The Definitive Guide to Herb Grinders [Updated for 2022]
Whether you have experience with weed grinders and are looking to learn more or are completely new to this topic, this guide was written for you.
Although there are other guides available online that cover this topic, we thought necessary to compile our experience into one place and to spend time discussing the differences between hand grinders and electric grinders.
Herbs should be enjoyed: after all, their entire purpose is to improve the taste, aroma, and appearance to whatever they are added to. Herbs are meant to increase pleasure, and so it only makes sense to have the right tools available to make the most out of your herbal enjoyment.
The Ultimate Guide to Weed Grinders in 2021
Welcome, let’s get to it and learn about weed grinders! Here are the sections that we’ll cover:
- What is a Cannabis grinder?
- That is a grinder used for?
- The different types of grinders
- More types of grinders
- How to use an herb grinder
- How to grind herb with a grinder
- Our thoughts on the best grinder to buy
- How to make a grinder
- How to clean your grinder
- When to get a new grinder
- How fine you should grind your weed
- Why grinding your weed is important
- The history of marijuana grinders
What is a Cannabis Grinder?
Herb grinders are devices that, well, grind herbs. The basic way they work is this:
- You put dried herb/cannabis into the grinder, and;
- Through it’s grinding mechanism, the grinder shreds and cuts the herb to reduce it into smaller particles.
These fantastic little machines, built from a variety of different materials, are able to change different herbs and plant material from large, full-sized pieces into smaller pieces better suited for whatever you want to use your herbs.
Why grind your herbs?
To get flavour out of herbs, their surface area needs to be increased to expose the flavour. This is what a grinder does, and it allows for herbs to release their flavour and aroma.
So why not just buy pre-ground weed? FRESHNESS
Over time, dried bud can become stale. The more broken apart the buds are, the quicker this process occurs. Pre-ground herbs were likely ground a long time ago, and much of their flavour and value has been lost to the time between grinding and final use.
To preserve the positive qualities of your weed, it is best to keep them intact until they are needed. Then, a grinder can be used to prepare them for your planned activity.
If you are using a vaporizer to enjoy the herb, achieving a consistent, fine grind is essential for the vaporizer to do its job, so in such a situation a grinder is a must-have item.
What is a Grinder Used for?
Grinders are used for grinding (no way!)
Well, there is a bit more to it than that. Plants, like marijuana, that are used for their medicinal and pleasure-inducing properties are often not enjoyed in their natural state. The greatest effects from cannabis aren’t obtained from eating the raw plant material: some processing is required. By drying the pot, it lasts longer and is able to be smoked, and grinding allows for more surface area for a stronger, more even burn which releases more of the effects of the plant.
Cannabis grinders, marijuana grinders, bud grinders: these terms all refer to grinders for marijuana that are specifically designed for this plant. Bud grinders may be further specialized to allow for the grinding of the bud. The main point here is that grinders for marijuana are all designed to process the marijuana into a format that is suitable for use. There are different types of these grinders that product grinds that are suitable for different uses like edibles, smoking, or vaporizers.
The Different Types of Herb Grinders
Large vs. Small Weed Grinders
Let’s start by addressing the size of the grinder you want, and instead of getting overly technical we’ll just talk in terms of large and small.
First, let us be clear that we aren’t going to be describing commercial-grade grinders. Pharmaceutical companies and businesses that grind weed for their customers may use grinders large enough to grind many ounces of product at a time, and industrial versions of these machines are even bigger. Since this article focuses on grinders for the average users, we’ll limit our use of the term “large” to weed grinders able to produce enough grind for a few joints or a few users in a single grind.
If you are only the occasional user of a grinder or new to grinding entirely, a small grinder may be best. These grinders are suitable for a single bud or very small amount of material, and are also frequently quite compact. They usually don’t offer much in terms of storage for your ground weed.
Large weed grinders can normally handle a few buds or flowers in a single grind, and grinders like the Mamba V2 which dispense the grind while the grinder is in operation allow for this large amount to be dispensed on an as-needed basis. These sorts of grinders offer the one-dose-at-a-time benefits of a small grinder while still providing the user with a large grinding capacity. Other large weed grinders with separate plates that must be opened up to dispense the weed are a bit messier and physically larger, so they may be more than a single user needs.
Most people reading this article are likely familiar with a hand grinder. These simple, hand-operated devices contain teeth on plates that grind herbs by being rotated against each other.
Hand grinders come in a variety of materials: most common are metals such as aluminum, and hard plastics like acrylic. There are even wooden ones on the market.
