How to make dry sift

How to make homemade dry sift?

Dry sift or kief is the result of mechanically removing the resin glands from the plant by sieving them with screens of different sizes, without any kind of solvent.

The first thing we should know before trying to make the best possible dry sieved trichome separation is what types of trichomes we can find. As the plant ripens, trichomes segregate higher amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes. The three types of trichomes found have several features in common; they have a gland where cannabinoids and terpenes are segregated, a group of cells that attach the gland to the stalk, and the stalk itself, which joins the gland to the plant tissue. Let’s make a brief description of each of them.

Cannabis trichomes

Cannabis trichomes

Types of trichomes in cannabis plants

Bulbous trichomes:

These are the smallest ones, measuring from 25 to 30 microns in height. The gland is about 20 microns in diameter. Both the stalk and the head are formed by 1-4 cells. As the plant ripens, these trichomes may form a sort of nipple due to the accumulation of resin inside it.

Capitate-sessile trichomes:

This type of trichomes is much more abundant than bulbous ones. Their diameter is around 25-100 microns. When the plant is not ripe it may seem that these trichomes have no stalk (it only has the height of a cell). The secretory gland is often formed by 8-16 cells.

Capitate-stalked trichomes:

Also called Glandular Trichomes. This type is the most common in buds and leafs of cannabis plants (they are only formed during the flowering stage of plants). The average size of their heads is slightly larger than sessile’s, and are the main producers of cannabinoids and terpenes. They are called like this precisely for the height of their stalk (150-500 microns). It is the only type of trichomes that has a layer of cells between the gland and the stalk; these cells can be broken, detaching the head from the stalk. This is why these trichomes are the most suitable ones to make top grade hashish.

Glandular trichomes

Glandular trichomes (Bubbleman)

Terpene range in marijuana

We have seen the different types of trichomes, their dimensions and main features. Before trying to make the best possible hash (whithin our means) we should have a couple of things clear. If we are growers, we already know that every genotype is a universe, in the same way than every phenotype is a small world. If we work with clones our results will always be more homogeneous and uniform; besides it, we will know the exact micron size that we have to use in case that plants are grown indoors or outdoors, etc.

Another important subject is the Terpene Range. Ripe cannabis plants segregate around 103 mono and sesquiterpenes along with other substances. Most of these terpenes are aromatic, so they have direct influence on the taste and smell of our buds and, therefore, of our hash.

Different types of hashish

Different types of hashish

If we use screens of different sizes each screen will yield a certain type of glands, in other words, we’ll get a different quality in each screen.

We are talking about quality as purity. We understand purity as the higher possible concentration of heads of capitate-stalked trichomes (glandular trichomes) with the minimum possible presence of smaller heads, stalks, plant debris, etc. In most cases, the purest sample will also be the best product, both organoleptically and regarding the chemotype. It may also be worth, in order to widen the terpene range, to mix several screens; in this way, perhaps the final product doesn’t look so nice, but the organoleptic properties may be greatly improved in some cases. Recent studies have also shown that terpenes do have an influence on the effects of cannabinoids.

Inside the glandular trichome

Inside the glandular trichome

We also want a hash free from external contaminants such as dust, soil, small insects, plant debris, etc. The cleaner our growroom and plants are, the cleaner our resin will be.

How to make top grade hashish

Once we have all the theory clear, let’s see how to make the purest possible dry sift separation. We will use an ancient technique in which we sieve and re-sieve the resin glands with screens of different sizes. We can use either sieving screens or bags (if we use bags we need to have the screen very tense).

Most systems on the market developed to separate resin glands, as the popular Pollinator, have a 150-160 micron mesh to separate the resin glands – which pass through the mesh – from the plant material.  But, according to the theory that we have just seen, there are lots of particles that also pass through the screen and that we don’t want to be part of our hash. Therefore, we must use different screens with different sizes to continue separating the different qualities – particles – of our raw resin.  Normally, the best quality – where we find the higher proportion of trichome heads – is larger than 70 microns and smaller than 120.

Sieving resin glands

Sieving resin glands

So, if we want the best possible quality, filtering “downwards” with a 160 micron mesh is not enough. We should also perform a second sieve to get rid of those particles smaller than certain size. In most cases, we can get excellent results by using a set of three screens: 160, 70 and 45 microns. The first thing to do is getting our raw resin with our 160 micron mesh. Put the raw resin on a 160 micron mesh and gently card it to separate the heads from the stalks. Once done, put the filtered resin on a 70 micron mesh to separate the smaller particles. We have now 2 qualities: the former is composed of particles from 70 to 160 microns (first quality), the latter from particles smaller than 70 microns (second quality). We can clean this second quality by putting it on a 45 micron mesh and carding it, thus separating the smaller particles – which will pass through the mesh – from the larger ones. All particles that passed through the 45 micron mesh are our third quality.

