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How to Determine a Quality Weed Grinder

Finding the right grinder may seem like an easy thing to do, but there’s a lot to consider! Let’s break down some of those things so you can accurately gauge whether a specific grinder is the right choice for you. 

quality grinder zamSize:

The most basic characteristic that has the largest influence (besides cost) on purchasing decisions. We sell the best small weed grinder on the market! 

Cost/Quality:

There are a lot of grinders out there, are you looking for a cheap grinder to get you through the day, or do you want something that will last you a life time? What type of grinders should you stay away from?

Additional Features:

What do you want your grinder to accomplish? A simple two piece, or maybe you’re looking for a little more? What defines a small grinder is subjective, so figuring out what “piece” or how many sections you want your grinder to have is important too.

Are you carrying only flower? Many people carry both flower and concentrates nowadays, maybe you need something that can hold both?

Objective:

Where are you taking this grinder? Why do you want it to be small? Should it fit in your pocket for your daily going-arounds, or do you just want it to be stealthy and easily carried? Do you plan to take this grinder camping, out on the water? Taking these things into consideration will help you pick the best grinder.

Major Factors That Influence the Cost of A Weed Grinder

Now let’s talk about cost, arguably the most important factor that determines what league of grinder you might consider purchasing. The major factors that influence this are the manufacturing process (CNC, casted), tolerance used (how specific/consistent the grinder was CNC’d), material type (wood, acrylic, zinc, aluminum, steel) and grade (ex. Aluminum 6061 & 7075), grinder size (2 piece – 6 piece), and grinder complexity (special add-ons, unique attributes/surface finish/aesthetics)

The tolerance used when CNCing is hard to notice unless they used really crappy tolerances. You might notice this on the $15-20 grinders, but manufacturers understand the importance of a decent build, so you are more likely to see lower quality metal being used (zinc, aluminum grade lower than 6061) rather than a grinder with poor tolerances. The easiest way to determine poor tolerances is if the threading is all shaky and squeaky when opening/closing. Another is if you see left over CNC machining lines.

How Much Does a Grinder Cost?

Material type/grade is the largest contributing factor to the cost of a grinder. While a zinc grinder will be $5-10, a low quality aluminum grinder will be $5-$25, an anodized aluminum grinder made from 6061 or 7075 will be $30-$120 depending on the country it was manufactured, and steel will be $60-$170.

Wooden Grinders

Wood grinders can be nice, but they’re mostly purchased for aesthetic reasons rather than grind quality. Wood is too soft to be machine into a fine point, so metal pins or wooden pyramids are often used for teeth shape. They work ok, but not on the level of a name brand metal grinder.

Acrylic/Plastic Grinders

Plastic grinders have their place. Some people swear by them, but in truth they’re just the cheapest option available. Because plastics are first molded they require a large upfront cost, but after that grinders are ridiculously cheap to manufacture. That being said, if I was looking to spend less than $10 on a grinder I would probably go with a hard acrylic plastic grinder over zinc, even if you might end up smoking some melted plastic.

Zinc Grinders

The zinc grade doesn’t matter. Manufacturers won’t list the grade of zinc because it doesn’t matter. If you’re considering buying a zinc grinder then you’re looking for a basic cheap grinder and they know this. Don’t bother with zinc grinders.

Anodized Aluminum

If your grinder is aluminum and doesn’t mention the grade of metal it’s made from, it’s most likely made from low quality aluminum. I don’t recommend the super cheap $5-10 grinders as they aren’t cleaned properly and the softer metals can be easily scratched resulting in metal shavings in your weed. That’s bad news bears. 

Like many other notable grinder brands, the ZAM grinder is made from anodized aluminum 6061. This is the same metal used in aircraft part fabrication among many other military/industrial uses. You will often see the buzz-phrase “aircraft grade aluminum” associated with this grade of aluminum, but beware! The whole “aircraft grade aluminum” phrase has been so widely proliferated that even low quality aluminum and zinc brands have started touting the phrase.  Check for the metal grade to be listed, otherwise assume it’s lower than 6061.

