Ahhh, the marijuana grinder. The essential smoking accessory that is simple, effective and yet oddly under the radar even though they get so much use. Flower fanatics the world over know that this relatively basic device can be critical to getting the best smoke out of those beautiful buds. And if you're making edibles at home or adding cannabis to your meal, a grinder will facilitate the process of cutting up your weed so it's ready for cooking or baking. Luckily for us, cannabis grinders are ubiquitous these days and readily available at your trusted local marijuana dispensary, your favorite head shop or online.
Not surprisingly, there are several types of grinders. The basic grinder has one compartment. The weed is ground and sifted within that single compartment. A two-compartment grinder allows the weed to be sifted into a second storage zone. The most common type of grinder is a four-piece gadget with three compartments. You've got the grinding chamber, the collection chamber and a third chamber that contains a special small sifting screen and collects the kief. Grinders are usually made out of some type metal but there are wooden versions available as well. Just be aware that while they might be nice on the eye, wooden grinders tend not to work so well when it comes to the prescribed task of actually grinding the cannabis. Note that the best grinders have teeth or pegs made of high-grade anodized aluminum, stainless steel or titanium.
Let's say you're working with a four-piece grinder. There is the lid, the grinder section featuring diamond-shaped teeth that shred marijuana buds into finely ground weed, the weed collection chamber, and the screened bottom chamber. Simply remove the lid, place some sticky buds (without the stems) on the grinder, replace the lid, then rotate it back and forth several times until you feel less friction and you're satisfied that the buds have been transformed into a uniform sprinkle in the collection chamber. Your pot grinder is now filled with cannabis that will ease and improve your smoking session in a variety of ways.
Packing a bowl? Flame, heat and oxygen will move easily through the ground weed. The high heat will provide a stronger hit. No thick nuggets are going to stifle the flow of the flame throughout your pipe. No leaf matter will be scorched and the taste of your strain will not be altered or destroyed. Your hits will be smooth, steady and tasty.
Rolling a joint? The ground marijuana means that the spliff will burn evenly and not get caught up on any disruptive lumps, chunks or stems.
Hitting a vaporizer? The fine grind will allow the vaporizing hot air to reach more cannabinoids and terpenes.
And what about that delightful dust hanging out under its protective screen in the bottom chamber? That's kief. It's made up of trichomes that contain the highest levels of THC. It's the tasty pollen that resides on the top of your buds. Instead of losing a bunch of the priceless sticky substance to your fingers and hands when you break up flower, it's all collected conveniently in the bottom of the grinder to enjoy as you see fit. You can add it to your bowl or joint for a nice punch, smoke it on its own for a strong smack of flavor or use it to make hashish.
The point of the grinder is to shred sticky weed down into a more manageable form. Obviously, since you're dealing with a sticky substance, with enough use your grinder will inevitably get gummy. Not to worry. There are several simple ways to keep your kief catcher clean. The easiest way to clean a grinder involves standard over the counter isopropyl rubbing alcohol (70% or higher works the best). Take your grinder apart and soak each piece in the alcohol for at least a few hours - overnight if possible. Remove each piece from the alcohol and scrub with a toothbrush. Be sure to concentrate on the grinding teeth and the tiny grooves on the grinder. Use a rag or cotton balls if necessary. Once the grinder is free from any tiny bits of sticky goo, be sure to rinse it thoroughly with warm water to remove any traces of alcohol. Dry carefully and let stand to remove all the moisture.
There are a few things to consider when purchasing a grinder. Cannabis grinders range from cheap plastic throwaways to $1,500 gold-plated wonders. Seriously. While it's tough to justify something that luxurious, you don't want to treat your grinder as an afterthought, either. A little investment can provide a huge return when it comes to enjoying your smoke. The next time you're at the dispensary take a few minutes to try out a selection of grinders to find the one that will best suit your needs. A larger grinder (3" - 4") might be best for parties and gatherings. Stick to a 2" model if you are used to smoking alone or in smaller quantities.
Let's take a look at a few reasonable grinder options that fall in the $30 - $120 range.
Do you use a grinder with your flower? What's your favorite model? Let us know in the comment section below.