How to clean a grinder
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- What is a grinder?
- What you need to clean a grinder
- How to clean a grinder: Step-by-step process
- Bottom line
What is a grinder?
Grinding your weed before smoking is a crucial step in the consumption process. Using a grinder gives you an even and consistent burn when you’re smoking, maximizes efficiency, and lets you get the most smoke out of your bud. While you can always pick apart your weed with your fingers, using a specialized herb grinder is by far the best way to break your cannabis down into smaller, more smokable pieces.
Using a specialized herb grinder is by far the best way to break your cannabis down into smaller, more smokable pieces. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
There are a few different types of weed grinders. The first and simplest model is a single chamber with metal grinding teeth and a lid that either snaps or screws into place. The underside of the lid also has grinding teeth that work in tandem with the teeth inside the main chamber. To use this type of weed grinder, simply press a couple of nugs down into the grinding teeth, put the lid on, and twist. As you twist, the grinding teeth in the main chamber and on the lid chop the herb into small, uniform pieces.
In addition to this simple, single-chamber design, there are grinders that function in a similar fashion but that include multiple chambers stacked onto each other. The top chamber contains the grinding teeth where you place your nugs before twisting the lid back and forth to break up the herb. There are a series of holes in the bottom of this top grinding chamber, through which the herb falls into a catch located directly beneath the grinding teeth. To access the ground-up herb, unscrew the catch chamber from the grinding chamber and pinch or dump out the herb you’re going to use.
There are grinders that include multiple chambers stacked onto each other. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Multi-chambered grinders typically have a mesh screen across the bottom of the catching. The screen filters out the chunks of plant matter from the much finer, powdery kief, which falls through the screen and into a kief catcher. Some grinders have multiple screens to separate out the super fine grains of kief from the larger grains of kief. Either way, these multi-chambered grinders allow you to isolate and keep the cannabinoid-rich kief for future use.
Finally, some weed grinders use rotating blades rather than grinding teeth. These grinders can produce a more uniform final product, as the blades cleanly slice the herb rather than forcefully grinding it apart into small chunks.
What you need to clean a grinder
The problem with grinders is that they eventually get gunked up with small pieces of plant matter, powdery kief, and sticky resin. When this happens, the lid can get stuck and difficult to work with, and it can be a challenge to rotate the grinding teeth or cutting blades back and forth. When this happens, it’s time to clean your grinder. Here’s everything you’ll need to get your grinder into like-new condition:
Assemble what you need to clean your grinder. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
- Your dirty grinder
- A toothpick
- A small, soft-bristled brush
- A freezer
- A plate or bowl
- Isopropyl alcohol
- A toothbrush or some other type of stiff brush
- A Ziploc bag or glass jar
- Clean water
- A towel
How to clean a grinder: Step-by-step process
There are two main ways to clean a grinder. The first way is faster and simpler but won’t allow you to save the plant material leftover in the grinder. The second way takes a bit longer and requires some extra steps but will let you harvest some potentially potent residue for future use.
Method 1: Quick clean your grinder
Step 1: Disassemble the dirty grinder
Begin by taking apart and separating each chamber of your grinder. At this point, you can quickly harvest a little bit of leftover plant material by dumping out and saving as much of the loose leftovers as you can.
Begin by taking apart and separating each chamber of your grinder. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 2: Soak the grinder in alcohol
Place the grinder into a container of some sort—a Ziploc bag or large glass jar work best. Fill the container with enough isopropyl alcohol to fully submerge all parts of the grinder. Let the grinder soak for 20-30 minutes and agitate the container every once in awhile to help break apart plant residue.
Fill the container with enough isopropyl alcohol to fully submerge all parts of the grinder. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 3: Scrub the grinder
Pour out the alcohol and use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub your grinder. Don’t forget to wash each chamber, scrape along the grinding teeth, and scour the lids.
Pour out the alcohol and use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub your grinder. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 4: Rinse and dry the grinder
Use clean warm water to rinse your grinder thoroughly. Be sure to wash away all alcohol and any remaining plant material. Dry off your grinder with a clean towel. Once the grinder is completely dry, you’re ready to start grinding again.
