Grinding weed is a common practice for cannabis enthusiasts, but have you ever wondered what exactly happens during this process and how it could potentially affect the weed’s potency?
Let’s dive into the mechanics and science behind grinding cannabis. We cover everything from why you should grind your weed for different consumption methods, to the science of THC and cannabinoids, and even the factors that could affect the potency of your cannabis after grinding. You’ll also find practical tips for grinding your weed properly and learn about the various types of grinders available.
What Happens When You Grind Weed
Grinding weed involves breaking down the cannabis buds into smaller particles, usually with the aid of a grinder.
This process exposes more surface area of the plant, making it easier to consume through smoking, vaping, or adding to edibles.
The action of grinding can break down the trichomes—tiny, crystal-like structures on the plant where THC and other cannabinoids are stored.
Why Grind Weed?
The Smoking Experience
Grinding weed provides a smoother smoking experience. It allows for more even burning and airflow, which results in less harshness and a more efficient use of the plant material.
The Vaping Experience
For vaping, ground cannabis is almost essential, as vaporizers work best with a consistent texture. This ensures that the heat is distributed evenly, optimizing the extraction of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Enhancing the Sensory Experience
Finely ground weed releases more of its aromatic compounds, enhancing the sensory experience before, during, and after consumption. The science here is the same as why coffee grinders exist and you don’t just throw whole beans into hot water.
Does Weed Lose Potency After Grinding?
THC, CBD and other cannabinoids are primarily stored in the trichomes of the cannabis plant.
When you grind the buds, trichomes are broken, potentially leading to a small loss of these compounds due to exposure to air, light, and heat.
Factors Affecting Potency
Several factors can affect the potency of weed after grinding, including:
Exposure to Light: UV rays can degrade cannabinoids.
Air: Oxygen can oxidize cannabinoids, reducing potency. As the cannabis is exposed it starts to dry which decreases potency.
Heat: Elevated temperatures can cause THC to degrade into CBN, a less potent cannabinoid. We recommend using a hemp wick as one of the many benefits they have is a lower temp burn than a lighter.
Time: The longer ground weed is exposed to these factors, the more potency it may lose.
How to Grind Weed Properly?
To grind weed properly, make sure the cannabis is dry but not too brittle. Place the buds between the grinder’s teeth, apply gentle pressure, and make a twisting motion. Some grinders come with a kief catcher, which can collect the trichomes that break off during grinding.
Types of Grinders
- Two-piece grinders: Basic, one-chamber design.
- Three-piece grinders: Feature a chamber for collecting ground weed.
- Four-piece grinders: Come with an extra chamber for catching kief.
- Electric grinders: Mechanically grind with the push of a button but may overheat the weed if used improperly. These are often sold as ‘herb grinders’ as they are suitable for multiple applications.
Steps to Grind Weed Properly
- Preparation: Remove any stems and seeds from your cannabis buds. This will make for a smoother grind and a better smoking or vaping experience.
- Break it Down: Before placing it in the grinder, break your bud into smaller chunks with your fingers. This will make the grinding process more efficient and help preserve your grinder’s blades.
- Grinding: Place the cannabis pieces into the grinding chamber (the top piece). Twist the top and bottom pieces in opposite directions several times until you feel less resistance.
- Tapping: After grinding, lightly tap the grinder on a surface to ensure that all the pieces have fallen through the holes into the collection chamber.
- Collecting Kief: If you have a four-piece grinder, over time, kief will accumulate in the bottom chamber. You can use a small brush or the tip of a knife to collect it.
- Unscrew and Empty: Unscrew the bottom chamber to access your freshly ground weed. Use it immediately or store it in an airtight container to preserve its potency.
Tips for Grinding Properly
Do Not Over-Grind: Over-grinding can turn your weed into a powdery mess that’s hard to handle. Stop grinding once you no longer feel resistance.
Cleaning: Resin and kief can build up in your grinder, making it less efficient over time. Regular cleaning with isopropyl alcohol can help maintain its performance.
Quality Matters: A high-quality grinder made of durable materials like stainless steel or aluminum will provide a more consistent grind and last longer. Sharp teeth are essential to a good grind and this is where plastic grinders fall short compared to their metal counterparts.
Grind Upside Down for a Finer Grind: For a finer grind, turn your two or three-piece grinder upside down and grind a bit longer before letting the bits fall into the collection chamber.
Check for Leftovers: Always check the grinding chamber for leftover plant matter that didn’t make it through. These can be re-ground or saved for later.
Many cannabis users believe that ground weed loses potency faster, although opinions differ. Some say they notice a difference in strength when using pre-ground cannabis, while others claim not to experience any noticeable drop in potency.
Mitigating Potency Loss
- Airtight Storage: Use airtight containers to reduce exposure to oxygen. There are many available online to buy or you can make your own diy smell proof container at home.
- Dark Storage: Store in a cool, dark place to minimize light and heat exposure. This goes a long way to helping keep your weed fresh.
- Immediate Use: The sooner you use it after grinding, the less potency you’re likely to lose. Weed does not stay good forever and infact it breaks down much quicker after grinding compared to whole buds.
- Kief Collection: Use a grinder with a kief catcher and save the kief for later use to boost potency.
The act of grinding weed has various implications, from enhancing your smoking and vaping experience to potentially affecting the potency of the cannabis. We have a complete article about the exact pros and cons of grinding weed to give you a full rundown on the art of grinding.
While there are a few cons, like possible potency loss and the need for extra equipment, the benefits of grinding—such as consistency, efficiency, and enhanced sensory experience—largely outweigh the downsides.
The key to mitigating potency loss lies in proper storage and immediate use.