Having cannabis by itself only does one so much good. Without a way to smoke or a way to grind, having a big bud of weed in front of you can end up as an exercise in frustration. Taking care of the first part can be a little tricky (without the proper know how) but getting your bud ground and ready-to-smoke doesn’t have to be difficult.
In today’s article we’re going to go over Weed Grinding 101: Why grinding your weed is a good idea, ways to make grinding easier (and more effective), and what you can do if stuck between an unground bud and a hard place. Let’s dive in.
Why Grind Weed Anyway?
If you’re here with us, we’ll assume you’re already familiar with the flowering buds of the cannabis plant – Typically a densely-packed, leafy nodule wrapped tightly around a stem.
Though stems do have their purposes in delivering THC & CBD, the end goal for most marijuana is to separate these stems out and away from the (hopefully) crystal-covered flowery bits. Once detached, these pieces of flower are then placed into the smoking or vaporizing method of the user’s choice.
Learning how to grind weed has two practical purposes:
First, it makes buds much easier to consume. Though one could theoretically light a marijuana plant on fire and simply stand down wind from the smoke, to say that this is wasteful would be an understatement.
Meanwhile, the majority of smoking & vaping devices simply aren’t equipped to handle cannabis still attached to the stem. Grinding your cannabis increases it’s total surface area, allowing sources of heat to penetrate more effectively and evenly.
When vaping, this gives you a more consistent, even drag of vapor, and helps ensure as much of your cannabis is exposed to heat as possible. When smoking, a good grind helps make sure the heat is distributed evenly across the surface of your cannabis, leading to less cannabinoids wasted to carbon.
Grinding also helps when making cannabis edibles, as the increased surface area allows your oil, butter, or other infusing medium to more thoroughly whisk away cannabinoids from the plant matter being steeped (grinding prior to decarboxylation is also typically considered a requirement).
How to Grind Weed With a Grinder
Though there are plenty of other ways to grind weed, as we’ll detail below, for sheer effectiveness there’s no beating a tool specifically designed for the job. Weed grinder technology has come a long way over the years but the classic model has yet to go out of style.
Closed, your average weed (or “herb”) grinder looks like a round-shaped “puck” or elongated cylinder; this puck will then pull apart into two separate top-and-bottom halves, with the hollow interior of each typically containing some fashion of teeth-like protrusions that fit together when closed.
To use, a bud (or several) of cannabis is placed inside the hollow, before being sandwiched between the two puck halves. A twist of the wrist (or twenty) spins the two pucks around each other, the teeth within tearing at and separating the bits of flower away from each other. Once done, the puck is opened once more and voila – Freshly ground cannabis awaits.
Some grinders may come with varying “stages” (such as a separate bottom chamber for collecting kief) and there are models with different mechanisms, odds are if you mention a “weed grinder” to someone in casual conversation the above is the basic mental image they’ll walk away with.
A weed grinder of some fashion is usually considered basic kit & gear for any marijuana enthusiast, but if you enjoy having a good smoke, odds are at some point in your life you’ll be caught without one, wondering exactly how to transform your bud into something you can actually partake of. For that, we have…
How to Grind Weed Without a Grinder
A note before we begin: Not every method listed below is equal. We’ll give an overview of what we view as the best scenarios to use each method (as well as a couple of “methods” for grinding weed without a grinder that we absolutely do not recommend), but feel free to experiment and see what’s best for you.
Cutting Weed With Scissors
Often one of the first places the mind goes to when trying to figure out how to grind weed without a grinder, scissors can be a great option for chopping up some weed when no other alternatives present themselves.
Assuming these need little explanation on how to be used, bear in mind that unless your scissors are sharp you may end up doing more “mashing” than “cutting”, particularly if your nugs are still fresh, moist, and/or dense. This can lead to weed that is more compressed than ground, and may also result in lost chunks of product sticking to your scissor blades.
This method is also often combined with using a shot glass (or other form of small container), as an easy way of containing the weed while it’s being cut without having to handle it directly (we’ll explain exactly why that’s bad a bit later in this article.)
A shot glass works fine, and can be used with the scissors method if desired, but if you’re able to grip the stem well enough that works too; the benefit of a shot glass, however, is that it will keep your hands securely away from the knife-like scissor blades, preventing any accidents in your search for a makeshift herb grinder.
Cutting Cannabis With a Knife
Another handy option, particularly if out and about, a pocket or kitchen knife can make quick work of weed. Much like the scissors above a dull knife can end up doing more smashing than cutting, and can lead to trichomes, resin, and residue getting stuck to the blade.
If up against a particularly fresh bud, we recommend using something with a serrated edge, and trying a gentle sawing motion; serrated edges can lead to an increased loss of material sticking to the blade, but will likely generate a more fluffy, lighter “grind”.
Cutting Buds With A Razor Blade
You can cut weed with a razor blade, similar to the above methods, but the end result can be a bit less refined than with larger, wedge-shaped blades or a serrated edge. Loss of trichomes can be lessened with the flatter edge of a razor, and they can certainly be easy to clean, but also require a degree of caution that make them hard to recommend.
