What is a Kief Catcher?
Posted on January 29 2016
I was out with friends recently, when the topic of kief catchers came up. It turns out that quite a number of folks had no idea what a “kief catcher” was. An animated conversation ensued, and lead me to realize just how many folks are not familiar with kief in general, or kief catchers specifically.
“Kief” refers to the super fine, powdery, dust-like substance you get when you grind your herbs. It is very frequently referred to as “pollen” as well, because it looks like a fine coating of flower pollen.
Herb grinders come in a variety of configurations – 2 part, 3 part and 4 part grinders. A 2-part grinder just has a top and a bottom, both with “teeth” to shred your herb. That’s it, there’s no were for it to “go”, it’s just a shredder. A 3-part grinder adds a “catch chamber” underneath, with holes in the 2nd part (the piece that *was* the bottom of a 2 part grinder) so that the ground-up herb can fall through the holes tot he catch chamber below. A 4-part grinder adds yet another chamber below that, called the “kief catcher” (or “pollen catcher”). The catch chamber will have a screen at the bottom that allows the super fine pollen particles to fall through to the very bottom chamber, while the larger pieces of herb stay in the catch chamber.
When you use your grinder for the first time, there will be an ultra fine dusting of pollen in the kief catcher at the bottom. Just ignore it. Over time, as you continue to grind herb, that bottom-most chamber will continue to collect kief and accumulate. Eventually you will have a nice pile of kief (pollen) in the bottom of your grinder!
Why is this a good thing?
Well, the kief is rich in THC. Kief comes from the trichomes and is highly concentrated. Some folks use a “pollen press” to compress the kief under pressure and create hash. Others sprinkle it over the top of a bowl to add a layer of concentrated THC. Some folks just smoke a bowl of pure kief.
Because it’s very potent and has less plant matter, it’s generally more pure and pleasing to smoke — a delicacy, if you will. To use a beef analogy, kief is like the filet mignon of herb.
What is a Kief Catcher? Posted on January 29 2016 I was out with friends recently, when the topic of kief catchers came up. It turns out that quite a number of folks had no idea what a “kief
The 5 Best Methods for Collecting Kief
Saturday August 24, 2019
H ere at PotGuide, we recently covered some of the ways to put your kief collection to good use, and we figured that it might be a good time to go over some of the ways to collect that kief in the first place. In general, there are three ways of collecting kief without the use of solvents: shake it off, freeze it off, or force through a screen to be caught in some form of reservoir. The best collection methods combine these methods to capture as many trichomes as possible. Take a look below to learn more and start collecting that precious kief!
The standard and by far most popular method of collecting kief is to use a four-piece grinder. The distinction from a two- or three-piece grinder is that it will have a “kief catcher,” a chamber in the bottom beneath a fine screen to catch the kief that falls off of your buds when shredded.
Want to upgrade your herb grinder? Check out PotGuide’s list of the 9 Best Weed Grinders on the Market.
A quality grinder need not be expensive, budtenders and head shop workers will usually have a good tip on which work best.
Many utilize the “coin trick” to get better efficiency out of their grinders’ kief catchers. Putting a coin in the middle chamber helps to knock trichomes off of the flower as well as push them through the screen to the collection chamber below. It’s important to wash the coin well before putting it in with your flower to avoid contaminants and ridge-less coins tend to work best (better surface contact).
Small pollen boxes, can be slightly time consuming for getting large yields, but are easy and tidy for small personal batches. Simply put some buds in the top and shake. The biggest benefit of pollen boxes are that they keep everything nicely contained, so you don’t have to worry about a gust of wind or clumsy roommate coming by and scattering your work to the wind. However for larger yields, you’ll want to scale up.
Silk screens can help you collect a pretty decent amount of kief in a short amount of time. To do so, you’ll need to take a trip to your local art store to grab a silk screen, the very same you might buy to DIY a few band t-shirts. For this method, a basin or clean surface is set to catch the kief underneath (a pane of glass or mirror works well) and then ground or shredded cannabis plant material is gently run over the screen to separate out the kief.
This method is ideal for medium-sized batches of plant matter. One downside to using silk screens is that they can tear easily from stems. It’s best to be gentle and work slowly, picking out any jagged pieces that might tear. Metal screens are available in this size as well, but can be harder to come by.
The oldest kief method is to create a drum with a silk screen. The screen is stretched over the whole drum basin (often just a plastic bucket), and then covered with a selection of bud or trimmings. Next, a tarp is secured over the top with a rubber band or tight rope, locking the plant material in between the tarp and the silk screen. This is then beaten with sticks and the kief falls through the silk screen. With the right micron-gage silk (the unit of measurement for small particles), one could easily make a traditional Moroccan kief drum at home. This is an ideal setup for larger amounts of plant matter, but also easy to scale in size.
For the ultimate kief collection method, we start introducing a little science. THC is not water soluble, meaning it won’t dissolve in water, and colder trichomes become more brittle and fall off with greater ease. This means that any method of freezing won’t disturb the THC, while making the kief easier to agitate and collect. Dry ice alone, or (or even your trusty freezer) can be used to cool the buds to a point where the kief can be shaken off in a jar or container. Freezing prior to using the coin and grinder trick will also improve yields.
However, submerging the plant in an ice bath with get the most out of it, one just needs to be able to collect the kief back out. To do so, hash producers use a dry ice bath and what’s known as a “bubble bag,” a type of sieve sleeve (say that five times fast) traditionally used for making bubble hash. Plant matter is put in the middle of the bag then stirred in the ice bath forcing the bud against the screen. The resulting kief is collected underneath the screen.
This is essentially the freezing method with a screen and collector attached to it and is ideal for collecting some of the highest quality kief, as the process can be repeated with finer and finer screens bags to get only the head of the trichome (ensuring the least possible amount of plant matter). It works well for large batches, a it’s possible to get quality hash out of things like trim and clippings this way as well.
Naturally, a large factor in how much kief accumulates is the quality of the cannabis plant to begin with. Buds with heavy trichome coverage will yield more kief and produce a higher quality smoke.
Ask your budtender to help select well-sugared strains in order to maximize yield. Also, wearing gloves, or using an object to manipulate the plant matter is ideal to minimize oil residue from your hands (which will also make the kief clump up). Happy kief collecting!
Do you have any experience collecting kief? Let us know some of your favorite methods in the comments below!
Matt Mongelia holds an MFA in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has worked in the cannabis industry in various roles for 4 years, from dispensaries, production and retail to events, content and marketing. He is a writer for the comic Dark Beach, and has previously covered music and cultural content for SOL REPUBLIC.
In general, there are three ways of collecting kief without the use of solvents: shake it off, freeze it off, or force through a screen to be caught in some form of reservoir. Take a look below to learn more and start collecting that precious kief!