How Do You Grind Dry Herbs Without an Herb Grinder?

Whether you are a new or veteran smoker, at some point you will need to grind your dry herbs without a grinder. While this task can be daunting, a veteran knows there are other options. Read on to learn more about herb grinders and how you can break up your material when you are lacking the all-important grinder.

by: Chelsea O. | 06/14/21 1:30PM


While a grinder is by far the best way for grinding dry herbs, at some point or another, everyone finds themselves in a situation where they need to break up material without a grinder. Thankfully, just because you may be lacking an herb grinder, does not mean you have a problem on your hands. In fact, there are plenty of techniques you can utilize from items you can find around your house. Read on to learn more about grinders and how to proceed when you do not have one on hand.

What is an Herb Grinder?

Simply put, herb grinders are the fastest and easiest way to break up your dry herbs while maintaining a consistent size. This helps to create a more even burn. Grinders can come in all shapes and sizes, but users tend to have a small, compact device in mind when the word grinder comes to mind. However, it does not matter if you use a two-chamber device, an electrical grinder, or a top-of-the-line option; they all have the same overall function - to break up your material.

Different Grinder Materials and Styles

Herb grinders generally are made out of some type of metal, plastic, wood, or some combination of the three. They generally have a more cylindrical shape and will have somewhere between two and four chambers. The number of chambers will determine what functions your device will offer. For example, a two-piece grinder will only grind up your dry herbs. Other options, such as a 4-piece herb grinder will not only grind up your material, but it will also have a storage compartment, a kief catcher, and a collection chamber.


Grinders are very easy to use. You simply place your material in the top layer and place the lid back on your device. For manual options, you will twist the lid grinding the dry herbs between multiple layers of teeth until it reaches the desired consistency. Electrical (or powered grinders) operate similarly but only require the push of a button once loaded to grind up the material.

Why Do I Need an Herb Grinder?

While it is pretty obvious even to new users the main purpose of the grinder is to grind up the dry herbs, but why do you NEED a grinder? What purpose does it serve in the overall experience? As mentioned, a grinder breaks up your dry herbs into a finer material than other methods; and the reason for this is because ground dry herbs burn more evenly, creating a better burn and smoking experience. Another common reason herb grinders are used is because it helps to prevent you from losing kief (or the crystals on your dry herbs). Instead of the crystals getting stuck to your hands, it falls to the bottom of the herb grinder. You can then use the kief any way you see fit.

How Do You Grind Dry Herbs without a Grinder?

While grinders are the optimal tool for grinding up your dry herbs, it is unrealistic to think they will always be readily available when you are wanting to partake in a smoke session. In fact, there are many tried and true methods that users opt for when breaking down the dry herbs. The most common alternative approaches when you are lacking an herb grinder include:


Hands and Fingers

The cheapest and most self-explanatory option when it comes to breaking up your dry herbs is with your hands. All you need is your hands and your material. Once you have your desired amount of material, simply tear it until it reaches the desired size. The benefit of this method is it is free, and just about everyone has them. You do not have to put anything together to use it, they are simply ready when you are. (Although I would recommend washing them before you begin.) However, the biggest downside is you lose part of your material. Dry herbs contain sticky crystals that will cling to you as you break down the material, staying behind on your fingers once you are finished. Plus, the stickier the dry herbs are, the more difficult the task will be.

Scissors and a Shot Glass

Another tried and true method you can use to break up dry herbs is with a shot glass and scissors. While this approach can be used for any amount, it is a great option for breaking up large quantities of material for consumption when you do not have a grinder present. To start, fill your shot glass about 3/4 of the way full with dry herbs. Next, (using a clean pair of scissors) place the nose of the scissors down into the glass and start snipping. As you continue to cut up the dry herbs, make sure you are cutting the pieces up as evenly as possible and that you do not go too fast. Otherwise, you will cause your dry herbs to fly everywhere.

Coffee Grinders

Since coffee grinders are in fact a type of grinder, they are extremely efficient and effective at breaking up dry herbs. However, while they can break up your material, coffee grinders can also quickly turn your dry herbs into an un-smokable material. The trick to this approach is to not let your grinder run for too long. Start slow, doing spurts of grinding and checking on it until it has reached the desired consistency. Once finished, make sure to thoroughly clean the blades of your grinder, as the sticky crystals can clog and or dull the blades.

Sharp Knife and a Cutting Board

If you know your way around the kitchen and your knife skills are up to par, a knife and cutting board can be one of the fastest methods to slice and dice your dry herbs similar to how you would your normal vegetables. While you may lose out again on some of your material, it will get the job done as long as your knife is sharp enough. Just make sure to clean up the knife and cutting board before your next use.

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