When selecting a hand grinder, it is best to go with metal, even though they will likely cost more, because the strong teeth will last for many more grinds than any other material.
Although fairly simple in design, hand grinders often contain magnets to help the ends stay together while grinding and many units have multiple chambers to allow the user to filter the ground herbs into multiple sizes.
Advantages of hand grinders are often lower price (although the cheapest hand grinders will fail quickly, so you’ll end up spending more eventually) and simplicity. They are also fairly portable, and there are a lot of different options whether buying online or from a store.
They are not without their disadvantages, though.
Hand grinders are slow to use and require both hands, so after a big grinding job you may feel sore and if you have health concerns related to their operation (arthritis, tendonitis, etc), they may not be an option for you at all.
They can also be inconsistent in the grind they produce if they are low quality, and their seals and magnets can fail.
Finally, units with multiple chambers are difficult to clean, so be prepared to spend the time in their care and maintenance.
Some grinders are simply novelties and not really up to the task of grinding. They may be decorative or made out of weak materials, and while they can make nice ornaments or gifts, they are not suited for use in herb grinding because they will ultimately prove unreliable.
Hint: if you’ve found a nice-looking plastic grinder that is a fraction of the price of the competition, it WILL eventually let you down.
Electric grinders really are the way to go, and are quickly becoming the standard go-to device for ripping up herbs.
In its simplest form, an electric grinder uses an electric motor and power source to power a mechanism similar in design to a hand grinder.
Electric grinders solve a lot of the issues with hand grinders:
- They take the effort out of grinding.
- They speed up the process (some, like the Mamba, are up to 20 times faster than hand grinders).
- And the right electric grinders can be operated with one hand, making the process of grinding the herb and then applying it simpler and cleaner than what any hand grinder can do.
Of all the electric grinders available, one of the best on the market is the Mamba Electric Grinder: it uses aluminium teeth for durability and allows for ergonomic one-handed operation.
More Types of Grinders
Although we just finished describing the different types of grinders, this section will briefly describe some other specific types of grinders that you may have heard of or may start to hear about if you’re doing lots of reading about grinders. While the section above does a good job talking about the main categories of grinders, there are many other specialty types and this guide just wouldn’t be complete without us talking about them too.
Dry Herb Grinder
Some grinders are designed specifically for dry herbs. These are most often cheaper in design, as dry herbs are easier to crush and shred. Dense weed buds, for example, that contain some moisture and oil are more difficult to grind than plant material that is completely dry. For this reason, dry herb grinders are likely lighter-duty and not as versatile as an all-purpose grinder.
Marijuana buds are often what a grinder is purchased for, and this sort of grinder needs to be strong enough to shred the bud. The bud contains oils and some moisture, and is also dense. Due to these properties, bud grinders must be strong, durable, and able to load the large bud particles without clogging.
Tobacco grinders are, well, grinders made for tobacco. While likely not as common as they would have been back when people rolled their own tobacco smokes from large leaf pieces, these grinders still exist for those interested in grinding their own tobacco leaf. Tobacco is an oily plant, and for those looking to enjoy a pipe or cigar, it is not best to have the tobacco completely dry but rather slightly damp. This, along with the large size of tobacco leaf pieces, makes it important that any grinder meant for tobacco be designed specially for the task.
Herb grinders can refer to a variety of products, but most often means a grinder that is able to grind a variety of plant material. Due to legality issues in different countries, words referring to marijuana like weed, bud, and dope are not able to be used by a manufacturer so herb grinder also often refers to a grinder that is meant to grind marijuana. Since it is a generic, broad term, herb grinders may refer to a large number of different types of grinders.
Power Drill Grinder
Some innovative grinders can be used with a separate power drill like an electric drill or electric screwdriver. For example, the Mamba Masher allows for manual hand grinding but can be connected to a power drill for easier, faster grinding.
These types of grinders aren’t particularly common, but can be considered a nice bridge between the world of electric grinders and hand grinders. As the grinder it meant to be connected to a power source like a drill, these grinders should be made to a high standard.
These types of grinders contain multiple sections for different parts of the grind, and can often separate grinds out by size. A marijuana grinder with 4 pieces typically contain the standard alternating grinding plates with teeth, a screen that filters grind by size, and a separate compartment that specifically catches kief.
Weed grinders are grinders that are specifically designed and marketed for marijuana. These grinders may also work on other plants, but are most often used for weed. Like herb grinder, this is sort of a blanket term (for example, a weed grinder could be a simple 2-piece acrylic hand grinder, or a high-quality aluminium electric grinder offering one-handed operation).
