Learn how to properly clean your metal grinder in this easy step by step process, so you can keep it in the best condition possible.
If you’re a regular herb smoker like the bulk of us, you most likely have an herb grinder. And if you own an herb grinder, that little crusader is most likely your most coveted possession. And if it’s not, it should be!
Grinders are a toker’s best friend. They free us from the burden of manually breaking down flower with our hands. A pastime all hemp-enthusiasts are very happy leaving in the past.
The connection between grinder and smoker is sacred. When life gets rocky, the grinder is naturally used more frequently. The more the grinder is used, the more residue builds up inside of it, in turn, making the grinder’s life rocky as well. It’s an age-old dance. (That is, unless you’re working with a residue-defying Bear Grinder...but that’s a conversation for another time.)
To keep it simple, our grinders get dirty. They collect residue and kief and eventually get to a point where they aren’t easy to use, if at all. It’s important to clean your grinder every now and again in order to maintain its usability and overall quality of grinder life.
This guide will walk you through the pros of owning a grinder and why, when, and how to clean a premium grinder properly.
Why Use A Grinder?
If you’re not using a grinder for your hemp, you are truly missing out. A grinder asks you to leave the days of breaking down your herb with sticky fingers and shearing scissors where they belong: in the past.
The convenience of being able to break down flower with just a simple flick-of-the wrist (or three) is invaluable.
Grinders Improve Flower and Experience
When you grind your herb, you not only make it easier to smoke, but you get more out of it. Seriously. When herb is broken up into smaller pieces it allows for more surface area to be exposed and therefore smoked, providing the user with more benefits than smoking a denser nug might.
As you know, herbs come in many different shapes and sizes. Hemp grinders take the effort out of dealing with these different forms by shredding down all herbs in the same uniform way. Giving way for malleability and space, ground herb makes it much easier and more practical to roll joints or pack bowls.
Also, when you grind your flower you lure out the earthy, citrusy flavors that live inside of the herb waiting to be released. That’s right! Your herb will taste better when you grind it.
Grinders Produce and Save Kief
The most commonly used multi-chambered grinders are also multi-functional. Aside from shredding up your herb evenly, grinders also produce and collect kief.
Kief is the term used to describe the excess terpenes and cannabinoids that separate from your flower’s trichomes during the grinding process. Without sounding too scientific, it’s pure THC, man.
Kief collects in the bottom chamber of a premium grinder and can be sprinkled in a joint or even used to make hash.
Grinders Save Time and Money
It’s safe to say it’s pretty obvious how grinders save you time. You are able to break down your herb in about an eighth the amount of time it would take you without one.
Grinding your flower also saves you money through conservation.
When you grind your flowers and herbs, you create an even blend. With an even blend that is fine enough to separate, you give yourself portion control.
This allows you to conserve your herb much easier than breaking off chunks from a stem, saving you money that would otherwise be spent on new herb.
Why Clean My Grinder?
Cleaning your grinder should be commonplace if you use it regularly. Two main reasons for cleaning your grinder are health and grinder usability.
For Your Health
Believe it or not, when plant matter sits idle for a long period of time it begins to decompose. Same goes for the flower in your grinder. It’s science.
If your grinder kief is decomposing, bacteria will begin to grow on it. And bacteria is bad. Very bad. Simply put, cleaning your grinder will keep you healthy.
Grinder Usability and Longevity
A periodic cleaning of your grinder will ensure that it operates smoothly. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a stuck, unturnable grinder. Especially if your herb is stuck inside of it. Facepalm.
Upholding your grinder’s maintenance will also give it longevity. It’s possible to reverse grinder aging and decay just by tending to it. Imagine that.
Take care of your grinder, and your grinder will take care of you. And your bond will grow even stronger.
How Often Should I Clean My Grinder?
The amount of herb you grind on a day to day basis will determine when you should clean your premium grinder.
If you’re twisting and grinding every day, there will be much more build up of kief and plant material in your grinder. In order to keep your grinder in tip-top shape, it’s recommended to clean it at least once a month, or every 30 days.
If you are only grinding herb a couple times a week, you can probably get away with cleaning it every other month or so. It’s really up to you.
Use your best judgement on when you feel it’s the proper time for a proper cleaning.
How to Clean Your Grinder
Now that we’ve gone over why and when you should clean your grinder, let us show you how.
First things first, rest in peace overused plastic grinders. Because plastic grinders are generally so inexpensive (often free even), they are widely accepted as disposable and should really just be replaced when they get too dirty.
If you really want to clean your 2-piece plastic grinder we recommend soaking it in a gentle boil for 1 minute. Use tongs to remove it and set on a towel to dry. Plastic grinder? Hot water. Simple enough. Or just spend the 2 dollars to get a new one.
The following how-to will take you step by step through cleaning a multi-chambered or 4-piece metal grinder.
Prep and Tools
Before jumping into the cleaning process you will first need to do some prep.
Familiarise yourself with the individual parts of the grinder you will be cleaning. A 4 piece premium metal grinder is comprised of, you guessed it, 4 different pieces:
- a top lid with grinding teeth,
- a central connecting piece with countering teeth and holes,
- an herb collection chamber bottom-lined with a kief filtering sieve,
- a kief collection chamber that encloses the grinder underneath
It’s important to note: Bear Grinders are built with additional pieces that make up our patent pending design: the Bear Mechanism. To learn more about how to clean a Bear Grinder specifically, check out Grinder Care here. We have several video tutorials that explain how to remove and restore the individual pieces of the mechanism to ensure you’re taking the best care of your Bear Grinder!
