Pros and Cons of Grinding Weed
You would think deciding whether to grind your weed or not would be an easy task, but it’s still a debated topic. The growing plethora of different smoking devices and different methods of consuming THC has only increased the confusion.
Some believe that the answer is obvious; grinding your weed will provide the best experience combining an even, thorough burn. Others stand by the belief that grinding weed is wasteful and subtracts THC from the end result while preventing good airflow.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. Whether you’re combusting or vaporizing — and even what tool you’re using (bong, joint, blunt, vaporizer) — will impact your decision.
A true final answer is impossible when opinions vary so much. That doesn’t mean we can’t list these opinions to reveal which of these opinions you follow, and whether grinding your weed is a thing you should do to maximize the experience you want.
Pros of Grinding:
More thorough burn
Grinding your weed reduces the distance heat has to travel to fully envelop the weed. Not grinding at all, and even a too coarse grind, can insulate the middle of the nug preventing heat from adequately reaching the center. If it doesn’t reach the temperature you need, you’re wasting weed.
Vaporizing vs Combustion
But this has a different impact if you’re vaporizing or combusting. Combusting is what happens you smoke out of a bong, joint, blunt, etc. Combusting happens at around 450 degrees, and if you’ve ever cached a bowl to find the center still a brown, or even a green color, then the center didn’t get hot enough to combust, preventing the release of THC from your cannabis. In this instance, you wasted weed by not grinding.
But weed burns quite easily, and if you’re using a standard bic lighter then this is less likely to happen unless you throw a big ol’ nug directly into a giant bowl. Bic lighters get surprisingly hot at 3500 degrees Fahrenheit, so this issue is less likely to happen if you’re combusting.
Is Grinding Important for Dry Herb Vaporizers?
For dry herb vaporizers, not to be confused with liquid vape pens, grinding your weed is even more important. The whole point of vaporizing as opposed to combusting is to limit the temperature to where the beneficial natural chemicals like THC can still be absorbed, but without the unhealthy ash and tar-like black residue that coats a bong or pipe after a few hits.
Because the temperature has to be so specific, grinding your weed is very important—more important than if you were combusting. Without grinding, your vaporizer is likely to work less efficiently.
Combusting your weed is easy, all you have to do is burn it all until all you’ve got left is some ash. You’ve probably heard the saying, “if it’s black, throw it back, if it’s ashed, cache it out.” But for a vaporizer you can’t do that. Different terpenes get released at different temperatures, and the line between combusting and vaporizing is thin. This is especially true if you’re trying to get the absolute most out of your weed without it combusting. Grinding your weed exposes more surface area to heat while reducing the distance from the center of weed.
Simply put: you need to grind your weed if you’re using a dry herb vaporizer. It’s important. Check out this article on the best weed grinder for dry herb vaporizers.
Check out some of the grinders we sell!
Dry herb vaporizers are one thing, but what about these other common smoking methods. If you’ve been following along, then you’ll know these work through combusting the weed. So then the grind shouldn’t matter, right? Not quite.
It’s definitely not as important if you were using a vaporizer, but grinding can still have some other benefits for these traditional smoking methods.
Benefit of Grinding for Joints and Blunts
There’s nothing more annoying than having to sacrifice part of your artistically rolled joint just because it’s burning faster on one side. A consistent grind prevents air pockets which can cause the joint to canoe (burn unevenly). So much about the quality of a joint is how it burns. Just as a consistent grind can prevent air pockets, it can also prevent large chunks from burning slowly, which would also cause the joint to burn unevenly. A perfect join is uniform in density all through-out the paper, no air pockets, no dense rocks, no stems. Ground weed helps keep things smooth.
The main benefit for bongs is simple; it gives you the ability to take a larger hit. A bowl filled with finely ground weed is like lighting a pile of tinder. It will burn fast and strong. It will cherry easier, and if you’re not careful you could pull the entire bowl through. If you have ever tried to pack a bowl full of kief only to hear hit slurp through from the slightest inhale, you know how disappointing that can be.
