Vaporizer 101: What is an Herb Grinder?

You may have heard that legalization has spread to California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine, which is likely going to attract new people to our kind of recreation (hopefully they choose for health, budgetary, and social reasons to do it right with a vaporizer).

Newcomers to vaporization are going to have many questions. After all, the world of vaping isn’t the la-la land outsiders think it is. There are rules.

One of the first inquiries--after said newbie tries vaping ungrinded loose leaf for the first time--will be, “why didn’t my bowl vaporizer thoroughly? Is this thing broken?” The answer will be, “you didn’t use an herb grinder,” followed by, “No, it’s not broken. You’re just a meddling novice.”

Today’s Vaporizer 101 Lesson: What is an Herb Grinder?

Vaping is all about surface area. Vaporizers either heat material directly (via conduction) or with hot air (via convection). If dry herb is not grinded down to smaller nuggets and a fine kief, these heating methods won’t thoroughly vaporize your bowl. Dry herb is like exercise. The more you grind it out, the more chill it makes you feel.

Grinders generally come as two-piece, three-piece, or four-piece devices. The rule with grinders is: the fewer the pieces, the simpler the assembly and operation (and the fewer parts there are to lose). But the more pieces, the better the grinding of dry herb and collection of kief. Here’s what each type of herb grinder consists of, in terms of parts:

Two-piece grinder - A lid with teeth and a second grinding piece, also with teeth. Notable examples include the Magic Flight Nano grinder and the super stealthy Grinder Watch.

Three-piece grinder - A lid with teeth, middle piece with teeth, holes, and mesh screen, and a bottom piece for catching kief.

Four-piece grinder - A lid with teeth, second grinding piece with teeth, a third piece with a mesh screen, and a bottom piece which catches kief. Check out the Herbivore grinder for an idea of how effective this type of herb grinder can be in breaking down dry herb.

Now let’s get to the nitty gritty. Here are the basic instructions for using a grinder for dry herb:

Step 1

Remove the lid. Place some buds in the grinder, fitting them in between the teeth.

Step 2

Place the lid back on the container and twist it a good 7 to 10 times. Open the lid and make sure all the herb has been ground and the kief has fallen through the holes. If not, shake the grinder or tap it on the side to free up any bud that’s stuck to the teeth. Then grind some more.

Step 3

With two-piece grinders, remove the lid to reveal your ground bud. With three- and four-piece grinders that include kief catchers, remove the bottom compartment of the herb grinder where the kief has fallen.

You can scrape up some kief using a tool or even a piece of paper, and load it into the bowl of your vaporizer. Or get creative and use it to bake edibles.

If you’re new to vaping, check out our herb grinders page before you load that first bowl.


Thomas Gregorich
VaporNation Content Writer

Thomas Gregorich is a writer at The VaporNation Blog, a Los Angeles-based online publication focused on providing balanced and trustworthy information about vaporizers. His blogs are visited by an average of 60,000 readers each month. His goal? To help build awareness about the true benefits and downsides of vaping.

As a vaporizer critic for the past two years, Thomas does not recommend that people take up vaping if they don't already smoke. He also does not claim that vaping is healthier than smoking. He does, however, provide information on how to choose and use vaporizers for those who already practice smoking or vaping.

Thomas bought his first vaporizer after looking for an alternative to smoking, a practice which he found to be odorous and wasteful. Since then, he's become an enthusiast, reviewing the most popular devices to provide readers with a balanced perspective. His aim is to offer responsible advice and information that ensures the continued happiness, health, and safety of his readers.

Thomas graduated from University of Massachusetts, Amherst and lives with his family in the Los Angeles region. You can read his articles on High Times, Chicagoist, Leafly, Westword, Leaf Science, Green Rush Daily, Ganjapreneur, and more.

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