Trichome heads being sieved

Trichome heads being sieved

We must remember now what we learned about the terpene range. While our 70 micron hash will always have a much better appearance than the 45, it could be possible that, organoleptically, we’d prefer mixing both qualities to obtain a more tasteful product.

Resin looking cleaner

Resin looking cleaner

From here, it is easy to see that, the more sizes used and sieves performed, the better the result will be. Once we have our top grade hash, we can still refine it with static lifts, using a videotape case wrapped with parchment paper.

Drying and storing cannabis resin

The best dry sift hash is usually collected from buds cured for about 4-6 months (always, depending on phenotypes, drying and storage methods, etc.). We can either cure our buds before making hash or just dry our buds, make the hash and cure the resin. Obviously, it is much more convenient curing and storing resin than plants.

Cured resin is pressed more easily than non-cured glands, and is also more potent and flavourful. The ideal curing temperature is 37ºC, and we should open our jars every 2-3 days to renew the air inside them.

Pressed and unpressed resin

Pressed and unpressed resin

We can also store our resin pressed. If we do so, our resin will keep its organoleptic features much better, since only the surface will oxidize while the inside will degradate much more slowly. It is also advisable if we are planning to smoke our resin on a metal screen; otherwise, the resin will pass through it if we don’t use several screens together. The ideal shape for minimum oxidation is a ball or sphere. Never press a piece of hash if you think there’s moisture on the resin; cure it properly and then press it. Otherwise your hash can get spoiled in few days.

The best way to store our cured resin is inside an airtight container in the fridge, at low temperature and low humidity levels. If we want to store our hash for long periods with minimum degradation, humidity, high temperatures and oxygen are our worst enemies.

19 Comments


19 comments on “How to make dry sift

  1. Danny

    Hi , You state that, ” Cured resin is pressed more easily than non-cured glands, and is also more potent and flavourful. The ideal curing temperature is 37ºC, and we should open our jars every 2-3 days to renew the air inside them.”

    But you have not mentioned how long this curing process may take, And if the glands change their appearance once cured, If so what would the glands look like, ” How have they changed their appearance from not cured to cured” what are we looking for to see if the glands are cured or not?

    Thanks.

    1. Dani Alchimia Post author

      Hi Danny,

      Normally, the length of the curing process depends on how dry the weed was before the extraction. Connoisseurs often cure their resins for a few months, and they become a little bit darker.

      Still, it is all about your taste: with many strains, I prefer fresh plant material and drying the resin for just a few days. On the other hand, with other varieties I prefer to cure the plant material prior to the extraction, or make the extraction and cure the resin.

      This is “fresh” resin from fresh plant material:
      Fresh resin

      An this is cured resin from dried plant material:
      Cured resin

      Both are ice water extractions, but you can clearly see the difference in colour.

      Hope it helped!

  2. Danny

    G’day Mate from OZ, Thanks for the reply,, Your explanation did shed some light on the matter, The photo of the cured resin looks like it is a magnified view something the human eye could not see. Are you getting your info from Laurence Cherniak books?

    I do have all his titles and have tried his suggestions with no luck with my last attempt, Left product in jar for about 6 months at 37c but all that accomplished was to dry out the resin to a real sandy consistency which did not bind together
    I would get a small piece say the size of a good booger and roll it for a couple of minutes before it became as hard as a stone and when I pull it apart it just crumbles back into dust, It should be like play dough not a stone.

    Do you have an idea what might be going wrong, The material used came from dried and cured plant matter ready to smoke so not to dry and not freshly harvest.
    Cheers,
    Danny.

    1. Dani Alchimia Post author

      Hi Danny,

      Yes, I’ve read Laurence Cherniak books, also Robert C. Clarke’s and some others… 😉

      The few times that I had enough patience to cure my resin for a few months it worked great. I kept it at about 34C (on my router and with no light exposure) and the resin seemed to blend by itself over time. The glass jars were sealed and only opened every 2-3 days for a few minutes. Resin was 73-120 microns. Still, I’m basically a water hash guy, since the high temperatures and humidity levels that we have here make it really hard to re-sieve the resin, so it is much easier for us to make water hash with a whole set of bags.

