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How to Use a Dry Herb Grinder for Beginners

Serious results start with a grinder and if that’s what you’re after, then pay attention.

Table of contents

How to use a dry herb grinder: guide for beginners

High-quality grinders are a must-have for the best experience. You can get by without one, but serious results start with a grinder and if that’s what you’re after, then pay attention.

This accessory is known by many, whether you’re a vaporist or a smoker, and is considered a staple among herbal enthusiasts. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some shred one way while others shred another. Throughout this article, you’ll learn and hear terms like fine to medium and coarse grind, and maybe discover something brand new altogether.

If you’re new here and haven't a clue who or what a grinder is, you’re in the right place. We’ll teach you all about them from what they are and how to use them, to a few of the different types of grinders you should be on the lookout for. Let’s get into it.

“This accessory is known by many, whether you’re a vaporist or a smoker, and is considered a staple among herbal enthusiasts.“


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What is a herb grinder?

A grinder is a tool used to break herbs down into smaller pieces that are consistent throughout. They’re used by all types of consumers, especially fans of dry herb vaporizers, and provide a more potent, consistent vaping and smoking experience.

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How to Use a Herb Grinder

How do you grind herbs in a grinder?: Quick summary

Here’s a quick rundown if you want to jump right into it:

  1. Remove the lid from your herb grinder

  2. Tear off small, pebble-sized pieces from your herbs

  3. Place the herbs in between the teeth of the grinding chamber

  4. Place the lid back on top and press down with a slight twisting motion

  5. Twist the lid back and forth until all the herbs are ground up.

  6. Open the grinder and collect your herbs.

What is the purpose of a herb grinder?

Consistent performance

Some vaporizers work more consistently with ground herbs. They provide a more even cook versus whole flower, and produce the most consistent hits from session to session.

More potent than whole flower

Ground flower provides a more consistent surface area for the heat to travel through vs unground flower, and produces the thickest vapor from the start.

Whole, unground flower takes longer to consume and doesn't punch as hard. For the best vapor production, ground herbs are the way to go.

Great for a trip

Your grinder can also double as a temporary herbal travel case for those sessions on the road. Prepare a batch and grind your flower before you leave and then keep it stashed away in the grinder until you’re ready to vape.

Make sure your grinder is screwed on tightly or has a strong magnetic connection!

“Ground herbs provide a more even cook versus whole flower, and produce the most consistent hits from session to session.”

How to Use a Grinder 4-Piece Grinder

How does a herb grinder work?

Herb grinders are pretty straightforward. At the most basic level, you’ll have a top and bottom piece, both with sharp little grinding teeth.

Place your herbs in between the two pieces, put them together, and twist and turn. The grinder chops it all up into small, evenly-sized pieces.

Then, separate the two pieces and retrieve your freshly ground herbs. And that’s it!

What are the parts of a herb grinder?

A grinder can come in either two, three, or four pieces. Here are the components that you'll usually run into, shown with a 4-piece grinder.

How to Use a Grinder Grinding Chamber
How to Use a Grinder Lid

The grinding chamber and teeth: This is where you place the herbs and where all the shredding and tearing take place. See the sharp, diamond-shaped teeth?

A lid: This piece holds everything together and aids in the grinding process.

How to Use a Grinder Storage Chamber How to Use a Grinder Pollen Catcher

Collection chamber: Some grinders will have a single chamber, either in the middle or at the bottom, that will catch the herbs as you grind them.

Pollen catcher: 4-piece grinders come with an extra-fine screen and a bottom chamber to catch and hold the tiny bonus material that falls from your herbs as you grind. We’ll touch on this more a little later.

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Which grind should I use for my vaporizer? From fine to coarse

Fine grind

Use a finer grind for quicker, more intense sessions. If you want to pack more herbs into your vaporizer oven use a finer grind, but don’t grind too finely or the herbs can clog the screen and kill the session.

Coarse grind

Use a coarser grind for longer, more flavorful sessions. This type of grind leaves more of the potent goodies intact and will vaporize a little slower than a fine grind.

Medium grind

A medium grind is a nice balance for general use with enough punch and plenty of flavor. It’s not too fine, but not too coarse, and will work with just about any vaporizer on the market.

Things to consider

There are other things to consider. For instance, If you have a convection vaporizer that relies more on airflow, the grind makes a bigger difference, while other vaporizers, like the POTV ONE, are more forgiving when it comes to different grinds.

At the end of the day, what grind you use is personal, and you should play around to find your favorite style and the best grinder for you. The concept is similar to brewing coffee, so summon your inner barista and have fun!

“At the end of the day, what grind you use is personal, and you should play around to find your favorite style and the best grinder for you.”

How to use a grinder for beginners

How do you grind herbs in a grinder? It's easy and straightforward.

