The humble grinder is one of the most essential tools that any joker, smoker, or midnight toker should have in their kit. And even if you aren’t a space cowboy, it could come in pretty handy for you, too!
But where did these now-ubiquitous and indispensable tools come from? Why do you really need a grinder? Most importantly of all: how do you actually figure out which weed grinder is the best grinder out there?
It doesn’t matter if you are choosing your very first weed grinder or you are a seasoned shredder looking to level up: choosing a grinder when there’s so many options can be tough! Fortunately, we’ve shredded our heaps of research down to fine, easy to consume facts to provide a smooth, even guide to grinders... of all kind(er)s.
The OG (Original Grinder): How Two Sentient Kangaroos Revolutionized the Marijuana Industry
Before grinders came along, humans were already smoking cannabis and other herbs. After herbs were dried, the most common way to prepare them for ingestion was shredding by hand, by knife, or with an old-school mortar and pestle - basically just a hammer and a bowl.
Still pounding away at your herb with this like it's 1904?
These methods work, but result in waste and are largely inefficient. Grinders are a more effective means to prepare cannabis for consumption. And so, tired of shredding by hand, at the turn of the 20th century, two kangaroos Australians would create something… remarkable.
We're not sure what Wingfield & Balding looked like, but this is our best guess.
In 1905, two Australians by the names of William Wingfield and John Balding invented the first herb grinder that resembles the ones we use today. While their device was patented for use with pipe tobacco, it basically looked and worked the same as a present day weed grinder. Their patented design used two pieces, each with a set of teeth. Herb was placed between these two parts and then shredded with a rotation of the top piece. The most basic contemporary grinders still use the same design that's been around for over a hundred years!
Can you believe the grinder patent application was filed on April 19th? We couldn't either! One day off from being the best coincidence ever.
Before herb grinders were commonplace, life was tough. People couldn't shred their flower as easily as we can today - and no online headshops! - so they had way less chill.
Thankfully, grinders have become an industry mainstay and are much easier to find. As the canna-boom continues and legalization spreads, development on this basic design keeps evolving into a readily available and ever widening variety of tools.
Do You Really Need A Grinder? Spoiler Alert: Yes.
If you’re just getting into cannabis and figuring out what kind of gear you need, an herb grinder should be at the top of your list. If you’re a more experienced user, a high quality grinder will become a constant and trustworthy companion that will keep you shredding for years. Upgrading your kit is worth the investment.
Here’s why: dried and cured whole cannabis flowers - also known as nugs - are sticky, somewhat dense, and have less surface area for smoking. Nugs are difficult to cook with and almost impossible to vape without being broken down in some way. Those kangaroos Australians knew what was up.
Whole 'nugs' vs. fluffy, ready to use shredded flower.
Shredded herb, however, has more surface area and increased airflow relative to the dense whole flower, which ensures an even, consistent burn that helps you get the most out of every use. Grinding your herb before use will reduce waste and make your overall experience easier and more enjoyable, so you can get the most bang for your buck.
You may already have something in your house that would serve to grind up plant matter, but as botany enthusiasts, we’re on Team Get A Dedicated Grinder.
The stickiness of nugs is no joke. Anything you use for flower is going to feel the impact eventually (the distinct aroma will also linger... for a while. A very long while). Herb grinders are designed with that in mind, and both hand and electric grinders are set up to be way easier to clean compared to something like a coffee grinder. If you’ve ever tried to get coffee fully out of one, you know what we mean.
Get Your Grind On: Actually Choosing A Grinder
Different grinders serve different needs. Understanding those differences is the key to figuring out which type of herb grinder is best to meet your needs!
The range of grinder options is vast and can be overwhelming. We're here to help.
Grinders come in a wide range of styles, from the most basic kind that most resembles Wingfield and Balding’s patented version, to much newer multi-function electric models. Hand grinders are easy to use, extremely portable, and will keep working even if you decide to take up the off-grid lifestyle. Electric grinders are great for at-home use, grinding up a lot of herb, and are more accessible for anyone with reduced hand and wrist mobility.
The various types of grinders also offer different cuts and consistency to your herb, from coarse grinds that work best for blunts and bowls, to finer grinds that are perfect for vaporizers and infusions. And we can't forget about style - from minimalist wood and glass to high-tech gadget wizardry, there’s something for everyone.
Let’s take a look at what types of grinders are out there, their basic functions and features, and a few of our favorites in each category.
Take Matters into Your Own Hands: Hand Grinders
Manual herb grinders, commonly known as hand grinders, are the most common type of grinder and can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, stone, metal, and plastic. They have at least two pieces with a set of teeth, but higher piece counts are more popular.