Titanium grinders are any sort of grinder where the main grinding parts - the cutting teeth and plates - are made out of titanium, although the rest of the device may be as well. These grinders, like aluminium, are lightweight and strong, and certainly beat out the plastic competition in terms of durability. However, they are often very expensive and don’t offer any great advantages over aluminium grinders.
Like the section above on titanium grinders, aluminium grinders have their grinding plates and teeth made out of aluminium. These grinders are lightweight and durable, and also significantly cheaper than titanium while offering all of the same advantages of titanium.
There have been some false claims about aluminium grinders potentially leading to health problems from aluminium shavings, but this isn’t actually the case.
Aluminium is a safe material for grinders, and because it naturally oxidizes to protect itself from further corrosion, it does not degrade over time. As the aluminium is stronger than the material it is grinding, shavings are not produced during operation and since it is a best practice to wash a grinder before its first use, shavings from the manufacturing process would be addressed here and titanium or any other new grinder would pose the same concerns. It is worth addressing these false claims here since otherwise a person may spend a lot of extra money for materials like titanium when aluminium is perfect for their intended use.
Handheld Electric Grinders
There are many different grinder models on the market which use an electric motor to provide the power to the grinder. Some are meant to stand up on a table and dispense their grind into rolling papers or other containers. Other units may even be meant to act as standalone appliances.
Handheld electric grinders are becoming the most popular grinders available today. This is because electric technology has allowed designers to make grinders light and small enough to be held comfortably while still providing the power necessary to deliver consistent, high-volume grinds.
When shopping for a handheld grinder, pay attention to the style and method of operation of the grinder. Some units, like the Mamba electric grinder, allow for the user to load and operate the grinder all with one hand. Other units will require both hands at some point in the grinding process.
Finally, look at how the grinder dispenses herbs. An advantage of the Mamba V1 and V2 grinders is that they dispense automatically while they are grinding and then, when they are turned off, they stop dispensing and can act as short-term herb storage, pre-loaded for the next grinding session.
Electric Dry Herb Grinders
When reading up on grinders, you may find that you come across some grinders which are specifically described as electric dry herb grinders. While many grinders can grind a variety of herbs with varying degrees of humidity, dry herb grinders are optimized for very dry herbs.
But first, let us talk a bit about herb dryness.
Tobacco smokers who enjoy smoking pipes and cigars are often highly aware of the humidity at which they store their tobacco. Dry tobacco burns faster and hotter, while overly-damp tobacco will not burn at all and runs the risk of becoming damaged over time by the moisture.
All herbs start as plants and plants are mostly water. Before most herbs are enjoyed and almost certainly before they are stored, they must be dried. Depending on how dry they are, different grinders produce different results.
Some herbs are meant to be enjoyed while partially damp and others, like many types of tea, are stored in a completely dried-out form.
Grinding Dry Herbs
A grinder for dry herbs is good at grinding without reducing the herb to powder. Many grinders meant for slightly damp herbs like tobacco can do serious damage to dry herbs.
Dry herbs are easier to grind, so large teeth with space between them are best so that the herb is not pulverised beyond use. Electric dry herb grinders like the Mamba V1 and V2 work for dry herbs due to the consistency grinding speed and ample room in the grinder; these grinders also work well for damp herbs too so no matter what you have to grind, a Mamba will do the trick.
How to Use an Herb Grinder
Herb grinders work by catching and then tearing plant material between teeth moving in opposing directions from each other. This is the basic action that produces the grind.
Most hand grinders are composed of plates with teeth that can be taken apart. When apart, an herb can be loaded into the teeth and then the plates put back together. When the ends of the grinder are turned by hand, the teeth grind the herb.
Some of these grinders have multiple compartments and screens that allow the ground herb to be separated by size. Once grinding is complete, the grinder has to be taken apart for the ground herbs to be dumped out.
Electric grinders typically use the same basic method as hand grinder to grind the herb, and the major difference is that the rotating action of the plates is powered by an electric motor.
To load these units, the plates are separated, herb is loaded, the plates are put back together, and the grinder is turned on to produce the grind.
An advantage of electric grinders is that the grinding teeth compartment is often combined with a screen and dispensing mechanism that allows fully-ground herb to fall through into whatever container you are using to catch the grind. This helps ensure the grind is consistent: large pieces remain in the grind until they are shredded to the right size, and material that is ground leaves the grinder instead of remaining inside to potentially clog the grinder.
