If you’re a regular cannabis smoker, you’ve probably broken your bud down by hand a time or two. You probably also know that rolling coarse, lumpy flower with that sticky-sweet coating on your fingers can be frustrating, to say the least.
Fortunately, a grinder can quickly transform your smoking experience. After all, the secret to a slow-burning joint with a smooth draw is a fine, uniform grind.
If you want the low down on cannabis grinders, hang tight. We’re going to cover why you need one, the many different options available, and how to use the different types to get you well on your way to that smooth smoking experience.
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Benefits of Grinders
Regardless of your rolling abilities, crafting a perfect joint is nearly impossible without a grinder.
What is a grinder? A grinder is a device designed to break cannabis bud into fine, evenly ground bits.
Because cannabis buds are typically large, dense, and sticky, they must be properly prepared prior to being rolled. While it is possible to break up bud with your hands, most prefer the help of a grinder because of the many benefits they provide.
Save Time, Smoke Sooner
The first and most obvious benefit is that grinding your bud with a grinder is much faster than grinding it by hand. Even super sticky bud (which requires serious dedication to break down by hand) can be ground down in minutes to the perfect rolling consistency.
Better Roll, Slower Burn
Unlike hand-ground bud, flower processed through a grinder with be fine and consistent, usually allowing an easier and tighter roll. Being able to pack the bud tighter, whether in a joint or a bowl, usually results in a slower burn, too.
Maintain Your Bud’s Potency
For many people, this one’s the kicker. A lot of cannabis’ potency stems from the trichomes, the small, hair-like structures that give fresh bud that frosty aesthetic.
Unfortunately, trichomes are delicate, and they can stick to your fingers when you break bud down by hand. Using a grinder can help keep your bud intact and keep the sticky on the flower instead of on your fingers.
Waste Not, Catch Your Kief
Although the grinder may not degrade the quality of your bud as much as when it’s broken down by hand, some of that sticky goodness probably falls off in the grinder, right? Sure! These crystal formations on the end of these trichomes, called kief, can still fall off the bud and stick to your grinder when you grind down fresh flower.
Luckily, some grinders have kief-catchers that gently sift the ground bud, allowing the fine kief powder to pass through into its own chamber. After you collect enough, you can use that highly potent kief to top a bowl or even make your own cannabis edibles, if you’d like.
Types of Grinders for Cannabis
As you can see, grinders are vastly more efficient at creating ready-to-roll buds. Now that the benefits of grinding your bud are clear, there is no reason to try and pick apart a large, sticky bud by hand. If you find yourself rolling often and you’re sick of sloppy, hand-ground joints, a grinder is the answer.
Which grinder should you choose? Luckily, you have options, ranging from low profile, credit card-sized grinder cards to complete four chamber grinder systems and more.
As the name would suggest, these grinders are comprised of two pieces that combine to form one grinder unit. The inside of each piece is laden with sharp teeth designed to shred the dense buds. This style grinder is manufactured in plastic, wood, and metal varieties.
We prefer metal grinders to their cheaper plastic and wood counterparts. In our experience, metal grinders are more durable (less chance of teeth breaking off and into your bud!) and provide a smoother, more consistent grinding action.
Two-part grinders come in a variety of sizes and price points ranging from under $5 for plastic to $40+ for titanium. You get what you pay for in terms of grinder quality.
Best for: The entry-level smoker who is tired of using their hands.
We love the sleek 2-piece Grinder, which comes in CNC machined aluminum, 5 colors, and 5 sizes.
The four-piece grinder includes some additional features that connoisseurs may have missed with a traditional two-part grinder. Most notably, the four-part grinder includes additional chambers – one for ground bud and one for kief.
A combination of gravity and drilled holes (in the bottom of the grinding chamber) allow the bits of bud to fall down into the collection chamber. The floor of the chamber is typically made of a stiff, relatively fine screen – also referred to as a pollen screen.
The very bottom piece is known as a kief catcher, as the screen only allows the trichomes to pass through. Thus, a four-piece grinder allows you to grind bud, store it, and collect the trichomes that fall off in the process.
Four-part grinders are typically made of metal and also come in a variety of sizes and price points from $10 to over $100. Note: Three-part grinders exist; however, they are the least common variety because they lack a kief chamber.
Best for: The frequent smoker’s daily driver.
This 4-Piece Grinder is our favorite grinder overall, coming in your choice of 8 colors (ours is the “Rasta” color combo, shown below), 2 sizes, and is surprisingly affordable.
Electric grinders are by far the least popular type of grinder among cannabis users. While they can grind bud effortlessly, they tend to pulverize it into powder in the process – not the ideal consistency for optimizing airflow.
