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10 Ways to Break Up Your Cannabis if You Don’t Have a Grinder

Having a grinder on hand is commonplace for many cannabis enthusiasts, but when you go a few times without one, you see why this product is a must-have for breaking down buds in a pinch. Don’t worry, though — when you need to deconstruct some nugs and find yourself without the help of our cylindrical toothed companion, remember that the ingenuity of a cannabis enthusiast knows no bounds.

From simple old school tricks and techniques to a few MacGyver-worthy hacks, here are 10 ways you can bypass the grinder by utilizing nothing more than a few (relatively) easily assessable household items and a bit of creativity.

1. Your Hands


This may seem obvious, but going back to the basics is sometimes the way to go. Breaking down cannabis by hand can be a very intrinsically rewarding experience despite its few downsides. Yes, cannabis is sticky, and breaking it down by hand can be a bit tedious. But those fingers of yours can sure do some work when it comes to flower picking.

“Getting your hands dirty,” so to speak, is a terrific way of building a relationship with your buds. It allows you to get a true feel for your bud’s structure and trichome saturation, and it also affords you the opportunity to get up close and personal with your strain’s unique bouquet of aromas. Your fingers won’t want to let go!

2. Parchment Pressing

Parchment pape on table next to cannabis flower

To bypass getting your hands sticky, try using a piece of parchment or wax paper as a barrier between you and your buds. This eliminates the burden of having to worry about removing the sticky and aromatic resin from your hands afterwards.

Most paper products have what it takes to get the job done with this hack, but parchment works especially well because its waxy surface helps keep everything from sticking. Cut a few pieces up and place them between your fingers before you begin, or use the pieces to create a barrier when smashing buds with heavier objects.

3. Keys and Cards

Keys on table

Not everyone has parchment on hand, but most of us have a set of keys we can utilize in a pinch. It’s a super simple concept: simply use the keys’ (after you clean them, of course) serrated edges to cut way at your buds. You may end up getting your keys a bit sticky as a result, but this isn’t something a little alcohol swab can’t handle.

Another quick fix involves digging into your wallet for a credit card. They tend to be firm enough to break down buds without snapping. Plastic cards are also perfect collection tools for your finished product, making them very useful to have around for the aftermath.

4. Blunt Force

Cannabis in prescription jar

For those times when your bud is a bit more on the dry side and the aforementioned hacks are not within your means, use blunt force to break down your buds. This works well in both medicine containers and plastic baggies; just make sure your container is sealed before you get started. Hard containers can be shaken vigorously (letting the buds smash against the surface over and over), while baggies can be smashed against a hard surface such as a counter or wall. Stickier and/or denser flowers may have a hard time breaking apart using this hack alone, but my next tip can help with that.

5. A Coin and Container

American coins

Drop a clean coin inside of your hard container before giving it a good shake; the coin will thrash around and tear through your buds. Dense and sticky buds stand much less of a chance against a thrashing coin in a confined space. Prescription bottles and breath mint tins are ideal candidates for this hack. Make sure you give your can a solid shake, and be sure not to overpack it — you want to leave enough room for the coin to do its job in there.

6. Scissors and a Shot Glass

Cannabis flower and scissors

Scissors are already the perfect companion for trimmers, but they can also be used post-processing as a neat way of breaking down your larger buds. A shot glass makes for a great catching container for your clippings. You can also place your buds inside of the shot glass and use your scissors in a pestle and mortar fashion, grinding and cutting your buds as they sit within the shot glass.

Both tricks have their pros and cons: clipping over a shot glass affords you the opportunity to cull unwanted stems from your final product, but may leave larger “budlets” which can be undesirable for rolling joints. Using the pestle and mortar technique is much quicker but also leaves you less control in picking out stems.

7. A Knife and Cutting Board

Knife and cutting board

Don’t be afraid to get a little fancy in the kitchen by pulling out a knife and cutting board for a bit of good old fashioned cannabis carving. Serrated knives obviously work a bit better due to their ability to pull and tear as your knife glides along, but any knife can really do the trick. A cutting board helps keep everything contained so that you can get back to your business without an extensive cleanup. Treat the process very much as if you were slicing vegetables, letting the knife do the work as you go.

8. A Pizza Cutter/Rolling Slicer

Pizza cutter

Rolling herb slicers and pizza cutters are both very useful tools to keep in mind if you find yourself sans grinder. Like knives, wheeled cutting devices provide a sharp surface for slicing, though their design makes cutting sticky buds a much easier task than if you were to simply use a knife.

Also, for sewing enthusiasts, rotary blades work perfectly well as a substitution. These blades tend to be much sharper as they are designed to cut though multiple types of fabric.

9. A Microplane


Otherwise referred to as graters, microplanes make for a perfect alternative to knives. Running some buds through a microplane makes for a fine, even grind. If you’re thinking about rolling and want consistency, microplanes are a great solution. They come in all shapes and sizes, so if you have one laying around, give it a try. This can be a huge time save for anybody looking to grind slightly larger amounts of cannabis into a consistent finished product.

10. A Coffee Grinder

Coffee grinder

If you’re working with a larger quantity, these first nine hacks may prove to be less efficient, but if you’re in the presence of a coffee grinder or some other small food processor, you’ve just scored the mother load. Many hardcore grinding aficionados will skip the traditional hand grinder altogether and opt for a larger setup such as a coffee grinder to automate the entire process. A coffee grinder may just be the ultimate hack for somebody looking to break down a large amount of cannabis into a finely ground, consistent end product. It requires very little effort, and can grind large amounts in no time at all.

Image Sources: Levi DeVos via Flickr Creative Commons and Patrick Bennett

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Patrick Bennett

Patrick lives with his wife and daughter in Denver, where he spends his time writing, photographing, and creating content for the cannabis community.

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