Anyone who has ever owned a grinder understands the feeling of that super sticky goodness getting stuck between the blades. I’ve lost many grinders to the unforgiving sticky icky. I’ve also learned the best ways to clean them.
We asked, we tested and we Googled the best methods for cleaning your grinder while saving the kief.
If you’re tired of breaking up your weed with your fingers, picking out the stems, and hoping for the best then you’re an OG who deserves a clean grinder.
As much as we love having all that sticky shit on our fingers, the definition of finger-lickin’ good, it is best to just use a grinder, why? Well, hygiene for one, obviously, and for the kief. I am a huge fan of kief, to me, it is the underdog.
Kief is great to add a bit of punch to joints and bowls and if you’re up for it, you make your own hash or your own weed moon rocks. Whatever it is, you need to know how to get the maximum kief from your grinder.
And, of course, get a grinder that will produce a lot of it, like the classic Premium Edition Flower Mill!
Photo by Jonathan Coward for Herb
Let’s talk about the grinder though, and no, I am not referring to the app. A grinder is a small, round, hand-powered device used to pulverize and reduce cannabis to a uniform size for consumption. Each half features a set of gently rounded, or crazy sharp teeth along the interior surface.
These teeth are sized and spaced just perfectly to put pressure on whatever material you would choose to grind, without crushing or pulverizing it. But we all know we are talking about weed.
Grind away in a rolling motion with moderate pressure and enjoy easy, instantaneous access to smaller particles of anything! (but really it’s weed) It should go without saying, but the grinder needs to be cleaned regularly.
It’s inevitable that bits of plant material will accumulate on the teeth of the grinder, especially with sticky substances like marijuana resin and trichomes as we have all come to know and love.
Some so-called ‘grinders’ like the Flower Mill don’t have much of an issue with this because the Flower Mill doesn’t grind herb like other accessories. It mills it in a way that the weed you collect is much fluffier and covered in trichomes.
In other words, the Flower Mill allows you to collect better, more potent weed, and less of the stickiness gets caught in the system. So if you want to avoid the following steps, this one might be a good place to start looking.
Photo by Georgia Love for Herb
As much as we love sticky weed, and you should, a sticky grinder is never a pleasant experience. They can be difficult or impossible to turn and usually make a horrendous squeaky sound when you finally get it moving.
Here’s something you probably haven’t considered; all that lovely, sticky stuff your grinder collects when it gets clogged? It’s not what you think. It’s not just some plant matter post-processing. That shit is actually filled with valuable THC. These compressed trichomes and leftover plant matter are far from trash and can be a highly potent substance in their own right.
Let’s say you care about saving the sticky stuff, what really matters now is two things: what material is your grinder, and how clean you want it to be.
Photo by Jonathan Coward for Herb
Plastic (or acrylic) grinders are usually only a two-part model and they can be notorious for needing routine cleaning; their inner walls can get quite sticky with resin buildup over time.
Though plastic grinders are cheap, their versatility when being cleaned is limited. It’s probably not the best for every day smokers, especially since most solvent-based cleaning solutions can weaken or damage plastic grinders if they are not used properly.
Metal grinders can be multi-chambered, such as the ones with a kief screen/catcher. Even though metal grinders are easier to clean and can probably go months without cleaning (not recommended), some parts are vulnerable to the attack of kief.
Automatic grinders are not very popular, but for some reason, they still exist. These suckers are beyond infuriating when they get stuck. If you have the patience for it, by all means, go for it. Auto grinders are a pretty dope idea, they just need some help.
Dive deep into the different levels of cleanliness for your grinder. A basic clean is more of just soap and water with a toothbrush, which is fine for the quick removal of bigger chunks.
Maybe you want it to look how it did behind the glass surrounded by all the other grinders, or in the pictures online. The point is, you want a clean grinder and you want to save the kief, but how?
Photo by Georgia Love for Herb
If you read around, you’ll see that a lot of different people say to freeze your grinder for at least a half-hour before cleaning it as a way to help break up and loosen all the residue and gunk in there.
