You know what’s fun? Smoking dank kush. What’s not fun is using a grinder that’s never seen a drop of isopropyl alcohol. A sticky grinder that hardly turns, sounds like nails on a chalkboard, and holds onto more kief than it yields. There comes a time when the procrastination must end.
It’s time to clean your grinder. Assuming you have one. If you don't, stop reading, bookmark this page, get one, and come back in 6 months.
Nice to see you again! Hope you had a Happy Arbor Day. This is the ultimate guide to getting that grinder back to brand new. Pristine, clean, and smooth enough for a fine grind.
This doesn’t have to be a huge chore, though. Depending on what you have around the house, what your grinder is made of, and how much time you have, there are a couple different foolproof methods to choose from. For those who’ve been around the block, I’ll also let you in on some secret tips after the tried-and-true methods.
Before the Soak
The first order of business is to salvage any stubborn, dusty clumps and particles still left in the grinder. Never underestimate this step; you’ll be surprised how much finely ground herb can be lost in the cleaning process.
There are a couple different ways you can go about this.
First, you’ll want to take apart your grinder. It’s a good idea to do this over a plate or tray, so that you can catch any falling crumbs of sweet, sweet ganja.
Before you grab a tool or anything, try tapping out each individual part-- you'll probably be amazed at how much was left. A plastic tool for scraping might have come with the purchase of your grinder, but almost any similar tool will do.
Be careful not to scratch into the metal or plastic if you use anything sharper than a butterknife. A small, hard bristled brush can also do the trick, especially in the gaps between those sharp teeth.
Pack a little bowl with whatever you could save, and we can move onto the next steps.
Soak, Dry, and Detail
So, you’ve stripped as much residue off of the disassembled pieces as possible (see Advanced Techniques below for a trick that can help dislodge hardened resin). There are two basic methods to choose from.
Method 1: Isopropyl Alcohol
If you have a metal grinder, a long soak in isopropyl alcohol should do the trick. If you don’t have any around the house for cleaning or first aid, most grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores will carry a small bottle.
Simply submerge the different pieces in the alcohol for at least an hour or so. The longer the better. As the sticky coat of resin dissolves, the alcohol will darken into an amber color.
Fish out your pieces, and use a cotton swab, toothbrush, or similar tool to dislodge and wipe off any softened matter still left in the crevices. It should come off pretty easily.
Leave the grinder out on a paper towel or a rag to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Assemble the spotless, gleaming pieces and you’ll have a brand-new grinder again.
Plastic grinders can release harmful chemicals when soaked in alcohol, so boiling is a great alternative (There are solvents made specifically for plastic grinders as well).
Method 2: Boil It
Bring a few cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Make sure there’s enough to cover all of the grinder’s parts.
Submerge and boil for ten minutes or so. You could also throw in a pipe or any other piece you need to clean at this point. Hardened resin will not dissolve in hot water, but it will soften so that any leftover plant matter can rub off no problem.
Both methods serve the added purpose of sterilization. Cleaning your grinder is an essential way to keep it pretty and in good working condition, but an underrated upside is killing bacteria that may get into the mechanic for any reason.
If you can’t bear to part with even the tiniest particles, put your disassembled grinder in the freezer before the first step. Thirty minutes should be enough, but hours or even days won’t hurt.
You’ll find that the frigid temperature makes even the most stubborn, sticky gunk is much easier to dislodge. This works especially well for metal grinders, as they’re great heat conductors. The metal will condense on a molecular level, and shards of matter will pop off it with just a bit of pressure.
Note: If your grinder is wooden, unfortunately neither of the soaking methods will work for you. Wood is far too porous and will likely begin to disintegrate or become dull with repeated submersion. Your best bet is to use the freezer technique alone.
Boil in Milk
Yes, it is possible to clean your grinder with milk. As you may know, hemp is liposoluble; it dissolves in fats. For best results, wash the outside of your grinder prior to submerging.
Heat your milk in a small saucepan, without boiling. Disassemble the grinder and soak it in the hot milk for ten to fifteen minutes. The resin should have dissolved, creating a herbal infused milk ready for consumption.
Soak in Coke
Brand-nonspecific cola is another surprisingly effective solvent. It dissolves both resin and rust that may naturally collect. The cola method works with pretty much any material except perhaps wood. The only downside is that the leftover resin isn’t usable afterwards.
As with anything, grinder cleaning and maintenance may take time to perfect, but the stakes are pretty low, as long as you put in some effort. Over time, you’ll find what techniques and tools work best for you and your grinder. Be thrifty! Try out new routines or unconventional tools. That being said, anything with a very sharp blade may scratch the grinder itself, so exercise caution.
Maintenance and Good Practices
If not for the sheer satisfaction of it, regular maintenance is always a good habit to have. Depending on your smoking habits, cleanings every month or so should be enough. You don’t have to wait until then to dust off that stubborn pollen and gum, though. Just taking a paintbrush to those tiny grooves is enough to prevent excessive buildup. So, what are you waiting for?
Go on. Take care of your things. You’ll thank yourself.