What is an herb grinder?
Old-fashioned manual grinders make use of two interlocking plates that the user twists to grind the herb against the grinding pegs. Typically, the user cannot see the product being ground, which often results in over or under grinding. When herb is over ground, it can reduce airflow and increase clogging. Pieces that are too big do not release their oils and potency as readily and can lead to torching (burning all the herb at once). Manual grinders come in a wide variety of sizes, from tiny pocket-sized units to larger table-top varieties. We searched high and low for our favourite manual grinder, and most came up short. We found them to be inconsistent, and several somehow managed to produce both a too-fine and too-bulky grind at the same time.
Electric grinders can be anywhere from handheld electric grinder units that fit easily into a large pocket or small purse, larger units that attach to the end of a drill, or industrial grinders for manufacturers/producers who grind enormous quantities for packaging and distribution. Most electric grinders are preferred for their ease of use, consistent grind (with the right brands), and speed. Some even have cone-shaped dispensing tips that allow you to dispense your herb directly where you want it, with no spillage or contamination. In our testing of electric grinders, we preferred electric grinders that allowed users to toggle between turn directions (Rocker Switch Technology™) to break up the herb in a more efficient way. We also liked electric grinders with a capacity of an ounce or larger – most of the manual grinders we found were unable to grind smoothly with that much herb.
In many areas, especially speed, electric or battery powered grinders are the way to go. With grinding speeds of up to 20 times that of a manual grinder, electric grinders are the clear winner. Trying to manually twist and turn your herb takes a lot out of your hands, leading to (or complicating) hand pain and existing injuries. Most electric grinders are operated at the touch of a button, and some even have special technology to break up herb gently with a back-and-forth motion, rather than crushing the whole piece at once.
Hygiene is a complicated, important factor when grinding – you don’t always know how clean your prep area is, or your hands. There could be bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants around that you definitely don’t want mixed into your finished product. Nothing like accidentally packing a hair into your bowl! Manual grinders require an extra step between grinding and consuming. The herb must be removed from the grinder and somehow placed into the desired receptacle. Some brands of electric herb grinder have a hygienic dispensing cone tip, so that their grinders can grind your herb and dispense it directly where it needs to go without risking spillage, wastage, or contamination.
Where to buy
After extensive testing of countless electric grinders, our favorite is the Mamba electric herb grinder. It has a large storage capacity, conveniently runs on AA batteries, was designed with ergonomics in mind, and looks phenomenal on display. The designers clearly went to great lengths to source high-quality parts, and took special care to ensure a smooth, easy, one-handed operation. The Mamba grinder is inexpensive, especially considering the high-quality parts, and can also be found at select retailers. We highly recommend all readers evaluate their grinding needs regularly and adjust accordingly!