Whether you vape, smoke blunts, or need to pack a fat bowl, you will need to have an herb grinder to save time and money. Grinders mechanically break up larger chunks of weed into small even pieces to let it vaporize or burn evenly. The grinded herb releases trichomes (kief) which can be captured in a lower chamber, giving you a potent 50-75% THC residual that can be smoked later. Getting the right grinder is a worthwhile investment if you are serious about getting the most out of your herb.
Herb grinders come in different diameters, number of chambers, and types of materials. If you want the most portable lightweight grinder, you will want a smaller diameter, single chamber, acrylic grinder. If you want a grinder that offers you better value and efficiency, you will want a larger diameter, three chamber, metal grinder. There are other features such as grinder teeth, transition holes, and kief screen, which add to the overall ease of use but are not as important. All these features have been thoroughly researched and considered for each of the grinders I reviewed.
Diameter of a grinder is important for giving enough room for your bud to shred freely and to have enough leverage on the lid to shred with less energy. When you are trying to shred multiple grams of herb, having a larger diameter will make this process much easier. A smaller diameter grinder will do the same job but it takes more work. If you a regular user, opt for a larger diameter grinder. The only reason you would want a smaller grinder is if you want portability (On the go), a smaller profile, or if you want a lighter grinder. You will want your grinder to be 2.0” (50mm) minimum.
Four Piece vs Three Piece vs Two Piece
Grinders commonly come in either 4-pieces or 2-pieces. The 4-piece grinder will have the following profile: A top chamber with teeth to shred herb and transition holes for the herb to fall into the middle chamber. A middle chamber to collect shredded herb with a screen to separate loose kief from the shredded herb. A bottom chamber to collect kief which can be pressed and used later for increased potency. The 3-piece grinder will be similar to the 4-piece grinder but lack a kief screen and a dedicated kief chamber. I recommend a 4-piece grinder for increased efficiency and a 2-piece grinder for portability and producing larger grinds for blunts or joints.
Metal vs Acrylic vs Wood
Grinders can be made of metal (Aluminum, zinc, nickel), acrylic, or wood. For metal grinders, it makes almost no difference which metal you pick. Any metal grinder will have the strength to shred all types of herb. The main difference is going to be weight. Aluminum grinders have the lowest density and are the lowest weight offering you the best portability among metal grinders. Keep in mind, if you pick a grinder that is coated in a color, the coating can chip off when dropped or mishandled.
Wood grinders and acrylic grinders will be the lightest of the grinders and are usually purchased for low price (acrylic) or style (wood finish). Because grinding is a mechanical process that stresses the teeth, these grinders tend to wear and have the teeth break off after lots of use. So acrylic and wood grinders are not recommended for long term use. You will get more value by buying a solid metal grinder. There is one exception to this, the Magic Flight Finishing Grinder. If you prefer to vaporize over combusting your herb, you will need to maximize the surface area of the herb that is exposed to the heating element. In addition to using a metal grinder, you will need this wood grinder to “finish” or reduce your herb to the finest grind possible.
Grinder Teeth, Transition Holes, and Kief Screen
The teeth of the grinder can come either as diamond or square. Most grinders will come with the diamond design. In my experience, the teeth shape don’t matter in the grinding process. The result comes from how much force you apply during the grinding process. What does matter is the transition holes. A good grinder should come with the optimally sized and spaced transition holes to allow grinded herb to pass easily into the middle chamber. If you purchase the wrong grinder, the improperly spaced transition holes will cause more herb to remain in the top chamber and slow the grinding process.
A Kief screen is meant to separate loose trichomes from the herb. The Kief screen in herb grinders are measured in microns and must be large enough to separate the kief from your shredded herb. There are herb grinders on the market feature replaceable screens. This feature is unnecessary since you can easily clean the stainless steel screens. My recommended grinders come with right micron spacing to capture loose kief. Don’t worry about replaceable screens, if you are serious about collecting kief you should extract it instead.
After reviewing all the grinders currently on the market, I’ve narrowed down the list to the best grinders for each person’s budget. Remember, you want a grinder that is at least a 2.0” in diameter. Anything smaller than that will make grinding even a gram difficult. All my reviewed grinders are 4-pieces since I prefer the efficiency and appreciate the need to collect kief. After reviewing many of the best rated grinders on the market, asking manufacturers questions, and finding the most common problems, I’ve narrowed the list down to the top contenders based on price and quality.
1. Space Case 2.5” Diameter Aluminum Grinder
Space Case has been in business since 1998 and their products are made in the USA. Space Case produced the first magnetic grinder lid and are well known for their quality and reputation for producing high-end aluminum grinders. The Space Case’s top chamber features a neodymium magnet, diamond tooth grinding element and centering wedges. The neodymium magnet makes sure the lid is secure while grinding your herb. The diamond tooth design shreds herb efficiently and the centering wedges pushes herb back into the grinding element. This results in herb that is quickly and easily shredded with little effort. The herb falls through the transition holes into the main chamber where a T-316 Stainless Steel Screen separates your kief from your freshly shredded herb.
