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:
Should You Clean Your Weed Grinder?
Monday January 28, 2019
I f you’re a cannabis enthusiast, then you definitely have a grinder. And a grinder, like any tool used over time, needs maintenance and care in order to prolong its life, give peak performance, and for you to get the most for your money. It isn’t necessary to have a grinder cleaning schedule per se, but to keep your grinder in top shape, consider cleaning it every few months as a matter of maintenance. However, if you are an infrequent smoker, or notice that your grinder isn’t operating smoothly, it may be time to give it a good cleaning. Here’s why.
You Could Be Smoking Mold
This is especially true for people who smoke infrequently. Over time, if there’s even a hint of moisture in your stash and you store it in a dark, warm place and forget about it, you are bound to get mold. Smoking moldy cannabis is a bad idea, and not only because of a ruined flavor profile.
Smoking moldy cannabis, especially if you have a pre-existing condition like asthma or allergies, can exacerbate your symptoms. It can also expose you to bronchial and lung irritations, plus additional illnesses. If you find mold in your grinder – or anywhere on your bud for that matter – it’s best to throw it out and clean your grinder.
How to Clean Your Grinder
There are a few ways to clean your grinder after discovering mold, but you’ll definitely want to go with the most sterile method that won’t ruin your grinder. With metal grinders, the first step is to remove your resin. The simplest way to do this is to take the grinder apart, put the parts in a freezer-safe bag, and freeze them for about an hour or more. Then, tap the grinder parts over a paper towel to collect the moldy resin.
You can then use a small brush to remove any leftover bits and pieces. Next, place the pieces in a pot of water and bring to a boil, and let the pieces boil for about seven to 10 minutes. Let the water cool, then carefully remove the boiled pieces. Afterwards, soak them in isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes more. Rinse the pieces thoroughly, then dry.
If you’re in a pinch, you can skip the first few steps and simply fill your grinder with isopropyl alcohol, shake vigorously, and repeat until all resin/mold has been removed.
If your grinder is made of acrylic, freezing is the best way to go. Take the grinder apart, place the pieces in a freezer-safe bag, freeze, then make sure the moldy cannabis ends up in the trash. Next, use a toothbrush, cotton swab, or brush dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove any leftover pieces and give it a thorough sterilization. Rinse with warm water, and your grinder should be good as new.
Don’t Risk Poor Performance
Over time, your grinder will get sticky with built up residue that will keep it from working properly. This will also wear down the grinder’s teeth and effect the flavor of your weed, since the fresh product will get stuck to the old. In this case, you’ll want to keep your kief for special occasions, but all the other cleaning rules apply. Disassemble your grinder and place the pieces in a freezer-safe bag, then leave in the freezer for an hour or more. If the pieces don’t come out easily, you may want it to put it back in the freezer for a little longer.
Next, tap the pieces out into a bowl, tray, or any other implement that can collect your kief. A small brush or Q-tip will suffice to get any remaining pieces. Depending on your grinder, you can then boil it, or use isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to get your grinder squeaky clean and working its best.
An alternative cleaning method is to disassemble the grinder and place the pieces in a bowl, then pour salt into the nooks and crannies, followed by an isopropyl alcohol soak. Then, use a toothbrush or other small brush to remove any leftover salt, rinse, and voila! Clean grinder.
A Few No-No’s
Bleach is known to kill every germ in sight. However, it is a very toxic substance that is extremely irritating to the eyes, skin and lungs. Bleach can exacerbate asthma and allergies and is potentially carcinogenic. You don’t want your weed anywhere near a surface that has been cleaned with bleach.
To clean out the grinder’s smallest nooks and crannies, stick with a small paint brush, cotton swab, or even a guitar pick. Using an abrasive brush to clean your grinder can cause microparticles, microscopic pieces of steel, aluminum, or plastic smaller than a grain of pollen, to break off. These particles can be irritating to the throat and lungs and over time, could be detrimental to your health. Next time your grinder gets a little sticky, try using the steps above. They’ll definitely prolong your grinder’s life and improve the quality of your weed.
Do you have any tips for cleaning your grinder? Share them in the comments below!
Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work – which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor – covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.
Most cannabis enthusiasts use a common tool called a grinder to break down their flower before consumption. While grinders are extremely useful, they must be maintained for optimal efficiency. Learn more about why it's necessary to clean your grinder and how to do it effectively.