If you spend any time around cannabis, eventually, you are going to hear the words “hash” and “kief.” Before oils and shatter became mainstream staples, kief and hash were some of the first concentrated cannabis products, often collected and processed at home. In fact, if you have a 4-piece grinder with a screen, you are passively collecting kief each time you grind. But what is it exactly? And what does it have to do with hash? Let’s talk about it.
Look closely at your flower. You may notice glistening, white hairs all over the leaves and flowers. These tiny, crystalline hairs are part of the plant’s trichomes. The trichome is part of the plant’s natural defenses, and you can see similar structures on other plants, such as tomatoes. The hairs produce chemicals that repel hungry animals and pests. In cannabis, the trichomes produce a variety of defensive compounds, including the psychoactive THC. Unfortunately for the cannabis plant, humans have decided we love THC. We love it so much.
At the end of the trichome, we find tiny globs of resin called “kief.” Kief contains high amounts of THC, which makes it popular for fans of getting stoned. In the years before dispensaries and the popularity of oils and shatter, kief was one of the most popular concentrated forms of cannabis, as it can be collected easily at home. Using a cannabis grinder with a screen, such as our 4-piece grinders and screen boxes, allows the dust-like kief to fall onto a mesh screen each time the grinder is used. While some might sprinkle that dust on top of their joint or bowl before smoking, many prefer to collect a large amount of kief over time.
Once you have a large amount of kief, you have some decisions to make. You can add a sprinkle of kief each time you smoke flower for an extra-potent kick, you can smoke it as-is, or you can process it into hash. To smoke kief on its own, we prefer using a bowl or pipe but go easy with your serving size. Kief is much more potent than flower, so start small. Now let’s talk about hash.
Hash (or hashish) is a byproduct of kief. Whereas kief is a concentrate you can make passively, hash requires a little processing, though it is extremely simple to make and dates back 1,000 years. In its simplest form, hash is made by applying heat and pressure to kief, which compresses the kief and changes its chemical composition slightly. While there are a variety of ways to make hash, one of the simplest is to use a pollen press.
A pollen press is a device that allows you to compress your kief. The simplest setup can be just a tube of any material and something you use to press your kief into it. You can use any number of household items to rig one up if you simply want to press your kief into coins for storage. To make hash, you will need a model that is heat-friendly. You will compress your kief as much as you can at room temperature before applying heat and continuing to apply pressure. The combination of heat and pressure will cause your kief to melt together into a dense, shiny, brownish-green block of hash.
Your final product will be easy to store, delicious to smoke, and even more concentrated than the kief you started with. The potency of high-quality hash can approach the same level as waxes or dabs. That said, most home operations don’t reach quite that quality, so avoid using your hash in most dab or vape setups. It can often leave a residue that’s difficult to clean and may ruin some vape pens. Life kief, you can add hash to a bowl or roll it into a joint. Some creative smokers even roll out their hash paper-thin and use it as rolling paper, though we think that’s a little bit much.
One of our favorite ways to smoke – or dab – hash is the absolute simplest. We take a tiny amount of hash and stick it to the end of a paper clip. We then light the hash, let it smoke freely, and inhale directly from the little smoking ball. It’s simple, effective, and we can do it pretty much anywhere. Or a great way to smoke hash is with a RYOT ESB or electric straw bubbler.
There you have it. You now know how to collect kief and convert it into hash. The great thing about each is they are a great way to save and reuse waste that normally falls out onto your table, the bottom of your grinder, etc. That means less money is going into the trash, and more product is going into your body, which is the way we like it! If you’re interested in purchasing equipment like herb grinders, kief boxes, or pollen presses, head over to www.RYOT.com and check out our gear.