Here at Takoma Wellness, we love turning our customers on to the world of concentrates, the potent and flavorful family of products that took the cannabis world by storm in  the 1990s. But the story of highly concentrated cannabis products may be far older than you suspected: For centuries now, industrious cannabis cultivators have known the secret of kief.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you’re in for a treat. Kief is a little-known but highly flavorful cannabis product, the precursor to hash, and a potent addition to pre-rolled joints and bowls. In today’s post, we’ll share everything we know about it, including how to decarb kief so that you can use it to make your own edibles at home.

What Is Kief? The First Cannabis Concentrate

If you’ve ever noticed little drifts of powder at the bottom of your cannabis grinder, you’re already on to what kief is all about. Made of dried trichomes—the tiny, cannabinoid-filled glands that give fresh, high-quality flower its characteristic silver dusting—kief has traditionally been pressed into the potent bricks known in the Arab world as hashish or hash.

But wonderful though hash is on its own, there are other uses for kief. One of our favorites is sprinkling a little dusting of potent kief into a joint or on top of a bowl, where it will add a surprising burst of flavor and potency. The other is decarboxylating—or “decarbing”—it so that you can use it to make your own kief edibles.

Wait. What’s “decarbing”? So glad you asked! Here’s what it is, and why you definitely want to understand it.

a spoonful of Kief - dry trichomes

What Is Decarboxylation?

Decarboxylation is the process of activating the cannabinoids in cannabis, typically through gentle heat. If you were simply to eat a bite of raw cannabis flower, you wouldn’t feel any psychoactive effects. That’s because raw cannabis doesn’t actually contain the cannabinoids THC and CBD. Instead it contains their precursor cannabinoids, THCA and CBDA, which don’t impart any subjective effects in our bodies. The process of decarboxylation applies heat to these cannabinoids in order to convert them into active THC and CBD.

Is decarboxylation necessary with cooked edibles, such as marijuana brownies? Not necessarily. Edibles can be cooked or baked without having to decarb the kief or flower beforehand, but the results may be less potent than they would otherwise be. By decarboxylating your kief or cannabis buds before making the edible, you ensure that as many cannabinoids as possible are activated and that nothing goes to waste.

How to Decarb Kief

There are a few different ways to decarb kief. If you’re more of the hands-off type, using a decarboxylation machine such as the Ardent Nova or FX can be a great way to decarb your kief or bud with as little hassle as possible. Decarboxylation machines ensure that your plant material is decarbed at exactly the right temperature and for exactly the right amount of time, eliminating the risk of mistakes or the chance of ending up with improperly decarbed kief. When it comes to keeping things simple and quick, this is probably the best way to decarb kief.

But even if you lack access to a decarboxylation machine, there’s a fairly simple process you can use in the comfort of your very own kitchen. Here’s how it works.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 240° F. For maximum accuracy, use a purpose-made kitchen thermometer placed inside your oven.
  2. Using a scale, preferably a digital one, weigh out the desired amount of kief (typically in increments of a few grams at a time). Then add the kief directly into an oven-safe container. Pro tip: Place a layer of parchment paper onto the bottom of your container. Be sure the kief is in an even layer so you avoid mounds or clumps.
  3. Carefully wrap the top of the container with aluminum foil, then place the dish in the preheated oven. For THC-dominant flower, you’ll bake for 30-35 minutes. For high-CBD flower, bake for 45 – 55 minutes. Why? CBDA converts to CBD and becomes activated with a slightly longer oven time than THC does.
  4. Once the time has elapsed, remove the dish from the oven and, keeping the foil on the top, allow it to cool completely.
  5. Open it up and take a look. The kief will have darkened slightly, and it also may have melted slightly into a resinous pool. (That’s why the parchment paper is so handy, so as to avoid wasting any kief!) Your decarbed kief is ready to use. If you’re not using it straight away, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Explore Kief and DC’s Best Cannabis at Takoma Wellness

As we hope we’ve made clear, kief is an historic and highly unusual addition to the classic lineup of cannabis products such as fresh flower, concentrates, edibles, and other favorites.

If you’re interested in trying any of these products, we’d love to help. As Washington’s #1 family-run medical marijuana dispensary, we draw upon a decade of experience helping our customers get the very most from cannabis. Stop by order online today!

Kief FAQs

Kief is a potent and powdery cannabis product made from the dried trichomes of flower. Because the trichomes produce the bulk of the plant’s cannabinoids, kief is notably more potent than flower!

Traditionally, kief is pressed into the dense bricks known as hash. But on its own, kief can be sprinkled into joints or onto bowls for a kick of intense flavor and added potency.

If you’re smoking kief, it’s not necessary to decarb it. But if it’s being made into an edible, decarbing it will activate all the cannabinoids and result in the strongest (and least wasteful) product.

Kief is quite a bit stronger than flower. While the strongest flower tops out around 30% THC, weed kief typically consists of 50% – 70% THC.