Posted on May 24 2019
By Aimee Accinno and Eric Robichaud.
In a previous blog post, we produced a video that explains what a grinder is and why you would want to use one. We encourage you to check out that short, fun video. Succinctly, grinders are used by most cannabis enthusiasts to break plant buds down into tiny, uniform pieces. This process makes it easier to pack cannabis into your preferred smoking device and ensures that your buds burn more fully and more easily, which results in a better smoking experience.
However, as you’ve likely noticed, there are many varieties on the market today and each comes with its unique benefits and drawbacks. With so many choices available, how do you determine which one is right for you?
In this article, we explore the various options to help you choose the right grinder. If you want to skip the details and get right to our best, recommended grinders simply scroll to the end. There, you will find our top picks on devices that provide a excellent grind and best value for your hard earned money.
Circular grinders are built with 1, 2 or 3 chambers.
The most basic grinders have a single chamber for the "teeth", with two pieces that fit together, and most often use a magnet in the center to hold them together and allow them to spin freely. We usually refer to these as "grind and dump" since the herb has nowhere to go - you grind it up, then dump it back out - it's that simple. These are super basic. They're great if they're smaller and used to just grind one nug at a time. But they aren't very useful for grinding larger quantities, and single chamber units do not allow you to collect kief, which is a highly desired pollen-like material containing concentrated levels of THC, cannabinoids and terpenes.
The next option is a three piece grinder that contains two chambers. The first chamber is similar to the single chamber grinder above, except it has small holes between the teeth in the bottom of the top chamber for the ground up material to fall through and collect in the second chamber. This second chamber is called the "catch chamber" and is designed to collect and store the ground up bud. By letting it fall through to the catch chamber, the grinder allows you to grind up more herb at once, and keep grinding until it's all ground up and falls through to the catch chamber. You can typically reload more nugs and keep going and make a few passes before you have to open and dump the catch chamber. It's harder to explain the benefits in words alone - you have to try it to fully understand. But the net result is that it's a lot more convenient to grind a larger quantity of bud when you have a catch chamber. We typically transfer the contents to a stash jar or kief sifter box for longer term storage, but some people keep their bud in the grinder and use the grinder like a stash jar. The downside to this type of design is the inability to collect the aforementioned kief.
The most desirable type of grinder has four pieces that comprise three chambers. The top chamber contains the grinding teeth and holes for the ground up plant matter to fall through. The second chamber is the catch chamber where the ground up flower falls into and it has a sifting screen at the bottom to allows the passage of the highly valued kief through to the bottom chamber. The bottom piece contains the kief catch chamber.
Types of Grinders
Grinders are commonly made from plastic, acrylic, wood, steel (iron), zinc, aluminum and titanium. You may also find them in the form of a wallet sized "cheese grater" style card called a "Grinder Card."
Grinder Cards are not as easy to use as traditional circular versions, but do a much better job (and faster and easier too) than simply using your fingers. They cost a only few dollars and are easy slip in your wallet or purse to use in a pinch when you're on the go.
Plastic and acrylic grinders are the least expensive of all circular options, which tends to be their main selling point, but you get what you pay for -- they never last, and the teeth break pretty quickly. These are suitable for situations in which you’re more likely to misplace one, such as while traveling or outdoors. Due to their material, they are less durable, so if you happen to drop one it has a greater chance of cracking and will typically wear out more quickly than one made of metal. These grinders tend to have only one chamber, which means kief cannot be collected. In addition, after regular use, the herbs oftentimes get stuck to the grinder’s teeth and become difficult to remove. These are generally "crap" and Green Goddess Supply doesn't even bother with these.
Wood grinders tend to be more elegant and eye-catching with nice designs carved or burned into the top lid. They are heavier in weight than other materials and contain metal teeth for grinding. The downside is that they usually come in two piece, single chamber units, so you miss the opportunity to collect kief, and the "teeth" are usually not very sharp, and they come loose easily. Although they look pretty initially, we generally consider these crap too, like their plastic counterparts, and we do not produce any wooden grinders.
Good, quality grinders are generally made of metal. But the type of metal matters. Stay away from steel and zinc, which can corrode (rust), and are most often plated (eg nickle plated, or silver plated, or painted for colors). Beware of plated metal grinders as they have a tendency to see the plating flake off after continued use. Inhaling metal flakes will ruin your smoking experience and compromise your health. Just say no.
Aluminum grinders are one of the best options due to their durability and affordable price points. They come in 2-, 3- and 4-chamber styles and are made from plated or anodized aluminum. Always choose anodized aluminum, which is also scratch and rust resistant. Non-anodized grinders will gum up more easily and need more frequent cleanings to ensure a smooth grind. Additionally, anodizing an aluminum grinder means that the grinder metal IS the color you see - it's not plated, so it's not going to flake off. And anodizing a grinder not only colorizes it, but it also makes the metal stronger (this is why anodized aluminum pans are so popular for cookware too). Only Titanium and Aluminum can be anodized. You cannot anodize zinc or steel, only plate them.
Titanium grinders tend to be the most expensive option because they have the highest quality material and weigh less than aluminum. They are also highly durable, so you won’t have to worry about metal shavings ending up in your lungs. But you pay a premium for Titanium.
In our estimation, Titanium is strongest, but probably not worth the cost tradeoff for the average consumer - anodized aluminum tends to be the "sweet spot" in terms of best quality at best price.
Finally, there are electric grinders, which aren’t as great as one might expect. They tend to be cheaply made, break down easily and require the added expense of batteries unless you invest in a rechargeable one. The also only have one chamber, so you once again miss out on collecting kief. They seems super cool at first sight, but become underwhelming after using them once or twice. Most people get over the gee-whiz factor pretty quickly and end up going back to a simple anodized aluminum grinder before long. They're not worth the premium cost. I've also seen them pulverize the herb too much - you don't want dust.
Our Top Choice for Best Value and Function
Our top pick for the best grinder is an anodized aluminum three chamber model. In fact, Green Goddess Supply has created its own custom designed grinders that are by far the best on the market.
Every detail was cared for in the making of these high quality, affordable units. They have precisely milled threading to ensure smooth assembly every time you use it. They are made of anodized aluminum, which means the color is baked all the way through and will never flake off. They are also strong yet lightweight and easy to clean and will not rust.
The grinders are made of five pieces: a magnetized lid, grinding deck, flower catch chamber with built in sifting screen, and a bottom catch chamber with a kief/pollen scraper. There is also a teflon ring on the grinding deck, which allows the lid to glide smoothly. The first chamber has a perfect balance of diamond shaped teeth and holes. With other models, the holes are sometimes too small or there aren’t enough of them, which causes the ground up herb to remain stuck. Our Green Goddess Supply grinders allow the freshly ground material to fall out of the way into the bottom catch chamber so that the teeth can continue working on the remaining larger pieces.
If you want a top of the line, affordable grinder, click here to view and purchase one of our custom designed units.