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What Makes a Good Herb Grinder?

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Welcome to the “What Makes a Good Herb Grinder?” post! A good grinder for sale should be part of every enthusiast’s bag of tricks no matter their preferences. Whether you like to roll your own cigarettes, enjoy a nice rip form your favorite bong or a draw from a vaporizer, you’ll be better off prepping your herb for a session with a quality grinder than your fingers or a pair of scissors. Using a good grinder will make for a better overall size and even consistency for your final product so today we’ll be comparing the various types of grinders and talking about what makes a good herb grinder!

Grinder Materials

Wood Grinders

Wood grinders are usually relatively inexpensive and offer a sort of natural feel due to the simple design and the wood being the primary building material. The price of these grinders is the obvious benefit to these grinders, but they can be problematic. The teeth of these grinders tend to be metal poles that look a lot like nails that have been inserted into the top and bottom, cut to length and (sometimes) sharpened to a bit of a point which is not optimal for a good grind. It’s actually a bit of a stretch to call these teeth at all as they usually aren’t really sharp. The second problem you’ll usually have with these grinders is that the wood does not lend itself to cleaning, so when your grinders gets gummed up or really dirty, there’s no real way to clean it without damaging the wood. The last issue is that the teeth can break pretty easily, which makes your grind even less consistent.

Acrylic Grinders

These grinders basically look like pieces of translucent plastic and are also pretty inexpensive. They don’t tend to weigh very much and the body of the grinder and the teeth are all one solid piece. The price as well as a general increase in durability are the benefits you’ll find with these grinders as for a very slight price difference between these and the wooden grinders, you‘ll have a more reliable grinder. The problems you’ll face is that the teeth, though they are usually an improvement on w ooden grinder teeth, are still sub-par. They’re usually in the shape of pyramids and line the top and bottom pieces of the grinder and although the edges are sort of pointed, they’re not sharp by any means. This means you’ll have a harder time grinding up what you put in there and you might need to break it up a bit even before you start grinding, which defeats the purpose a bit in our opinion. The next problem is that acrylic grinders can’t be cleaned with just any cleaning solution. If you like to take isopropyl alcohol to your tools to clean them, you’ll have to rethink that as it will quickly damage an acrylic grinder.

Electric Grinders

There are grinders made specifically to grind herb as well as the tried and true coffee grinders you’ll find in the kitchen isle of a store near you. These grinders can vary in quality from one to the next, so we’ll just examine the principle of the item as well as the things that are consistent from one to the next. The blades are usually nice and sharp, which means your herb will be properly sliced to pieces, and the fact that it’s electric means that you can grind what you put in with the simple press of a button. The problem here is the price. These grinders are often a bit pricier, though you are paying to grind at the press of a button. The second problem is consistency. The fact that air movement and gravity are what decides what hits the blades a lot of the time means that some of your herb could be ground to powder while the rest still needs a few more second to get just right. There’s nothing to stop the herb that’s perfectly ground from being ground some more and being ground too much. There’s also the problem of mechanical failure to be considered with these grinders. Because there are so many moving parts involved in an electric grinder, if some part of it fails, your grinder will be totally useless. That combined with the fact that they are a good deal more difficult to clean makes for a less attractive offering, even for the laziest of enthusiasts.

Metal Grinders

Metal grinders are usually made of aluminum and the teeth are one with the body of the grinder. The shape of the teeth depends on the brand, but one thing they have as an advantage over other grinders is that they are very durable, very dependable, and can be cleaned with pretty much any cleaning solution you can get your hands on as long as it doesn’t contain a powerful acid that dissolves metal. The problem is usually price. These grinders are often a good deal more expensive than wood and acrylic grinders, but it is an investment in quality as it will last longer than the other 2. In some cases, the grinder can be on par or higher in price than the electric grinders, but again, you’re investing in the security of knowing that as long as you have 2 hands and a heart-beat, you can grind up your herb without fear of a mechanical failure.

Grinder Teeth

In the last section there was some mention of teeth in the grinder and how they alter the performance of the grinder. Here we’ll break down the basic types of teeth to give you an idea as to what they are and how they work.

Nail Teeth

We mentioned nail teeth when in the previous section where we talk about wood grinders. These teeth look pretty much like nails that have been cut off at the top to make them the proper length. Just like a normal nail. The edges of it are smooth and the only area that is remotely sharp is the top where the metal was cut to length. What this means for your grinding is that it will be hard to turn the grinder and the herb will just be sort of pinched between metal pieces to break it up. You might as well use your fingers to get the job done.

Pyramid Teeth

These teeth are usually found in certain acrylic and metal grinders. These teeth are shaped like pyramids and though they have edges, the edges aren’t sharp. This is a bit better than the nail teeth, but these teeth still don’t make for the easiest grind in the world or the best consistency.

