A grinder is a tool used to break down dry herb into small bits so they are a similar size and consistency. Dry herb is commonly ground down for rolling joints, blunts, and spliffs, but can also be done for packing bowls in pipes and bongs for a smoother, more consistent burn.
Types of dry herb grinders
Grinders are usually circular, resembling a puck, so they can be rotated to break down dry herb.
They can be made out of a variety of materials:
Metal : expensive, but durable.
Plastic : cheap, but breaks easily.
Wood : usually more attractive, but hard to clean.
Grinders also come in different sizes, usually ranging from 30cm in diameter to 100cm. With a small grinder, you’ll have to do multiple loads to break down a nug, but they are portable and easy to throw in a backpack.
Bigger grinders can break down more herbs in one load and have more leverage, making it easier to break down any amount of herbs, but they aren’t as portable.
The most common type of grinder is a four-piece metal grinder. The four pieces are:
- Lid with teeth for grinding.
- Grind section : this has teeth for grinding and holes for dry herb to fall through
- Storage chamber : this third compartment of the grinder collects and stores dry herb and has a screen to filter fine herb.
- Fine herb catcher : where fine herb is collected
- Other types of dry herb grinders
- Grinders can also come in 2pcs, 3pcs, 4pcs and 5pcs versions. Two and three piece types don’t have fine herb catchers and gum up easier because the fine herb isn’t separated out.
- Five-piece grinders either have two storage chambers or two fine herb catchers.
Place dry herb in the teeth of the grinder, between the lid and grinder section; avoid the centre, as this is where the magnet pivots, and leave out any seeds and stems.
Grind down the dry herb with about 10 rotations until all the bud has fallen through the holes into the storage chamber there will be some resistance at first, and then it will twist smoothly.
Unscrew the grinder section and storage chamber to get your ground up dry herb, and then use it to pack a bowl or for rolling.
The screen in the third compartment or storage chamber holds in the ground dry herb, allowing fine herb to fall into the fine herb catcher, at the bottom.
You can also store dry herb for later in the storage chamber.
How to collect fine herb
Fine herb can be scooped out and added to the top of bowls, pressed into hash, or infused into butter or oil.
The best way to scrape fine herb out of a grinder is to use a fine herb scraper—this tool looks like a tiny putty knife, about the size of a fingernail.
You can also put a weight in the fine herb catcher to knock resin off the screen and into the fine herb catcher. A clean penny or nickel will work.
How to clean a sticky dry herb grinder
You’ll need to clean your grinder every so often because it will become sticky with fine herb resin and be difficult to rotate. To clean:
Rub the sticky parts with a solution of isopropyl alcohol and salt
Use a small brush, e.g., a stiff-bristled paintbrush, a toothbrush, or a clean beard brush, to knock loose fine herb from the screen
You can also put your grinder in the freezer, which makes it easier to pick fine herb off.
For irredeemably sticky grinders, sometimes it’s best to replace the grinder altogether, especially if it’s a cheap one.
How to break up dry herb if you don’t have a grinder.
If you don’t have a grinder handy or if it’s too gummed up, try one of these methods to break down your herb:
- Knife and cutting board
- Cheese grater
- Coffee grinder
A coffee grinder is a great way to finely grind dry herb without using a grinder, especially if you’re grinding up lots of dry herb.
Keep in mind that dry herb is very sticky and whatever you use to break up dry herb will also get sticky. We recommend not using anything that’s nice or that you don’t want to smell like dry herb. Also, cheese graters and coffee grinders in particular can be hard to clean of resin.