The Art of Dry Sifting/Sieving
Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Although Dry Sifting may be one of the easiest ways of collecting trichome heads, there's still a skill to it! In this blog post, we go into detail about how to use our Dry Sift screens, and also explain further about how to "clean" your trichomes from any contaminants using "static tech".
What is Dry Sift? And what is it for?
Dry Sift, also known as kief, is made up of tiny trichome heads that have been decapitated from their stems. Trichomes can be found coating those gorgeous flowers, with every calyx covered in the sticky oily fuzz. They also appear on the tiny leaves growing on the flowers, known as "sugar" leaves, which are given the name due to the heavy amount of trichomes that develop on them. If it's a particularly frosty strain, then they will also appear on some fan leaves (more noticeably on those that have short petioles, with the leaf being closer to the flowers). To make dry sift, the trichome heads simply have to be removed and collected, but not until the material has been sufficiently dried first. Live/Wet material won't produce any dry sift as the trichomes will simply stick to the screen. Handling wet material will only damage the trichome heads, not decapitate them.
The aim is to remove as many contaminants as possible prior to any further manipulation or consumption.
Dry sift with contaminants can even be cleaned using static tech (explained further down) before being heat pressed into Rosin or Hashish, or it can be used as it is, for cooking/baking. But first, we're going to explain in a lot more detail how to use our dry sift screens to their full potential!
Side Note: We stress that this is for educational purposes only, and should not be used for any illegal activity. We are not liable for anything you choose to do with this information.
What material is best to use?
Although the flowers may be covered in the very thing we wish to collect for dry sift, you probably don't want to remove them of their sweet, tasty oil glands. And we don't blame you! The best material to use if you wish to keep the quality of your flowers is the sugar trim you would most likely usually throw away. That's right, you can get even more out of your beautiful plants! And yes, it's just as dank!
Many people take it a step further and get straight into it; trimming their newly dried plants on our screens and immediately processing the leftover material through the screens, once the flowers have been removed and stored for curing. By doing this, you could save time as you won't need to save your trim and process it through the screens at a later date, but more importantly you'll be sieving and collecting all of those trichomes that would otherwise be lost or stuck to a tray or table; all whilst you're trimming away! Unless you purposefully bounce and roll your flowers around on the screen, then dry trimming on our #ScreensOfDank will not damage your flowers and their trichomes any more than placing them on a normal surface or tray. To reiterate; Placing them on our screens is no different to placing them on a table or tray, other than being rewarded with contaminant-free heads below each screen. So who could argue with that!?
You can cure and store your trim just the same as you would with flowers, but for best results collect right after drying, whilst the trichome heads are still slightly sticky and not yet completely dried up. Older trichomes can still be used and collected, but are slightly more shriveled and harder to manipulate into another form, such as pressed Hash or Rosin. Newly dried kief will produce softer, stickier Hash and will also yield more when pressed on a purpose made Rosin press (or hair straighteners for small amounts). This is because they are still very plump and full of the cannabinoid and terpene rich medicinal oil. The older and more dry they become, the less oil they may hold (and secrete when pressed). Freezing the trim before sifting isn't necessary, and can actually add moisture, so should probably be avoided. The trichome heads may become more brittle when frozen, but so does the trim (if there's no moisture), making it easier to break down into particles small enough to be sifted through the screens below, contaminating your sift. Keeping a cold/cool room temperature will be suitable enough.
The amount of contaminants in your dry sift will affect the end result when consumed, pressing or pressing for Rosin. The aim is to remove as many contaminants as possible prior to any further manipulation or consumption. The contaminants we speak of are not harmful, but more useless, as they are simply bits of plant material that lessen the quality and concentration on your medicine.
Dry Sift is also great just the way it is! Or, if you prefer to intake your medicine through food like infused edibles/meals, then this can easily be done by infusing butter or coconut oil with dry sift. Many people say this is a better method of infusing your chosen oil, as you have more control and accuracy over how strong it should be. There's also less butter/oil to be wasted through plant material when infusing with dry sift, as there isn't much (if any) plant material! But this is another topic in itself, so we'll leave infused oils for another blog post!
How to maintain and use our Screens of Dank
If you've made it this far then you should now have a good understanding of what material is best to use, and the options you have once the trichomes have been collected. Now we can finally talk about how to use our screens correctly, how to clean them, and also how to clean your dry sift using "static tech".