  1. Place the herbs inside
    Tear your herbs up into pebble-sized pieces and place them in between the chamber teeth inside. You can add just enough to fill your vaporizer’s oven or enough to fuel multiple sessions.
    How to Use a Grinder Place the Herbs Inside
  2. Twist and turn
    Put the lid on top and twist and turn until it’s all ground up. The first few twists will feel tough but become easier as it shreds your herbs apart.
    How to Use a Grinder Twist and Turn
  3. Collect your herbs
    If you have a two-piece grinder, remove the lid and dump out your material. If you have a three or four-piece grinder, unscrew the middle chamber to access and collect your herbs.
    How to Use a Grinder Collect your Herbs

What is pollen?

As you grind, tiny particulates fall from the herbs and collect at the bottom. This powder-like substance is called pollen and it’s the most potent part of the plant. Connoisseurs like to collect this substance and use it to “spike” their loads for stronger effects.

Many grinders come with a “pollen catcher” at the bottom that filters out this potent sand and collects it the more you grind. After a lot of grinding, you’ll find a pile of extra goodies at the bottom to play with.

How to Use a Grinder Pollen Catcher

How do I collect pollen from my grinder?

Three-piece and four-piece grinders are perfect for this. After a handful of sessions, crack open the very bottom chamber to access the pollen catcher and see what you’ve got. If you see sand-like bits, take a small scraper and scoop it all up. If it’s pretty clean down there, keep on grinding and over time the goodies will pile up.

Two-piece grinders don’t have a built-in pollen catcher, so it’s a little trickier, but there’s still plenty up for grabs. You’ll just need to work a little harder to collect it. Take a small scraping tool and carve off the sticky substance stuck on the teeth and along the sides.

How to clean a grinder

A dirty, clogged up grinder will lose its smooth glide and can even give off a funky smell. Just like your vaporizer, your grinder should have a routine cleaning to stay in top condition.

How to clean metal grinders:

If you have a metallic grinder, soak it in some rubbing alcohol for an easy cleanse.

  1. Separate each piece and brush out any debris.
  2. Soak them in isopropyl alcohol (91% or higher) for a few hours to loosen tough build-up.
  3. Scrub each piece again with a brush/toothbrush or sponge.
  4. Rinse the pieces off and set them out to dry.

How to Use a Grinder How to Clean a Metal Grinder

How to clean acrylic & plastic grinders:

Acrylic or plastic grinders should be cleaned with soap, water, and a good scrub.

  1. Separate each piece and brush out any debris.
  2. Soak them in warm, soapy water for a few hours to loosen tough build-up.
  3. Scrub each piece again with a brush/toothbrush or sponge.
  4. Rinse the pieces off and set them out to dry.

How to Use a Grinder How to Clean Acrylic & Plastic Grinders

Grinder safety: Isopropyl alcohol may strip the color off of some anodized aluminum grinders, so spot check yours before you fully soak it.

How do I grind herbs by hand?

Grinders are the superior way to shred but if you don't have one nearby, tear it up with your hands.

Start from the bottom and tear off small pieces of herbs (your herbs will tear apart and stay intact a little better if you start from the bottom of the stem). Then, just place the pieces directly into your oven, stash away the rest, and you’re good to go!

Hand-torn herbs are a great way to experience the most flavor from your herbs. The terpenes and trichomes that are lost through a grinder add a nice, flavorful boost to your sessions.

How to use a herb grinder: FAQs

Q: Do I have to use a herb grinder?
A: Absolutely not, but that depends on your expectations. You can vaporize whole flower if you want to skip the grind and get straight to your session. Ground herbs are great if you want to pack more herbs or produce the thickest clouds.

Q: Why is it important to grind herbs?
A: Grinding your herbs sets you up for the most potent clouds and consistent results across your sessions.

Q: What is a herb grinder made of?
A: You can find different types of grinders made from metal, acrylic/plastic, and even wood.

Q: What are the types of herb grinders?
A: There are a few different types of herb grinders, from handheld and crank-type grinders to cheese grater style and electric grinders.

Q: How do you use a 4 Chamber herb grinder?
A: 4 chamber grinders are just like any other grinder but with two extra compartments. Grind your herbs in the first two chambers and then gather them in the collection chamber. Use the fourth bottom chamber to catch the pollen as you grind.

Q: When should I replace my herb grinder?
A: You should replace your grinder when the blades become dull and the grind isn’t as smooth. If it becomes tough to shred, it’s probably time for a new one.

Q: How to sharpen a herb grinder?
A: You shouldn’t try to sharpen the teeth of your grinder. Tiny, leftover shavings can make their way into your herbs and ultimately into your lungs. It’s best to replace it with a new grinder.

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Written by

tyler hixon

Tyler is a writer and photographer from Jacksonville, Florida, where you can find him reading on the beach, or on his longboard, carving up the streets of his neighborhood.

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