If you’ve ever been in a head shop or dispensary, the shiny aluminum contraptions have probably caught your eye. These are grinders, which are one of the essential tools in any smoker’s toolkit.
The basic function of a grinder is to tear apart the marijuana for easy joint or blunt rolling, as well as for smoother and cleaner burning bowls (as there is more exposed green surface area for burning). Grinders can be made of different material — aluminum, wood, plastic, etc. — and come in various in various shapes and sizes. What differentiates them is how they collect what’s called “kief” — the powdery substance from the tips of trichomes where the terpenes and cannabinoids are concentrated. It’s essentially concentrated THC, which makes it pretty valuable.
A two-piece grinder, often smaller and lighter than the other two, performs your basic function of ripping apart flower. There is a set of teeth on the bottom and top pieces, both of which will catch the ripped bud. Afterwards, you typically have to tap out the bud that’s essentially lodged in the teeth. Similar to the two-piece, three-piece and four-piece grinders have two teeth components. Although often heavier than the two piece, these guys justify their complexity and price increase with the fact that they also feature a mesh screen that separates and preserves the precious kief.
But nowadays you can find grinders beyond these standard formats. There are now grinders that are the size of a credit card and can be slipped easily into your wallet. Unlike the standard cylindrical versions, card grinders are used just like you would a cheese grater, and are useful in a pinch.