Whether you’re a serious dry herb fan or just a casual bowl hitter, you’ve undoubtedly used or at least seen somebody else use a grinder for their herb. And you might be asking yourself, why do I need a grinder? What does a grinder do besides just cutting up the dry herb? Can’t I just pick it apart myself or get some scissors?
These are all common misconceptions for those not entirely sure on the important of a grinder for your herb, and we’ll explain all of them in this grinder guide. You’ll learn why a grinder is important for herb, how to use a grinder, and what are the qualities to look for in a great grinder. Rise and grind, folks!
Why do I need a grinder?
You know that grinders cut up herb, obviously. So why is a grinder so important as opposed to other methods of preparing your herb for smoking (your fingers, scissors, a little trip to the blender…)?
First off, it’s all about the airflow.
Think about it: have you ever been in the middle of a smoke sesh when suddenly somebody coughs down a chunk of burnt herb? Or maybe you’re inhaling as much as possible, but you’re not getting any smoke? Both of these inconveniences are the result of an inconsistent, chunky grind. When the pieces of herb in your bowl are too big, they can clog up your pipe, stopping air from getting through. When that happens, you won’t get any smoke (the whole point of the carb hole on a pipe is to let you control the airflow for a bigger or smaller hit). Stop clogs in the first place by getting yourself a grinder, so you can verify that each piece is the perfect size for the bowl.
You might have noticed that when smoking from the same hand pipe in one session that the smoke varies widely. Sometimes, it’s really strong and could even burn your throat; other times you can barely taste it. What’s likely happening in this situation (give that you’re not using a well-made grinder) is that your herb is cut into different sizes. Why does that matter? Time for a science lesson!
When pieces of herb (or anything really) are of different shapes and sizes, they have different surface areas. This means that they will burn at different rates, even with the same amount of flame applied. So if you light your bowl for one second, some smaller pieces will completely combust (which is how we get that special ingredient out of dry herb) whereas the large pieces will have a large amount of un-combusted material inside. The result? When you inhale, it’s going to taste uneven, depending on the various sizes of dry herb you have.
Had you used a grinder, you would have pieces of all the same sizes and shapes, giving you an even and consistent smoke that tastes the same through the entire bowl.
Remember that scenario we just described? Where your herb pieces are different sizes when you pack them into your pipe? Not only will that method yield an inconsistent burn, it’ll also waste your herb supply! Why?
Let’s say that you pack up your whole bowl and you’ve used up half of your supply. Unfortunately, the smoke from that bowl could end up being so inconsistent that you’re not satisfied, and you completely repack the bowl with the rest of your herb supply. Had you ground your herb properly with a grinder the first time, you’d know exactly what to expect, and you wouldn’t have to pack an entirely new bowl with the same quantity of dry herb. If you’ve ever wondered why you went through your supply so quickly after just one evening, improperly ground herb could be the culprit.
Ok, so maybe you’re really old school and pick apart your flower with your hands before rolling it up or packing it in. Wait one moment as we go cry in the corner for your loss…
Look, you’re a smart cookie and understand how herb works: inside the beautiful flower you’ve just purchased is a small quantity of oil, mixed in throughout the flower. This oil is what really helps you get in the clouds--without it, you’re just burning a plant for fun and making your house smell like herb, but not getting any personal benefits. When you pull apart your herb with your hands, you’re wasting all of that precious oil on your fingertips! Trust us, no matter how clean you are (I mean, maybe if you wear Latex gloves?), the majority of that oil will end up absorbed into your fingertips instead of making it to the intended final destination: your pipe. And unfortunately, the quantity of oil is so small (this isn’t a dab we’re talking about here) that you won’t feel anything by ingesting through your skin. Be prepared and get a grinder!
What Does a Grinder Do?
Stops clogs in your pipe or bowl
Gives you even and consistent heating
Increase longevity of your pipe
Maximizes your herb supply
Stops oil from getting on your hands
How Do I Use a Grinder?
Now that you’re (hopefully) convinced, let’s get down to details--how do you use one of these things? It’s pretty simple, and we’ve outlined it in a step by step process for you.
Open up the top (you’ll know it’s the top because it’ll probably have a logo on it of some kind) and place your flower in the first chamber. Loosely separate the flower among the middle and exterior of the grinder, where there’s teeth (often the middle is simply the axis where the grinder turns, so you won’t get any grinding action going on there).
Place the top back on and twist the grinder for about a minute. Open it up and make sure everything has fallen through the holes (otherwise it’s not ground enough yet). If there’s any remaining stems that were too large to go through the holes, you can actually save these and make a soothing tea out of them.
Once everything has fallen through the holes, put the top back on, and then unscrew the second chamber--this is where all of your freshly ground herb should be. You can take this mixture and pack into your pipe. You’re ready to go!
For a four-piece grinder, you might have a third compartment underneath: this is where any extra fun surprises might be, also known as pollen. This highly potent sticky stuff is almost like a dab, so you can top off your pipe with it, or save it to make snacks later…
How Do I Keep My Grinder Clean?
Maybe you’ve been rolling your eyes the whole time you’ve read this--you already have a grinder and of course you know how to use it. But, you might be asking, why has my grinder become ineffective over time? How do I make sure that I keep getting consistent grinds each and every time I use it? The answers lies in the cleaning.
Over time, if you don’t clean your grinder, the teeth may not be as sharp and your metal screen that filters out all the pieces might get clogged. As a result, you might find that your grinder isn’t getting the most efficient use out of your herb. The best remedy for this is to clean your grinder each and every time you use it. You can use cotton swabs, brushes, and even a little heat to get all of the sticky pieces out of your grinder. Make sure to do a quick rinse out every time you use it. For super stubborn pieces that need a deep cleaning, heat a large bowl of water (don’t boil it, just get it really hot) and submerge all of the the grinder pieces, separated. Let the pieces sit in the water for 30 minutes. This heat can help removes some of the stickier pieces on your grinder, just don’t boil the grinder as the water could melt your grinder if it’s plastic!
What Should I Look For When Buying a Grinder?
Now that you understand why and how to use a grinder, you might need some tips on buying a grinder. It’s pretty simple, we’ve only got three words of advice.
Anodized metal: Look for grinders that contain anodized metal. This means that the metal has been coated to give it extra shelf life--after a while, all that grinding can really wear down the teeth, meaning your grinds won’t be as easy and consistent after a while.
Avoid plastics: As we always say when giving tips on buying a vape--avoid plastics. In this case, it’s mostly due to ineffective and inconsistent grinds. Plastics teeth just don’t cut as well as metal. Sometimes you can get an effective grind, but not always.
More chambers = better: While you can get a nice grind with a two-piece grinder (which is still better than using your hands!) the product will be nicer and the process easier with a four-piece grinder.
For those looking for a heavy-duty herb grinder, we recommend our best-selling Phoenician (this thing comes with a serial number for you to track!). If you happen to enjoy vaping with your dry herb, Flowermate has quickly become a favorite.