If you are purchasing your first herb grinder, you undoubtedly have dozens of questions like:
In this guide, we will answer all of these questions and more in order to help you figure out exactly what to look for in a new grinder. Hopefully, this will help you learn everything you need to know about grinders and make the best purchasing decision moving forward.
Let’s get started!
What to Look for in a New Grinder
Before you find a new grinder, it is important to know what separates the best from the rest. Overall, we like to take 7 key factors into account when looking for a new grinder:
- Tooth Count
- Trusted Brand
- Number of Chambers
Let’s take a look at these factors a bit more in depth to help you find the best grinder for your needs.
1. Tooth Count – 30 to 50 or Bust
Depending on the type of grinder you choose, the tooth count will differ. These are the small metal (or whatever material your grinder is) pieces that hang down in the top section of your grinder. They are responsible for grinding up the bud in an even and consistent way, without clogging.
Typically, a tooth count of 50 is considered standard amongst many of the top grinder brands. However, it is more important to consider the size of the grinder. For instance, more than 50 teeth in a 2.5” diameter grinder may be too many and cause clogs. On the other hand, not enough teeth will cause larger nugs to slip through, and not allow the herbs to be ground evenly throughout.
Another thing to consider is the shape of the teeth themselves. In our opinion, pyramid-shaped teeth work best, but there are rectangular, square, triangular, and even rounder teeth.
One last thing to keep in mind is the dispersion of the teeth. Where are they located? Are they spread out evenly, or mashed closely together, or placed haphazardly throughout? You want to find a grinder with the right amount of teeth, that are an effective shape and are also placed evenly throughout the top section of the grinder.
2. Reviews – What Do People Have to Say?
Just like comparing anything else online, it is important to look at the reviews for certain brands and products when looking for the best grinder.
Looking through a few sites should give you a decent idea of which ones perform well, and what small errors they may have. Overall, there are enough types of grinders out there that you can definitely find a highly reviewed one that fits your needs and wants.
3. Trusted Brand – Only Buy from the Best
Much like purchasing a bong or new dab rig, you also want to take some time to look into the brand you are purchasing from. Look for things like:
- Company History
We strongly suggest purchasing a grinder manufactured in the United States for the best quality. Sure, you might pay more, but you can almost guarantee that it will be very high quality, durable, and last a long time.
Chinese products, particularly ones in this industry, tend to get a bad wrap for being low quality and not lasting a long time. Don’t put a bad taste in your mouth and waste money on a product like this. Purchase from a reliable brand in the USA and be satisfied with the end product.
Stoner’s Tip: To learn more about the best grinder brands, check out this comprehensive guide we wrote.
4. Durability – It’s About the Long Game
This is kind of an obvious one. You want to find a grinder that is durable and will last a long time. A few things you really want to look out for are:
- The magnet(s)
- Screen quality
A lot of times, even with solid grinders, the magnet is the first thing to go. It sounds like a small thing, but it can be such a pain in the ass to take your grinder out just to find all your herb fell out thanks to a faulty magnet. And sure, you can replace them, but when it costs $20 and 4 hours to fix a tiny magnet, and a new grinder is only $50 or so, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it.
Another thing to look out for is the teeth. Believe it or not, I have even seen metal teeth on grinders break. When looking for a new brand, you want to look for something with teeth that could chew up a whole tree, not just some nugs.
You also need to look for a grinder that has chambers which connect to each other well. Most modern grinders are connected by threads in the metal, which allow the sections to be screwed together and apart, like a bottle cap. A lot of times, these become faulty over time because they fill with Kief. This is something you can only avoid or remedy on your own. But, there are others that are screwed up (pun intended) from the start. Look for grinders that have functioning chambers that can easily twist together and apart.
Lastly, look for a grinder that has a high screen quality. The screen section is where the herb is held. This can affect the freshness of your herb. The better the screen chamber, the better it will keep your bud fresh. On top of that, screens can fall apart over time. The best grinders in this list all have high-quality screens that do not break over time and keep bud fresh longer.
5. Number of Chambers – 1, 2, or 3?
Depending on your preferences, there are either 2-chamber or 3-chamber grinders.
The 2-chamber models simply have a section for grinding bud, and a place for the bud to fall.
The 3-chamber grinders have these two sections, plus an additional one at the bottom to hold what is called Kief. This is basically fine THC particles that detach from buds over time. It is highly potent, and a lot of Stoners enjoy keeping it on hand to sprinkle on top of a bowl during special occasions, or use in edible recipes.
Technically, the 3-chamber grinders are called 4 piece grinders. This is because when taken apart, they have four parts. The 2-chamber grinders are technically called 3-piece grinders.
