So you’ve recently entered the world of smoking. You’re the proud owner of your own pipe, have a good idea of what legal herbs you enjoy, and may even have a lucky lighter that has somehow escaped being “borrowed” by your friends. Then your buddy pulls out a shiny new herb grinder at your next smoking sesh, and you feel clueless again. Should you already have one of these contraptions in your smoking kit? Are they expensive? How do you use it, anyway? Never fear - this simple guide will answer all your burning questions!
Let's start simple, a grinder is exactly what it sounds like: something that will grind up your herbs. Typically this is going to look like a metal container, with a top compartment full of metal teeth that will grind the herb. Sometimes there’s a second compartment that grabs the larger chunks, and a bottom compartment to collect any fine excess herb. Buying a grinder, especially your first grinder, isn’t a test you either pass or fail, so don’t stress it. Every Grinder has its own unique features, but all will follow those standard compartments.
How to Use a Grinder
Why do smokers need them? You may think that the DIY method - crushing the herb with your fingers - is good enough, and sure, in a pinch it is. However, grinding is typically a faster way to crush your herb, as well as more efficient, given all the herb collects and isn’t wasted when stuck to your fingertips or fallen to the ground. Additionally, the finer the grind of your preferred legal herb, the smoother it is to smoke. Grinders are also handy if you're using it to roll herbal cigarettes, speeding up the process and keeping your fingers from getting sticky with residue.
Even though they may look a little intimidating, all metallic, with parts that can screw on or off, don't overthink it. How to use a grinder is as easy as 1, 2, 3:
Step 1. Take off the top lid and place small chunks of your preferred herb within the spokes you see.
Step 2. Pop the lid on and twist the top a few times. You'll feel some resistance at first, which should go away almost immediately as the ground pieces fall through the holes. (If pieces get stuck, simply take off the lid to move them around, or pull them apart into slightly smaller pieces, then try again.)
Step 3. Once everything has been ground up well, twist off the top half to get all that delicious herb! You can use this in rolling papers, pipes, or whatever smoking apparatus floats your boat.
That's it! Not exactly rocket science, yet it can turn your okay bowl into an outstanding one.
Keep in mind, there's often another, much smaller segment underneath the main chamber. This is a catcher that gets even the finest pieces that travel through the screen, saving you every last bit of your precious herb.
How to Clean a Grinder
Cleaning your grinder is super easy because you'll use the same things you probably clean your pipe with already. (You DO clean your pipe, right?) First, grab your favorite pipe cleaning solution, an old toothbrush, and a bowl of warm water. Next, deconstruct your grinder into separate pieces and brush off any remaining herb. Use the cleaning solution and toothbrush to scrub each grinder piece until all herbal residue is gone. Finally, rinse in a bowl of warm water and leave out to air dry before the next use. If you’re looking for a DIY option, simply mix salt with some rubbing alcohol to soak and scrub the grinder with, then keep the parts separated while it dries.
Regularly cleaning your grinder will keep it from getting so sticky with residue that it locks up when you're using it, or is difficult to unscrew. Since it's such a small piece, this will take only minutes, so stay on top of it! No one likes to struggle with a gummy lid or hard time grinding when they could be smoking instead.
So now that you've got the basics that will serve you well in your smoking career, it’s time for the fun part - personalization. Let's figure out the type of grinder that fits you and your smoking style best. There are many different types of grinders to fit every smoker’s preference.
Which Grinder is Right for Me?
1. Shredder Card
The simple and sleek grinding card has a low price point and is easy to travel with. Take out this credit card sized grinder to grate some fresh herb to smoke, wherever you are, whenever you want. A sharp shredder grinder with no moving parts that allows you to shred your preferred herbs anywhere you go.
Pros: It’s a pocket-size grinder; in fact, it can fit in your wallet! Now that's compact, super mobile, and inconspicuous. It's an inexpensive and handy option for when you’re looking to smoke on the go, discreetly.
Cons: No catcher on the grinder card to retain excess herb - if you drop it, or it doesn't make it in the bowl, it's gone. You're still going to have some residue while grinding, so it's a little messier than other options.
2. Travel Grinder
A travel container and a built-in grinder, the Medtainer is the perfect, three-piece grinder to carry your legal herb, with a simple grinder you pull out to grind directly into the container.
Pros: Bring this all in one grinder with you to the next smoking session. It’s travel-friendly! You won't lose out on any herb since it will fall back into the storage. Plus there's a childproof cap, letting you rest easy knowing it won't be tampered with unwittingly.
Cons: It's made out of plastic and although it gets the job done, it may not have the other bells and whistles of different models.
3. Two Piece Grinder
A place to put the herb, and a lid to grind it. There's not a separate compartment that stores the ground-up herb, just empty it from the grinder into the bowl or papers. These are cute grinders – especially these Santa Cruz grinders, with multiple designs to choose from.
Pros: No muss or fuss! This is a cheap grinder that will do what you need, and you won't miss out on any leftover remnants of the ground herb since everything remains in the container. Lightweight and portable.
Cons: This is a hemp plastic grinder, so it may be a little less sturdy with repeated use than metal grinder options. With only two pieces, it also doesn’t have a fine herb catcher at the bottom.
4. Four Piece Grinder
The four piece grinder is a classic for many reasons. This is a piece that's meant to last a lifetime, with proper loving care. You've got all 4 compartments on this puppy, to save even the finest of your ground herb. This has sharp teeth – the better to grind herbs with, my dear!
Pros: You can (and will) use this for years, as the design and material ensure it's heavy duty enough to stand up to repeated use. Has a lower catcher to ensure every bit of your dry herbs can be put to work in a pipe or some rolling papers. It’s modular and easy to clean.
Cons: Although worth every penny, one of the more expensive options on this list.
5. Five Piece Grinder
Five piece grinders are just like the four piece grinder, with yet another lower compartment so you'll have your pick of the different consistencies you want for any bowl.
Pros: This is an aircraft-grade aluminum grinder, so it will hold up for your whole smoking career. Grinds herbs easily due to its diamond-shaped teeth. Two mesh screens for the customized smoking experience every time.
Cons: Although the parts still easily disassemble, more parts does mean more to clean.
6. Electric Grinder
The superhero of grinders. Perfectly ground herb faster than a speeding bullet. Rechargeable by micro-USB. A large, electric herb grinder that will hold a lot!
Pros: Faster than manual, with this high-quality piece you'll be done in seconds. Easily recharged with the included micro-USB cable. Customize what grind you want, from quite coarse to a fine grind.
Cons: Again, a slightly more expensive option. Requires charging, so this type of grinder isn’t the best option if you're the sort of person who can't even remember to charge your phone.
Now that you know what a grinder is, how they work, how to choose one, and how to clean one, you're all set! You've got the knowledge to make a wise investment in such a helpful tool that every experienced smoker has in their arsenal. Step up your smoking game and purchase the perfect grinder to pave the way to a smoother smoke session.
We love hearing from you! In the comments below, tell us what your favorite grinder brand is.