Cutting Cannabis With a Credit Card
Much of the notes about using a razor blade also apply to using a credit card to grind weed; though a card is nowhere near as sharp, and more likely to mash your weed than actually “grind” it, they can be used in an absolute pinch.
Note, though, that credit cards are typically absolutely filthy, meaning they should be thoroughly cleaned before (and after) use. Which segues nicely into…
Cutting Weed with a Key
This is pretty gross, to be honest. Keys are absolutely filthy (yet not the dirtiest implement included on our list; more on that in a bit) and should only be used as both a last-ditch resort, after said keys have been thoroughly sanitized.
That said, if in a bind, the serrated edge of a key can work much like a knife, and will make quick work of buds that are on the dryer end. Just… explore other options first if you can.
Grinding Marijuana With a Mortar & Pestle
Well, it’s called “herb”, right? The mortar and pestle is a classic way of grinding spices, herbs, teas and many other natural ingredients, so if you have one hanging around, why not use it for your cannabis?
This method definitely works better for dryer weed, as fresh nugs will likely just end up being smushed into a dense, sticky lump. But if it’ll break up cloves? Your mortar and pestle will certainly break up weed.
Pro tip: Make sure to wash your mortar if swapping between using it for weed and using it for other spices – Otherwise your next batch of homemade enchiladas could end up being more “special” than you’d like (and, conversely, nobody enjoys smoking cumin).
Grinding Weed With a Cheese Grater
Similarly to the above, this is a method that can benefit from both pre-and-post washing of your chosen implement (pungency is typically a desired trait in marijuana, but not quite roquefort-level smelly). But, when in a pinch you could do much worse than the good-old cheese grater.
To use as a makeshift marijuana grinder just apply bud to grater, move hand up and down vigorously, and collect your shredded cannabis from the other side.
A microplane with large enough holes can also work well for this process, and will leave you with a more finely-ground end product, note that stickier, fresher herb can get stuck inside the holes and gum up the entire works – If you’ve ever tried to clean ginger or grated lemon zest out of your microplane, you understand why this is an issue. Just keep a scraping tool or bottle of rubbing alcohol handy to make sure you can give your grater an emergency clean if needed.
Grinding Weed With a Coffee Grinder or Spice Mill
Our last recommended method, if you’ve got a coffee grinder or spice mill hanging around and you don’t care about never using them for anything other than weed, you’re pretty much good to go.
As with the example of the mortar & pestle, if an object is designed to grind up herb then it’ll work just fine for grinding up “herb”; coffee grinders and spice mills (such as those used for pepper) are no different.
Given the often enclosed, hard-to-access interiors of these devices, however, cleaning is going to be much less of an option, meaning your spice or coffee grinder of choice should pretty much be purchased and used exclusively for weed (again, smoking things like peppercorns or espresso isn’t really a recommended idea).
Otherwise, treat your cannabis bud exactly the same as you would your coffee or other spices, placing them into your grinder and either turning the manual crank or hitting the electric power button. Again, dryer weed will separate better than more dense, moist buds, but both should work fairly well in the end.
“Grinding” Weed With a Coin & a Pill Bottle
This is, emphatically, not a recommendation. There are plenty of other informational sources that recommend doing this, and it is a “classic” among the older stoner crowd, but…
The theory is this: Take your cannabis and place it inside a typical pill bottle. Add in a small-but-heavy coin (such as a quarter or a nickle), tightly secure your lid, and shake it like you’re mixing paint. Eventually, after a few good moments of shaking, you separate lid from bottle and weed from coin and presto – Ground weed. Sound enough, but with some complications that don’t often get brought up.
First, this method only works if your weed is super dry – You’ll get a bit of breakage on weed that’s a little moist but not a good “grind”. If your weed is dense and freshly-damp? You’re just going to end up with a slightly smashed nugget.
Secondly, this method is flat-out disgusting. Ignoring any health risks that could arise from using a pill bottle that might still contain traces of pharmaceutical medicine inside, currency – both coins and paper – is absolutely crawling with germs, bacteria, and other microorganisms that you generally don’t want getting inside your body. Though the heat from smoking can go a long way toward killing these unwanted critters, we’re big fans of being safe over sorry.
Tearing Weed Apart With Your Fingers
…. look. Do what you gotta do. But, cleanliness aside, this is just an easy way to end up wasting a good amount of the cannabinoids present on your future smoke.
We go further into detail on exactly what trichomes are and why they’re a good thing in other articles on our site, but for our purposes here the issue comes in their solubility, IE: getting absorbed off of your cannabis and into the oils naturally present on the skin of your hand.
Hand tearing your weed means those trichomes (and cannabinoids) are just getting soaked into your hands or fingers, where they’ll do little-to-no appreciable good (and certainly can’t be smoked).
Using gloves can help to mitigate this, but still expect some trichomes to end up stuck to the outside of your gloved fingers. Overall, if you have some fashion of implement that can/has been sanitized, we’d recommend sticking with that over using your own two hands.
Just because you don’t have a grinder doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to your smoke. Learning how to ground weed without a grinder is as much art as it is science, so always do what works best in your given situation (just remember to keep things sanitary).
We hope our list of ways to grind weed without a grinder has given you some helpful tips on what to do next time you’re staring down a bud and don’t have a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B(owl). Happy smoking!