In the course of every cannabis consumers journey, the question of what grinder to use comes up. Are they even needed? Is it worth it to buy a high end model? Which one is best? There seems to be an infinite supply of identical products on the internet that come in a wild range of prices making the choice even more overwhelming.
The explosion of the legal cannabis industry has created room for a new generation of paraphernalia peddlers to rise and claim that their grinder is the best ever. Space Case, Medtainer, Phoenician, and Santa Cruz Shredder are just a few of the names that come up regularly in the conversation about quality. These companies have built a reputation for excellent products but cost a pretty penny.
Finding the right weed grinder can be a frustrating and expensive process. Nobody wants to spend $100 on a grinder only to find that a $5 one works better for them. Yet if a high end grinder is so expensive, shouldn’t it be that much better than a cheap one? But what it really comes down to is how it affects the smoking experience. Grinding is not required for most methods of cannabis consumption but it does a few really great things for it.
What does grinding actually do?
By breaking up the bud, more of the weeds surface area is exposed. Surface area is important for consuming cannabis flower. The higher the surface area, the more efficiently THC is vaporized so grinding will produce a stronger hit than otherwise.
Burning (or vaping) ground product also produces a more flavorful hit. Terpenes (the chemicals that make up smells) exposed by grinding increase the aroma before, the flavor during and the taste after a hit. It can be slightly harsher from the increased smoke density but the overall experience is of a higher caliber.
It’s not just the flavor that gets a boost either. Because of the consistent and small size of particles after grinding, it is easier to make every bowl the same size. Grinding simply produces a more consistent product to smoke or vape. People interested in monitoring the amount of cannabis they consume or trying not to overload a vape pen will find that grinding the product makes a big difference.
What is the difference between them?
There are a lot of options when it comes to getting an herb grinder. Most differences can be boiled down into variations of materials, styles and features. A $100 grinder may perform worse than a $5 version in many situations if it is significantly smaller/larger or produces a course grind.
When comparing grinders, it is important to think about how you intend to use it. If most sessions require less than a gram of product, a grinder that can hold an ounce of product will be less effective than one that can hold an eighth. People with arthritis or carpel tunnel may find a larger grinder with a crank handle easier to use than a small one with threads.
Cheap grinders also have a tendency to stick or jam up over time. Occasional users may not experience a perceivable difference between two models. If grinding cannabis is part of a daily routine, the smooth action of higher end models can make a big difference. Most of the difference between high and low end grinders is due to quality of materials and finishes.
What kind of materials and finishes are safe?
Grinders come in every material possible. From wood to titanium, as long as the material is stable enough, it can be used to make a grinder. That doesn’t mean that all materials are made equally though. Glass makes a great pipe but a very bad grinder. The brittle nature of glass makes chipping and breaking under normal use almost guaranteed so people don’t normally produce glass grinders.
Materials like aluminum and acrylic are cheap, stable and are unlikely to shatter under normal use so many manufacturers rely on them. Over time, grinders made from these materials will wear out and wear off. Small pieces of plastic or metal can work their way into the product you are grinding.
Materials like titanium, food grade polyethylene and ceramic are strong enough to resist wearing out and are significantly safer to use. Since titanium and ceramic are expensive to produce, many manufacturers will use an aluminum base and coat it with a thin film of the more expensive material. As long as the finish remains intact, there is little risk of contamination to the user and it then becomes a matter of style.
The most popular styles of grinder are manual and range from two to four pieces. Electric grinders are becoming more popular but have yet to dominate the market. They mainly serve the subsection of the community that loves gadgets or has motor-control difficulty.
Each style has a specialized use and will function better in situations it is designed for than the other styles. Manufacturers classify their grinders by the number of pieces and the diameter of the assembly.
Two piece grinders are best when used indoors and with a tray to dump the ground material. Three piece grinders remove the need for an extra tray while four piece add a screened off area at the bottom. The screen separates the trichomes that break off during the grinding process and collects them for later use.
Since trichomes are the plants chemical factories, this fine powder is very high in cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Vaporizers work best when using finely ground product so 4 piece models are very popular. Any style will produce vaporizable product as long as the teeth grind the cannabis evenly.
What about the teeth?
The parts of the grinder that actually do the work are called the teeth. They can come in a few shapes and configurations in any style or material of grinder. Their whole purpose is to break up the cannabis evenly but they go about it in different ways.
Pin shaped teeth are found on wood grinders pretty often and are better for grinding sage or thyme than cannabis.Diamond shaped teeth tear through dense nugs and can break up stems that are dry. They act like scissors, shearing the bud apart. They have straight sides and are the most common type of teeth on aluminum grinders.
Pyramid shaped teeth are able to produce a more consistent grind than diamond teeth but also produce smaller chunks. These are common on higher end grinders but can still be found on low end models. If these teeth are cheaply produced, the tips can sheer off and contaminate the cannabis. Inhaling burning acrylic or aluminum is dangerous and can have long term health consequences so they are best to avoid.
Most stores will stock a few different sizes of the same grinder. The manufacturers classify their sizes based on diameter. So a 2.5″ grinder is about two and a half inches from side to side. Each size generally corresponds to a different product amount. 1.5″ models are great if grinding less than 2 grams of cannabis while a 3.5″ model will chew through an ounce in no time. In the end, it comes down to personal preference and need. Does it feel good in the hand? Does it have the right number of pieces? Is it made of high quality materials? If so, it should serve you well in the years to come. Thanks for reading.