No Such Things as Titanium Weed Grinders!

Another thing that annoys me — there are no titanium weed grinders! Titanium is ridiculously expensive to machine, do you hear me!?  They would be hundreds of dollars each. Titanium refers to the color of the metal, don’t be fooled! Any website that advertises/links to/or discusses cheap titanium (under $150) grinders is a manipulative liar and you shouldn’t trust anything they say.

Aluminum 7075 vs 6061 

Aluminum 7075 is next step up in metal grade after 6061, and while uncommon in grinders today we’re starting to see more brands use this grade as the cannabis industry evolves and luxury weed grinders become more popular. This is where things start to get interesting as the majority of name-brand grinders are made from aluminum 6061. The price increases substantially from 6061 to 7075 because of the basic cost difference in the material, but mostly because of the increased difficulty in machinability (it’s more difficult to CNC). While aluminum 6061 is given a machinability rating of “good”, aluminum 7075 is given a rating of “fair”.

So we know the cost difference to machine, now let’s check out each grade’s strength properties. The most important attributes we’ll look at are “yield strength”, “hardness” (Brinell scale), “corrosion resistance”, and “weight”, as these impact the quality of a grinder.

But just in case you fall into a vat of lava and need to know which grinder would last longer, the winner is aluminum 6061. Surprisingly 7075 aluminum has a lower melting point.

Yield strength is defined as maximum stress at which a material begins to deform permanently.

The yield strength of aluminum 6061 is 40,000 psi while the yield strength of aluminum 7075 is 73,000, so 7075 has yield strength ~80% higher. This is one of the most important properties that distinguish 7075 from 6061. This means no broken teeth, but how often do you really experience broken teeth on a grinder?  Is that worth it?

Hardness is defines as the ability of a material to resist deformation either by penetration or indentation.

The hardness of aluminum 6061 is 95 while the hardness of aluminum 7075 is 150, so 7075 is ~57% harder (Brinell scale). The hardness of the metal will prevent dents, scratches, and general wear-and-tear on the grinder. The main reason 7075 has grown in popularity over the years is the metals hardness. Some people are concerned about smoking aluminum shavings that fall in the grinder as a result of this general wear-and-tear.

Corrosion resistance

is defined as the ability to prevent environmental deterioration by chemical or electro-chemical reaction.

While the direct statistics of each metal’s ability to resist corrosion can’t be found, it’s often mentioned that 6061 has a higher corrosion resistance than 7075. Anodized 6061 is often used in manufacturing boat hulls, scuba tanks, docks, etc. That’s not to say 7075 has poor corrosion resistance, it’s just not as high as 6061. And with the ability to anodize 7075, 7075’s poor corrosion resistance has little impact on the quality of a grinder. (unless maybe you go to the beach all day)

Weight

– obvious. (it’s actually the measure of force of gravity on an object, but who cares about that)

The mass density of aluminum 6061 is 2.7 g/cm3 while aluminum 7075’s is

Click here to see a more complete breakdown of the different properties of aluminum 6061 vs aluminum 7075.

Conclusion:

So I’ve discussed the common types of material used in manufacturing weed grinders and the properties of each grade of metal. You might be thinking the answer is obvious —aluminum 7075 or steel sounds great! I’m obviously going to go with that…until you see the price.

A 7075 grinder is going to cost 2x as much as an anodized aluminum 6061 grinder, and a steel grinder 3x as much. This might be worth it to you, but for many this price increase isn’t worth the minimal advantages of using 7075 or steel. There are definitely benefits to using these harder metals (mostly hypothetical health benefits).

The ZAM grinder 1.1” would be $100+ if made out of steel and that’s too expensive for 95% of cannabis consumers looking for a grinder, let alone a mini one.