How to Use a Grinder

How to Use a Grinder for Beginners

Become a seasoned pro as we dive into the world of grinders and how to use them.

Grinders can make or break your dry herb vaporizer experience (and smoking experience). Some vapes prefer a tightly packed fine grind, while others thrive with a fluffy, coarse grind. You’ll find two-piece, three-piece, and four-piece grinders, all of which do the same thing, but cater to different needs for different users. Familiarize yourself and become a seasoned pro as we dive into these herbal shredders and how to use them, why you should use one at all, and the different kinds you’ll find.

How to use a grinder: A Quick summary


  1. Remove the lid from your grinder
  2. Tear off small, pebble sized pieces from your herbs
  3. Place the herbs in between the teeth of the grinding chamber
  4. Place the lid back on top and press down with a slight twisting motion
  5. Twist the lid back and forth until all the herbs are ground up.
  6. Open the grinder and get your herbs.
How to Use a Grinder
The POTV 4-Piece grinder. The bottom piece is still connected, under the screen.

Why use a grinder?

Some vaporizers work more consistently with ground herbs (see our Firefly 2+ Tips and Tricks blog post for a full explanation and workaround). Ground herbs provide a more even cook versus whole flower, and produce the most consistent hits from session to session.

With conduction vapes, you can grind your herbs to pack more into your vape than with whole flowers or hand torn herbs. If you want to consume more at once, grind your herbs.

You can still vaporize without a grinder, just change your expectations. If you pack whole flowers, sessions will take longer and the vapor will be lighter. You may need to break up the flowers mid session to fully extract everything, but it works.

How to use a grinder for beginners

Grinding your herbs is easy and straightforward. Take your grinder and crack open the lid to reveal the teeth inside. Large chunks are tougher to grind, so tear your herbs up into pebble-sized pieces and place them in between the chamber grinders. Put the lid on top and twist with a few rotations until it’s all ground up. If you have a 2-piece grinder, remove the lid and dump out your material. If you have a 3 or 4-piece grinder, unscrew the middle chamber to access your herbs

How to Use a Grinder Crack it Open
Remove the lid to reveal the grinding teeth.

Which grind to use - from fine to coarse

Without getting nerdy, the short answer is use a coarser grind for longer, more flavorful sessions, and a finer grind for quicker, more intense sessions. A medium grind is a nice compromise for general use. Choose your mood and pick your grind.

There are other things to consider, however. For instance, if you want to pack more herbs into your oven use a finer grind, but don’t grind too finely or the herbs can clog the screen and kill the session. If you have a convection vaporizer (that relies more heavily on air flow), the grind makes a bigger difference, while conduction vaporizers like the PAX 3 are more forgiving when it comes to different grinds.

At the end of the day, what grind you use is personal, and you should play around to find your favorite style. The concept is similar to brewing coffee, so summon your inner barista and have fun!

Two, three and four-piece grinders

2-piece grinders

The 2-piece grinder is your basic unit, with two halves loaded with teeth to shred your herbs. The longer you twist the halves, the finer the grind. Twist and turn just a couple times if you want a coarser grind, or keep going for a finer grind. There’s no herb catcher with a 2-piece grinder, so it can be a pain when it’s time to retrieve your goodies. Dump out your herbs or use a pick tool to scrape them out.

Grinder - 2 Piece Acrylic Grinder
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3-piece grinders

3-piece grinders are the most popular. The second piece has holes that range in size, depending on the type of grind it produces. The top two pieces shred your herbs while the third catches and stores them once they’re small enough to fall through the holes. Unscrew the bottom piece to easily access your herbs.

Grinder- Santa Cruz Shredder 3 Piece Small Black
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4-piece grinders

A 4-piece grinder does everything a 3-piece can, but with an extra chamber at the bottom. This bottom chamber has a screen to separate and catch any sticky pollen/trichomes that falls from your herbs while you grind. This pollen gives your herbs its unique qualities and with enough of it, can pack a mean punch. Grind consistently, and over time you’ll have enough to spike your herbal concoctions.

Potv Custom 4pc Grinder Glossy Black With Pick Tool Open View
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How to use a grinder: FAQs

What makes a good herb grinder? A few pro tips

The most important quality is the grind. It should be consistent throughout. You don’t want to find larger chunks in a sea of smaller pieces. Quality materials, durable construction, and strong grinding teeth are also things to pay attention to. You’ll want a type of grinder that’s built to last with refined threadings and durable teeth. Aluminum is a popular foundation amongst the best grinders and is designed for the long run.

How much does an herb grinder cost?

Herbal grinders can start at a budget-friendly $20, or even cheaper, and can reach upwards of a couple hundred dollars. Pay attention to the materials and make sure you grab one from a reputable source.

How do I clean my herb grinder?

A dirty, clogged up grinder can jam up and even give off a funky smell. If you have a metallic grinder, soak it in some rubbing alcohol for an easy cleanse. Grinder safety: Isopropyl alcohol may strip the color off of some anodized aluminum grinders, so spot check yours before you fully soak it. Acrylic or plastic grinders should be cleaned with soap, water, and a good scrub.

Do I have to use a grinder?

Absolutely not, but that depends on your expectations. You can vaporize whole flower if you want to skip the grind and get straight to your session. Ground herbs are great if you want to pack more herbs or produce the fattest clouds.

Written by

tyler hixon

Tyler is a writer and photographer from Jacksonville, Florida, where you can find him reading on the beach, or on his longboard, carving up the streets of his neighborhood.

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