We don’t recommend using an electric grinder for cannabis consumption unless absolutely necessary as they are cheaply manufactured, grind unevenly and jam frequently despite having a kief catcher.
Best for: The lazy or arthritic smoker.
If you do want an electric grinder, the Wakit Grinder with See-Through Chamber and LED Lighting is very cool.
The metal grinder functions similarly to a cheese grater – just rub the bud over the shredding surface. We recommend arranging the metal grinder card over a Pebble and rubbing the bud back and forth for a perfect grind with no mess. Grinder cards are manufactured with different grinding surfaces from fine to coarse for a range of uses.
These incredibly low-profile grinders save on size and weight by taking the shape of a standard credit card and sliding right into The Safety Case.
There are quite a few nice grinder cards on Amazon with cool designs here.
Add some papers, rolling tips, a pipe and a lighter and you’ll have the ultimate smell proof all-in-one smoking kit. RAW brand makes a really cool all-in-one travel kit with a grinder card, hardshell case, rolling paper, tips, hemp wick, and more in their smoker’s bundle pictured below. You can find that on Amazon here.
Best for: The mobile smoker who always wants to be prepared.
Grinders with Handles
A handle crank on top of a grinder allows for better traction when grinding your bud. Sometimes, the dank or sticky flower can refuse to budge because of overfill. Don’t worry, we have science! Grinders with handles allow you to fill them to the brim.
Best for: The avid smoker that needs a grinder that can handle heavy loads.
Our Top Pick: DDSKY Herb Grinder with Handle & Drawer
See through Grinders
Clear centers allow you to know exactly how much herb you have left every time. Grinders typically double as stash jars a lot of the time, why not combine the two? These grinders have their place for the right flower smoker.
Best for: The minimalist smoker that wants a 2-in-1 grinder that doubles as a stash spot.
Our Top Pick: The Beach Bum 4-Piece Magnetic Aluminum Grinder
How to Use a Grinder Card
The grinder card is a hugely underrated and highly efficient smoking accessory that you’ll be glad you discovered. While you may be familiar with a standard two or four piece grinder, they aren’t exactly travel friendly – they’re bulky, heavy and awkward to carry around. The grinder card on the other hand, is slim, it looks exactly like a credit card, and slips right into a wallet purse without notice – you can literally store it anywhere. I’m always blown away by how many people have yet to become aware of these essential tools!
As you may have guessed, the grinder card works just like a cheese grater. Slowly rubbing your bud along the metal surface will gently break it apart and prepare it for packing a bowl or rolling a joint. The size of the holes in the card will dictate how fine or course the grind is – smaller holes equate to a finer grind and vice versa.
Step 1: Arrange a Landing Area
First, set up a nice landing area so the ground buds fall in a place where you can collect them afterwards. We recommend placing the grinder card on top of a Pebble container to catch each of the shavings as you grate your cannabis.
Step 2: Grate Slowly and Evenly
Next, slowly rotate the bud as you shave it along the grinding surface. It’s important to go slowly and try not to break off any large stems into your container.
Step 3: Push with Your Fingers
Once the large buds have broken up you can push the smaller bits through the holes and grind up the final pieces.
Bonus: Easy to Clean
One of the best benefits of the grinder card over a 2, 3, or 4 piece grinder is how easy it is to clean. Simply pour some rubbing alcohol (91+% is best) on the grinder card and use an old toothbrush, scrub brush, or scrubber sponge to work the residue off. With some persistence, your grinder card will look good as new. Don’t forget to give the card a quick rinse with water to remove any remaining alcohol/residue.
Common Questions for Cannabis Grinders
Should I buy a grinder?
YES, you cannot roll great joints or smoke slow burning bowls without one and they don’t have to break the bank! There’s a range of different grinder options available that range in price from a couple bucks to a hundred dollars or more. Luckily, even the most affordable options will one-up your hand-grinding game.
Is the grinder card effective?
Yes! The grinder card is as effective as a two or four piece grinder. As you can see in the photo above, the grind produced by the card is almost indiscernible from that produced by a 2, 3, or 4 piece grinder. It certainly beats using your bare hands to crumble the bud any day.
Can you travel with a grinder?
Yes! A grinder or grinder card can be easily stored like a credit card in your wallet, purse, or smoking kit. The best part? It’s completely safe for travel in all forms when clean. Ready to upgrade your smoking kit so you can easily roll better joints and pack a one hitter on the go? Grab a grinder from Grass City.
What can I do with the kief my grinder catches?
There’s plenty you can do with the kief that you collect in your grinder, like create homemade concentrates or make delicious cannabis edibles.
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