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If you’re at all familiar with marijuana (as I’m pretty sure you are), then you’re already aware that it’s a peculiar little plant. I’m not talking about the effects – everyone knows they can be peculiar: sometimes exquisite, and sometimes even terrific. No, I’m talking about how it’s nearly impossible to cut the damn thing nicely by using just your fingers or a pair of small scissors. That is why most of us use weed grinders today and this whole post is dedicated to them – what to look for in a dry herb grinder and how to get the best value for your money.
Marijuana (as well as other plants that people use in vaporizers) is quite tough, and it doesn’t break up as easily as we’d like it to. On top of that, it’s sticky. Cutting it with your hands usually results in big clumps that can’t be used in a dry herb vaporizer.
Downsides of grinding weed with our fingers (or scissors):
- Uneven pieces that are usually too big for the vaporizer chamber
- Large clumps of herb that can’t be vaporized properly
- Sub-par vapor flavor
- No consistency in flavor
- Sticky fingers (and painful, too)
- A pair of scissors that will soon have to be put out of commission
To avoid all this, it’s best to invest in a decent marijuana grinder. Since people perfected CNC machining, there’s a whole bunch of manufacturers doing them. Some are great, but a little bit pricey. Others are cheap, but crap. The trick to buying one that will fit your needs is knowing what to look for. To find out, you just need to keep on reading!
What Is a Weed Grinder?
A weed grinder (or, in fact, any dry herb grinder) is a small cylindrical device that almost looks like a toy. Well, almost. It’s used to grind up dry material through mechanical friction and has specially made ‘teeth’ that help it achieve that. Usually, dry herb grinders are made from either wood, acrylic, or metal and, depending on the material, have different characteristics and longevity.
This picture shows exactly how a simple weed grinder looks like:
The lid is removed and the herb is placed inside. Once the lid is back in place, you can start cutting the herbs by simply rotating it clockwise or counter-clockwise. Once ground up, the material inside falls through the holes into a special compartment and it’s ready to be used. Normally, 2-piece grinders don’t have those holes since they are not designed for collecting pollen (also called kief).
There are different types of grinders, and which one you choose will depend on whether you’re planning on collecting the pollen. 3-piece grinders are pretty popular these days, but you can also opt for 2-piece grinders, as well as those that are built out of four distinct pieces and have three collection compartments, plus the lid.
The Benefits of Using a Herb Grinder
As I’ve mentioned before, using a dry herb grinder beats cutting your weed by hand by a mile. If you’re wondering why, here’s a short list of the benefits:
- You always get a uniform cut, which guarantees the same (excellent) vaporizing experience every time.
- Nicely ground herbs are easily vaporized, which improves the quality of the flavor.
- You can do it on the go, as opposed to when you’re doing it with a pair of scissors or your fingers.
- Most grinders have a storage compartment where you can keep your buds or already ground up material.
Add to that the fact that using a grinder is much faster (your fingers just weren’t made for it) and the relative affordability, and it’s really no contest whatsoever. A quality dry herb grinder will pay for itself multiple times over in terms of efficiency and convenience.
Types of Weed Grinders
As I’ve mentioned already, there are three different types of dry herb grinders out there. What you end up choosing will ultimately depend on what you need, how much you’re willing to spend, and how hung up you are about having the coolest and the latest vaporizing gadgets.
2-Piece Weed Grinders
2-piece grinders are the basic dry herb grinders available. They consist of two separate pieces (kinda obvious, right?). The first piece is the lid that has a collection of teeth on inside of it that interlock nicely with the ones sticking out from the bottom compartment.
These grinders are easy to use – you simply fill the compartment, place the lid, twist a bit, and you’re done. However, they do have some drawbacks as well, which I’ll get into as soon as I tell you a bit about their pros.