Due to their electric operation, these types of grinders can often be combined with ergonomic controls that allow for one-handed operation, which makes grinding simpler.
Some also have special compartments for loading your herbs, and if this is the case grinding is made even easier and cleaner.
It is worth noting that all these positive features of electric grinders are included in the Mamba V1 battery-powered grinder.
How to Grind Herb with a Grinder
And now, a quick and dirty explanation of how to use a grinder for those interested in getting down to the grind!
- Clean grinder if not already clean.
- Load weed into separated plates, making sure that no material will damage or constrict the grinder’s seals.
- Put plates together, and then turn the grinder until desired grind is obtained. It may be necessary to open the grinder throughout grinding to see how much more is needed to get to the consistency you want.
- Carefully open your grinder and dump the contents into a container. Since these grinders can be messy, it may be best to have something to catch stray material, such as a paper funnel.
- Clear and dry grinder prior to storing.
- Open grinder loading compartment and load herbs.
- With the dispensing end of your grinder over your container of choice, turn on the grinder and let it operate until all herbs are ground.
- Clean and dry grinder prior to storing.
So, What is the Best Weed Grinder to Buy?
This article is a simple guide to herb grinders, but given the extensive thoughts and experience that went into writing it, we feel it is necessary to offer our humble opinion on which are the best grinders to buy.
First, the biggest debate is whether or not to go with an electric or hand-operated grinder.
Let us be clear here: we believe that electric grinders are the way to go.
There have been so many advances in electrical technology, batteries, and grinding mechanisms that it is safe to say these grinders have surpassed hand-grinders in every way.
Some may prefer hand grinders due to their simplicity, reliability, and portability, but there are electric grinders that now satisfy these criteria as well.
Simply put, a high-quality electric grinder is capable of outlasting reputable hand grinders, and with new battery technology, they are just as portable and versatile.
Which electric grinder to buy?
There are many great options out there. We recommend the Mamba electric grinder, though, because it checks the box for every advantage that electric grinders have: it is stylish, portable, high-quality, fast, durable, battery-operated, and is easy to use with its ergonomic one-handed design.
It is fun to buy different units to play around with grinds and see which you prefer, but if you want to get your purchase right the first time, we say go with a Mamba.
How to Make a Grinder
Now that we have described the many types of commercially-available grinders on the market and stated our preference, we want to pay some attention to the DIY and home-made solutions that are also available for a motivated and possibly broke individual. After all, grinding herbs can be accomplished without investing in a high-quality grinder, so we don’t want to pretend that these solutions don’t exist and instead will describe some of them here.
Using What You Already Have
Do you have a cheese grater? Do you have a coffee grinder? What about a shot glass and some scissors? What about your fingers?
These are some of the alternatives to weed and herb grinders that you may have at your disposal already. A cheese grater, if you are careful, can be used to shred herbs. If you’re doing this, you’ll need to be careful to keep your fingers away from the grater. In fact, we don’t recommend this method at all for safety reasons, but since we know some people are doing this we did want to mention it.
A coffee grinder can act as a quick but crude herb grinder. While it may be fast, you will lose product on the inside of the machine and the blades will damage the herb and not give a consistent grind, but in a pinch this can be a relatively fast way to grind up some product.
Some people swear by the old school methods of putting buds in a shot glass and cutting them up with scissors. Others just want to grind by hand. If you need to grind and don’t have any special tools available, these are methods that can get you by. However, it should go without saying that none of these methods will produce a great grind or a fast grind.
Making Your Own Hand Grinder
In our article about the history of the herb grinder, we discuss the first patented grinder. If you go and look at this early device, you can easily see that a weed grinder can be made out of any container with spikes that rotate with the lid between other spikes rotating in the opposite direction with the baseplate, causing herbs caught between them to become shredded. This is basic principle behind all weed grinders.
If you have a cylindrical container about the same size as a typical hand grinder, you can add pins or nails to each side to act like the teeth in a professionally-made grinder. Short nails or pins can be pushed through each side of the container, and then when the lid is turned in the opposite direction as the container, the pins will shred your herbs.
This is easier said than done, though. It takes some care and consideration to align the pins in such a way that they don’t hit each other and also come close enough to each other to adequately shred the weed. Plus, the material of the container may not be strong and dense enough to hold the pins in place during grinding, and the pins can easily become dislodged. This can mean that a seemingly well-made DIY grinder looks like it will work when you test it without herbs, but once you add product it falls apart.
