How to Press Kief Into Rosin
Rosin, a solventless cannabis extract, can be made from a number of starting materials, including flower, bubble hash, and dry sift. It’s even possible to make rosin from kief, although there are some pros and cons that must be taken into consideration, especially for businesses looking to capitalize on the increasingly lucrative cannabis concentrates market.
From Kief to Rosin - Understanding the Terminology
First, it’s important to clarify some terms. Although the terms “kief” and “sift” are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same thing. And although sift is technically a type of hashish, it shouldn’t be confused with the higher-quality bubble hash. And rosin is a different beast entirely.
Kief vs. Sift
Kief is the unrefined form of sift. It includes the trichome heads, glands, and plant material that are left behind after cannabis is sifted on sifting screens. To put it in even simpler terms, the kief is the sticky part of the plant that sticks to your hands when you touch it. It contains the cannabinoids and terpenes that make cannabis irresistible.
The initial sifting may be done on micron (μm) screens or on screens with LPI (lines per inch) ratings. In home settings, a simple herb grinder is often used to separate the kief from the plant.
Kief in a grinder | Image source: Westword
When the kief undergoes further refinement (with additional sifting or static sift techniques), it becomes dry sift, or just sift. The purpose of the refinement process is to eliminate the residual plant debris, leaving behind only the resin.
Dry sift macro shot | work by Cuban Hash Queen (Instagram: @cubanhashqueen)
Dry sift—much like bubble hash—is generally rated on a six-star scale.
- Six stars is full-melt
- Five stars is nearly full-melt
- Three and four stars are half-melt
- One and two stars are considered cooking-grade (primarily suitable for use in edibles)
Kief is unrefined sift that generally falls into the one- or two-star category.
Sift vs. Bubble Hash
The term “hash” is sometimes used as a blanket descriptor for cannabis concentrates in general. So when extractors refer to “hash,” they may be referring to ice water hash (bubble hash) or to dry sift.
With bubble hash, the trichomes are collected via an ice water extraction process. The plant material is first submerged in a vessel filled with ice water and then agitated to separate the trichome heads from the plant. The trichomes are then filtered, collected, and dried.
Whereas sift is exclusively made with dried and cured cannabis, bubble hash can be made with either cured or fresh-frozen cannabis. While bubble hash is generally perceived as being higher-quality than sift, it is possible to achieve an excellent full-melt sift with enough refinement.
Sift and Bubble Hash vs. Rosin
When heat and pressure are applied, your dry sift or hash can be further refined into rosin. Rosin is an extract similar to wax, shatter, and budder, the main difference being that there are no chemical solvents used in the extraction process. The sift/hash is pressed between two heated plates with several tons of force, and only the purest resin is extracted.
Rosin is more malleable than sift and hash. Depending on how it’s processed, it can take on a waxy, glassy, or sappy consistency that mirrors popular solvent extracts. It’s also more potent. Whereas a high-quality bubble hash or sift can average 60% THC, rosin has been known to hit concentrations north of 80%. Rosin is also a cleaner extract, as it contains virtually no plant debris when processed correctly.
Pressing Kief Into Rosin - Is It a Good Idea?
It is possible to make rosin from unrefined kief, but it’s not recommended. Unrefined kief with high levels of plant debris may yield only a small amount of usable resin along with excess contaminants. In addition, unrefined kief doesn’t melt particularly well, and when you’re dabbing or vaping concentrates, you want at least a half-melt product. The refinement process allows for a faster burn and a more enjoyable consumption experience.
If you’re going to use kief as a starting material, you’ll ideally want to refine it into food-grade sift—especially if you’re producing rosin for commercial use. Consider that food-grade sift rosin typically lists at prices 25% higher than less refined options. To achieve premium food-grade sift, you need tools like food-contact-rated parchment paper (NOT wax paper) and several high-quality sift screens. A quality trichome extractor can also be invaluable.
If you want your sift to be high-quality, it’s also important to note the color. Premium sift should be light in color, with a tan or whitish hue. A green or darker-colored sift may indicate the presence of excess residual plant matter, which may indicate that additional sifting is needed.
Turning Your Kief Into Sift
The main difference between kief and sift is the degree of filtration. Your flower or kief should be filtered through multiple micron screens. For instance, a quality sift might pass through 80μm, 130μm, and 180μm stainless-steel screens to eliminate as much plant debris as possible. The process requires a gentle touch, and a single filtration can take between 5 and 20 minutes.
For professional operations, hand-sifting isn’t the most efficient—or cleanest—way to go. To process large amounts of dry sift, you’ll want to invest in a commercial dry-sift trichome extractor like the GreenBroz Alchemist 420, which uses food-grade stainless steel and HDPE components to give you uncompromising quality in any lab environment.
Once you have finished refining your kief into a higher-quality sift, you’re ready to extract it further into rosin.
Turning Your Sift Into Rosin
After your sift has been collected, the next step is to pack it into thick patties so that it can be pressed. This is sometimes done with a pollen press. Use clean, disposable gloves or a collection tool when collecting your sift. Alternatively, you can use static tech to further refine your sift before you complete the final extraction.
To make high-quality rosin out of sift, hash, or any material, you’ll need a good rosin press. A pneumatic rosin press is perfect for large commercial operations, while a manual rosin press is great for hobbyists, smaller operations, and craft cannabis businesses. While it is possible to make rosin using a T-shirt press, flat iron, or hair straightener, these methods aren’t recommended—especially if you’re looking to create a marketable product.
Once your sift is ready to press, place it into rosin filter bags or wraps. For even greater capacity and precision, we recommend using these 25μm stainless-steel mesh rosin screens. Cover the heat plates on your rosin press with parchment paper or PTFE sheets, and use your preferred settings to press your sift into rosin.
Temperature-wise, we have found the 170°F to 190°F range to be ideal for pressing rosin from dry sift. With that said, your own preferences and results may vary, so experiment with different temperatures until you find the sweet spot. For instance, you might want more heat if you’re looking to achieve a shatter-like consistency, or stick with a lower temperature if you want more of a budder-like consistency. No matter what you decide, just try to stay below 220°F or else you’ll lose valuable terpenes. For more information, check out our Rosin Press Temperature Guide.
Then there’s the question of how much pressure to use. In most cases, you’ll want to stay within a pressure range between 300 and 1,500 lbf. Avoid using more pressure than necessary, as excess pressure can push unwanted lipids and chlorophyll into your extraction. Your pressing time will generally fall between one and five minutes.
When the extraction is complete, collect all the rosin and scoop it into a moisture-tight, UV-protected container. Keep it in a cool location away from sunlight. At this point, you should have a clean, highly potent extract that’s perfect for consuming or marketing—whatever your goal happens to be.
From Kief to Rosin - Things to Keep in Mind
If you’ve been collecting kief and are hoping to turn it into high-quality rosin for personal or professional purposes, keep the following points in mind:
- Unrefined kief isn’t the best choice for making rosin, but it still works well for edibles or as a bowl topper. If rosin is the goal, you’ll first want to turn your kief into a higher-quality sift.
- Refinement is key, and this requires multiple levels of filtration. Look at the color: lighter is better.
- Food-grade sift is better and more valuable than regular sift. If you’re looking to create a marketable extract, invest in food-contact-friendly supplies and equipment.
- For large-volume sifting, you’ll want to invest in a dry-sift trichome extractor.
- Sift rosin is an extremely potent extract, with THC concentrations sometimes exceeding 80%. So tread carefully when consuming.
Your loose kief can be a goldmine if you’re willing to put the time and effort into processing it properly.