Diamond Teeth

Diamond teeth are shaped a lot like diamonds with slightly pressed in sides when you look at them from the top down. The tops of these teeth are flat, but unlike pyramid teeth, the edges of the diamond shape are sharpened to easily cut up what you grind in it. This makes it much easier to actually grind up what you put inside it.

Blades

You won’t find blades in your normal manual grinder; these are only in electric grinders. The metal blades are flat pieces of metal that have been sharpened at the edges so that they can chop up herb as they spin around in a circle via an electric motor.

Number of Pieces

Not all grinders have the same number of pieces involved in the actually grinder either. The number of pieces involved in the grinder can make a big difference in how well the grinder performs. In this section we’ll talk about grinders with different numbers of pieces and how it changes the grinding experience.

1-Piece Grinders (Grinder/Grater Cards)

These grinders are more like a small cheese grater that’s usually the size of a business card. These can be convenient when it comes to being able to carry it around, but they’re far from convenient when it comes to actually grinding. Cheese graters work well because cheese is pretty solid and hard, so you can shave off some with the grater, but herb is a whole other story. It’s softer and that lack of rigidity makes it really difficult to properly grind up your herb. The result is a pretty inconsistent grind and a rather annoying experience. You’ll also have to watch your fingers. Nobody likes skin in their ground up herb.

2-Piece Grinders

Buy Grinders that only use 2 pieces are the most basic form of grinder you can get. What ends up happening is you put your herb into the grinder and turn the top, bottom or both (but in opposite directions) to grind up your herb. When you feel like your herb is ground enough, but if you’re not careful you could end up grinding your herb way past your preferred consistency, so you’ll need to pay close attention when you’re grinding to make sure you avoid that.

3-Piece Grinders

These grinders take things s step further and add holes to the bottom of the second piece of the grinder that lead to the space between the second and third piece. The size of the holes decides how fine the material in the top 2 chambers needs to be before it falls through to avoid further grinding. If the size of the holes is right, you can put your herb in the top of the grinder, start grinding with the grinder right side up, then keep going until just after you stop feeling resistance as you grind. When you open the bottom chamber, you’ll find all your herb ground up perfectly and the top chamber will be pretty much empty. This is a decent choice, but there is one type of grinder that is better than this!

4-Piece Grinders

These grinders take what you’ve already got and add a new element to it to improve the overall functionality of the grinder. Between the 4th piece of the grinder and the second piece of the grinder is a piece with a screen in it. This mesh screen catches what has been ground up in the top of the grinder and fallen through the holes and lets it rest on the screen ready for use while finer particles slip through the screen and into the very bottom of the grinder. As you grind more and more herb, you’ll gather more and more of these particles in the bottom part of the grinder. Once it’s full, you can scrape out these potent particles to use in a recipe, maybe to make butter, milk, or oil that’s infused with the properties of the herb you’ve chosen to grind up in your herb grinder!

5-Piece Grinders

These do exist, despite how illogical it might seem. You might be wondering what could possibly be added to grinders by this point that would further improve on the design. The answer is, not much. These grinders add an extra screen below the screen you’d normally find in a 4 piece grinder that has a mesh screen that’s finer than the one before it. The logic used here is that as the particles fall through, the cream of the cream is sifted out and left at the bottom so that when you use what’s in the bottom of the grinder, you’re using nothing but the finest (hardy-har-har) stuff. We don’t really see the point in this as the mesh screens in a 4-piece grinder do a good enough job for just about any enthusiast out there. The extra piece is overly indulgent.

Grinder Size

This is a more subjective topic to be considered when it comes to grinders. Some people might want a super small grinder that they can carry around with them easily and grind on the go, while others might want something whose size approaches that of a dinner plate. Which you’ll need will likely come down to 2 factors:

Where will you be using your grinder?

How much will you need to grind in one sitting?

Bigger grinders will obviously be able to hold a great deal more and be able to grind a lot more in one go than a smaller grinder. If you need to grind a lot as quickly as possible, and you don’t need to do it away from your house, it would be a good idea to use a big grinder.

On the other hand, if you think you’ll need to use your grinder on the go a lot, or you just don’t have the space and only need to grind smaller amounts in one sitting, you’d be better served by a standard-size or smaller sized grinder.

So, What Makes a Good Herb Grinder?

The answer to that question lies in the many topics we’ve discussed and has a lot to do with your personal needs and preferences. Regardless, we can still provide you with our expert opinion, so here it is:

What makes a good herb grinder is a grinder that’s not only durable, but effective, convenient and functional. As a result, a 4-piece metal grinder with diamond teeth that’s about 1 inch in diameter would be the best candidate for most people. It provides great value for your money because it will grind reliably and last you a long time. Now that you know, make sure you check out our grinder page to see the ranking chart and find a grinder that would be perfect for your life!