Use clean warm water to rinse your grinder thoroughly. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Method 2: Deep Clean Your Grinder
Step 1: Disassemble the dirty grinder
If your grinder is so clogged up with plant residue that it’s hard to get a smooth back-and-forth grinding or slicing motion, it’s time to deep clean it. Start by disassembling the grinder and removing each chamber from the others. As you do this, be careful that you don’t spill any of the plant matter that’s left over inside the chambers.
Step 2: Dump out residue
Dump out leftover plant matter onto a plate or into a bowl. You’ll save this material for later use. At this point, you’re simply trying to harvest the stuff that’s only loosely caked into the grinder; don’t worry about the material still clinging to the chambers of your grinder. You’ll take care of that in the next step.
Dump out leftover plant matter onto a plate or into a bowl. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 2: Freeze the grinder
Arrange each piece of the grinder to sit upright inside the freezer. Leave the grinder in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Freezing the plant residue this way makes it stiffer and, as it freezes, it will start forming into small clumps rather than clinging tightly to the grinder, all of which simplifies the scraping of the residue out of the grinder.
Freezing the grinder makes the plant residue stiffer and it will start forming into small clumps rather than clinging tightly to the grinder. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 3: Harvest plant residue
Remove the grinder from the freezer. Use a toothpick and small soft-bristled brush to gently scrape away as much of the plant material as you can. As before, use your plate or bowl to collect everything. Remember to scrape around the edges of all the chambers, along the sides of the grinding teeth, and around the circumference of each chamber’s lid. Most of this plant residue—especially the powdery kief—is incredibly rich in cannabinoids and very potent, so be sure you keep everything you harvest for future use.
Use a toothpick and small soft-bristled brush to gently scrape away as much of the plant material as you can. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 4: Soak in alcohol
When you’re satisfied that you’ve harvested as much of the leftover plant material as you possibly can, it’s time to make your grinder spotless. Place each chamber inside a large Ziploc bag or a glass jar. Fill the container with enough isopropyl alcohol to fully submerge the grinder. Let everything soak for at least 20 minutes. Every once in a while, give the container a gentle swirl to help break apart any plant matter stuck to the grinder.
Step 5: Clean off remaining residue
Pour out the alcohol and remove the grinder from the container. Use a toothbrush or another stiff brush to scrub your grinder clean. In this step, you’ll get rid of the most tenacious residue—the stuff that’s really gunking up your grinder and making it hard to use.
Step 6: Rinse and dry
Finally, give the grinder a good rinse in clean hot water, making sure that all the alcohol and plant residue are gone. Use a clean towel to dry off the grinder, including inside the chambers and around the grinding teeth.
Use a clean towel to dry off the grinder, including inside the chambers and around the grinding teeth. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 7: Start grinding again
At this point, your grinder should be pretty much spotless—almost as clean as the day you first got it. You will immediately notice how smoothly the device rotates and grinds, and how much neater and more uniform your small chunks of herb will become. When your grinder is completely dry and in like-new condition, go ahead and load up a few nugs, grind them down, and enjoy your smoke.
At this point, your grinder should be pretty much spotless—almost as clean as the day you first got it. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
A clean grinder is essential to getting the most out of your cannabis experience, and you can keep your device in top condition with a few household supplies along with a little elbow grease.
How to clean a grinder Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is a grinder? What you need to clean a grinder How to clean a grinder:
The 5 Best Methods for Collecting Kief
Saturday August 24, 2019
H ere at PotGuide, we recently covered some of the ways to put your kief collection to good use, and we figured that it might be a good time to go over some of the ways to collect that kief in the first place. In general, there are three ways of collecting kief without the use of solvents: shake it off, freeze it off, or force through a screen to be caught in some form of reservoir. The best collection methods combine these methods to capture as many trichomes as possible. Take a look below to learn more and start collecting that precious kief!
The standard and by far most popular method of collecting kief is to use a four-piece grinder. The distinction from a two- or three-piece grinder is that it will have a “kief catcher,” a chamber in the bottom beneath a fine screen to catch the kief that falls off of your buds when shredded.
