At some point or another, all 420 enthusiasts have searched for their pack of rolling papers and pulled out their stash, just to find out that they don’t have an herb grinder on hand. Most smokers then resort to picking apart the nug piece by piece and rolling a lumpy joint that burns poorly. If this has happened to you on more than a few occasions, it’s time to keep a backup herb grinder in your backpack and learn a few tips and tricks to grind weed without a grinder for when the circumstances turn dire. By the end of this article, you’ll have more than enough ideas up your sleeve for when you’re away from home and don’t have an herb grinder handy as well as the know-how to make a DIY weed grinder when you’re in a pinch.
Why do you need an herb grinder?
If you’re thinking that you can get away with “grinding” your weed with your fingers forever, forget about it. There’s a reason that herb grinders designed specifically for slicing and dicing cannabis flower exist. Breaking down dry herb is actually one of the most important steps in the entire smoking preparation process and can make a big difference on the whole experience. Ever try to stick an entire nug in a bong bowl and light it up? It doesn’t turn out well. Not having an herb grinder ranks anywhere from an annoyance to a big issue, depending on who you’re talking to. While the hands on approach is great if you really have no other option, it should always be used as a last resort. This isn’t just because your fingers will get super sticky and smell like bud, using a true herb grinder leads to smoother burning joints and also keeps potent trichomes intact for stronger bong rips that will get you flying high faster. These are a few of the reasons why you should definitely be grinding up your weed and investing in a high quality herb grinder (or two):
- Retain potency - The most potent part of the cannabis plant are the flowers and the most potent part of the flowers are the trichomes. Trichomes are the tiny mushroom shaped growths that cover the flowers and are filled with resin. When stoners touch the buds too much or use their fingers to break them apart, the trichomes get damaged, resulting in sticky, resin covered hands. You want the resin to be smoked, not washed down the sink. Herb grinders retain more of the potent trichomes and most have a kief screen that will separate them out from the dry herb and allow the smoker to add them back into joints or bong bowls.
- No more sticky fingers - Tying in with retaining potency, using an herb grinder means you’ll keep the resin where it belongs, on the flower that will be smoked, not on your fingers! Not only is it smelly and annoying when you want to be discreet, you’ll have to wash your hands before attempting to roll. Using an herb grinder keeps the trichomes intact and requires much less direct contact. The tacky cannabis resin only really comes off when it’s dissolved with isopropyl alcohol (anyone who has ever tried cleaning a bong with just soap and water knows this first hand).
- Better burn - The main goal of grinding weed is to create fluffy smoking material that is of a small, even size. A consistent grind always leads to a smoother burn, whether it’s a joint, blunt, or bowl. It’s super frustrating and annoying when a joint continuously needs to be relit. A smoker experienced in the art of rolling knows the importance of not only the rolling itself, but also having a good grind.
- Less wasted dry herb - In addition to a better burn, there will also be less smoking material wasted. Large chunks of flower do not burn evenly and will light up quickly without producing smoke to its potential.
How do you grind up sticky weed?
Extra resinous dry herb should not be broken up using your fingers. You’ll have a giant mess on your hands, quite literally. If you have the time, lay your weed out to dry for at least a few hours or overnight. Be sure that you don’t forget about it for too long because flower that isn’t kept in an airtight container can get moldy, become crispy, and will slowly begin to degrade in flavor and strength. Another option is to put a nug or two in a sealable plastic bag and toss it in the freezer for an hour or so. This will freeze the resin, making it less sticky so you can grind it up with ease.
How to grind weed without a grinder
While it’s always best to use a true herb grinder that’s designed for this exact job, there are times you’re away from the house and no one seems to have one on hand or your backup grinder goes missing. These are a few ways you can grind weed without a grinder without skipping a beat.
What are common kitchen appliances and items that can be used?
If you’re ready to smoke at home and can’t find your weed grinder or you’re at a house party, your best bet is to head for the kitchen. Remember to thoroughly clean any items you use before and after shredding up your dry herb. You don’t want any residue accidentally turning their usual morning coffee into a wake and bake session. Here are some common kitchen appliances and other kitchen items you can use as a DIY weed grinder:
- Coffee grinder - It’s meant to crush up coffee beans, so it will definitely work on softer cannabis flower. Just be sure not to pack it too tightly and do small batches if needed. Choose medium-sized buds that aren’t too big or small for the grinding space. You may need to adjust the time and settings prior to grinding so you don’t turn it into an unsmokable powder.