Regardless of piece count or diameter, hand grinders are operated with a back-and-forth twisting or 360 rotating motion, which grinds and shreds your herb for easier packing and smoking. Higher piece count grinders may also have a view window so you can make sure you’re getting the consistency you want. Different brands or styles may have different shapes, sizes, and counts of teeth, all of which affect the size and consistency of the ground herb.
Two-piece hand grinders are usually the simplest and most affordable
Just like the 1905 version, a two piece grinder consists of two parts that the herb is placed between, with a set of teeth that generate a chunky and fluffy grind. You just rotate the pieces, then open the grinder and take out your freshly ground plant matter. There’s no sifting function, but the small size keeps things pocket friendly and discreet.
An outstanding basic two piece grinder:
Small and portable, this biodegradable two-piece grinder is great for the environmentally conscious traveler, as well as anyone looking for a super affordable, super basic grinder to start with. If you need a quick grind while you're exploring a new destination, or if you’re a true beginner just exploring your options, this little shredder is a good bet.
Three-piece hand grinders operate in much the same way as a two-piece
The main difference is that they feature pass-through holes on the second piece and add a collection chamber to the bottom. This easily holds enough for a bowl or two, and means you don’t have to shake the herb out of the grinder.
Some of the three piece grinders we recommend:
If you live to skate, this three piece grinder is a must-have. Equally at home with a Pulsar SK8Tray or at a discreet sesh at the skatepark, the unique silicone grip sleeve helps keep your herb in the palm of your hand. With real spinning bearings, this grinder can shred along with you and keep you rolling all day.
This beauty is perfect for someone who wants a sustainable grinder that looks classy enough to display. Available in solid walnut or solid beech wood to match your all-natural style, this grinder will look right at home among your books and succulents as a functional and decorative addition to your smoking kit. Pairs well with the chic (and stealthy!) Luck Ceramic Water Pipe from My Bud Vase.
Gear stylish enough to display.
Four-piece hand grinders offer even more functionality
The first two pieces, starting with the top lid, each have a set of cutting teeth. Together they make up the main grinding compartment. Just as with three piece grinders, the second piece has holes for the ground herb to fall through. Underneath that, the third piece is a storage compartment where shredded herb is collected. However, unlike a 3-piece grinder’s solid bottom, this part will usually have a fine mesh screen that filters out kief* into the fourth and final piece. This bottom compartment is also known as the pollen chamber.
A few of the four piece grinders we love:
A classic with a twist, the concave grind chamber helps funnel even the stickiest of nugs right on through to the other side. The individually anodized pieces look gorgeous and are sure to be a standout at the next sesh.
This grinder speaks for itself: Wizards on motorcycles, trippy mushroom forests, rainbows and the open road.
This iconic offering from Cali Crusher is a solid choice for the seasoned pro looking to upgrade and for the dedicated beginner alike. With a durable aerospace aluminum construction, milled in California, it’s a classic grinder that will last and get the job done with even the densest, stickiest flower.
For experienced users who are looking for a super serious grinder, look no further. Coming in at a massive 88mm (nearly 3.5 inches!), it’s no secret why they called it the BFG (that’s right: because it’s a Big…Fu–Fancy! Fantastic! Fun! ...Grinder). It’s definitely an investment, but it’s also a clear winner when it comes to higher capacity hand grinding.
👉*Pulsar Pro Tip!Kief is the pure trichomes - cannabis crystals - that are found all over the outside of the flower. This part usually contains a greater concentration of cannabinoids and can be collected - a typical four piece grinder will include a small spatula-like tool called a kief scraper! - for use in cooking or pressed into hash for smoking. If you want to get more into kief, you may want to add a pollen press to your kit.
Specialty Hand Grinders: building on the standard hand grinder design, some hand grinders offer additional features
Storage grinders offer additional storage capacity if you have a mountain of flower to shred, or want to use the extra compartment for keeping your unground flower fresh while you’re out and about. Crank grinders feature a crank handle on the top lid of the grinder, providing a faster way to grind your herbs without as much wrist strain, as long as your crank grinder isn’t too small.
Two of our best offerings in the storage and crank grinder categories:
This dual-function grinder is perfect for those who want a bit more space. With a regular 4-piece grinder on top that can be used separately, it also features a large additional container base for your whole or shredded flower. This grinder is great for long hangouts or short vacations - take it with you and keep going all weekend long without having to stop and grind every time you need a new pack.
This crank grinder has all the same features as your average 4-piece grinder, but comes with the bonus hand crank and a view window so you can watch your grinder in action. It's fun to use and watching that wheel of teeth go round is mesmerizing. This grinder is great for the ganja grasshopper and the smoke sesh sensei alike.
