So I know what you are thinking - How much can I really learn about grinders? Are all herb grinders the same? With an increasing interest in vaping over the last few years, there has been an increased demand for high-quality grinders, and the market has answered. Herb grinders usually come in either 2-piece or 4-piece designs and vary in grind from coarse to fine. A grinder is essential to anyone that vapes and they help provide an improved smoking experience. Whether using a vape pen, a glass pipe or bong, grinding the buds will increase the surface area of the herb and allow air to travel smoothly through the bowl or heating chamber.
A 2-piece grinder is simple, just a compartment with sharp teeth that splits into two pieces. You put your herb in, grind it, and pour it out - no thrills. What you really want is a 4-piece grinder. Similar to a 2-piece, there is a compartment with sharp teeth. However, the bottom of this compartment has small holes between the teeth that allow ground herb to fall to a second compartment for easy storage and removal. The bottom of this storage compartment is made of a fine screen that only allows the fine herb pollens to fall through to the next level. This next level is called the kief catcher because it holds the find particles that have the higher concentration of important compounds found in your herbs. A true herb connoisseur will save up this kief to sprinkle on top of a fresh packing in a pipe, bong or even mix in to a vape load for an extra kick.
In addition to standard grinders where you just twist the top to grind, there are also hand-crank grinders and electric grinders. A hand-crank grinder is like a frankenstein mix of a standard herb grinder and a hand-crank coffee grinder. While I am a traditionalist, I have to admit, the hand-crank makes things easy. It never sticks and produces a perfect grind every time.
In terms of electric grinders, there are automatic electric grinders that do all the grinding work for you in a matter of seconds. There are also vibrating grinders that use electricity to vibrate while grinding to increase the kief build up. The vibrations loosen all those sticky pieces off the grinders teeth, body, and screen, resulting in maximum efficiency and kief catching. With a vibrating grinder, you get the traditional feel of a grinder but without any leftover bits stuck on the teeth and edge that can muck up your grinder.
Loading a grinder is fairly straightforward. Pack in chunks of buds between the teeth, close and grinder. That being said, grinders work a lot better if you avoid loading massive, dense flowers and pack it full. Always manually break up larger and dense nugs into smaller pieces to reduce density and make them easier to grind. Also, only loosely fill the grinder. Most grinders are big enough that you can get at least a full vape pack or two in one go so there’s no need to overstuff it. If you leave plenty of air pockets, it will make for an easier and efficient grind.
Grind your herb by pushing down and twisting the top of your grinder at the same time – or by spinning the hand-crank until you don’t feel any more resistance, and then give it a couple more twists for good measure. If you don’t have a vibrating electric grinder, I like to lightly tap my grinder on the side of the table to knock those last particles down to your ground herb compartment. If you have a 4-piece grinder, unscrew the whole grinder compartment to find a perfect, fine pile of ground herbals. With a 2-piece grinder, just open and dump your ground herb into a container or even a piece of paper. Lightly knock the two pieces together upside-down to loosen those last few pieces stuck to the teeth.
4-piece grinders double as a great place to store your herbs. Grind before heading out and toss your grinder in your smoke/vape pack and you’re good to go. If you’re headed out for a long-day, and for maximum storage, pack a vape pen or smoking pipe with some ground herb, grind a full load into the herb compartment, then re-pack the grinder compartment with herb for an extra grind later.
Herb Pollen Catcher
Having an Herb Pollen catcher is an essential part of a 4-piece herb grinder. When using a 2-piece grinder, some herb pollen will end up with your herb, but most of it will end up sticking to the bottom of your grinder container. That’s if you’re lucky. There’s a good chance you’ll lose that precious pollen to the carpet or coffee table. Pollen is very fine, so without being collected, it just floats away. After all, that is the biological purpose of pollen.
On the other hand, a pollen catcher collects pollen beneath a fine screen, trapping it. As pollen is probably one of the stickiest materials on Earth, it does a great job sticking to itself. Once a significant amount of pollen has collected, unscrew your kief catcher for collection. Use a pollen collector (aka a small spoon or even a dab tool) to collect your kief. You can top off a bowl or mix this in with a vape load for an extra punch of goodness.
If you are smoking out of a pipe or bong, a coarse grind is often preferable to avoid sucking up small particles. Vaporizers are completely different. A fine grind will ensure the air passes through the maximum surface area of herbs, getting you the best hit. In addition, it will minimize the chance of the vape screen getting clogged or restricting air flow.
Once you have got a pile of finely ground herbs, lightly pack the heating chamber. You can makeshift a funnel out of a sheet of paper to make this easier or use a small utensil to load it. Make sure you fill the chamber with herbs. If there are too little material, the hot air won’t pass over enough surface area and you’ll be inhaling air vapor with a hint of herbals. Also, do not over-pack the chamber as this will restrict airflow, also resulting in a less than ideal hit. So again, make sure the chamber is lightly packed, but full, and you should be good to go. After a few loads, you will get the feel of it.
After reading this extensive guide to using a grinder, it may be hard to keep track of the important points, especially if you’ve been learning through experience and hitting that vape.
Here is a list of the top tips to remember for using an herb grinder.
1. 4-piece grinders will ensure you collect all that delicious kief in the bottom catcher
2. A fine grind is essential for a vaporizer versus more coarse for glass pipes and bongs
3. Tap your grinder together or against a table to loosen up pesky herb particles and go one step further and get a vibrating grinder to increase kief collection
4. Always keep the top on your grinder to avoid the terrible fate of a knocked over grinder.
5. Use both the top and middle section of your grinder to store herbs for maximum capacity.
At this point, I hope I’ve convinced you that a grinder is essential. However, let’s review why a grinder is so much better than simply using your fingers (or scissors) to break up herb. First of all, if you ever vape, using your fingers is not going to cut it. If you manage to break up your herb fine enough to pack in the chamber, you’ll be getting less than ideal hits, not to mention wasting herbs. Secondly, who wants to spend five minutes tediously breaking up herbs by hand to get a bunch of small, but still fairly dense pieces of herb when you can get a perfect, fine grind in a matter of seconds with a high-quality grinder. In addition, your grinder doubles as herb storage, meaning less hassle and less herb wasted or lost to the carpet. Finally, a grinder with a kief catcher will collect all that sweet pollen for a tasty treat later. The question you should be asking yourself is - Why haven’t I been using a grinder this whole time?