- Spice grinder - While not the most common kitchen appliance to own, some home chefs like to create their own seasonings and spice blends using a nut and spice grinder. If the kitchen has one, you’re in luck because it works when trying to grind weed without a grinder too. One thing to note is that spices and nuts are hard materials, so the grinder is quite powerful. Always choose the lowest settings and be ready to pull the plug if your flower is turning to dust.
- Black pepper grinder - Did you know that black pepper naturally contains the terpenes pinene and caryophyllene, both of which are commonly found in cannabis? Curiously enough, a black pepper grinder is also the closest thing you’ll find to a weed grinder. They both work similarly and have sharp teeth that make quick work of shredding plant material into smaller pieces. Empty out the peppercorns and give the grinder a good cleaning inside and out before loading it up with nugs and turning it back and forth.
- Blender - This is not recommended and very over the top, but if a blender is all you can find, shred away. Be sure it’s clean and completely dry before pulsing away. Using the blender isn’t a great idea if you’re only grinding a small quantity.
- Mortar and pestle - Paired with a cool recycler bong, you may feel like you’re in a crazy science lab or transported back in time to a medieval apothecary. These tools were used for crushing herbs and creating medicines, so it definitely works for grinding up weed. A mortar and pestle works best with flower that isn’t overly sticky, but if that’s all you’re working with, set it inside the mortar for a little bit to dry before getting to work. All you have to do is crush it up with the pestle until you have even pieces. Don’t let it get too fine and powdery!
- Sharp knife and cutting board - It may seem like common sense, but chopping it up with a knife may not come to mind if you’re already blazed. Find the sharpest, non-serrated knife and start slicing and dicing. If the knife is dull, it’ll simply stick to the sides, so try to find the sharpest one in the cupboard.
- Pizza cutter - Similar to the knife and cutting board technique, a pizza cutter also works great at breaking down flower. The rocker style pizza cutters are best on dry herb, but the traditional pizza wheel works too. Speaking of pizza, munchie snack anyone?
- Shot glass and scissors - The shot glass and scissors method is a classic for a reason, it works surprisingly well. Place a nug at the bottom of a dry shot glass and start snipping away. The sides of the shot glass will hold the nug in place, making it easier to cut. Just be sure the scissors are sharp enough and don’t forget to wash both items after you’re done.
- Cheese grater - Just like grating a block of cheddar, this technique can get messy and may result in a cut finger, so be careful. Using a cheese grater isn’t the best idea on this list, so save it for last.
What can you use when you are not at home?
There are several instances when smokers won’t be home or near a kitchen like when they are at the beach, a party, or camping, for example and forget to pack an herb grinder. This requires a little ingenuity and creativity to build your own homemade grinder. But don’t worry, even if you aren’t the DIY type, we’ve got a few ways to easily grind up your nugs on the fly.
- Make a shaker - There are a few different ways to make a simple shaker and they’re all tried and true techniques that have been passed down for generations. One of the easiest is to use a small, hard container like a plastic pill bottle or the bottle you get at some dispensaries and a coin. Choose a nickel or quarter and give it a good clean with hand sanitizer, an alcohol wipe, or soap and water depending on what you have available. Toss the nug and coin into the pill bottle, secure the lid, and shake until your arms hurt. Check the consistency after about 20 seconds of vigorous shaking and be sure not to over do it or it could turn to dust.
- Credit card (especially the metal kind) - Time to pull out that Amex platinum card or any other metal credit card you or your friends have in their wallets. Using a flat surface, chop up the nug while holding one end steady with your hand. This is literally one step up from breaking it with your fingers and don’t forget to clean off the card before and after working.
- Use your fingers - If all else fails and you’re on a deserted island with nothing but some dry herb and rolling papers, you can always resort to your trusty fingers to pick apart the bud piece by piece. Messy, inefficient, and simple, using your fingers is a sure fire way to get the job done quickly.
- Grinder card - Have you ever heard of a grinder card? If you often light up while on the go, you should definitely get one. Grinder cards fit in your wallet so you always have one at all times. They’re thin pieces of metal that work just like a mini cheese grater, but for weed!
DIY weed grinder examples
Herb grinders are pretty cheap to purchase, but some stoners can get very creative when it comes to making bongs, smoking accessories, and grinders. Here are a few other homemade grinder examples:
- Empty lip balm container and push pins
- Altoid tin and coin
- Rub two nugs together (if they’re decently dry)
- Two lego pieces
If making a homemade grinder isn’t for you, visit our online smoke shop to pick up an affordable herb grinder that will last.