Some more basic grinders may only have one chamber and 2 pieces, but we do not usually recommend these, as they don’t help you get the most out of your stash, and are usually low quality.
6. Material – Metal, Wood or Acrylic
Generally speaking, there are 3 main materials that grinders are made from:
Metal grinders are often made from either titanium or aluminum. Both materials are known for their light-weight, yet durable properties. Both are safe as long as they are made in the United States, as they must uphold to FDA and other laws for keeping consumers safe. Yet another reason to buy domestically.
Wood grinders are somewhat uncommon but can be fun to have. Most of the time, they are more basic than metal and acrylic designs because they take a lot of time to make. As a result, most of them are just single-chamber grinders, where you fill them with herb, grind, and empty it, or keep the herb in that same chamber.
Acrylic grinders are usually the cheapest in terms of quality and cost. Sure, they come in pretty colors and you can see through them, but for the most part – they are the equivalent of dollar store grinders. They break easily and do not last long. They also clog easily. Overall, we do not recommend acrylic grinders to anyone. They may be best for you, but you didn’t hear that from us.
Pro Tip: We did a lot of research to make this list. With years of experience buying and selling grinders, not a single wooden or acrylic one made this list of top grinders. That should tell you something about their quality. (HINT: DON’T BUY ONE)
7. Seal – How Fresh Does it Keep Your Herbs?
What’s the point of a grinder with 4 chambers if you can’t even rely on it to keep your herb fresh for a long period of time?
The best grinders keep an airtight seal that not only keeps odors in but also keeps your herbs fresh for a very long time.
This can be extremely convenient and is what you really want to look for in a grinder when purchasing a new one.
Why Do I Need an Herb Grinder?
Technically, you don’t need a grinder. However, it does really help to improve your overall smoking experience from start to finish. Overall, there are a few main reasons why we recommend any seasoned Stoner considers purchasing a top grinder:
- Keeping Herbs Fresh
- Evenly Ground Herbs
- Odor and Water-Proof Storage
- Save Time Over Hand Grinding
The best 4 chamber grinders offer a safe place to keep your herbs that will also keep them fresh. Airtight seals allow for herbs to stay fresh much longer than they could in a bag or other non-airtight container, keeping them fresher longer, and ready when you need them.
Another benefit of having an herb grinder is having evenly ground herbs. While this doesn’t sound like a luxury to some, if you have ever had to take the time to hand grind herbs up just to roll an uneven joint with stems sticking out that clogs because it is too tight, you know just how convenient a grinder makes smoking.
Overall, having an odor proof and waterproof place to keep your stash is one of the main perks of having a grinder. It is often overlooked, but for a lot of Stoners, this is a huge priority, and having a piece of equipment that can grind and store herb is extremely convenient.
Grinding up your herbs by hand sucks. There is no way around it. It takes a long time, leaves your hands sticky and stinky, and results in uneven distribution even with the most experienced hands at work. A grinder saves you a ton of time in the rolling process.
What Are the Different Types of Herb Grinders?
We already touched on the types of grinders earlier. The main way they are classified is by material:
And also by the number of chambers they have:
- 2-piece grinders
- 3-piece grinders
- 4-piece grinders
Essentially, the number of pieces determines the number of chambers a grinder has. 2-piece grinders have one chamber where you grind and hold herbs. 3-piece grinders have two chambers; one for grinding herbs, and one for holding the ground herbs. 4-piece grinders have three chambers; one for grinding herbs, one for holding the ground herbs, and one to catch Kief – the tiny THC crystals that make bud so potent.
How Do I Use an Herb Grinder?
This process is really not as hard as you may think. There are really 3 major steps you must take to use an herb grinder:
1. Put the Herb in the Top Chamber
Simply open the grinder up, place your supplies in it, and place the cap on top.
2. Grind the Herb
Once the cap is securely on, and the rest of the grinder is together snugly, begin grinding your herb by gently twisting the top section in order to grind the herb by using the teeth.
We recommend that you twist in one direction for a while, and then twist the opposite way. Typically, grinding for 30 seconds to one minute is plenty of time.
Occasionally, when you have sticky enough or dense enough supplies in there, even the best herb grinders will clog or need to be emptied. In this case, just place less in the top section, and grind your herb in groups as needed.
3. Open the Holding Chamber
Your herb is now grown up and ready to be packed into a nice bowl, or rolled up into a stick of joy. Enjoy! And make sure to keep the chamber sealed tightly when not using it so your grinder does not come apart, and your herb stays fresh.
Which Size Herb Grinder Should I Buy?