If you hadn't already noticed upon receiving your screens, or are still interested in purchasing some, there are 4 of them in a set! Although none of them are the same as one another. Each screen is made up of a high quality mono-filament polyester mesh with their own respective hole size, measured in Lines Per Inch (LPI) by the manufacturing company and converted to Microns by us. These have been branded onto each frame to make them easy to identify. We have converted them to Microns as this is a more commonly used scale of measurement within the community.
Each set includes meshes 250u, 165u, 149u and 75u. The 250u screen is considered as the "work screen", as this is the one that sits on top of the rest with all of the starting dry plant material in. From here, the material is agitated by hand until all of the trichome heads have been removed and have fallen as far as they can through the screens below. But before we get to that, the frames and mesh must be cleaned before and after every use! Although we take great care in trying to keep them dust-free before shipping, we highly recommend that you clean them before their first use, as there is likely to be dust and/or other contaminants on them from a dusty workshop environment during manufacturing. We explain exactly how to do this below.
Cleaning your Skunk Sifters
As mentioned above we highly suggest that you clean each frame and screen before the first use, and then again before and after every use. This is because there could likely be dust particles on the frame and in the meshes, simply from being inside of a dusty workshop whilst being manufactured and wrapped for shipping. Now that's not to say we don't take care in our work in keeping it clean, it's unfortunately impossible for us to remove every dust particle necessary. But fortunately you can at home! Clean them again after every use as the trichomes will stick to the screens and frames if left for too long. Ensure you dust them off and clean before you use them again, as there could be dust and other contaminants within the meshes from being stored.
A lint free cloth doesn't leave any stray threads or fibers on the screens.
The frame can be cleaned using a weak dish soap solution with COLD water and a sponge. Use the soft side of the sponge if it has a rough pad on it too, as we don't want to scratch or eventually take off the protective coating! DO NOT use any alcohol on the frame, as this will also damage the protective coating on the Oak frame.
To clean and sterilize the mesh screens; use a high percentage (%) food grade alcohol such as food grade Isopropyl (90%+) and a lint free cloth. It's crucial that you use a lint free cloth, as a standard cloth or tissue paper will cause contaminants to get stuck in the mesh. That's the last thing we want whilst trying to clean them! A lint free cloth doesn't leave stray threads or fluff on the screens. Simply dowse the cloth in the alcohol and wipe the whole of the screen on both sides until clean. DO NOT touch the frame with any alcohol soaked cloth's, as this will damage the protective coating on the Oak frame. APPROPRIATE HAND PROTECTION MUST BE WORN AT ALL TIMES WHILST HANDLING ALCOHOL! GOOD VENTILATION IS ALSO EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Isopropyl Alcohol is a very dangerous substance if used incorrectly. Be sure to read any warning labels before use and DO NOT CONSUME. Be sure to keep away from children and pets at all times.
Tip: Blowing away dust and contaminants from both sides of the screen is a great technique to remove unwanted/leftover dust from the edges!
Now let's get sifting
All you need is 5 things to get you going, and only a short amount of time out of your day! Here's a list of things you will need:
Skunk Sifters Dry Sift Screens & Anti-Static Brush
Dry Starting Material
Smooth Surface (preferably glass)
Plastic Card (gift card/credit card)
Glass Jars or Parchment Paper
As mentioned above, ensure all frames and mesh screens are clean and sterile before proceeding. Be sure to clean and sterilize the smooth surface in which you will be placing your dry sift screens on. Trichome heads can/will fall all the way through to the bottom surface below all of the screens; This is why glass is the better option as you will find it easier to collect the remaining trichomes from.
Now all of the cleaning is out of the way, place your dry sift screens on top of the smooth surface (glass) in this order ONLY from bottom to top; 75u, 149u, 165u, 250u. It is crucial that they are positioned in this order, as this is the order of the smallest/finest mesh holes on the bottom screen, to the largest holes on the top screen. This is how the trichome heads are further separated from each other into different head sizes. We've selected these 4 meshes that are tailored specifically for dry sifting those wonderful oil glands, and will separate them into various grades from the size of each trichome that falls through.
Different strains may also yield far more on some screens than other strains will, or vice versa, as the size of the trichome heads differ with each strain.
Next up: Fill the top screen with as much dry material as you can fit in without spilling and go to work on it! By that, we simply mean move the material around the screen, ensuring you don't put pressure on the screen whilst doing so. Pressing on the screen will only force plant material through, making the dry sift below less pure. Remove all stems and hard twigs as they can damage and poke holes through the screen. Large sugar coated leaf petioles are perfectly fine to leave in.