      About the sandy consistency: I’ve seen it caused by different reasons: one of them, of course, too much plant debris and/or bad resin quality, but I don’t think this is the case. Also, resin which has been kept at room temperature and exposed to air (the “most oily” compounds will evaporate over time, leaving this sandy consistency). But there’s another reason that is often forgotten: moisture level of the resin. While we don’t want wet resins, we also don’t want extremely dry resins. To me, it is like a good cheese: I love Parmesan, but I want it with the proper moisture level, not too fresh, not too dry. I often use my breath to moisturize a little bit my resin before pressing it, I’m often called “the hash whisperer” for that. 🙂 With just few seconds, your resin gets the perfect texture for being pressed. Afghans used to let their resin cure from year to year, and then used water vapour (or directly hot water, there’s a nice video on youtube about that) to moisturize the resin before pressing it. Otherwise, it is almost impossible to press since it is too dry and tends to crumble.

      May I know which sieves did you use? Micron size?

      Speak soon! 😉

  3. Danny

    Hi Dani,

    From what I gather the sieve size that I was using could have been 200 to 250 micron, As for your explanation regarding the
    sandy consistency I may have an idea that it could be because I have left it in a jar at room temperature for some months while
    I was collecting enough to make it worth while doing.

    Cheers,
    Danny.

    1. Dani Alchimia Post author

      Hi Danny,

      If you only used a 200 micron mesh, your resin contained too much plant debris, stalks, etc. to properly bind toghether. For the pictures I showed you I used 220,190,160,120 and 73, and I showed you the best quality (73), which is normally between 60 and 150 microns. The more you isolate, the more chances of finding the size that yields top grade resin. With my sieves, best quality is usually collected in 120, 90 and 73, but you need the 220, 190 and 160 to clean. I know a whole set of sieves is expensive, but it is the only way to get truly good hash.

      All the best!

  4. Isaac

    Dani, if I cure the hash after extraction in a jar at 37 degrees will it cure and look like the cured version in your picture?

  5. Isaac

    Do you mind private messaging me to my email please?

  6. Erica

    Where would you recommend I buy screens from? It’s proving more difficult than I anticipated.

    1. Tim Alchimia

      Hi Erica, thanks for your question. I agree it can be a challenge to get good screens, although by searching on the internet you can find a few options. Personally, when I couldn’t find any at the local shops I ordered some from a screen printing supplier. You’ll just need to make sureyou get the right size mesh screens, as they don’t use the micron measurement, but instead are usually measured in lines per inch (or cm). Conversion charts are available online so you’ll know what to order.

      I hope that helps, all the best and happy sifting!

  7. Erica

    Cool, thanks Tim!

  8. Ricky

    Just a thought on the grainy hash that won’t bind well. It could depend on the strain of plant. Up until this year I have always grown a very pure Afghani variety with very oily sticky trichomes. This year a grew an incredible Morroccan strain that even the hand rubbed charas would not hold together well. This reminded me very much of the early Hash from. Morrocco from the late ’60’s. Just a thought.

  9. Pete Purple

    Your method may well work fine for your needs, but it’s not the same as the traditional Morrocan method [as also used in other countries such as Lebanon]. You are out to extract resin, while Morroccan hash is whole plant product, made from seiving, but no way have Morrocans been able to make screens measured in microns! I’ve seen it done, and there’s a perfect record of the whole process in the book ‘Hashish’ by Suomi LaValle [Quartet Books].
    The whole plants are scraped against a coarse seive which rermoves stalks and lets all else pass, next size down removes smaller stalk pieces and seeds, all the rest of the seives are used to break up bits into smaller particles, until all goes to the finished pile of golden dust which is essentially finely powdered grass/weed rather than hashish, but is so sticky it can easily be pressed into linen bags which form it into bars for sale. The linen is usually left on and usually carries the stamp of the farm, It’s also pressed and sold in sellophane wrapping sometimes. It helps that the plants are left to die off and dry out in the sun before harvesting. The American obsession with the purest, strongest etc. has never been a part of traditional cannabis growing countries. Real hash, ie resin, is made in Nepal for instance, by scrapping the leaves and stems as the plant grows, there’s so much resin that people do it by hand and scrape it off their hands into a ball, the origin of the Nepalese temple balls, made by hand by collecting resin in this way.

  10. Craig

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve always preferred sieves to grinders as sieves will keep out the small pieces of stem that a grinder will just chop. Recently I was shopping around on eBay and found 8 inch stainless steel sieves in all mesh sizes, including ones for this purpose. The most expensive one I found was $10.99 + $1.49 shipping. There are only two drawbacks. One is the shipping time. It could take 3 or 4 weeks. The other is that the identification plates are in Chinese, there are no English characters. If you want to buy the same thing, only with English labels, an equivalent stainless steel sieve pan would be easily $60.00 or more, over 5 times the cost. On Ebay, do a search for:

    10-200 Mesh 2-0.074mm Aperture

    that should get you to the right products.

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