Grinders excel at only one thing, which is to thoroughly grind up your dry herb material to make it nice and fluffy. This allows heat from a vape to penetrate your dry herb to release its aromatic compounds and form vapor. If you were to not grind your herb at all, heat would not be able to reach the center of the material and would not produce any vapor.
Grinding it too fine, however, can also cause the same type of problem since surface area would be reduced and heat would end up clumping the sticky material together, blocking airflow. Grinders are perfect in that they are designed to leave your dry herb material at the right consistency to allow for even heat distribution.
Without a grinder, most people would opt to either use a pair of small scissors or even their bare fingers. The issue with using your hands is that dirt and oils can stick onto your dry herbs and ultimately affect flavor and reduce potency by breaking off the trichomes. Therefore, using an inert tool such as a grinder is so crucial to ensuring you have a good vape session.
As previously mentioned, if you only have your hands to work with, then it is better than not using anything at all. A small pair of scissors would be ideal in this situation, however. As long as you can get a proper grip of your dry herbs material and it is not overly dry, you can clip your buds piece by piece until you have the right type of consistency.
Using a mortar and pestle could be another option, though care must be taken not to pulverize your dry herbs into powder. This is especially true if your dry herbs are already super dry. If you pinch a nugget and it crumbles to a fine dust, then it is overly dry. Either way, you will want to use scissors for this to avoid powdering it.
One of the best methods for dealing with material that has been dried to this point is to put it inside a plastic Ziplock bag and gently crush it with your fingers on the outside. This will keep all the material inside the bag and not transfer anything to your fingers or vice versa. As you can see, there are many ways to grind up your herbs if you do not have a grinder around.
If your material is too dry, you will end up having an issue when you start to vape. Finely powdered dry herb material will clump up together and restrict airflow inside your vape. If you happen to get some airflow, you can rest assured that you will be sucking some of that fine particulate matter into your mouth and lungs since it is so fine.
This can be a problem over time since these particulates will attach themselves to resins inside your airway and eventually gunk up your vape. The problem with that is most dry herb vapes come with a fixed chamber and cannot be taken apart to clean the way you can with other vapes that have variable atomizers.
Since cleaning the inside of a dry herb vape would require something like alcohol to properly dislodge and liquify the accumulation of residue, this will end up killing your vape once it touches the heating unit. Therefore, it is crucial to use a grinder when you can, and not use dry herb material that has been dried to this point.
The good news is that most grinders on the market are plentiful and affordable. From plastic to metals like aluminum and titanium, you are sure to find a grinder that suits your needs. The difference between these grinders is like night and day. Plastic grinders are good when you are in a pinch and need something fast.
Because they are plastic, their teeth are prone to breakage over time and will eventually have to be replaced. Aluminum is good because it is lightweight and easy on your hands and wrists. This is further compounded by having an aluminum grinder with a crank that can be rotated, easing the strain on your hands, perfect for medical patients.
Titanium is more expensive but will last you a lifetime. Heavier than aluminum but stronger in every way, titanium grinders can properly grind up any dry herb material you happen to throw at it. Unlike other grinders, those made from titanium will not easily dent the way aluminum can if you happen to drop it onto a hard surface.
Grinding your dry herbs using a high-quality herb grinder is essential. If you want to have a good vape session with consistency every time, then you need to get yourself a grinder, regardless of what it is made from. Even though using your hands can suffice, you will heavily influence the outcome of your session by doing so. Always try to carry a small pair of scissors if you happen to forget your grinder.
Never use material that is bone dry, and conversely, try not to use material that is too moist! This will also gunk up the teeth of your grinder and make it almost impossible to rotate. Properly cured cannabis is the only dry herb material that should be placed inside any of your grinders.
If you can manage that, you will have your grinder last a very long time. This is especially true if you have a titanium grinder, but even a cheap plastic one will last you quite some time if you treat it right.