What is a grinder?
A grinder is a device made to grind herbs and spices into small bits. It can be used for grinding kitchen herbs, but it is more widely used to grind marijuana buds into smaller sized particles. A typical grinder consists of two halves that can be separated and have sharp teeth or pegs aligned in such a way that when both halves are turned, material placed inside is effectively shredded.
Grinders come in many different shapes and sizes, but a round cylindrical shape is most common. Grinders are available in various types of materials, such as wood, metal, acrylic or aluminium. Even titanium grinders can be found.
Most important when looking at the durability and strength of a grinder, is the construction and material of the teeth and the way they are attached to the base. Plastic grinders are often not very durable and the teeth can break easily when the herb placed inside is too compressed or contains stems or chalks. Aluminium or metal is the preferred material when looking to purchase a durable grinder that will last for years.
The larger the grinder, the more ground material can be acquired at a time. Hence a larger grinder will also weigh more, and thus may not be as suitable for carrying it in your pocket. Some grinders will have a magnet that connects the two parts and keeps them in place. This also allows for better grinding movement, as both halves will remain in the exact same place.
A grinder that consists of two or more compartments with a fine screen separating the bottom from the top on one half is called a pollinator grinder. When used for grinding marijuana buds this type of grinder allows for the grinder to collect trichomes -the most potent particles found in marijuana- in the compartment underneath the fine screen.
When sufficient trichomes have been collected, this material can be taken out and used in a pollen press to make hash or one can choose to ingest the pollen without pressing them.
Some pollinators come with different sized meshes, in order to collect hash powder of different grades. When using a regular type grinder, these small particles will stick to the bottom and teeth of the grinder instead.
It is advised to clean the filter screen on regular basis, use a soft bristle to wipe out any particles that are stuck to the screen. This will increase the rate of pollen accumulation.
Usage and maintenance
The material to be ground needs to be dry enough; damp or wet marijuana, for instance, is more difficult to grind into small pieces. Stems and seeds should be removed before placing herb in the grinder as they will cause a joint to burn unevenly. Stems can also cause the teeth of cheaper, acrylic grinders to break off.
1) The top and bottom are separated, and marijuana (or herb) is placed in between the teeth.
2) Now the top and bottom are placed together and the two parts are twisted in opposite direction. The more time spent grinding, the finer the particles will be.
3) Pick up one part of the grinder: the herb is now ground and ready for usage.
After some time there will likely be some build-up of resin and trichomes that are stuck to the teeth and bottom of your grinder. An easy way to clean this is to brush off the crystals by applying a small bristle or hard tipped paint brush. This will not only increase the effectiveness of your grinder, you’ll also have a nice little bonus as a reward for your diligent cleaning.
Should your grinder still be full of sticky resin, then it might be wise to clean it more thoroughly. Soaking it in rubbing/ISO alcohol works well for cleaning an aluminium grinder, use hot water and organic cleaning products when cleaning an acrylic or wood grinder. Always let all parts dry up (the alcohol needs to evaporate) completely before closing and using the grinder again. Commercially available biologically recyclable grinder cleaning fluid also does a good job of cleaning both aluminium and acrylic grinders.
This article is based on the following pages:
Our selection of grinders