Getting back to the basics.. Each piece of your metal grinder will need to be tended to individually with a proper set of cleaning tools. Gather the following household items:
Isopropyl alcohol (preferably 90%)
We use alcohol instead of water for metal grinders because as science will tell you, water rusts metal. An alcohol solution like isopropyl alcohol doesn’t cause any rusting and also lends a hand in killing bacteria.
Small Jar or Container
A plastic herb cannister or other small container will do.
An optional step of the process is to freeze your grinder before cleaning it with alcohol. We touch more on this below.
Cutting board or work surface
A cutting board works great, as does a plate.
Toothbrush, small, soft paint brush
Any small bristled brush will do.
Toothpick, paper clip, dab tool
Any small poker type of tool will do.
This will come in handy at the end of the cleaning process.
Once you have gathered your tools you are ready to clean. Let's get to grinder cleaning!
Disassemble your grinder
Unscrew your grinder into as many pieces as possible. In our case there should be the 4 pieces listed above.
Some grinders may have a removable screen that sits in between the herb collection chamber and the kief collection chamber. If so, go ahead and remove said screen. But be extremely careful as these screens are generally very fragile and puncturing one can render it useless.
Collect the Kief
You don’t want to skip this step! As you carefully disassemble your grinder, an essential step is to collect the kief that has gathered in the bottom chamber. Pour the kief into the small container to save for later use.
The container will also come in use for collecting other built-up plant matter. More on this in step 4!
Freeze Your Pieces (Optional)
We highly recommend freezing your grinder, although this step is optional.
Place the individual pieces into your freezer for 40 minutes. Freezing the grinder will solidify and harden all the sticky residue and plant material stuck to the surfaces of your grinder, making it easier for you to scrape, dislodge, and collect.
Pat, Chip, and Brush
Once you have frozen your grinder pieces (just do it!), bring them to your cutting board or work area and pat them both against your hand as well as on the surface you are using.
The goal here is to collect as much leftover plant matter as you can by patting or tapping the pieces and jarring the material off of them. For the stubborn gunk that refuses to let go, bring in the toothpick and chip.
Chip and scrape areas of thick buildups that need a little extra elbow grease before they’ll budge.
Use a toothbrush or a very small soft paintbrush, to brush the surfaces of your grinder. Dust off the pieces that were left behind from the chipping stage.
Gather the treasures you’ve successfully mined from your grinder and put that goodness to the side. Do not get rid of it! We’ll tell you why later.
This step in the cleaning process is indeed the most laborious. Freezing your grinder is extremely helpful and makes this step much easier than if you were chipping away at room temperature metal. Trust us.
Soak in Alcohol Bath
Once you have done some chipping and brushing, it’s time to bring the isopropyl alcohol into the equation.
Submerge the grinder pieces in a plastic bag or bowl of the isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol will kill any bacteria and germs that might have been lingering in the crevices of your grinder. A zip-loc bag works great because you can seal the enclosure and shake the concoction around to loosen up some of that stubborn plant matter.
Let the grinder pieces soak for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid turns to a light brown color. Once they have soaked remove the pieces to let dry on a grate or towel.
Helpful tip: If you don’t have enough time to go through the entire process listed here, simply take the pieces of your grinder apart and leave them overnight in a bowl of alcohol solution. Then, in the morning rinse and leave them out to dry.
Repeat Steps 3 and 4 (Optional)
It’s best to go back and do steps 3 and 4 once over. After the first soak in alcohol a lot of the excess gunk will be merely loosened.
Doing a second pass of chipping and brushing on your freshly soaked grinder will serve as a sort of deep cleaning.
Again, once you have chipped, brushed, and soaked, place your pieces on a paper towel (or regular towel) to dry.
Let Dry, Inspect, and Assemble
After your grinder has dried, go in for a solid inspection. Be sure to check each individual piece for any remaining scrap matter. You’ll know when it’s good to go.
The last step is the best step. Carefully reassemble your newly cleaned premium grinder and enjoy!
Keep the Kief!
At one point along this how-to you probably asked yourself: so why save all that grinder gunk and kief? The answer is simple… it’s the good stuff!
The buildup you’ve just gathered from your grinder is straight up, pure THC! And you do not want to let that go to waste.
If you haven’t experimented with the kief and matter that has been accumulating in your grinder, the time is now! Here are a few ways you can use the treasures you’ve mined from your piece:
- Decarb it (activate its powers with heat) and use to make edibles
- Mix into a herb blend for a joint
- Sprinkle atop a bowl in a pipe
- Use it to make an herbal tea
- Compress it to make hash or rosin
There are so many ways you can use your kief to enjoy cannabis in an alternative manner. Kief is an amazing addition to joints or bowls to help you conserve your flower, while still reaching the level of relaxation you want.
The bottom line is a clean grinder is a green grinder. It’s a win-win: collect high-potency goodies hidden in the corners of your grinder while maintaining it as a high quality, usable piece of equipment.
We hope this handy guide helps better understand how to clean your grinder to keep in the best condition possible. For more insightful tips and tricks, check out Bear Grinder tutorials here.