Any serious vapour connoisseur needs a hardy, reliable grinder for preparing their blend. When vaporizing, a fine grind performs more efficiently and produces better quality vapour than coarsely ground herb. This is because smaller particles will heat quicker and cover more surface area inside the chamber, while providing more room for heated air to flow through your blend and collect the active ingredients that burn off.
There is a huge and varied market for herb grinders, from two piece to five piece, in a wide array of different materials, sizes and overall quality. For any budget and taste, there is a grinder out there waiting to be loved. If you’re in need of a grinder but don’t know where to start, read on for a breakdown of the different types and materials, as well as the various pros and cons for each type.
Two-Piece: The most simple kind of grinder consisting only of two grinding halves.
Three-Piece: A two piece grinder with an extra storage compartment to keep your ground material. Three piece grinders often have holes in the bottom of the grinding compartment to let ground particles fall through into the storage chamber, but some do not.
Four-Piece: Four piece grinders comprise of a grinder and storage compartment with a sifter screen. Material is ground and collected in the storage compartment, where a screen at the bottom sifts out fine pollen particles and collects it in another, smaller storage compartment. This type of grinder is ideal for connoisseurs who don’t want to waste a speck of material. The pollen collected at the bottom of your four piece can be sprinkled on top of your regular blend or made into solid pollen discs with the use of a pollen press.
Five-Piece: Five piece grinders are rarer to find, but include a grinder, storage compartment and two sifting screens – one coarse micron mesh and one fine micron mesh. The two screens will leave you with separate collections of ground material, finer particles, and super fine pollen. Though having two screens is not at all necessary, some people do enjoy grinding their material into varying consistencies.
Crank Top: Some four piece grinders come with a crank top (also called a mill top) which allows you to turn a crank to grind your material rather than manually twisting the grinding halves together. Generally, we do not recommend this type of grinder, as moving parts always carry extra risk of breaking. It is not uncommon for crank tops to break, become jammed or stop rotating smoothly over time. However, for those with limited dexterity or who have trouble using a regular grinder, this can be a good option that makes the process easier.
Grinders are available in a wide variety of materials from cheap acrylic and wooden grinders to more expensive, top of the line aluminium and titanium. The material your grinder is made of is important for both the effectiveness of its grinding capabilities and the durability of the grinder.
Wooden grinders look nice, but unfortunately they are often poor grinders. A lot of cheap wooden grinders use thin steel nails as grinding teeth and these often produce a coarse grind which is not as well suited to vaporizing. Most wooden grinders don’t have magnets in them to keep the two halves together while you grind, so they can be a messy option. They can also be difficult to clean and the grain in the wood can hold some of your material.
Pros: cheap, good looking and some believe that wooden grinders can also enhance the flavour of your blends
Cons: grinding teeth are often thin and it is common for them to fall out with wear and tear. Wooden grinders are difficult to clean, as they won’t tolerate liquids or solvents.
Acrylic grinders are some of the cheapest options and are made of hard acrylic resin in a range of colours. It’s possible to get acrylic grinders in two-piece, three-piece and four-piece models. Generally, acrylic grinders tend to be sturdy and reliable grinders but they vary a lot in the quality of their results. Some acrylic grinders may have blunt teeth, as a sharp edge is difficult to achieve, and their grinding teeth can also dull or chip with use. However, some acrylic grinders such as the Volcano grinder by Storz & Bickel are very good quality for the price and do produce a fine grind.
Pros: very cheap and sturdy, easy to clean.
Cons: getting a sharp cutting edge is tough with acrylic, so results may not be as finely milled. Acrylic teeth can also dull or chip over time.
Aluminium grinders are very popular among enthusiasts and there is a huge range in quality and price. Whatever your budget, it is possible to find an Aluminium grinder to suit your needs. Metal grinders tend to produce the finest results, as it is much easier to get nice sharp grinding teeth during the manufacturing process. For this reason, metal grinders tend to be the better option for vaporizing, as a fine grind will produce better vapour. However, with cheap Aluminium grinders there is concern with metal shavings shearing off the grinding teeth and ending up inside your blend. For this reason, it is important to seek out a reputable brand when buying an Aluminium grinder.
Pros: Sharp teeth produce fine results, and aluminium grinders are available in a huge range of prices to suit most budgets.
Cons: Some low quality Aluminium grinders have been known to leave metal shavings inside people’s blends, which can be dangerous if inhaled. Low quality Aluminium grinding teeth can also become blunt over time.
Titanium is without a doubt the highest quality material, and this is often reflected in the price. Titanium grinders are not a cheap option, but their quality and durability is above any other. Titanium is very strong, sharp, and unlike some Aluminium grinders there is zero chance of metal shavings chipping off into your grind. Titanium grinders are usually dark in colour, which makes them easy to tell apart from their silver Aluminium brothers.
Pros: Very high quality, durable and won’t leave shavings in your grind.
Cons: High price tag.
Our pick budget: Volcano Acrylic Three-Piece
Our pick mid-range: Sharpstone
Our pick premium: Space Case