Pros of 2-piece herb grinders:
- Easy and simple to use
- Maintenance is a breeze
- Relatively affordable
- Can last a good long time, depending on the material
Cons of 2-piece herb grinders:
- Uneven grind since there are no holes to filter the material
- Rather poor storage capacity
- Difficulty getting the material out (emptying it over a piece of paper works best)
3-Piece Weed Grinders
These grinders add an additional compartment to the conventional 2-piece design. That compartment screws to the bottom of the device and serves as both a storage space and the space that the ground material falls into once it’s sufficiently small and finely cut.
Pros of 3-piece herb grinders:
- Finer overall grind
- Easier to retrieve the material after the fact
- Storage space available
- Simple to use
Cons of 3-piece herb grinders:
- Bulkier than their 2-piece versions
- Costs a bit more
4-Piece Weed Grinders
We might say that the 4-piece grinder is the apex of the grinder design. These babies do everything that they predecessors do, and a couple of extra things as well. By adding a fourth compartment to the mix, you can now collect the kief (or marijuana pollen) that usually goes to waste in 2 and 3-piece grinders.
Here’s how they work. The fourth compartment is separated from the third one with a fine mesh that allows tiny, almost microscopic particles to go through. They are then collected in that bottom compartment and can be scooped out and used (with caution, as the pollen is extremely potent). 4-piece weed grinders also come with a small pollen scraper that will be extremely helpful when the time for collecting it rolls around.
Pros of 4-piece herb grinders:
- Ability to collect pollen
- Extra storage space
- Finer grind
- Easy to collect the ground material
Cons of 4-piece herb grinders:
- The most expensive option on the market
- A lot bigger and bulkier than 2-piece herb grinders
- Mesh screen needs changing from time to time
- A lot of components – easier to misplace something, especially the pollen scraper
The general consensus is that 4-piece grinders are the best value for money, even though they are a slightly more extravagant initial investment. That’s because they afford you the opportunity to collect kief, which marijuana enthusiast appreciate greatly. Also, their quality of make is usually very good (if you’re buying from reputable brands) and can last a good long time if you’re careful and know how to take care of them.
Weed Grinder Materials
Currently, there are three types of grinders that dominate on the market (at least, when we’re discussing the materials they are made of). These are acrylic, wood, or metal grinders.
Wood is an appealing material that nature buffs simply love and would use for everything, it seems. Grinders made of wood look nice and are pretty serviceable, however, they do have several downsides. Because they are usually handmade, it’s difficult to find anything other than 2-piece wood grinders (but not impossible, as the image demonstrates). That means that you can probably say goodbye to kief, unless you’re willing to spend a lot for a painstakingly made original.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that the inside has to be made from unfinished wood. Paint and other additives will easily chip away and end up in your vaporizer, which is not something you want. Also, the teeth in those wooden grinders are nothing to write home about – they are usually just small nails that have been machined in there. While they do serve a purpose, they can’t achieve a really fine grind, which results in a sub-par vaporizing experience.
These grinders are the cheapest option on the market, and for a good reason. Acrylic is not the best of the materials for grinders because it’s not very durable and it breaks easily. And when a grinder is acrylic, it’s 100% acrylic. This, of course, means the teeth as well. Since those teeth break easily, it’s important that you always keep an eye on them – you don’t want to pack your vaporizer with acrylic, and you definitely don’t want to inhale those fumes.
One more thing – despite being very affordable (usually costing no more than two or three bucks), acrylic grinders are almost universally 2-piece. This means that you won’t be able to collect kief. If you’re getting it as a freebie with your vaporizer purchase, that’s great, but I wouldn’t go actively looking for an acrylic dry herb grinder. When all is said, it pays off to invest in a nice 4-piece device and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.
Most high-end herb grinders are made from metal, and while they cost slightly more, they are your safest bet when it comes to performance and durability. The metal in question is usually aluminium, although there are some titanium grinders out there. Keep in mind that a grinder made entirely out of titanium would cost quite a lot, so those advertised as titanium are, in most cases, simply titanium-coated.