Breaking up the material lightly with your fingers helps, but doing this too much can cause the plant material to be broken into fine particles small enough to fall through the screens with your medicine. The aim is to decapitate the trichome heads from their stems, not grate the trim until it can be sieved.
If done correctly, no contaminants should be present on the screens below...
With a bit of finesse, spread your starting material across the screen; making sure you're consistent all over the screen. By this we mean move it all around; in the corners and along all edges! This prevents a quick build up of trichome heads in only the center of the screens below. The problem with that happening so soon into sifting is that the smaller trichome heads may not be able to pass through a screen, simply because they're sat on top of a pile of larger heads that won't pass through! That's the reason why surface area is key when it comes to dry sifting. The larger the surface area the better!
As the material is moved around the work screen it will start to break up. It doesn't take long for the trichome heads to start collecting on the screens below the work screen, so check the 165u often for contaminants as you go along. Even considering how close in size these two may seem, we have opted for a 165u screen above the 149u, as this screen will naturally collect the most/only contaminants of all of the screens, as it is directly below the 250u work screen. If done correctly, no contaminants should be present on the screens below this. With that being said, the 165u screen may actually yield the most more times than not, which is great to use as it is for edibles, or it can be cleaned to up to 99.9% pure golden perfection by utilizing our 75u screen for Static-Tech (explained in detail further down).
Tip: Hold the work screen above the 165u and shake it from side to side! This is a great way to get those heads falling, especially when trying to persuade the last trichomes to break away from your material!
Don't go overboard! We mentioned above that you should expect to see some contaminants on the 165u screen as it's directly below the work screen. That may be the case but be careful not to over-do it, as this would cause far too much plant material to be sifted into the screens below. It can be cleaned if that does happen, but it'll be a lot of work if there's a lot of green in there! The best way to get around this potential issue is to sift in multiple "runs", which you may be familiar with when making IWH (Ice Water Hash); Work the material for a short period of time until you start to see contaminants on the 165u screen, then collect it all following the steps below. Once you've done that, you can get back to sifting your starting material for a second run, then maybe a third, if the second is still fairly clean and if there's more to come! Doing this is better than going for all heads in one go, like some kind of massacre, as you'll collect less contaminants in multiple, shorter runs. Especially so if you have a decent amount of trim to get through!
Time to collect your winnings!
You've finished working your starting material and ready to collect the goods (for the first run at least). Set the 250u work screen aside, ready for the next run, or carefully collect up what's left of your starting material and store it for later use or compost it/throw it away.
You're now looking down at your first layer of tasty medicinal goodness; The 165u screen...
Before you scrape it into one pile and scoop it up, use the anti-static brush provided with your set of Dank Sifters to sweep the trichomes away from the sides, then start brushing towards the center. Don't scrape/brush into one pile right away though... Move the sift into small piles and brush them around the screen. Doing this will allow every resin gland to touch the surface of the mesh, as many trich's will have been sat on top of a thick pile of other oily heads, so this is crucial to ensure the smaller trichomes have passage to the screens below. As you can see in this photo (above), the sides of the Oak frame may collect a considerable amount of sift too, so don't forget to brush them down!
After moving the trichomes around the screen ensuring all have had their chance at falling through, brush/scrape them into one final pile and collect using a card (gift/credit) and the brush provided. As mentioned previously, the 165u screen may have contaminants within the sift but that's nothing to worry about and can be expected. It can still be cleaned to up to 99.9% purity on our 75u screen by using static-tech (mentioned below), or it is perfectly fine to used as it is for edibles. This is also why we opted for the 149u below this screen, as it's a very high grade of dry sift, whilst yielding a great amount and having very little-to no contaminants. #CleanOnTheScreen. If done correctly, there shouldn't be any contaminants below this screen either. But even if there is, practice makes perfect and all can still be cleaned!
Tip: Once you've collected everything from the 165u screen, lift up the screen from one edge (keeping the opposite edge on the screens below), and brush the under side of the mesh screen. There could very well be a hidden blanket of gold stuck under there! All of these heads are fine to let fall into the 149u screen as they have already passed through the 165u screen. Repeat for each screen thereafter.
