What is a Grinder and How Do You Use It for Cannabis?
Grinder filled with nugs. (Leafly)

A grinder is a tool used for grinding up dried cannabis flower into smaller pieces for a more even burn when smoking, usually to roll into a joint or blunt, or for cooking into oil for edibles. A grinder is most often a small, handheld container; cannabis is loaded into the “teeth” inside and ground up by twisting the top piece.

“Do you have a grinder so I can roll this joint?”

“This grinder is getting sticky.”

What is a grinder?

A grinder is any tool used for the purposes of grinding cannabis flowers up into small pieces. Most cannabis grinders are small, handheld devices that manually crush small amounts of cannabis inside of its inner chamber. Cannabis grinders contain pointed “teeth” where the cannabis flower is pushed onto and closed underneath a lid. 

Handheld grinders are typically made with plastic, aluminum, or (ideally) stainless steel. They may also have multiple chambers: a top chamber for loading cannabis, a chamber that collects the ground flower, and sometimes, a bottom chamber that collects kief that has broken off the plant material.

Less common are electronic grinders, which automatically grind your cannabis without any manual effort.

What are the benefits of a grinder?

A grinder saves you the trouble of picking cannabis buds apart with your fingers, which is a sticky, laborious, and time-consuming chore if you need enough to fill a joint. A grinder is not absolutely necessary to smoke cannabis from a pipe, but ground cannabis will burn more evenly and completely than a packed bud that has only been loosely torn up by hand.

A grinder may also be used to pick cannabis buds apart for cooking into an oil or butter for edibles. However, if you do grind buds for cooking, make sure you grind it coarsely so the plant material is easy to separate in a strainer.

How to use a grinder

When using a standard handheld grinder, remove the top lid and load a small amount of cannabis into the pointed teeth. You may need to pull larger buds apart by hand so they fit into the top chamber of the grinder.

Once you have the top chamber loaded, put the lid back on and manually twist it to crush the cannabis inside. Once all the cannabis has been ground up, remove the lid and enjoy your ground cannabis. For multi-chamber grinders, you will have to unscrew the chamber below to find your ground cannabis.

How to clean a grinder

It’s only a matter of time before your grinder becomes sticky with the plant’s natural resin. Cleaning it requires the same materials you would use to clean a glass pipe: isopropyl alcohol and salt. Simply rub the sticky parts of your grinder with a mixture of the two, using a thin towel or Q-tip. With enough effort, the resin should start to lift from the surfaces of your grinder.