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Weed Grinder Guide: What Do You Want from Your Herb Grinders?

Weed Grinder of Your Dreams

Chances are you take your weed grinder for granted. Of course, this assumes you even use a grinder to prepare your weed for the glass pipe or vaporizer. Some of us are still pulling nugs apart with sticky fingers or stuffing whole bud in bowls, not realizing that we’re seriously marginalizing the potency and pleasure of our smoking experience by doing so. No matter if you’re using marijuana for medical reasons or for leisure, you don’t want to skimp on your herb grinders. While selecting the best marijuana grinder may seem like a no-brainer, there are a surprising amount of factors to consider. Keep in mind that an efficient grinder can vastly improve your smoking experience. Before we scrutinize the vast variety of weed grinder models available to fit your specific preferences, let’s take a look at why you should be grinding your bud in the first place.

What’s the Main Advantage of Using a Weed Grinder?

Grinding herb turns buds of flower into fine grain conducive to optimum airflow. Just stuffing a whole nugget into a smoking bowl will result in tougher draws, weak performance, and an overall diminished experience. Pulling the nug apart with your fingers or cutting it up with scissors helps a bit but doesn’t compare to the powerful airflow facilitated by grinding your weed. Those who prefer to vape will particularly benefit from using a grinder because the finely ground herb allows the terpenes and cannabinoids to be accessed easier in the vaporization process. The result: more effective medicine and also a more potent high, depending on which result you’re chasing.

How to Use a Grinder

how to use a weed grinder
The classic hand grinder uses a simple twisting motion to reduce whole bud to granulated flower.

The classic design of most herb grinders is fairly intuitive. With this standard design, you simply dump whole flower into the grinding chamber, replace the lid piece, and twist the lid in a circular motion until the herb is reduced to a fine grain. If you’re using a one-chamber grinder, then this is pretty much all there is to it. But if you’re using a grinder with multiple chambers, such as a 3 piece or 4 piece grinder, your grinder will most likely be equipped with a kief catcher (which we talk about at greater length later in this article). For now, let’s talk about the proper maintenance and upkeep of your herb grinder.

A Clean Grinder is a Happy Grinder

When you see that finely textured weed just waiting to be smoked, you’re going to be tempted to dive right in. But hold your horses; you’re grinder just efficiently produced that sweet smokable grain. You owe it a bit of TLC. If you want to keep those premium results, you’ll need to keep your grinder clean and, if it’s a metal grinder, rust-free. There are a couple of different methods you can employ to get your grinder looking squeaky clean again.

No matter which method you choose, you’re going to start by disassembling the grinder (so if you’re using a 4 piece herb grinder, it should be taken apart to its 4 basic pieces). Wipe the grinder down with a safe, sterilizing agent like isopropyl alcohol. You can even employ a paintbrush with fine bristles to really get in at the screen and dislodge any debris and residue. You can also opt to soak the individual pieces in alcohol. After soaking the pieces, you may still need to use a cleaning tool to get in at the most tenacious residue.

If you don’t wash your marijuana grinder regularly, you’ll notice more and more resistance when you try to twist the grinder to grind the herb. Sticky resin will hinder the mechanics of the design and metal models may begin to show signs of rust. The symptoms may be different but the results will undoubtedly be the same: your grinder won’t operate at its maximum potential and your smoke sessions will suffer for it.

Here’s an instructional video showing a method of using milk to clean a grinder. As you can see from the YouTube comments section, there are a lot of differing views on the best way to clean a grinder.

Number of Chambers

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself when buying a grinder online or in a smoke shop is how many chambers do you want? At the most basic level, this is really a choice between one chamber grinders and grinders with multiple chambers.

1. 2 Piece Grinder

The 2 piece grinder, alternately referred to as a 1 chamber grinder, is typically adept enough at transforming rugged nugs into soft grain. This is enough for some smokers. However, many users avoid the 2 piece grinder since it doesn’t have a built-in kief catcher. If kief is vital to your smoking experience, a 2 part grinder is not in your best interest. However, if you don’t care about kief and just want an easy, affordable way to grind your bud, then a 2 piece grinder may be perfect for you. As a bonus, a one chamber grinder is that much easier to clean and maintain than grinders with multiple chambers.

2. 4 Piece Grinder

metal 4 piece grinder
A 4 piece grinder, also referred to as a 3 chamber grinder.