Hand grinders overview: the grind produced by hand grinders is usually a little chunkier and is best used in bowls, bongs, and for rolling. Hand grinders are great for the beginner and the advanced alike, because they are easy to use and hard to break.
On the other hand (ha!), all manual weed grinders require some level of manual dexterity - gripping with both hands and wrist twisting may be more challenging if you have a repetitive strain injury, arthritis, or otherwise limited use of one or both hands. If that’s true for you, you’ll want to consider an electric grinder instead.
It’s Electric: Grinders (Boogie Woogie Woogie)
Electric grinders are perfect for those who want to grind greater amounts of flower for either storage or consumption. They’re also the best option if you deal with chronic pain, limited range of motion, or overall limited use of your hands and/or wrists, because you only need one hand to operate them, mostly by pressing a button.
Either battery or plug operated, these grinders work much like a typical blender: a quickly rotating blade attachment can make short work of large quantities of herb. This type of grinder typically produces a finer grind, which is less ideal for bongs and joints, but works wonderfully in vaporizers!
Basic electric grinders don't have to be basic
Grinding directly into a clear glass jar and available in a beautiful wood grain or marble pattern, this electric grinder will look right at home on your kitchen counter. In addition to the elegant styling, it also features a rechargeable battery, so you can take it on the road. Shred herb and look great doing it, without taxing your wrists or hands.
Perfect for the green cook or those ready to shred a large quantity of herb for home use, this electric grinder plugs right into a standard outlet and can run for as long as you need it to. It has a transparent plastic lid so you can make sure you are getting the perfect consistency, whether you’re cooking, vaping, or smoking.
Multi-Function Too?: Electric (Grinder) Bugaloo
Some electric grinders are just grinders, and getting everything else you need to optimize your herbal experience is up to you, but if you're looking for something more complete, you're in luck! Our innovative product team came up with these all-in-one set ups:
A complete kit for grinding and filling your own pre-rolls, the Pulsar Electric Cone Filler comes in a convenient carry case and has some cool accessories for a totally portable, one-handed roll-your-own experience. One member of our team called it “a life saver” after they broke their wrist and only had one hand to work with. The ECF is also an awesome option for beginners, because the all-in-one functionality covers all the bases. Put some cones in the cone stand, add herb to the funnel jar, grind, and fill. Voila! - all the benefits of DIY pre-rolls, one-handed, with a significantly reduced learning curve.
Another really cool all-in-one device, the Pulsar Range has you covered if you prefer a fire-free experience. Along with the multiple vape atomizer options, the Range comes with a grinder attachment that works similarly to the ECF, which simplifies your sesh while offering unparalleled versatility. If you already like vaporizers, or are looking for your first one and don’t want to shop around for multiple pieces of gear, the Range makes it easy to grind and go. Best of all, if you decide you prefer concentrates to dry herb, you can keep right on using it.
Electric grinder overview: Electric grinders offer several advantages: one-handed use, the ability to process more flower at once, and the option of a finer grind if you prefer to vape your dry herb. Electric grinders can also be part of an all-in-one system if you’re into keeping things streamlined. However, if you’d rather avoid having to recharge your battery or needing an outlet at all, always-on hand grinders are going to be the better choice.
The Best Weed Grinder? Turns Out, It’s Personal
We’ve come a long way from the Stone Age, and as cannabis consumption becomes more wide-spread, technology continues to develop and improve. Today, grinders are an essential part of cannabis culture and the aspiring toker, discerning medicinal user, or casual microdoser has a wide variety of options to choose from.
People who chose their best weed grinder and ordered online with confidence after reading our guide to choosing a grinder. This could be you!
Regardless of the way you like to partake, grinders are an important part of any herbal experience because they turn the dry cannabis flower into a more readily consumable form. Whether you prefer vaping, cooking, or just plain ol’ fashioned smoke and fire, a good grind ensures a good time by helping your herb achieve its highest potential.
Hand grinders make for the best bowl pack, while electric grinders are perfect for cooking or vaporizers. Choosing the best weed grinder isn’t just a matter of picking the latest and fanciest model, because what’s best for you depends on your needs, preferences and goals as a user, as well as where you are on your cannabis journey.
Understanding your options and identifying which one is the best fit for you right now is the best way to #EnjoyHigherCulture.
🗨️ If you were one of our favorite grinders, which grinder would you be and why? Tell us in the comments below! 💭
Jade Alexander, May Toropova, and Mark Monroe contributed to this post.
Screenshot of The Simpsons taken from the episode 'Last Exit To Springfield.'