Herb grinders mainly come in 3 standard sizes:
- Small – 1.5” to 2” in diameter
- Medium – 2.5” to 3.5” in diameter
- Large – 3.5” in diameter or larger
There are also massive grinders meant for industrial purposes such as at dispensaries or groweries. These things are humongous and are usually 6” or more in diameter. Chances are though, you would never need one of these or only purchase one as a joke. Although, if you do need one, please share ;).
For most people, we recommend a 2.5” grinder. This is the perfect size to still find a great 4-piece grinder easily, while not large enough that it is difficult to fit in pockets, bags, etc…
Realistically, unless you are a huge Stoner, you will never need anything more than this size. They have plenty of space in the second chamber to hold herbs without problems. Anything larger than this size still works fine, but they become bulkier and harder to easily conceal or fit into pockets and stuff.
More Grinder FAQ
Want to learn even more about herb grinders? No worries, we have all the answers to your questions. In this section, we outline some of the main questions and concerns we have heard over the years, and answer them in-depth.
Q. What are grinders made out of?
Most metal grinders are made of either anodized aluminum, stainless steel, or titanium. For the most part, titanium is not common.
As far as safety goes, it really all depends on the brand manufacturing the grinder. You can expect the highest safety from USA made grinders compared to others made abroad.
Both anodized aluminum and stainless steel are safe. There are hundreds of products such as pans, pots, etc… that are made from these materials and used in cooking every day.
Q. How do you use a Kief catcher grinder?
To use a Kief catch in your 4-piece grinder, you simply need to give it some time. Every once in a while, you can check on it by unscrewing the bottom chamber in your grinder. When you look at your kief catch, you want to be sure that you do so in a non-windy place. Otherwise, you can kiss all those beautiful crystals goodbye. Trust me… not fun!
One way to maximize the production of your Kief catch is to put a dime in the chamber that collects your herbs. We will explain more about this in the section below.
Q. Why put a coin in your grinder?
The idea behind putting a dime or coin in your grinder is that it helps to accumulate more Kief over time because as you travel around with your grinder, it moves around, shaking Kief particles from buds, and also pushing Kief on the bottom of this chamber into the Kief catch.
Overall, from our experiences, this is an effective technique. It works well, and does seem to lead to more Kief production. If you are grossed out by the idea of putting dirty coins in your grinder, give it a good clean first, or you can use something more organic like a rock. Basically, a coin is not necessary, anything that has some weight and size to it will do the trick.
Q. Should I clean my grinder?
Yes. Obviously, you will not need to clean a grinder as often as other smoking equipment such as bongs or hand pipes, but you should still clean it as needed. The most important thing is to clean your grinder BEFORE it begins to clog or get stuck.
It is so much easier to take preventative measures than trying to react to it when it happens. If you do not take the time to clean your grinder periodically, the threads that hold the chambers together will begin to clog, making it difficult to take apart and put together. The screen will also begin to clog, and even the teeth can become caked up over time.
Stoner’s Tip: To keep your grinder good as new, we recommend that you clean it at least every 3-6 months for the best results.
Q. How can I clean my grinder?
Cleaning your grinder is actually easier than you might think. All you need to do is take it apart, and leave it in warm, soapy water for about an hour. After this, most of the sticky herbs should be removed, along with other materials. Then, simply wash with water, and finish off the process with rubbing alcohol in order to make sure any soapy taste is removed, and any remaining bacteria and stickiness is removed.
Q. How long should I put my grinder in the freezer?
Putting your grinder in the freezer is claimed to make your bud hit harder, and also make your grinder accumulate more Kief. In our experience, this is semi-effective at best. It does not technically accumulate more Kief, but just allows the particles trapped in your screen to cool and shrink, forcing them into the Kief catch.
If you do decide to try this, we don’t recommend that you keep your grinder in the freezer for longer than one hour. This is plenty of time to let the particles cool down. Any more time than this can cause your grinder itself to become brittle if it is too cold. This can lead to breaking of parts like magnets and warping of threads if dropped afterwards. Excessive cooling can also lead to your grinder becoming wet, dampening bud and ruining Kief.
Q. Are aluminum grinders safe?
If they are made from anodized aluminum, yes, they are safe. This is the same material used in cooking materials like pans, pots, plates, and more. Overall, it is considered by the FDA to be safe for use in storing and cooking of food, meaning it is also safe for things like grinding and storing herbs.
Learn Even More About Herb Grinders
Alright, so you feel like you have a solid understanding of what a grinder is, how it works, how to clean it, and what type of grinder is best for you. But now what?
How do you take this information and use it to find the perfect grinder for your needs and wants? Well, we created these two guides to help you take the next steps:
- Best 10 Herb Grinders in 2019
- Top Grinder Brands
Thanks for reading! We hope that this guide helped you to find the answers you were looking for. If we missed something, or you appreciated this post, please leave a comment below.
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