The 4 piece grinder is probably the most common multi-chamber grinder on the market, though 3 piece grinder models are available. In most cases, a 4 piece grinder (also referred to as a 3 chamber grinder) incorporates a kief catcher. Once the herb is ground up, the resulting grain will drift into a central chamber where an ultra-fine screen will sift the kief from the ground flower.

So basically, the 3 chambers would be used as follows:

  1. Chamber for your whole bud,
  2. Chamber for your ground bud, and
  3. Chamber for your kief.

If you’re unfamiliar with kief, it’s a highly potent byproduct of the grinding process, comprised of robust trichomes. Kief can be sprinkled on top of your ground herb to give it extra kick or be used in the manufacture of rosin. If given the choice between a 2 piece or 4 piece grinder, most smokers and vapers will go with the 4 piece grinder. With kief hitting up to 60% THC, who can blame them?

What Type of Herb Grinder Works For You?

1. Metal Grinder

metal herb grinders often come in aluminum titanium stainless steel
Aluminum is the most common metal used for herb grinders though titanium and stainless steel varieties are also plentiful.

Another major factor you need to consider when shopping for the best weed grinder is the material used in the construction of the grinder. Metal is often seen as a reliable option but there are a variety of metals, each offering different results.

a. Titanium Grinder

The titanium grinder is prized among metal grinders for often producing the sharpest teeth. Even the most tenacious of nugs is reduced to grain as fine as sand in the razor-lined chamber of a titanium weed grinder. Even after repeated, heavy use, it’s difficult to dull titanium teeth. You can also count on your titanium grinder to be surprisingly light since it’s not as dense as it may appear. This lends to some highly portable models for the smoker on the go. Though titanium grinders themselves aren’t heavy, their price tags are another story.

b. Aluminum Grinder

Much more common and affordable than titanium grinder models, the aluminum grinder requires a bit of scrutiny at your point of purchase. That’s because aluminum comes in a wide range of grades. A cheap aluminum grinder could potentially leave aluminum shavings in your herb while a high grade aluminum grinder could hold up with the best titanium weed grinders if properly maintained. Since aluminum quality can vary, it pays to try to determine the quality of the aluminum used in the creation of a weed grinder. Look for high grade aluminum, such as anodized aluminum. While aluminum is one of the most hygienic metals, some aluminum grinder models actually employ the use of medical grade stainless steel teeth for longevity. However, aluminum is a very easy metal to clean so regular maintenance of an aluminum herb grinder is a breeze. Aluminum varieties often tend to be a rugged option so they’re perfect for portability. They’re also pretty easy to find if you need a decent herb grinder in a pinch.

c. Stainless Steel Grinder

The stainless steel grinder is a much rarer option than aluminum grinders. While an aluminum grinder isn’t necessarily going to flake metal shavings into your herb, a stainless steel grinder is designed to have more resilience to its blades. It’s more durable than aluminum since it’s a harder metal, which also means it’s not as susceptible to dulling as aluminum.

2. Wooden Herb Grinder

wooden herb grinder
Wooden herb grinders can present a simple rustic aesthetic or detailed, intricate carved designs.

Typically elevating style alongside performance, the wooden herb grinder can present some truly remarkable designs thanks to the ease of woodworking. Many wooden herb grinder models are carved with ornate designs, lending to comfortably textured grips and a warm, rustic aesthetic. Wood is not as hygienic a material as most metals used in weed grinders but most users enjoy wooden weed grinder varieties without issue.

3. Plastic Grinder

Easily the most affordable type of grinder but sometimes the least effective, the plastic grinder struggles to match the rugged durability and precision sharpness of a wooden or metal herb grinder. That being said, these are great grinders for new users to learn how to use a grinder without breaking the bank. Once you’ve learned your way around the plastic grinder, you’ll recognize what you do and don’t like enough to pinpoint the features you want from a pricier option. If you invest in a composite plastic grinder, you can often see results similar to those produced by a metal variety. You can also rest assured that plastic grinder won’t rust up on you if you’re not up on your cleaning game.

4. Acrylic Grinder

An acrylic grinder is fashioned from a material that is more rugged than its plastic counterparts but typically more affordable than your average metal herb grinder. As with plastic grinders, acrylic grinders are relatively easy to clean and maintain. An acrylic grinder can be the perfect compact, portable weed grinder as long as it’s outfitted with the safeguard of a magnetic closure.

