The Mendocino Mating Call

A black grinder with the top part open shows buds ready to be ground by the teeth.

After a decade and a half of herb grinding, we still can’t recommend grinders enough for newbies.


We don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump and grind. More and more cannabis aficionados are grinding their weed before they smoke it, and with vaporization, the trend is getting even hotter. Herb grinders are usually small, palm-sized, puck-like discs that split apart to reveal little grinding teeth. Load in the herb, close up the grinder and twist a few turns to transform the stickiest, densest bud into fluffy, green-white grinds perfect for joints, pipe bowls and vaporizers that take flower.

According to High Times icon Danny Danko, grinders got their global launch in 2001 with the company Sweetleaf.

How to Smoke Pot (Properly)” author and expert David Bienenstock said, “There’s been few truly game-changing innovations in the cannabis paraphernalia game, and the grinder is definitely a big one. Naturally, people ground up their herb before there were ‘grinders,’ but not as often, easily or efficiently,” said Bienenstock.

“Grinding your cannabis flowers, whether you’re smoking them in a joint or bowl or vaping them, is vital,” he said.

Grinding helps the heat of a lighter, wick or vaporizer oven penetrate flower bud material completely, making for more potent and flavorful draws. Modern medical cannabis can be so dense and resinous it’s near-impervious to the flame of a lighter. The outside of a nug will get charred and black, while the inside is still green and unconsumed. It’s inefficient and tastes suboptimal.

Ground bud smokes more optimally, with better flavor. Just be careful, your first bowl of ground bud will be very potent and flavorful compared to bud broken up by hand.

Some purists swear off grinders, saying they need to feel the bud’s density, resin, dryness and smell its aroma on their fingers for the best smoking experience. But grinders are finding more and more fans, especially as they come in different colors and sizes, with attachments like a screen and kief catcher. Kief is the collected dust-like trichome matter of the cannabis plant, and is more potent than whole bud itself.

Bienenstock advises: “Always grind the herb thoroughly, stopping before it becomes powdery. Perhaps the biggest mistake rookie rollers make is either over or under-grinding their weed. Because if you keep going until it gets powdery, the flavor will seep out and the joint will burn harsh and quick. And if you leave your buds too chunky, the joint will be hard to roll and burn unevenly.”

Leading companies like Santa Cruz Shredder mill their grinders from single blocks of aluminum and use computer-optimized teeth designs, rare-earth magnets and anodized colors and designs.  Grinder cards are also surging in popularity. The credit-card sized, perforated steel sheets shred up herb at a fraction of the weight of a full-size hand-grinder.

Fun fact!

When emptying a metal grinder, users often tap the two sides together to loosen any herb caught in the teeth. That characteristic ‘clink-clink’ of an emptying grinder has a special name in California’s cannabis cultivation capital, the Emerald Triangle. Longtime grower and pot figure Nikki Lastreto said the clinking sound has been dubbed ‘The Mendocino Mating Call.’

Originally published in Issue 21 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, do you prefer your flower ground or pulled apart by hand?

Award-winning San Francisco journalist and best-selling author David Downs is a contributor to Cannabis Now. His writing has appeared in Scientific American, WIRED, Rolling Stone and the New York Times.

1 Comment

  1. david

    June 12, 2017 at 5:49 am

    if your buds are turning black and charred they have chemicals in them. clean weed should leave a white ash

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