Hands rolling a pre-roll next to a grinder with cannabis flower inside

What Is A Marijuana Grinder For & How Do You Use It?

If you like to smoke marijuana using a hand pipe, water pipe, or rolling papers, you’re going to want to use a grinder. The good news is that they’re easy to use, once you know what to do. There are so many varieties of grinders that it can be hard to choose which one is your favorite. In this guide, we’re going to share everything we know about grinders, including:

  • What’s a Grinder?
  • What are the Different Types of Grinders?
  • How Do You Use A Grinder?
  • Answering Grinder FAQs

What’s a Grinder?

A marijuana grinder, or “herb” grinder as they’re sometimes called, is a tool used to break marijuana flower into tiny pieces, so it can easily be packed into the bowl of your favorite pipe. Grinders come in a few different varieties, including grinders with kief catchers, which allow you to maximize the potential of your cannabis by collecting those dried trichomes. 

Grinders can be made out of a variety of different materials, including plastic, wood, and metal, which all offer their own pros and cons. For example, metal grinders are more expensive but easier to clean, plastic grinders are less expensive but tend to break, and wood grinders can be beautiful to the eye but can be a real pain to clean. They also come in different sizes, ranging from just a couple inches wide to half a foot. The size simply allows you to grind more marijuana at a time, so don’t feel like bigger is better. Choose the size that fits your needs.

Prefer to vape? Check out our guide to vaporizers.

What are the Different Types of Grinders?

In addition to size and material, grinders can have multiple parts, or chambers, within them. Here are four of the most common types of grinders you’ll find in a dispensary in order of least expensive to most expensive:

Two-Piece Grinders

Two-piece grinders are made up of a lid and a bottom. The bottom portion has the grinder. You place the flower or a piece of flower inside, put the lid on, twist it a few times (if it’s a manual grinder). The grinder can be turned until the pieces are the size you desire.

Three-Piece Grinders

A three-piece grinder has the same parts as a two-piece grinder, but it also includes a storage chamber beneath the grinding plate where your newly ground flower can fall. When you grind your cannabis, it drops through holes in the plate into a small container where you can gather up your pieces for use or store them for later.

Four- and Five-Piece Grinder

Four-piece grinders are favorites of true cannabis connoisseurs. They have four parts: the lid, the grinder, the chamber, and a kief catcher. The kief catcher is a fine screen that catches the dried trichomes that fall off your marijuana flower when grinding it. Kief is prized among cannabis connoisseurs for its potency and flavor. A five-piece grinder is similar to a four-piece grinder but typically has an extra storage chamber or kief catcher.

How Do You Use a Grinder?

Now that you know all about grinders, it’s time to learn how to actually use one. Don’t stress, grinding marijuana is easier than you probably think. 

Step 1: Place Flower in Grinder
Depending on the size of your marijuana flower, you may be able to add the whole flower, or you may need to break off a piece of the bud and place it into the grinder. Pop open the lid of the grinder and snag that bit of marijuana flower. Tuck your marijuana in between the teeth of the grinder. Then, pop the lid on. 

Step 2: Replace the Lid & Grind
Twist the lid and the bottom of the grinder in opposite directions. This will break up the marijuana in the grinder. Typically, you need about 10-15 twists, but you can always take the lid off, check your grind, and put the lid back on if you need a few more twists. Depending on your grinder, the marijuana will either be sitting between the teeth or underneath them in the storage chamber below. 

Step 3: Open & Use
This is our favorite step—open the lid and grab your marijuana. The pieces should be just the right size to add to your rolling papers or pipe. If you have a kief catcher, you can also add a bit of your kief to the top of your bowl or sprinkle it before rolling your “joint.” Kief adds potency to your marijuana flower, so you don’t need much to feel its effects.

If you feel like you need to practice, choose popcorn flower from the product menus, rather than your top-shelf premium flower. While it’s pretty hard to screw up a grind, you’re right not to risk your expensive bud until you feel confident. 

Answering Grinder FAQs

Grinders can feel daunting to beginners, so our cannabis experts are always answering questions about them. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions and our budtenders’ favorite answers:

What is a grinder used for?
A grinder is used to break apart marijuana flower into smaller, smokeable pieces. Grinders are preferred over breaking apart flower by hand because you don’t lose any kief or flower to your sticky fingers. 

Do grinders all come with kief collectors?
No. Grinders come in a wide variety of types and sizes. If you want a grinder with a kief collector, look for a four- or five-piece grinder. 

How do I clean my grinder?
If you know how to clean a pipe, you know how to clean a grinder. Grab some isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush or some epsom salt (table salt, kosher salt, Himalayan salt—they all work too). Depending on how gunked up your grinder is, you may want to soak it in the isopropyl alcohol first. Once the dried resin and flower are softened, just give it a good scrub. Then, wash it with soap and water. Now, you’re ready to use it again.

Purchasing a Marijuana Grinder

The best part about most products in the cannabis industry is that you have a lot of options, and grinders are no exception. While we’ve mostly covered manual grinders, there are also automatic grinders that take care of the whole process for you (though they can be quite expensive). If you’re still not sure what type of grinder you want to get, head down to your local dispensary. You’ll be able to see the grinders and learn more about them with the help of our budtenders, so you can make an informed decision about what’s going to best fit your needs.

Recreational Cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and medical marijuana patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.