Want to upgrade your herb grinder? Check out PotGuide’s list of the 9 Best Weed Grinders on the Market.
A quality grinder need not be expensive, budtenders and head shop workers will usually have a good tip on which work best.
Many utilize the “coin trick” to get better efficiency out of their grinders’ kief catchers. Putting a coin in the middle chamber helps to knock trichomes off of the flower as well as push them through the screen to the collection chamber below. It’s important to wash the coin well before putting it in with your flower to avoid contaminants and ridge-less coins tend to work best (better surface contact).
Small pollen boxes, can be slightly time consuming for getting large yields, but are easy and tidy for small personal batches. Simply put some buds in the top and shake. The biggest benefit of pollen boxes are that they keep everything nicely contained, so you don’t have to worry about a gust of wind or clumsy roommate coming by and scattering your work to the wind. However for larger yields, you’ll want to scale up.
Silk screens can help you collect a pretty decent amount of kief in a short amount of time. To do so, you’ll need to take a trip to your local art store to grab a silk screen, the very same you might buy to DIY a few band t-shirts. For this method, a basin or clean surface is set to catch the kief underneath (a pane of glass or mirror works well) and then ground or shredded cannabis plant material is gently run over the screen to separate out the kief.
This method is ideal for medium-sized batches of plant matter. One downside to using silk screens is that they can tear easily from stems. It’s best to be gentle and work slowly, picking out any jagged pieces that might tear. Metal screens are available in this size as well, but can be harder to come by.
The oldest kief method is to create a drum with a silk screen. The screen is stretched over the whole drum basin (often just a plastic bucket), and then covered with a selection of bud or trimmings. Next, a tarp is secured over the top with a rubber band or tight rope, locking the plant material in between the tarp and the silk screen. This is then beaten with sticks and the kief falls through the silk screen. With the right micron-gage silk (the unit of measurement for small particles), one could easily make a traditional Moroccan kief drum at home. This is an ideal setup for larger amounts of plant matter, but also easy to scale in size.
For the ultimate kief collection method, we start introducing a little science. THC is not water soluble, meaning it won’t dissolve in water, and colder trichomes become more brittle and fall off with greater ease. This means that any method of freezing won’t disturb the THC, while making the kief easier to agitate and collect. Dry ice alone, or (or even your trusty freezer) can be used to cool the buds to a point where the kief can be shaken off in a jar or container. Freezing prior to using the coin and grinder trick will also improve yields.
However, submerging the plant in an ice bath with get the most out of it, one just needs to be able to collect the kief back out. To do so, hash producers use a dry ice bath and what’s known as a “bubble bag,” a type of sieve sleeve (say that five times fast) traditionally used for making bubble hash. Plant matter is put in the middle of the bag then stirred in the ice bath forcing the bud against the screen. The resulting kief is collected underneath the screen.
This is essentially the freezing method with a screen and collector attached to it and is ideal for collecting some of the highest quality kief, as the process can be repeated with finer and finer screens bags to get only the head of the trichome (ensuring the least possible amount of plant matter). It works well for large batches, a it’s possible to get quality hash out of things like trim and clippings this way as well.
Naturally, a large factor in how much kief accumulates is the quality of the cannabis plant to begin with. Buds with heavy trichome coverage will yield more kief and produce a higher quality smoke.
Ask your budtender to help select well-sugared strains in order to maximize yield. Also, wearing gloves, or using an object to manipulate the plant matter is ideal to minimize oil residue from your hands (which will also make the kief clump up). Happy kief collecting!
Do you have any experience collecting kief? Let us know some of your favorite methods in the comments below!
Matt Mongelia holds an MFA in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has worked in the cannabis industry in various roles for 4 years, from dispensaries, production and retail to events, content and marketing. He is a writer for the comic Dark Beach, and has previously covered music and cultural content for SOL REPUBLIC.
In general, there are three ways of collecting kief without the use of solvents: shake it off, freeze it off, or force through a screen to be caught in some form of reservoir. Take a look below to learn more and start collecting that precious kief!