Metal weed grinders come in all shapes and sizes, and if you’re buying a 4-piece one, you can bet your life that it will be made out of metal. There were some controversies about aluminium grinders in the past, but these have mostly been debunked. Their use is perfectly safe (since aluminium has a very high melting point), so if you get any aluminium shavings on the grinder, simply brush them off and continue using the device.
Importance of Grinder Teeth and the Hole Pattern
The most important bit of every grinder are its teeth. The best ones out there (medium size, around 2.5 inches) will have around 50 teeth evenly distributed between the lid and the top compartment. If you’re buying on the cheap end, don’t go below half that number of teeth – you just won’t get any consistency and the pieces will almost always be too big for a vaporizer chamber. When talking about the shape of the teeth, the best would be diamond, which is not something you will see on wooden grinders. The diamond shape gives you the best cut, but this can be compensated for if there’s a lot of them (for example, square teeth can be great if there’s 50+ of them).
As for the holes in the top compartment, what you’re looking for are small round openings at the bottom. Remember, the smaller the holes, the finer the end results, which is almost always a plus. Some manufacturers use oval or square holes, but, overall, I find that those perform slightly poorer when compared to nice, round holes.
Optional Extras and Things To Look Out For
As with everything, you get what you pay for. High-end grinders can have some extras built in that range from additional equipment to design features. Here’s a couple of those you can keep an eye out for when looking for your ideal device.
Almost all metal grinders come with a magnetized lid and a magnetized top compartment. This prevents accidental spills and allows for more carefree grinding. Better manufacturers will make sure that the magnets are secure – if you’re buying at the cheap end, you will notice that sometimes those magnets tend to come off.
Making sure that you get a 4-piece grinder with a removable screen mesh can be very beneficial. First of all, it makes it easier to clean, but that’s not all. If the screen is removable, there’s nothing stopping you from simply taking it out when needed to ensure that you have plenty of storage space by combining the second and the third compartments.
Grinders are round and are pretty hard to grip, especially when they are made of metal. That’s why some companies are now machining small graspable areas on the bottom. These are there to ensure that the device doesn’t slip out of your hand, spilling the contents all over the floor.
A dedicated pollen scraper is a great addition to every grinder purchase. These small plastic objects make scraping kief a breeze. However, they are not completely essential, which is a good thing because losing them is easy. You can always replace them with a small plastic spoon that you get when ordering ice cream in a cup.
How to Clean Your Weed Grinder
You might think that there’s nothing to cleaning a weed grinder. You’d be sorely mistaken. Due to the nature of the beast (marijuana), things can get pretty sticky, pretty fast. Here’s how you can ensure that your dry herb grinder is always up to snuff and smelling of roses.
- Empty the grinder completely (preferably on a piece of paper if there’s everything useful in it at the time).
- Put all the pieces in the freeze. The cold will solidify the residue and make it easier to dislodge.
- Use a small toothbrush to clean the insides of the compartment, as well as the mesh. Be careful not to scrub too vigorously or you could damage the mesh.
- Use a toothpick to dislodge the caked residue from those little nooks and crannies.
- If the grinder is still not clean enough for you, put it in boiling water for 10 minutes (obviously, do this only if the grinder is made entirely out of metal). Repeat the toothbrush procedure.
- If all else fails, try a bit of rubbing alcohol. Use a soaked Q-tip to clean the teeth and the insides of the compartments.
- Rinse the pieces and wipe them. Let them sit on a paper towel until completely dry.
Generally speaking, a bit of rubbing alcohol will do wonders to get the sticky residue out of a herb grinder. Just use common sense – it might not be the best solution for grinders made out of wood. Also, if the manufacturer was kind enough to include a manual, consult it before cleaning.
Finding The Best Weed Grinder Has Never Been Easier
There you have it – everything you need to know in order to buy the best dry herb grinder out there! It’s not that difficult, right? Remember, affordability is great, but for best performance, you will want to stick with metal.
What kind of a grinder are you using right now? Would you recommend it to others? Sharing is caring so drop down to the comment section and let us all know.