What is a cannabis grinder?
What is a grinder for cannabis?
A grinder is a tool used to break down cannabis into small bits so they are a similar size and consistency. Weed 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 weed grinders
Grinders are usually circular, resembling a puck, so they can be rotated to break down weed (as in the image above).
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 a variety of sizes, usually from 2” in diameter to 6”. 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 nugs in one load and can have more leverage, making it easier to break down any amount of nugs, but they aren’t as portable.
The most common type of grinder is a four-piece metal grinder. The four pieces are:
- Lid—has teeth for grinding
- Grind section—has teeth for grinding and holes for weed to fall through
- Storage chamber—collects and stores weed and has a screen to filter kief
- Kief catcher—where kief is collected
Other types of weed grinders
Grinders can also come in two-, three-, and five-piece versions. Two- and three-piece types don’t have kief catchers and gum up easier because the kief isn’t separated out. Five-piece grinders either have two storage chambers or two kief catchers.
How to use a marijuana grinder
To use a common four-piece grinder:
- Place nugs in the teeth of the grinder, between the lid and grinder section. Don’t put any bud in the center, as this is where the magnet pivots. Leave out any seeds and stems.
- Grind down the nugs 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 weed, and then use it to pack a bowl or for rolling.
The screen in the storage chamber holds in the ground cannabis, allowing kief to fall into the kief catcher, at the bottom.
Kief can be scooped out and added to the top of bowls, pressed into hash, or infused into butter or oil. Some grinders come with a scraping tool, which makes it easier to get kief out of the catcher.
You can also put a weight in the kief catcher to knock resin off the screen and into the kief catcher. A clean penny or nickel will work.
You can also store weed for later in the storage chamber.
How to clean a sticky grinder
You’ll need to clean your grinder every so often because it will become sticky with kiefy 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 kief from the screen.
You can also put your grinder in the freezer, which makes it easier to pick kief 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 cannabis 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
Keep in mind that weed is very sticky and whatever you use to break up weed will also get sticky. We recommend not using anything that’s nice or that you don’t want to smell like weed. Cheese graters and coffee grinders in particular can be hard to clean of resin.
Bailey Rahn, Patrick Bennett, and Pat Goggins contributed to this article.
Read more of Leafly’s guide to smoking marijuana
- How to smoke weed
- What’s the difference between joints, blunts, and spliffs?
- What is a pre-roll?
- How to roll a joint
- How to roll a blunt
- How to roll a crutch for your joint or spliff
- What is a cannabis grinder?
- How to clean glass bongs and pipes
- How to pack and smoke a bowl of weed
- What is a one-hitter pipe?
- How to make an apple pipe
- Anatomy of a bong
- What is a gravity bong and how do you make one?
- Need a light? 4 alternatives to using a lighter
- What is kief and how can you use it?
- What are moon rocks and how do you smoke them?
- What is hotboxing with cannabis and does it work?
- Sploofs 101: How to reduce smell when smoking cannabis