How to Grind Weed Without a Grinder

Sophia Delphi May 09, 2022 - 6 min read
Fact Checked
Grinding weed in a mortar and pestle with a basket of buds on the side and a marijuana leaf in front

You only need a few things to smoke weed.

First, of course, you need weed. Then you need a piece of rolling paper, and a lighter or matches. Finally, you need a grinder to get the flower ready for smoking.

But what if you can’t find your grinder or it’s broken?

Sure, you can use your hands to break up a nug if you’re desperate. We’ll discuss that approach shortly, but it’s a messy and often-unsatisfactory substitute for properly-ground herb, particularly if you’re dealing with really sticky bud.

No worries — there are plenty of ways to MacGyver it with stuff you have lying around the house.

We’ll list those methods after a short discussion about grinding weed.

Why Do You Have To Grind Your Weed?

If you’ve ever handled flower, you already know why a good grind is so important. The term “nug” is an appropriate one for weed because it’s sold in a chunk rather than in small particles like tobacco.

You can certainly drop a nug into a pipe and fire it up, but the herb will burn unevenly and the middle of the chunk probably won’t burn at all. That means you’ll be wasting lots of your pot. Smaller ground pieces of weed, on the other hand, will burn evenly and completely.

Needless to say, you can’t wrap paper around a solid nug to make a joint or blunt. An even grind will produce weed that you can spread evenly along the length of your paper.

And while it’s possible to purchase pre-ground cannabis, it will dry out and become stale very quickly.

Flower’s not cheap. Grinding it properly ensures that you can enjoy all of it.

Qualities of a Good Weed Grinder

Hand-operated grinders all operate on the same basic principle. Weed is placed into a closed chamber, and grinding teeth cut the nug into smaller pieces.

The least-expensive grinders are messy to use because the ground weed stays inside the chamber and has to be cleaned off the sides. Three-piece grinders drop the ground weed into a collection chamber below where it’s easy to collect. It also won’t drop into the lower chamber until it’s fully ground. Four-piece units have another chamber at the very bottom to collect any kief that falls off.

The best grinders have metal teeth. Plastic teeth are likely to break after a while (and dump plastic into your ground flower). Metal weed grinders are the most durable and easiest to clean; wood looks cool but can harbor bacteria, and acrylic ones usually have the plastic teeth we’ve mentioned.

You can also purchase weed grinders with cranks, as well as electric grinders. The cranks are convenient but prone to breaking; electric ones are terrific but more expensive.

OK, now you’re up to speed on grinders. But what if you don’t have one handy?

Grinding Weed Without a Grinder

“Can’t you just cut it up with a knife?”

Yes, you can — and that’s one of the options we’ll be discussing. But there are lots of other ways to do it without getting your favorite kitchen knife all sticky.

1. Scissors and a Shot Glass

This method has two advantages: it works well, and using a shot glass adds a touch of class to the operation.

All you have to do is drop your weed into the glass, take a pair of scissors, and go to town. A shot glass is the perfect size to hold a chopped nug, and it allows plenty of room for the scissors to do their work.

As with all of these methods, try to cut your weed into even-sized pieces — and be sure to use the sharpest scissors you can find.

2. Cheese Grater

There are all types of ways to grate cheese. For example, you can use a food processor, or you can use one of those hand-held rotary graters waiters carry in an Italian restaurant.

Here, though, we’re talking about old-fashioned box or flat grinders that you rub a block of cheese against. Simply do the same thing with your bud, and you’ll be grinding evenly-sized, small chunks of weed that should be perfect for smoking.

3. Coffee Grinder

Using a grinder that’s already in your kitchen makes sense, although you probably don’t want to gum up an expensive Krups or Baratza machine with weed resin.

A better choice is a hand-operated crank grinder, which is ideal for grinding weed finely and evenly. Just don’t expect to grind coffee beans immediately afterward; it will take a while to get the sticky stuff cleaned out.

4. Knife and Cutting Board

Since we’ve mentioned cleaning, let’s get to the sharp knife method we discussed at the start. Cutting up weed with a kitchen knife is best done on a cutting board, but use an acrylic or glass board rather than a wood one. Wood will retain the scent of cannabis for a long time, even if you wash it immediately after you’re done chopping.

And use the sharpest knife you’ve got (or a razor blade, if you haven’t sharpened your knives in a while). A dull knife will rip the bud apart and damage its trichomes in the process. Slice cleanly and evenly, so both Snoop and Gordon Ramsey will be proud.

5. Use Your Hands

We’ve all broken up bud manually at one time or another — and we all know the pros and cons. Pros: it’s simple and it works. Cons: it takes forever, and cleaning your hands afterward takes even longer.

When using your hands, be gentle. Too much pressure will destroy the weed’s trichomes, which contain all of its goodness. Pick the flower apart carefully, trying to keep the pieces as even as possible.

6. A Pill Bottle and a Dime

Finally, there’s the time-honored stoner party trick. Put a nug into a small plastic pill bottle, drop in a dime (after carefully cleaning it!), and shake. The coin will rip the weed apart quickly. This method isn’t going to give you evenly ground weed, but it’s good enough — and your friends will be impressed.

How to Grind Weed Without a Grinder: FAQ

Q: Can you grind weed in a food processor, mini-chopper, or blender?
A: Yes, if you don’t mind putting flower into your kitchen appliances. Just be sure to use the manual setting so the weed doesn’t get chopped too finely; it will only take a couple of seconds to get the job done. Chop it for too long and you’ll end up with a powder that won’t smoke properly.

Q: What about using a mortar and pestle?
A: We didn’t mention this one because most people haven’t even seen these tools since high school chemistry class. But if you happen to have a set, a mortar and pestle is ideal for grinding weed — after all, they’ve been used to grind herbs and grain ever since the Stone Age.