receive the full psychoactive effect.
If you go around asking different cannabis cooks the time they use each time they are decarboxylating marijuana, you will get totally different answers. The standard temperature is usually 240F degrees for a 40 to 60 minute heating process. This is good enough to decarboxylate your marijuana at low moisture content. If your plant matter materials have a high moisture content, then the time can be increased but the temperature should remain constant. If you don’t want to lose any organic compounds, then you should lower the heat and increase the time for compensation.
If you under-decarb, your full potency won’t be reached. If you over-decarb, then the THCa will convert into THC but then it will begin to degrade into CBN. CBN is a cannabinoid that will make you feel sleepy and sedated, so if you overdo how long you decarb kief or hash in the oven your edibles will not have a lively, uplifting effect. High CBN edibles do have a place though −for example, if you’re looking to take them at night to help with sleep. But if you’re looking for a daytime edible, make sure to avoid overdoing it.
How to Collect Kief
Kief and kief-derived products have a long history of use. One of the easiest, but time-intensive ways to collect kief is to buy a three-chamber weed grinder. The top of the chamber holds the lid and grinder teeth. The middle compartment collects the bud and a screen in between filters loose kief into a bottom compartment that you can dip into once enough kief has accumulated.
You can also collect kief by using a kief box, also known as a pollen box. It is generally a box with a cover, a screen, and a collection surface below the screen. After you grind your weed, you can store it in one of these handy boxes. Or, break up your bud right in the box. Either way, the kief sifts to the bottom, where you can collect it for further processing.
Another easy option to obtain kief is to buy pre-collected kief from a licensed retailer. This is usually produced from a water hash process. Home-sifting has become a popular method to collect large amounts of kief for personal consumption. Dry-sift kief requires multiple fine mesh screens.
Kief is typically between 75 and 125 microns and requires mesh screens between 80 and 270 LPI. These mesh screens can be stacked from largest to smallest size to filter out plant matter from the trichome resin.
Decarboxylation Steps for Kief or Hash
Now that you have your kief, you can begin the decarbing process. By decarbing your kief you make your edibles more potent and you get the most out of the kief you are using.
Set the oven to between 245ºF to 250ºF and heat the kief inside an ovenproof dish covered with at least two layers of tin foil. Convection ovens are preferred to ensure even heating throughout. Heat the kief for 20 to 40 minutes. According to some users, CBD-rich strains may require longer decarbing periods, ranging from 40 to 50 minutes.
And now the kief is decarboxylated. You can use it as an ingredient in baked goods or any other number of things. Infuse it into an oil or butter or sprinkle it on food as a psychoactive garnish. When pressed, decarbed kief makes an excellent hash.
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