Using a grinder is an essential step when consuming cannabis for many patients and enthusiasts alike. Grinding your flower allows for proper airflow and optimal trichome exposure when smoking or vaporizing, so you can extract the most from your plant material. Trichomes are the crystals you can see on cannabis plants, especially close-up. These little hairy growths produce cannabinoids (like THC and CBD), terpenes and other plant properties.
Weed-specific grinders (also called “crushers” or “shredders”) have sharp teeth that are designed to produce an even consistency. Grinders are available in a variety of different materials (plastic and different metals, for example) and designs. They are most often categorized by the number of pieces (or chambers) they have.
The most basic is a two-piece, and as you add pieces you add functionality. Three pieces are great because they provide a chamber to catch the ground flower, which is less messy than a two-piece. Four and five-piece grinders offer the capability of sifting out kief, the powdery trichome-rich residue that flakes off during grinding. You can use kief in a number of ways.
But don’t fret! If you don’t have a specialized cannabis grinder on-hand and need to get your grind on, there are lots of ways you can get the job done.
Use Your Hands
The easiest tech-free way to grind your cannabis is to just use your hands. If the flower you are working with is fairly dry, this is a pretty easy (though more labor intensive) process.
If your bud is sticky, be prepared to work a little harder and to get your hands dirty. “The only issue you may encounter is that your fingers could end up covered in delicious resin and plant matter, especially if you’re chain-rolling for say, a party,” says resident blog writer Jennifer Ternier, who publishes under Silent Jay, for Sensi Seeds. She also recommends putting the flower in the freezer for a little while, to make the process easier. (The freezer trick works well if you’re using scissors, a cheese grater and card grinder methods, too.)
Use a Card Grinder
A pretty clever innovation in the cannabis grinders game has been the card grinder. The size and shape of a common credit card, card grinders work just like cheese graters and have perforated surfaces to rub the flower across – watch your fingers as you do this. These handy little tools fit right into your wallet, making them a portable, convenient and practical option for when you find yourself without a grinder on the go.
Use a Cheese Grater
You can also use a cheese grater to grind your flower. You will need a nice, sharp grater for this, but mind your mitts or else you could lose a fingertip. “A dull grater would essentially retain most of your cannabis on it,” says Ternier. Sticky bud might also prove trickier for this method, and you’ll end up scrubbing all the good stuff off your gunked up grater.
Use a Coffee Grinder
Another common household item you can use is a coffee grinder. While it might also be a hassle to clean, using a coffee grinder is quick and easy as far as grinding goes. A blender can also do the job. Just be sure to not over-grind and pulverize your weed. “A couple taps of the button and your nugs are transformed into the perfect consistency for efficient and even vaporization,” says Gilman.
It’s also a useful method when you have a large quantity to grind, if you’re making cannabutter for example. Pro tip: use a dedicated coffee grinder for this job, or make sure you clean the grinder really well before putting in your flower. You don’t want coffee grounds getting mixed in with your ground weed!
Another easy method is using scissors, an old-school tool dating back to pre-grinder days. “While any type of scissor can be used, including household kitchen scissors, the best type have smaller blades with a fine point such as bonzai tree pruning scissors or horticultural scissors,” shares Derek Gilman, Content Director of Green Flower Media and host of High Rollers.
Though more time consuming than a grinder, scissors allow you to cut the flower up into the size you prefer. An additional hack that is often used (and contains the cut up weed) is to put the flower into a shot-glass or other shallow container (so the scissors can reach all the way to the bottom). Then, all you have to do is snip away!
Use a (Sharp) Knife
Another fairly simple and common technique is to use a knife and cutting board. “We love using a wooden cutting board and knife like you’d chop parsley, old school Jamaican style,” says Paula Huie of Hamilton, Ontario’s Ganjahnista’s Cannabis Social Lounge. Like the cheese grater method, make sure you’re using a sharp tool (and perhaps exercise safe knife skills by doing all your chopping before consuming). Know how annoying (and unsafe) it is to cut a tomato with a dull knife? Same deal with cannabis, and in fact, sticky flower will especially need a sharp blade.
If all your knives are dull, try this fun twist on the blade from clinical social worker and cannabis advocate/blogger Laura Geftman at Welcoming Weed: a pizza cutter! Pro move: after all that hard work is done, why not order some pizza to celebrate?
Use A Pill Bottle & Coin
This is another tried, tested and true method for grinding without a grinder. Put your bud into a pill bottle or another relatively small plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Add a penny or dime (disinfect it first!) and replace the lid, sealing the bottle tightly. Shake like nobody’s business and voila! It’s kind of like magic, and works well for sticky bud.