When gathering up your (quickly) hard earned sift, don't waste the effort we've gone through of separating the trichome heads by mixing them all back into one pile again! That would completely defeat the purpose of having 4 screens! Instead, these various grades of kief should be treated slightly differently, with some performing better than others for different uses or further manipulation/pressing. For instance, the larger heads at 149u may yield more when pressing for Rosin than the heads collected on the work surface (below the 75u), simply because they are bigger; containing more resin. That's not to say the smaller heads won't yield some seriously Dank Rosin! But they may be better off for pressed Hash if you've only yielded a small amount from them. People also find that each screen may differ in yield from strain to strain too. All genetics vary when it comes to their most common trichome head size, as some have long stems and tiny heads or vice versa, and any other combination in-between.
After collecting all of your sift from the 165u screen, repeat the process on the 149u screen and then the 75u. Try not to forget that there'll also be a layer of everything less than 75u underneath the bottom screen. This is the number 1 reason why it's extremely important to use your Screens of Dank on a surface such as glass or granite; It makes for an easy clean up! Simply scrape it up with a card and store separately, or mix in with your 75u sift.
If this is the point where you'd call it a day, and you're happy with your returns, then be sure to give your screens a good clean before storing them away for next time. This is a vital step in ensuring no trich's stick to the screens/frame and dry out, causing blockages in the screens which can become very hard to clean after a period of time. If you've not quite finished, well, then I guess there's only one thing left...
For dry sift that contains any contaminants, no matter how many or little (unless it's a pile of pure green plant material of course), it can be cleaned on our 75u or 45u screen! This is by utilizing static electricity via a tool, to separate trichome from contaminant. Looking at this photo (right) you can see two distinctively different piles sitting on the screen; On the left lays the dark, green pile of contaminants whilst on the right, we have a stunning pile of sandy, golden heads. Before cleaning, this particular pile was originally from the 165u screen, which as you can see is now 99.9% in purity, ready for dabbing/smoking or pressing/Rosin pressing!
Be extremely careful when brushing each line into separate piles, as you don't want to get them mixed up or brush both lines at once!
To carry out this task you will need only the 75u screen (or 45u screen sold separately), a tool of choice such as a DVD case or a paint roller (brand new and without the handle of course!), and last but certainly not least... Some parchment paper. Preferably brown parchment as it's unbleached and doesn't have a silicone coating (known to decrease terpene levels).
Simply wrap your tool of choice in the parchment paper; We've heard the paint roller is the best, which can be completely wrapped. If you've decided to wield a DVD case, which is still a perfectly good option, then cover the back edge (spine) of the case in parchment and tape tightly to the sides. This is edge you'll be working with.
The next step is to select the sift you wish to clean, then place it all in a pile near the centre of the 75u or 45u screen. If you're naturally right handed place your pile slightly towards the left. The opposite applies for lefties. In a very smooth movement, swipe the trichomes in a backhanded, naturally arched motion towards the other side of the screen 1-3 times at the most, before taking a look at the point of contact on your tool. You will notice two lines of material; on the front/leading edge to your swipe there will be mostly contaminants (dark, green plant material). On the back/following edge to your swipe there will be nothing but trichome heads stuck to the parchment through static electricity! You can now brush these two lines into two distinctive piles!
Tip: Hold your tool directly above the pile you're about to create, making sure the edge of your tool/lines of material are positioned vertically to the screen below before brushing down. Whilst gently sweeping one line in turn, try not to tilt the edge back or forwards, as this can cause contaminants or clean trich's to fall into the wrong pile!
Be extremely careful when brushing each line into two separate piles, as you don't want to get them mixed up or brush both lines at once! One pile of clean trich's on one side of the screen and another for contaminants, with plenty of space in-between the two just to be sure.
It's as simple as that! Keep at it until you've gone through your pile, then collect your clean sift to store or enjoy right away! Once you've finished, you can run through your contaminants pile to guarantee you've not missed any juicy heads, as there may still be some left over. Don't forget to check under the 75u screen (or 45u screen depending on which one you're using) once you're done, as this process may have allowed any heads smaller than 75u/45u to fall through! One thing is for sure though... It's all about the material you originally sift with. Our screens won't create frost, but they'll sure sift it!
We hope you've enjoyed this blog post. Be sure to follow us on Instagram for the most up-to-date content/offers. We encourage you to upload ALL of your Skunk Sifters related photo's to IG (following country/state laws). Tag us @SkunkSifters and use our Hashtags (below) to be featured on our page!