The Importance of Teeth in a Weed Grinder

importance of diamond teeth in an herb grinder
Diamond teeth are popularly used in herb grinders for their efficiency.

Obviously, one of the most important elements of a weed grinder is the efficacy of its teeth. In most cases, diamond shaped teeth (sometimes just referred to as “diamond teeth”) are the preferred option. The diamond shape allows for a neat, razor-like shredding that accepts little resistance when reducing bud to granulated flower. Peg style teeth are getting less common but you can still find them. Herb grinders with peg teeth are less efficient than the razor-sharp diamond teeth varieties, often acting as more of a weed crusher than a weed grinder. Likewise, the pegs are more likely to pick up residual herb matter making them a bit harder to clean and maintain. Some grinders feature a vast amount of teeth while others are minimal in comparison. Some models even pay special attention to the teeth, honing them into a curving shape for optimum shredding capability.

Other Features to Consider in a Marijuana Grinder

1. Magnetic Closures

While we’ve covered the primary factors to consider when purchasing your weed grinder, a bevy of other features should be contemplated when looking for the perfect herb grinder. A magnetic grinder can be particularly useful for weed connoisseurs who savor a fresh cut directly prior to packing a bowl or rolling a joint. The magnetic closure ensures that the weed grinder remains locked tight so the user doesn’t have to worry about spillage while in transit.

2. Easier Use for Hand Grinder Models

wiz khalifa bullet weed grinder
The bullet grinder which has been noted as a favorite of Wiz Khalifa.

Some medical marijuana users find benefit in a hand grinder with a rotary crank as opposed to the circular hand grinder models that require twisting of the lid. Users with muscular dystrophy, dystonia, multiple sclerosis, or arthritic conditions may prefer crank operated grinders or even hand grinders with specially textured grips and ergonomic design. If a manual hand grinder is too physically taxing, you can browse through a plethora of electric herb grinder models on the market. An electric herb grinder may be more costly than the more common hand-operated varieties but can be a major relief for those with conditions that render the manual twisting motion challenging.

3. Built-in View Windows

Some herb grinders feature built-in windows which can be useful for keeping up to date on the status of your grind. If you often find yourself impatiently popping open the grinder before the flower is fully ground or perhaps grind your herb to a finer consistency than you like, a grinder with a view window can save a lot of hassle.

4. The Grinder Card

Some users are looking beyond the typical hand grinder varieties in favor of a grinder card. A grinder card is an ultra-thin take on the weed grinder that works similar to a cheese grater. The obvious convenience is that, since the grinder card is often about the size of a credit card, it’s really easy to keep it on you in an inconspicuous way. You can even pop your grinder card in your wallet, though it’s advisable to always keep it sleeved so you don’t accidentally end up with some nasty cuts. The thin design also renders grinder cards fairly easy to clean and maintain.

5. Fun with a Novelty Weed Grinder

pokeball grinder for weed
The Pokeball grinder is just one of many creative takes on weed grinder designs.

If you’re someone who values style as much as substance, you may be interested in novelty grinders. For example, a company recently manufactured a Pokeball grinder obviously inspired by last year’s fervor over Pokemon GO. But the Pokeball grinder is really just the tip of the iceberg. You can easily find novelty hand grinders shaped like grenades, the bullet-packed cylinder of a gun (Wiz Khalifa has been known to favor the bullet grinder), hamburgers, skulls, poker chips, the Death Star… you name it.

6. Size

This one seems like a no-brainer but we’d be remiss to ignore it: the size of your herb grinder really does matter. This plays in to matters of comfort as well as your plans of operation. If you’re just grinding for yourself, you can get away with using a smaller, more compact hand grinder. But if you’re bringing your grinder to a party or are more of a social smoker, it may be in your best interest to get a larger weed grinder. Larger grinders can also be easier on medical marijuana patients suffering from painful ailments like arthritis that can make the manual use of grinders a chore.

For an invention so simple and intuitive, there’s a surprising amount of factors to think over as you search for your ideal weed grinder. But once you’ve got a firm grasp on what you want, your perfect grinder will save you time and effort, letting you get right down to enjoying the good stuff without any hassle. Likewise, if you’ve been smoking weed without using a grinder, you’ve probably been wasting a lot of herb. Save your sticky fingers and get a bigger bang for your buck with a marijuana grinder that fits your needs like a glove.

About Bertram Joyner

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