Types of Herb Grinders
Since 1905, herb grinders have remained largely unchanged. The patent, filed by William Henry Wingfield and John Balding, features the iconic design that comes to mind when you visualize a prototypical grinder.
Although fundamentally the same on many levels, we’ll cover some of the variables that do change from one grinder to another in this article.
The vast majority of modern herb grinders are made of either zinc alloy or aluminum. Alloys are a mixture of metals, which in the case of zinc alloy grinders helps keep the cost down. Aluminum grinders, and especially aircraft grade aluminum grinders, are purer and result in a higher quality grinder. Very rarely, you’ll encounter a stainless steel herb grinder.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have plastic or acrylic herb grinders. The advantages here are ease in manufacturing and light weight, delivering an incredibly low cost grinder that borders on disposable. Perfect for traveling or to keep on hand as a backup!
While less common, sometimes you’ll come across a grinder made from wood (primarily). Typically the teeth on these bad boys are made of metal such as stainless steel pins or aluminum inserts. Wooden herb grinders are stoner-chic, if only superficially different.
Two piece herb grinders really straightforward and relatively inexpensive. One piece is the top set of teeth, the other is the bottom set of teeth. Clack them together to chew your herb up, then turn them upside down to empty the contents out.
Three piece grinders have a built-in storage chamber that provide a little flexibility for the user. The top two pieces are essentially the same as a 2-piece grinder, except the bottom set of teeth has holes that allow gravity to consolidate the ground herb into the chamber below. This means the user can more accurately dispense the material instead of just dumping it on the tabletop for collection.
Last but not least, we have the four piece grinder. Envision a 3-piece grinder, but insert a mesh screen between the second and third pieces. Called a pollen catcher, this screen separates the bulk of the herbal material from the smaller particulates that drop into the bottom chamber. Over time this pollen accumulates, effortlessly creating a concentrate that can be used to boost the potency of your herbs as desired.
In a fun twist on the standard two, three, or four piece grinders, certain features are added to create a unique combination. Funnel grinders replace the bottom storage chamber with a nifty funnel, allowing the material to flow precisely into a bowl, cone, etc. Others, combine a jar with a grinder, increasing storage capacity of pre-ground herb immensely. Other novel features are badass shapes or built-in compartments for rolling papers.
At the end of the day, all these different types of herb grinds all do the same thing. But as we all know, sometimes how you do something is even more important than what you do!