Metal grinders tend to come in two main varieties, which are aluminum and titanium. While you can come across stainless steel, brass, copper, or even gold and silver-plated grinders, what you really want is practicality over novelty. The truth is that even if you go for a blinged out gold plated grinder, it will still be leagues above a cheap plastic one.
The obvious problem with plastic is that it is not as durable as metal. The good news is that plastic will work quite well when nothing else is available. It is much better to use a cheap plastic grinder than to use your fingers to grind up your dry herb material. This is because dirt and oils can easily transfer to your dry herbs and affect the flavor and terpene profile.
This can also lead to a reduction in potency since trichomes can easily break off and essentially melt onto your fingers. Therefore, they tend to be rather sticky to the touch. Metal grinders offer more strength, stability, and consistency. They are built to last and will hold up against many types of dry herb consistencies.
The reason why plastic is not good for long-term or daily use is because over time the teeth on a plastic grinder will weaken and eventually break off. This is especially true if your dry herb material is very dense and is tough to grind. The strength of plastic quickly wanes under pressure and is further compounded by chemical solvents such as alcohol.
All grinders eventually get cleaned and alcohol is the best way to do so in order to dislodge sticky material. Since plastic is porous, alcohol will seep through and weaken the integrity of the plastic, making it prone to breakage the next time you use it. They are cheap and easily replaceable, though because they are mostly unregulated, the plastic used is sometimes toxic.
Some plastics are not food-grade and can potentially leach chemicals into your dry herb material. While plastic grinders are good backups, they make for a very poor daily grinder. Nonetheless, it is still a good idea to keep one laying around just in case you find yourself in need of one and have nothing else to use.
Aluminum grinders are lightweight, affordable, and easy on the hands and wrist. They are strong and can come equipped with a hand crank for those who suffer from inflammation or arthritic conditions. Medical patients who require this type of assistance will find solace in a lightweight metal grinder that can get the job done without much effort.
Titanium grinders are much tougher than their aluminum counterparts and are usually more expensive as a result. The price point reflects the quality of the grinder, however, and it is common to discover that a titanium grinder will last you a lifetime of tough grinds, falls, and all manner of inevitable accidents.
While metals like brass and copper can be good alternatives that are much more affordable and even more aesthetically pleasing, they are not as durable and will dent easily if taking a fall onto a hard surface. The good news is that these types of metal grinders can be an even better option than the plastic grinders if you want something that is cheap and much more durable.
Sometimes when you have no grinder at all, you can end up having to improvise in order to get the kind of consistency you want. Using your hands is a valid option, albeit a poor one. If you find that your dry herb material is overly dry, you can put it into a plastic baggy and gently crush it up in a corner of the bag. This will keep the dried material inside the bag and give you more control over how fine your dry herb material comes out.
The better alternative if you can help it would be a small pair of scissors. This will allow you to chop your material up into pieces that are suitable for your pipe or dry herb vaporizer. Care must be taken when cutting into dry herbs since they can go flying across the table when snapping them off the stem. Conversely, using material that is moist is best used with this method, though not when it comes to using the baggy method.
This is because moist material cannot be properly broken up inside a baggy with just your fingers. When all else fails, you can simply opt to use your own fingers to get the job done. While this option is far from ideal, it is truly practical if you have nothing else on hand. Care must be taken to ensure that your hands are as clean and dry as possible to get a decent end result.
Metal is truly the way to go if you want to ensure consistency in your dry herb material. Metal grinders will deliver a fluffy and crumbly consistency every time, given that your starting material is of high-quality of course. You can have the best metal grinder in the world, though if your dry herbs are subpar, your material will also come out below standard.
Dry herbs that are too dry will always come out virtually pulverized and dusty, while moist material will stick and cake onto the teeth of the grinder. The material that does manage to come out will be fluffy, though a bit difficult to light or keep lit.
If vaping, it will take a bit longer to produce vapor as moist material is not properly cured. No matter what you end up using, know that metal grinders are the way to go if you want something practical that will last you a lifetime.