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:
How To Clean A Grinder (Weed Grinder)
Cleaning a weed grinder is a must if you want to keep enjoying your grinder on the long term. Why buy an expensive, luxurious grinder, and then not maintain it? Cleaning your weed grinder is easy, cheap and very rewarding. In this guide we will discuss how to clean a grinder properly, and what NOT to do.
Cleaning a weed grinder before first use
Should you clean a new grinder before first use? In most cases, no. But does it hurt? No! If you want to be on the safe side (i.e. not consuming any chemicals used in the production process of your grinder), just give it a good clean before using it for the first time. If you don’t have anything to clean it, simply rinse it with some water, let it dry and in most cases this will be more than sufficient.
Cleaning the grinder screen
The part of your herb grinder that often requires the most attention is the screen. Clean your grinder screen regularly to maximize the collection of kief (trichomes). How to clean the grinder screen, you ask? Simple! There are various ways to clean your grinder (screen), and there is not a single right way. We discuss the different options in the next paragraph.
We prefer to use grinder cleaner (by Black Leaf). This is 100% safe to use, leaves no funky flavours, and gets your grinder looking like new again.
What can I use to clean my herb grinder?
There’s various products you can use to clean your grinder, and not everyone agrees on what is the best option. It also depends very much on the material of your grinder. If you have a titanium grinder, you can use different products than when you have an acrylic or wooden grinder.
Whatever product it is you want to use for cleaning your weed grinder, it’s always a good idea to use a bong cleaning brush to safely remove any dirt or residues.
Cleaning your grinder with (hot) water
Perhaps the safest way to clean your (metal) grinder is by using hot water. You can even use boiling water to clean aluminium and titanium grinders. But be sure not to clean your acrylic grinder with hot or even boiling water, because it can deform or even melt! Most acrylic grinders will be resistant to melting, but do you really want to risk destroying it?
Acrylic grinders aside, hot water is a good way to clean your grinder if you don’t have any cleaning products. Hot water (combined with a brush) can remove most of the residues without damaging your grinder or leaving any funky smells behind. But it probably won’t get your grinder 100% clean, and it will be harder to remove dirt. To improve the cleaning power, you can use a little bit of dishwashing soap. Just be sure to flush it out really well, but dish soap is a good option if you don’t want to spend any money cleaning your grinder.
Cleaning your grinder with acetone (or nail polish remover)
Cleaning a grinder with acetone or nail polish remover is very effective, and also fairly cheap. Just be sure to flush it very well with warm water afterwards, because you don’t want to smoke acetone.
Cleaning your grinder with alcohol
Can you clean a weed grinder with alcohol? YES! And it’s often a very good solution, although pure isopropyl or ethanol alcohol (that’s safe for consumption) is quite expensive.
So, does it work? Definitely, but your wallet might not be too happy when you clean your grinder with alcohol. Grinder cleaner is cheaper than alcohol, but alcohol does the trick very well.
There is only one thing that could go wrong when cleaning metal grinders with alcohol. There is a plastic ring around the edge to make it turn more smoothly, and some sorts of plastic can dissolve when they come in contact with alcohol. So you might want to take off the ring before you clean your grinder with alcohol.
Cleaning your grinder with vinegar
Vinegar is an effective and safe way to clean your weed grinder. Simply put a few tablespoons of vinegar in a glass of water, stir it a little, and use it to clean your grinder together with a bong cleaning brush to easily get out all of the dirt and residues. You can also use pure vinegar, but that can be a little too aggressive for some grinders and it’s not needed. As an added benefit, vinegar will leave a nice shine after you’re done cleaning.
Cleaning your grinder with milk
Cleaning a weed grinder with milk? Yes, it’s possible! And it works well! Because milk has fats in it, THC and other cannabinoids dissolve in milk very well. Although it’s not the best solution (we’d take grinder cleaner over milk any day), it’s cheap and works well enough. Simply put some milk in a pan, heat it but try not to boil it, and after 30 to 60 minutes you take out your grinder and remove any dirt with a bong cleaning brush (or even a toothbrush). Very safe, no health risks, and if you flush it with water there will be no funky flavours or smells.
Cleaning your grinder with a lighter
Don’t have anything with you to clean your grinder? Try using a lighter! You can use a simple lighter to burn the residue blocking the screen or gauze, and clear it up again. Now this is not an ideal method to clean your grinder screen, because it can leave behind a funky smell or even damage the screen if your grinder is made of cheaper metal. So we do not recommend this method, although many people swear by it.
TIP: Want to make your grinder turn more smoothly, with less noise and less friction? Simply put a little drop of natural olive oil between the moving parts (and the screw thread), and it will be better than it ever was. This also works to clean out the residues in your grinder, because the oil mixes with the residue. Simply wipe off the oil with a dry paper towel, and the residue is gone! Just don’t use too much, or it might influence the flavour of your herbs and actually make your grinder dirty.
How NOT to clean your weed grinder
There’s several things you want to avoid when cleaning your grinder. Using the wrong product to clean your herb grinder can ruin the look and functionality of your grinder, or even completely destroy it. So we’ve listed a few things you definitely don’t want to do.
- Do NOT clean your grinder with bleach or chlorine. Metal grinders will no longer look nice and shiny, and acrylic grinders may even dissolve completely.
- Do NOT use alcohol, benzine or cleaning spirit to clean your acrylic grinder.
- Do NOT clean your acrylic grinder with very hot water: it can melt!
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