Medical and recreational cannabis users all agree that it is best to grind up your weed before you smoke it. But what exactly does grinding entail, and how do you do it?
Grinders are tools that break down cannabis flower for easier and more efficient consumption. By running your weed flower through a grinder you will get a product that is easier to pack into glassware or roll into joints and blunts. Additionally, the ground flower creates a smooth, even burn allowing you to get the most out of your purchase. Using a grinder will also save you time and help you to waste less weed as you consume.
If you are looking to grind up your flower but you do not already have a grinder at home, then try these methods for grinding weed without a grinder.
How do weed grinders work?
The most common grinders consist of two interlocking halves, or lids, that contain multiple rows of grinding teeth. These teeth, which look like thick flat spikes on the lids, are what actually grab onto the marijuana bud and shred it apart into a fine particle consistency. This results in a soft, fluffy marijunana product that is easy to work with.
Most grinders are manual, meaning you use your hands to turn the device and create the ground flower. However, automatic grinders are available for users who cannot physically use a manual grinder or who wish for the added convenience.
Different types of grinders
There are a few different options for weed grinders. The most common is simply referred to as a grinder, and is a short cylinder which can be metal or plastic. These types of grinders are a closed design to keep your weed from spilling, and can come in different capacity sizes ranging from small to large and even super large.
Capacity size refers to the amount of cannabis flower that the grinder can shred and store. The design options for cylinder grinders vary slightly in that there can be two-, three- or four-piece grinders. Non-cylinder grinders include grinding cards and some automatic grinders.
Two-Piece (single chamber)
A single chamber grinder is the most straightforward grinder and is often the least expensive. This will consist of two interlocking lid pieces with the grinding teeth. The weed buds are placed in the chamber, then the user presses the two lids together and manually turns the two halves in opposite directions for the grinding effect.
With this type of grinder there is no separate chamber for ground bud to collect, so typically the ground bud must be knocked out of the grinder and onto a seperate surface for packing or rolling use. Grinding lids do not screw together, which would impede the grinding action, so be cautious when grinding so that you do not lose any cannabis.
Three-Piece (two chamber)
A two chamber grinder has the same basic principle as a single chamber, except that the bottom grinding lid will have holes in it for the ground weed product to fall through. The weed then collects into a separate chamber (often called a collection chamber), which will be screwed on for security. This chamber will be able to unscrew completely from the grinding lids, and will be a flat bottom with no grinding teeth.
The lack of teeth can allow for users to scoop the weed out with their fingers and into their smoking device. Again, grinding lids do not screw together, so even when using a collection chamber grinding must be done with caution.
Four-Piece (three chamber)
A three chamber grinder offers weed users the most in terms of product efficiency. In addition to the two interlocking grinding lids and the collection chamber, there is a third chamber located at the bottom which collects kief (resinous trichomes).
Kief is an incredibly potent component of cannabis. How it works is instead of a solid bottom to the collection chamber there is a fine mesh screen. When the weed is ground, the pollen-like kief is shaken off the product, falls through the mesh screen in the collection chamber and into the kief compartment.
When using a three chamber grinder, kief is collected and stored in the bottom most chamber instead of being lost in the crevices like with other grinding devices. Kief can be used right away, or stored up over several grinds; it offers a powerful impact to your high.
Grinding cards are even more simple and straightforward than cylindrical grinders. Grinding cards are flat metal or plastic cards, usually the size of a playing card. These devices have sharp, raised cut-outs which the marijunana bud is rubbed vigorously against to create ground flower- much like a cheese grater works.
This grinding option is great for those who travel with their weed as it is small, flat, and packs very discreetly. Although it is unlikely to injure yourself while using this type of grinder, the teeth are exposed instead of enclosed like the cylinder designs, and should be used and stored with caution.
Automatic weed grinders are becoming easier to find and with more design diversity to accommodate many cannabis users’ needs. This is less common, but should be of little surprise since automatic coffee or spice grinders have already been available through kitchen suppliers for decades.
Automatic grinders rely on interlocking teeth like a manual grinder, but this process is then either battery powered or is electric and rechargeable using USB cables. Some of the more ingenious designs can include a funnel which deposits the ground flower into your smoking device, or even go so far as to automatically fill and roll a joint paper for you.
These types of devices are preferred for weed users who suffer from arthritis, pain disorders affecting the hands and arms, and some neurological disorders such as epilepsy, but are typically more pricey than manual options.
How to use a weed grinder
Weed grinders are often very intuitive and user friendly. Here are a few basics to help you get acquainted with your weed grinder.
Inspect all the pieces
Before making your grinder purchase you should make sure to inspect all the pieces of the device in question. This will ensure that you have the type of grinder you were hoping for and that nothing is broken. You can check the sharpness of the grinding teeth, as well as how far apart the rows are set.
If the grinding lids are dull or too crowded it will be very difficult to achieve a quality grind. If using a three-piece chamber grinder you should also check the holes which lead to the collecting chamber. Holes that are too large will result in bigger buds that will not roll or smoke very well.
If you are purchasing a 4-piece grinder be sure to inspect the kief chamber and ensure that the mesh screen is not damaged. If you are making your purchase online, double-check the return policy in case you notice anything wrong during your inspection.
Fill the grinding chamber
No matter which type of grinder you purchase, there will be a grinding chamber where the interlocking teeth are located. It is best to break apart very large buds by hand before loading them into your grinding chamber.
Keep in mind the capacity of your grinder so that you do not overfill it. This can result in a difficult grind due to lack of space. If using a cylinder grinder, it is best to place cannabis buds outside of the center of the grinding lid.
Please also note that you must use weed flower that has been harvested and completely dried. Fresh or semi-dried flower will clog up your grinding device.
How fine to grind?
Glass pipes and bongs can handle a less fine grind than say a joint or blunt- but ultimately how fine you grind your weed is up to you and the design of your device. Usually 10-12 turns of your grinder will result in all the weed bud being ground into a fluffy, usable grind.
If you are looking for a very fine grind, try flipping your cylinder grinder upside down. Make sure to hold the grinding lids together tightly, so that when you flip the mill upright it does not spill everywhere (this technique is not applicable with single chamber grinders or grinding cards).
You will know when your weed is completely ground when the grinding device turns easily with no resistance.
Cleaning your weed grinder
The best cannabis flower has a sticky consistency, so naturally, this will gum up your grinder over multiple uses. This can affect the way the grinder processes weed and/or kief, or prevent the chambers from screwing together tightly. Luckily there are several safe ways to clean your grinder.
- Stick your grinder in the freezer. This will cause the weed pollen and resin to separate from the material of the grinder and can often be brushed off and collected for use. Some grinders may come with a cleaning brush and can be a selling point when choosing a design.
- Isopropyl alcohol and salt will work on particularly resinous grinders. You can spray or soak your device with isopropyl alcohol and use salt to scrub away the residue.
If using an automatic grinder it is best to follow the user manual instructions on cleaning and maintenance.