Benefits of a Professionally-Made Grinder
It is a great idea to learn how to, when you’re in a bind, grind your weed without a store-bought grinder available. After all, you may need these skills at some point and even if you don’t, they make for cool party tricks.
However, while we wanted to discuss the DIY-options available to you, let’s be clear: we don’t recommend any of them over something professionally-made, despite the potential savings. A quality manufacturer has taken the simple idea behind weed grinding and used their expertise and quality control measures to build a reliable product, something which is very hard to match at home.
Take the Mamba V2 electric grinder, for example. It has an aluminium grinding apparatus, a metal gear train, and powerful electric motor all optimized for weed and herb grinding. For easy one-handed operation, it is ergonomically designed. It even has an internal battery for recharging from different sources. While you may be able to make your own hand grinder at home, the advancements that have been made in grinding technology are worth checking out even for the most old-school finger shredder.
Cleaning Your Weed Grinder
Cleaning your weed grinder is an extremely important part of the grinding experience. While not necessarily part of the grinding process itself, when you’re shopping for a grinder you should keep ease of cleaning in mind because cleaning a grinder is a must.
After you first buy your grinder, it will need a thorough cleaning prior to the first use. The manufacturing and shipping process can leave unwanted residues inside the grinder, and you do not want this sort of material in your grind. Then, as you start using your grinder, you’ll need to get into the habit of cleaning it periodically so that you don’t mix your fresh product with stale residue. Also, if you live in a humid climate you may have to clean even more often so that the grinder doesn’t develop mould.
Our in-depth cleaning guide for weed grinders can provide you with even more options including specific techniques, so be sure to give it a read.
Signs You Need a New Herb Grinder
Another thing you will want to know about when you are researching herb grinders is how to tell when a particular used grinder is past its prime.
Grinders are mechanical devices, and with enough time and use, they will wear out. Depending on the materials and build quality, the lifespan of different grinders varies substantially. It goes without saying that you will want to purchase high-quality units and for more information we recommend you check out this article’s section on different grinder types because it talks about different construction materials and methods.
Inconsistent grinding or complete absence of effective grinding are the most obvious signs and symptoms of a grinder that needs to be replaced. This is regardless of whether or not the grinder is electric. For electric grinders, poor battery performance or a weak motor are indicators that the grinder is in need of replacement.
This topic is more complicated than is best suited for this section, so we have written a complete standalone article on the subject; check it out for more information about when to get a new grinder.
How Fine You Should Grind Your Weed
When it comes to grinding any sort of herb, the texture and consistency of the grind matters. Different herbs require different grinds, so depending on what you plan on grinding you’ll need to consider texture in your grinder purchase.
Weed needs a specific fineness in its grind in order for it to be vaporized and smoked effectively. The Mamba V2 grinder, for example, is designed to produce a perfect marijuana grind ready immediately for bongs, vapes, and joints. And it isn’t just a matter of the finest texture wins: grind too much and the grind is ruined. And on the opposite side of things, an overly-coarse texture will not burn evenly.
Why Grinding Your Weed Is Important
We have an entire article that talks about the importance of grinding your weed and other herbs. If you’ve read up to this point in this article about weed grinders, you likely already understand why. However, there are those new to the activity that don’t know all the ins and outs of weed grinding, so we have a great article which explains why grinding weed is important.
Did you know that different textures of grinding burn differently? That a coarse grind and a fine grind can produce different levels of THC in each inhale? This sort of information is often taken for granted by an experienced user, but those just considering trying cannabis may not know everything necessary to make informed purchasing decisions.
Many countries are new to the scene when it comes to legalized cannabis use, and there are other countries that may be on the verge of legalizing the drug. Many people may be getting into recreational marijuana use in the near future, so we decided to discuss the reasons behind weed grinding in an entire article.
The History of Marijuana Grinders
Did you know that the first herb grinder was patented in 1905? This is the first recorded instance of a device that looks like the modern hand grinder. However, there is more to the history of these magical little machines than you might think.
As long as people have been using herbs for their medicinal properties, they have been drying, cutting, and processing them in ways to improve storage and the herbs’ effects. While not necessary to understand what makes a great grinder, learning a little bit about the history of grinders can add to your appreciation of these devices and also provide you with some reading material for your next joint.
We hope you enjoyed our Definitive 2021 Guide to Herb Grinders.
There is a lot of information out there, so we hope this makes your search for the perfect herbal grinder simpler. We have tried our best to provide quality content for cannabis users and herbal enthusiasts, so refer back here when you need some more information!
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