One of the most common cannabis tools is the grinder. Grinding your weed before smoking is a crucial step in the consumption process. Using this device gives you an even and consistent burn when you are smoking, maximizes efficiency, and lets you get the most smoke out of your bud.
A grinder, like any tool used over time, needs maintenance and care in order to prolong its life and give you peak performance.
Components of a grinder
There are a few different types of weed grinders. The first and simplest model is a single chamber with metal grinding teeth and a lid that either snaps or screws into place. The underside of the lid also has grinding teeth that work in tandem with the teeth inside the main chamber.
To use this type of weed grinder, simply press a couple of nugs down into the grinding teeth, put the lid on, and twist. As you twist, the grinding teeth in the main chamber and on the lid chop the herb into small, uniform pieces.
In addition to this simple, single-chamber design, there are grinders that function in a similar fashion but that include multiple chambers stacked onto each other. The top chamber contains the grinding teeth where you place your nugs before twisting the lid back and forth to break up the herb. There are a series of holes in the bottom of this top grinding chamber, through which the flower falls into a catch located directly beneath the grinding teeth.
To access the ground-up weed, unscrew the catch chamber from the grinding chamber and scoop or dump out the flower you are going to use.
Multi-chambered grinders typically have a mesh screen across the bottom of the catching. The screen filters out the chunks of plant matter from the much finer, powdery kief, which falls through the screen and into a kief catcher. Some grinders have multiple screens to separate out the very fine grains of kief from the larger grains of kief.
Either way, these multi-chambered grinders allow you to isolate and keep the cannabinoid-rich kief for future use.
Finally, some weed grinders use rotating blades rather than grinding teeth. These grinders can produce a more uniform final product, as the blades cleanly slice the herb rather than forcefully grinding it apart into small chunks.
Why clean your grinder?
Over time, your grinder will get sticky with built-up residue that will keep it from working properly. This can potentially affect the flavor of your cannabis since the fresh product will get stuck to the old.
It is especially important for people who smoke infrequently to monitor the cleanliness of their grinder. Over time, if there is even a hint of moisture in your stash and you store it in a dark, warm place and forget about it, you can potentially grow mold. Smoking moldy cannabis is a bad idea, and not only because of a ruined flavor profile.
Smoking moldy cannabis, especially if you have a pre-existing condition like asthma or allergies, can exacerbate your symptoms. It can also expose you to bronchial and lung irritations, plus additional illnesses. If you find mold in your grinder or anywhere on your bud for that matter, it is best to throw it out and clean your grinder.
Items to help clean your grinder
You will need a few supplies to help clean your grinder. These are common household items that you may already have and if you do not then they are easy to find in most drug stores.
- Small, soft-bristled brush
- Plate or bowl
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Toothbrush or some other type of stiff brush
- Ziploc bag or plastic storage container
Soak your grinder in isopropyl alcohol
Begin by taking apart and separating each chamber of your grinder. At this point, you should attempt to salvage any leftover weed material by dumping out and saving as much of the loose leftovers as you can.
Place the grinder into a Ziploc bag or plastic container, such as Tupper-ware. Fill the container with enough isopropyl alcohol to fully submerge all parts of the grinder. Let the grinder soak for 20-30 minutes and agitate the container every once in a while to help break apart plant residue.
Pour out the alcohol and use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub your grinder. Do not forget to wash each chamber, scrape the grinding teeth, and the lids.
Use hot tap water to rinse your grinder thoroughly. Be sure to wash away all alcohol and any remaining plant material. Dry off your grinder with a clean towel. Once the grinder is completely dry, you are ready to start grinding again.
Freeze your grinder
If your grinder is so clogged up with plant residue that it is hard to get a smooth back-and-forth grinding or slicing motion, then simply soaking your grinder in isopropyl alcohol will not be enough.
Start by disassembling the grinder and removing each chamber from the others. As you do this, be careful that you do not spill any of the plant matter that is leftover inside the chambers.
Dump out leftover plant matter onto a plate or into a bowl. You will want to save this material for later use.
Arrange each piece of the grinder to sit upright inside the freezer. Leave the grinder in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Freezing the plant residue this way makes it stiffer and less sticky, which makes it easier to scrape the residue out of the grinder.
Remove the grinder from the freezer. Use a toothpick and small soft-bristled brush to gently scrape away as much of the plant material as you can. As before, use your plate or bowl to collect everything. Remember to scrape around the edges of all the chambers, along the sides of the grinding teeth, and around the circumference of each chamber’s lid. Most of this plant residue, including the kief, is incredibly rich in cannabinoids and very potent, so be sure you keep everything you are able to salvage for future use.
When you have harvested as much of the leftover plant material as you possibly can, then you should soak the grinder in isopropyl alcohol just as described in the previous section. Again, be sure to do this for at least 20-30 minutes but it cannot hurt to consider leaving it soaking overnight.
After soaking it, rinse it off under hot water and towel dry it. Again, make sure it is completely dry before grinding any weed. Once it is dry and useable your grinder should feel good as new.