Space Case’s features are the most imitated and copied. If you have the change and want to go with the original best in class, the Space Case 2.5” Diameter Aluminum Grinder is a no-brainer. Space Case precision machining and patented design guarantee your herb will be nothing but freshly ground trichomes and bud. I personally owned mine for over five years and never had to replace it. With regular cleaning, it works exactly like the first time I bought it.
2. Cali Crusher 2.5” Diameter Aluminum Grinder
Cali Crusher is as good as it gets for a mid-tier grinder. The Cali Crusher is made from billeted aluminum, Has a great selection of colors, and one of the best kief screens in its class. It comes with all the must have features including a magnetic top, triple chamber, and kief catcher. The magnetic top is made from neodymium magnets providing a strong solid hold when grinding. The threading is smooth and makes opening the main chamber easy. It features an o-ring to lock in any odors that can come from the grinder. But the kief screen is what makes the Cali Crusher shine. The stainless steel screen is set at the optimal micron spacing to catch more kief compared to other grinders in its class. With its excellent machining and build quality, the Cali Crusher has no competition for mid-tier grinders.
3. Chromium Crusher 2.5” Diameter Anodized Aluminum Grinder
Chromium Crusher is the most reputable budget grinder available. The Chromium Crusher comes in polished anodized aluminum and multiple colors to choose from. It has all the features I expect from a grinder including a magnetic top, triple chamber, and kief catcher, all at a very affordable price. The Chromium Crusher does come with two drawbacks. The magnet for the top chamber is weaker than the Space Case or Cali Crusher. Second, the main chamber is shallow at 3/16 inch when open. The kief chamber is much larger at 3/8 inch when opened. This odd measurement lets you hold more kief than herb, when it should be the opposite. Regardless, the grinder’s price is literally unbeatable. With over ten years of experience producing grinders and a product backed by a lifetime warranty, Chromium Crusher is an excellent grinder for users on a budget.
4. Magic Flight Finishing Grinder 1” Diameter Natural Wood
If you prefer to vaporize and want to get the most out of your herb, get the Magic Flight Finishing Grinder. In order to make sure every single trichome is heated and vaporized, the herb needs to be shredded to the smallest particles possible. This exposes more of the shredded herb to the heating element to give the maximum vaporization of your herb. You will still need to use a regular grinder to shred your herb before using the finishing grinder. If you are serious about vaporizing and saving herb, this is a must have.
When you compare grinders, you’ll find many grinders look clean, have a cool feature, or are priced better. Many other grinders come with problems that are just deal breakers for me such as poor threading for opening the main chamber, improperly sized transition holes that clog the grinder, or even plastic being included in the build. When you use your herb grinder regularly, you don’t want those issues. The other grinders will try to hide their problems with sleek packaging and convince you their product is premium! Don’t fall for this trick, choose a grinder from my recommendations. Space Case, Cali Crusher, and Chromium Crusher have already worked out many of these design and manufacturing issues long ago. There is no need to waste money on more “premium” grinders and have the threading fail and no longer open. If you are looking for a problem free grinder, stick to this list. Finally, I decided to address some “myths” I’ve run into about grinders.
Do Grinder’s make metal shavings?
If you decide to purchase a grinder that is Made in China, you will find that quality control is a problem. Some grinders sold online will come with aluminum shaving (or other metal) when you inspect them. The aluminum shavings come from the machining process that produces the teeth and transition holes. Simply dump the shaving in the trashcan and clean the grinder with some water. It is a myth that the grinding process produces small metal shavings that will end up in your bowl while smoking. It is simply poor quality control (No one cleaning the grinder after machining) that produces shavings not your grinding process. Also you don’t have to worry about smoking “aluminum”. Melting aluminum requires 1220 degrees Fahrenheit which is impossible to get without using a specialized heating element for a long period of time.
Should I buy a grinder with a crank?
No. The idea of using a crank is that it is easier to grind with. The crank introduces another unnecessary mechanical component into the grinder making it less efficient. Not only CAN they break (and often they do), crank grinders make grinding more work! It is just a novelty item that is prone to breaking, don’t fall for it.
What is the difference between an aluminum, zinc, or nickel grinder?
Manufacturers use of different metal alloys comes down to price and experience working with that metal. For you, it will make the largest difference in weight. Aluminum grinders are the lightest and most commonly used alloy. Do you want a grinder or a heavy paper weight?
What is anodized aluminum?
Anodized aluminum is an additional step in metal alloy chemistry that hardens and improves oxidation resistance of an aluminum surface. It is important to use anodized aluminum if the product is exposed to rain and sun, like boat parts. It is not important for your grinder, unless you plan on keeping it outdoors. It doesn’t hurt to have your alloy anodized.
Is my aluminum medical grade?
There is no such thing as “medical grade” aluminum. It’s like saying there is a medical grade screwdriver. The term “medical grade” is reserved for products that need to meet a certain standard for medical use in wound care, surgery, or other medical procedures.