Crystal Collecting

Soft Secrets
03 Feb 2014

Pollen: You may know it by a different name, but one thing is for sure - once you have tried it, you will not be able to live without it.

Pollen: You may know it by a different name, but one thing is for sure - once you have tried it, you will not be able to live without it.

The '00 Box' – the Rolls-Royce of kief boxes

The golden color, the way pollen fluffs up and expands when a flame is put to it and the knockout punch it delivers when you smoke it... it is a firm favorite for a reason! Here is a beginner's guide to the good stuff.

First off, we will get the definitions out of the way. What smokers refer to as 'pollen', is not actually pollen in the sense that it comes from the reproductive parts of the male plant; this is instead a term used to describe a type of pressed hash that is comprised purely (or near enough) of resin glands - trichomes - that have fallen or been shaken from the plant. Since these resin glands contain the majority of the psychoactive compounds stored in the plant, you know that this type of hash is going to be fairly potent - not like the shitty soap bar or fake hash that you used to get when you were a young smoker.

The glands that have fallen from the bud are commonly known as 'kief' or 'skuff'. Therefore, you may have previously come across pollen by the name of kief, kief hash or simply as skuff. For the purposes of this article and to avoid any confusion over terms, we shall refer to the collected glands as kief and the resulting pressed hash as pollen.

Anyway, definitions aside, it is lovely stuff and it is pretty easy to make. First collect the glands, then press them and you are done. It is nice to have a bit of hash around too - it takes up less space than bud, is easier to stash, smells less and can generally last a bit longer than weed when you store it. It is also a great way to use up all the goodness on the trim (leaves and stems) that would otherwise be discarded. So, if you are growing a few plants at home right now, then mentally keep one to the side and dedicate it to making some homemade pollen; you will not regret it.

A simple little hash press

First, we shall go through the basics. Collecting kief is actually pretty easy to do without even trying. Purchase a decent four-tier grinder and you will start to collect kief every time you grind up a bud. This is the golden, powdery-looking buildup that collects in the bottom compartment of the grinder, the part below the layer of mesh screen. You can also invest in a kief box in which to store your bud. This is a similar concept to the four-tier grinder, where there is a mesh screen on the base of the box and a catchment tray underneath. You simply store the weed in the box, give it a little shake from time to time and let the kief build up in the tray.

Obviously these 'passive' collection techniques will only yield you a little bit of kief each month or so, depending upon how much you toke. Thus, if you are looking to get a few grams of pollen to smoke, you will need to harvest your kief using more active methods.

At this point it is worth mentioning that, in order to get the maximum amount of kief from your bud and trim material, you will need to bag it up and put it in the freezer for a few hours. The cold temperature will make the resin glands brittle and more likely to break off from the plant material. It might seem weird to put your weed in the freezer but you will definitely harvest more kief this way.

Sifting for kief is basically a more advanced method of using a kief box. Get yourself a kief box or some screen-printing material from an art supply shop (100- to 150-micron sized screens work well); next, take some ground plant material that has been in the freezer for a few hours and place it onto the screen. Then, simply tilt the screen back and forth, rolling the ground material across its surface - the kief will fall through the screen and will be caught in the catchment tray (if you are using a kief box). If using a homemade screen, hold it over a mirror and watch the kief fall onto it. Once the kief stops falling, you are ready for the next batch. Simple.

Behold… the Pollinator, for serious kief collectors

There is a next level of dry sifting: the Pollinator machine!

I can recall staying at a friend's house one time, not too long after he had harvested a decent crop, and he asked me if I would like to have a bit of pollen to smoke. 'Yes' was the obvious answer and he left the room, saying that he would be back in a minute. Now I fully expected him to come back with a coin-sized piece of pressed pollen and I would certainly have been happy enough if that was what he brought me. When he re-entered the room, my jaw hit the floor. He had a Tupperware container full of pollen! It was like a fucking brick!

He then proceeded to tell me about a machine that he had bought online and, after undertaking a bit of research myself, I was totally sold on the concept of the Pollinator.

The Pollinator is basically a dry-sifting machine that looks like a plastic box with a rotating drum inside and a motor at one end. The drum is made from screen material and acts like an automatic sifter. You put between one- and two-hundred grams of plant material into the drum, turn on the motor and leave it for a few minutes; the kief falls through the drum and collects in the box below. Much easier than sifting by hand for hours!

Once you have collected your kief, you can sprinkle it straight into a joint or bong; if you have collected enough then you will likely want to press it into pollen to make it easier to store. Mini hash presses are cheap and widely available from all good head shops. If you are a cheapskate, why not wrap a few grams of kief in some plastic wrap and place it inside your shoe? After a few hours of walking, you will have pressed it yourself!

Happy collecting!


Soft Secrets