Since the 1960s, cannabis enthusiasts have been using grinders to break down dense buds into fine, smokable particles. In this article, you'll learn about the benefits of using a weed grinder and how to choose the best grinder. We'll also offer some pro tips for getting the most out of your herb grinder.

museum of weed grinder merch Photo by: Gine Coleman/Weedmaps

What is a grinder used for?

The purpose of an herb grinder is to grind marijuana buds down to a finer consistency that you can roll into a joint or pack into a bowl. Grinders are used primarily to improve the smoking experience by breaking down cannabis flower evenly. You may not need a grinder to break down nugs into smaller pieces, but using one decreases the likelihood of clogging your pipe. It allows you to use the flower more efficiently and makes joints and blunts burn more evenly.

rolling a blunt Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Parts of a grinder

Grinders may be made from metal, plastic, or wood, with some lacking detachable parts and others assembled in as many as five pieces.

  • Two-piece grinders include a lid and grinder bottom (also called a bud catcher)
  • Three-piece grinders have a lid, grinding chamber, and storage chamber
  • Four- and five-piece grinders come with a lid, grinder bottom, storage catcher, and one or two kief catchers. The addition of a kief catcher can inspire some creative uses for collected kief. You can press it into hash or rosin, sprinkle some into a favorite recipe, or roll your joint in kief for an extra potent kick.
three chamber grinder with kief catcher
Four- and five-piece grinders come with a lid, grinder bottom, storage catcher, and one or two kief catchers.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

If you prefer a simpler structure, go for a flat grinder that resembles a cheese grater and can fit right in your pocket. There are also electric and battery-operated options if you want your weed ready at the touch of a button.

Buying the right herb grinder

The two main types of grinders are manual (hand-cranked) and automatic (electric or battery-powered). 

Manual grinders: You can find a basic hand-cranked grinder for as little as $15 online, including on sites such as Etsy, where some artists offer customized options with your name or favorite phrase engraved. There are also plenty of hand-cranked mini grinders online that cost less than $25.

Automatic grinders: Grinders with three or more components may cost as little as $25 and go all the way up to $200 or more. For example, the handheld, battery-operated E-shredder from Aux Tools retails for $199.99. Other automatic grinders, such as the Mamba Electric Herb Grinder, sell at a much lower price point.

Tips for using a grinder

Whether you buy a manual or automatic grinder, the process of grinding weed is fairly straightforward. Here are a few expert tips to get the best output from your herb grinder.

Be gentle: You don't have to exert much force when twisting a manual grinder. About a dozen steady turns should get you the perfect weed grind on a well-maintained grinder with sharp blades. It's also important not to overfill the grinder. You can always go back for a second round to avoid taxing the grinder.

Turn it upside down: If you want a super fine grind, remove the kief chamber, turn the grinder upside down, grind, and then put the kief chamber back in place after you grind. This technique prevents the buds from dropping into the bottom chamber, allowing for finer grinding and resulting in smoother ground weed.

Clean the grinder: As with other cannabis accessories, like water pipes and ash catchers, it's crucial to keep a grinder clean. A soft cloth and brush should do the trick, but avoid abrasive materials like scrubbing pads, which can damage an herb grinder. Use rubbing alcohol as a cleaning agent, rinse with warm water, and thoroughly dry. This basic maintenance can help your grinder last longer and allow you to enjoy a smooth cannabis experience every time.

cleaning grinder with toothpaste
Cleaning your grinder can help it last longer and allow you to enjoy a smooth cannabis experience every time.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Bottom line

An herb grinder requires a minimal financial investment (as low as $15) and can last for years with proper use and upkeep.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on September 3, 2020.