A lot of people say that this helps make it easier to remove all the stuff inside. I can safely say that those people have probably never actually tried this before.
Yes, freezing your grinder before cleaning does help make the resin more brittle… for as long as it stays frozen. Unless you plan on cleaning your grinder in a walk-in freezer or in the middle of a blizzard, your natural body temperature already heated up the grinder the second you touched it.
By the time you get to sit and clean it, the grinder will be warmed up and condensed, rendering this method moot.
The freezing is not that effective and also has the negative appeal of removing the moisture and separating a lot of the crumbly, powdery ‘paraffin’ which can dilute your cannabis by giving you a smaller amount of active, less potent pseudo hash.
Photo by Jonathan Coward for Herb
To start, make sure your workspace is ready. We always recommend setting up at a table, with either a large glass dish or some foil over your lap underneath a big collection tray.
It’s important to have something non-porous that can collect all the grindings, as wood is porous and will trap kief or bud on its surface. This method works for both metal and plastic or acrylic grinders.
Regardless of letting the grinder chill in the freezer first, the next part is the same, the scrub down. Make sure you have with you something pointy, a bobby pin, tweezers or an icepick, a flat surface (glass or metal), an optional stiff brush, and of course, the grinder itself.
First, start by taking apart your grinder and setting apart the individual chambers, keeping your focus on one piece at a time. Gazing into your grinders eyes if you see just an obscene amount of solid matter stuck in there, it’s totally time to clean that shit out and start scraping it with your pointy weapon of choice.
Using your cleaning utensil, gently rub it across the top of the grinder surface, dislodging and pulling out any clumps that may have built up. Using soap and water to clean a grinder is an easy process. It requires a bit of time, soap, and a good brush.
Your water should be hot to the touch; pouring boiling water over your grinder won’t hurt but will require a bit more wait time.
Photo by Sergio Yoneda / Adobe Stock Photo
If you have a metal grinder, there are ways you can clean it while keeping all the THC that would otherwise get washed away with soap and water. All while avoiding rust. When you clean your grinder with rubbing alcohol, all you need is rubbing alcohol and a grinder—no harsh chemicals are necessary to achieve an effective clean.
Place your grinder pieces into the container, spray them down with rubbing alcohol, and let them soak. It’s recommended to agitate the grinder as it sits in the alcohol to help dissolve the residue within. Soak time can be anywhere from one to ten minutes.
Use a pair of tongs to remove the grinder from the soak, which should be discolored by now, and you can see a thin layer of brown slime, this is cannabis oil. Gently pour a bit of the alcohol over the grinder over the bowl to make sure you get every last drop of cannabis.
After you’ve pulled out your grinder, set it aside to dry off. Or you can hand dry it, although not recommended because of the sharp teeth.
At this point, the alcohol will need to dissolve in a well-ventilated room away from open flames and power outlets, and anything flammable really. The remaining gunk after the alcohol has dissolved is your own smokable pseudo hash.
Of course, if setting your house on fire isn’t as appealing as it sounds, maybe try a less combustible method. Although this method does require a stove, it doesn’t quite offer that same spontaneous combustion we were looking for when cleaning a grinder.
Place the severed grinder parts on the top of a double boiler and cover them with milk. Turn the stove’s heat up to medium-high and watch it closely. You want to avoid letting your mixture go above 150ºF to maintain both potency and flavor.
After a couple of hours in the drink, your grinder is ready to be taken out and rinsed off. Having been infused with the milk, anything left in the grinder can be tossed, and the milk is ready for the cereal.
After that, you can put the grinder in some soap and water for about a minute. The soap will melt the remaining milk and help to remove any plant grounds. While milk and marijuana may not seem like an obvious combination, when you think of it, it’s a perfect marriage.
Both originate from living things, both taste great combined with chocolate, and both are typically enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.
Cleaning your grinder doesn’t have to be a complicated task, and is often an easy step to take to preserve the life of your device and keep inconvenient noises and blockages at bay.
Of course, it may seem tedious, but a clean grinder is important to your overall experience as a cannabis user.