The pros and cons of grinding weed could not be accurately compared without mentioning the by-product of using a grinder with a screen: Kief. You know, it’s that lovely golden goodness that accumulates in the bottom of your grinder under the screen.
Hint: Use a kief coin to increase the amount of kief you collect while simultaneously keeping your grinder's screen cleaner. If you've waited too long, check out this article on collecting grinder hash.
It’s interesting that kief collection will fit on both sides of the equation in terms of pro vs cons. While some see the natural collection of kief as a benefit, others see it as an unwanted siphoning of potency.
Check out this article to discover what type of grinder makes the most amount of kief.
Weed is sticky, and it can be kind of messy when you’re preparing to roll a joint or blunt. Holding a nug over the bowl while you grind it up with your hands, or even if you prepare it first, you’ll still need some tray to keep everything together. A grinder keeps everything in one place. A residue on your fingers, no oil from hands on the bud you’re about to smoke. In terms of ease and cleanliness, you can’t beat using a grinder.
Cons of Grinding:
Grinders have become a pivotal tool in many cannabis consumer’s toolbox, but there are still those traditional in mindset who believe grinding weed is a waste and you would be better either using your hands, or simply tearing off larger chunks of weed.
There are other ways to grind weed if you don't have a grinder.
Preventing Too Tight a Pack
First, the most often occurring, and one of the main reasons not to use a grinder is preventing too tight a pack. This is mainly concerning joints and blunts, but also concerns dry herb vaporizers as well. Have you ever had a really thick milkshake and then tried to suck some of it up with a straw? It’s like an iron lung capacity test. By using larger chunks, you essentially guarantee that you’ll have good airflow. Yes, you can roll a good joint with ground weed, but it’s also easier to roll it too tight.
Prioritizing Airflow Over Everything Else
For dry herb vaporizers, the trick is finding the middle ground between packing enough to be satisfied while not packing so much that you impede the airflow. Some dry herb vaporizers like the PAX prefers a tight pack, others won't work at all with such a compact pack.
Dry herb vaporizers are generally built to be portable with limited power capacity, so keeping that in mind will make sure you get the best pack and the largest hit. This is such a problem that many dry herb vaporizers come with picks or metal tools to mix up the bowl so the material in the middle gets moved to the outside, closer to the heat.
It’s definitely easier and cleaner to use a grinder, but there are more spaces in a grinder for kief to get caught after being ground. The natural breaking up of weed causes thc, small plant matter to get scattered all over the grinder.
Why separate your kief when it’s the very thing you want to consume? Grinding your weed doesn’t mean you have to collect kief, but a kief tray is common in most grinders. There are 3pc herb grinders for those who don’t want to separate their kief, but still want to grind their weed up beforehand.
Loss of Potency
As soon as you grind your weed, as soon as your weed is exposed to oxygen and UVA rays, it starts to degrade. That’s just the way it is. There’s a reason commercially sold weed has the date it was picked.
Grinding your weed exposes more of the surface area of the plant matter to these harmful elements. If you plan to smoke right away it doesn’t really matter, but grinding up large amounts and then storing it away is not a good idea if you plan to prioritize maximizing potency. Read more on the topic: Does weed lose potency after grinding?
Maximum potency is attained by storing full unground nugs in air-tight, UVA proof containers. Then, just before smoking, it should be ground to the desired consistency, and then vaporized/combusted, etc.
Overall, the pros of grinding your weed outweigh the cons, but that really depends on your priorities. If you’re smoking a blunt, joint, bong, then breaking up your weed with your hands is completely fine and you’ll more than likely be ok in a pinch. But for dry herb vaporizers? You pretty much have no choice but to grind up your herb beforehand or you'll be wasting a significant amount of your cannabis.
Read more: Why bother using a weed grinder?