How To Use an Herb Grinder

If you have smoked or vaped dry herb for a long time, you have likely at least heard about herb grinders. While they may at first seem simply like nice accessories for some smokers, they actually are paramount to achieving ideal smoke yield and flavor while smoking your dry herb.

When you grind dry herb, you accomplish two important goals. First, you have made it to where it will burn more evenly and efficiently. This means more bang for your buck while smoking as well as a better flavor. You also make airflow easier, since there are no big chunks that may potentially make it difficult to draw air in. If you are serious about smoking or vaping dry herb, an herb grinder is an absolute must.

How to Load Grinders with Dry Herbs

How you specifically load a grinder with herb is going to depend on the specific grinder you have, though there are some general points to consider. The larger the grinder, the larger hunks of dry herb it will be able to handle. If you try to grind a giant nug in a small grinder, you will end up getting it clogged or having really poorly ground product. However, regardless of the size of the grinder, it is always a good idea to gently tear apart your dry herb before loading it.

Aside from that, it will be up to the grinder in question. Some grinders are made with super sharp blades and are meant to handle a lot of dry herb at once. Others may specialize in different areas (like being small and discreet), so they may need a little more effort in getting the dry herb ground to your preference. If you really are unsure where to start, place a small amount of dry herb into your grinder and see how well (or how poorly) it handles the process.

How to Grind Dry Herbs

Once you have the dry herb properly loaded, all you need to do is twist or crank to get the job done. Different models will have different characteristics, so be sure you are giving the process the attention it deserves. For example, hand-crank grinders will be the easiest to use, but just because they are easy on your hands does not mean they cannot break. Too much dry herb at a time can cause hand cranks to break.  

Other grinders have a few options for where the dry herb goes once you grind it. Some do not have a storage compartment, meaning you will need to dump your product from the grinding chamber for storage. Others allow the dry herb to fall through small holes as they become ground, making a convenient combination of storage compartment and grinder. There is not really a “right” answer to which grinder you end up using, though. It all depends on your specific preference.

Storing Dry Herbs

As we mentioned, some grinders allow for the storage of your dry herb, but this is not a universal feature. You need to make sure that the grinder you are looking at has a storage compartment (like a 4-piece grinder).

Kief Catcher

When you grind dry herb, small dust particles (kief) are created. Over time, kief can be collected and used for smoking. A kief catcher is a compartment found on many grinders, which, as the name implies, catches that fine powder made when the dry herb is ground. This is a great way to get more bang for your buck when smoking dry herb, as the kief can be quite potent.

Loading A Dry Herb Vaporizer

Unlike using a glass pipe, you will want your dry herb finely ground when loading a dry herb vaporizer. Most dry herb vapes do not actually burn the product. Instead, they bake it (a process called convection), which is why vapor is produced instead of smoke. Because a direct flame is not applied, you can run into problems vaping if your dry herb is too coarse or thick. This can include airflow problems, frequent clogging, and inconsistent taste quality. If you are vaping with a pen meant for dry herbs, a grinder is a requirement.

Tips for Using an Herb Grinder

  1. Tap the grinder after grinding: This will make sure you get as much dry herb as possible, as well as any kief that may be sticking to the blades or the body of the grinder.
  2. Consider a vibrating grinder: You will not have to worry about shaking the grinder if you have a vibrating model. This is the best way to make sure you are getting every last speck of dry herb from your grinder. These are particularly good for collecting kief.
  3. Always keep the grinder closed after loading and grinding: This is just to make sure you do not accidentally spill any freshly ground dry herb accidentally while your attention is on your vape or pipe. Spilling ground dry herb is nearly impossible to clean well.
  4. Break up dense nugs with your fingers before grinding: Not only will this give you a more consistent grind but it will also prevent damage to your grinder from overexertion (especially on hand-crank grinders)
  5. Have more than one grinder available: This could be to help keep different dry herbs separate or simply to have a spare grinder handy should one break. You can also have a home grinder and another that is designated for use while traveling. This will help prevent spills and losing your grinder if you have one or two with a dedicated purpose.

Grinder vs Fingers

There is hardly a comparison between using a grinder and your fingers. Your fingers will not get your dry herb ground finely in any way. You will get residue and kief all over your fingers (instead of being able to store it and smoke it). You will also make a mess in general as there is nothing containing the dry herb as you tear it apart. A grinder is also much faster than your fingers, and grinders can be used as storage for later use. If you smoke or vape dry herb on a regular basis, you owe it to yourself to have a grinder handy to give you the best experience possible.

Written By: Matthew H.