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Tuesday May 11, 2021

By Samantha Smith

420 Culture

It’s a common cannabis conundrum: you have some awesome bud to roll up, but you don’t have a grinder. What do you do now? The answer is easier than you think. Look around the house of course! While a traditional grinder is typically the easiest way to go about getting your flower into a more smokable state, when one isn’t available, there are still plenty of ways to get the job done with items readily at hand.

If that sounds complicated, never fear, it won’t require an engineering degree to become a marijuana MacGyver. A few easy tips can go a long way in getting you rolling again. PotGuide has you covered with some simple, but effective, ways to grind your bud in a pinch. 

Alternatives to a Traditional Weed Grinder

Just like putting your bud in a standard grinder, all of these methods will work a bit better if you remove the larger stems and break the buds down into more easily managed chunks beforehand.

Pill Bottle & Coin

Got an old pill bottle (or film canister) lying around and a nickel or a quarter? Then you’re in luck! While this method is more efficient with dry bud, it works great on anything! Take your flower and put it in the pill bottle with a small coin (heavier coins are better). Be sure to fill the bottle no more than ½ - ¾ full, and pack it loosely so that the bud can move around when shaken. Do not push the coin into the weed when you set it on top. If you do, the coin will have a difficult time moving around, and the bud won’t get as ground as it should. The last step is to put the lid back on the bottle, making sure that it is on tight, then shake vigorously for a minute or two. 

A pill bottle
The pill bottle method is a classic stoner go-to when in a pinch. photo credit

Please note: Sanitation is very important with this method! Be sure to sanitize the coin and pill bottle with rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or vinegar and dry completely before doing any of this. No one wants germs and pill remnants mixed in with their bud—especially in the age of COVID. In place of a coin, any small, heavy solid object will work (we’ve even seen this performed with just a rock if you happen to be hiking when you’re in need), but no matter what you choose, be sure to clean it first!

Scissors & a Shot Glass

An oldie, but a goodie, this one is pretty self-explanatory. Grab a shot glass and a pair of scissors, put your bud in the shot glass and cut it up in the shot glass with the scissors. If you’re having trouble cutting up the larger parts, mix it up with the sharp end of the scissors. This will help expose the larger pieces, which can sometimes be pushed to the sides as you cut. While it won’t get as fine a grind as the pill bottle option, this method is a perfect way to grind up bud during a house party because when nothing else is available, almost every house has these on hand in some form. Why a shot glass? They tend to be tall enough to hold the bud, short enough to allow the scissors to open, and easy to clean should any sticky trichomes be left on the glass. Really any glass will do; a shot glass is just most common. Avoid plastic, as it may chip or scrape off and wind up in your bud.


If you like to cook, or just like fresh cheese, chances are you have a cheese grater in your kitchen somewhere. Grab it, along with something to catch the bud while you grate. This could be a dish, a Tupperware container, or you could grate it right into your bowl if you really wanted to. When using a microplane-style grater, take the bud, hold it over the container with one hand, and move the cheese grater up and down on the bud with the other. 

a cheese grater
Grind yourself up some weed, then a cheesy snack to enjoy when the munchies kick in! photo credit

If your grater is shaped like a flat pyramid (“box-shaped”), set the grater down on a steady surface, with whatever you mean to catch the bud located underneath. Be sure that the setup is stable before you apply pressure, or your bud will wind up flying all over the room. Once set, hold the grater in place with one hand and move the bud up and down against the blades (opt to use the smaller sides for a finer grind) with the other. Whichever type you use, be careful not to cut your fingers! This may also require some clean-up afterwards, as resin from the weed may stick up your blades. Careful wiping with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel should do the trick, but if not, you can leave it submerged in an isopropyl alcohol bath overnight. You should be able to easily wipe it clean with a paper towel in the morning.

Mortar & Pestle

Our ancestors have been using this method to break down herbs for food and medicine, for centuries so why not use it on your bud?  Fill the mortar halfway and pack loosely so it’s easier to grind. Then, push the pestle firmly into the flower and move it around the bowl continuously until it is ground to your liking. Like the pill bottle and coin method, this works the best with bud on the drier side. The stickier the bud it, the more difficult it will be to break up.

Coffee Grinder/Blender

Instead of ancient, if you would rather go the technological route, using a coffee grinder or blender is awesome for grinding buds! Just put in your flower, plug in your device, press a button, and wa-la, perfectly ground flower! This method will work the best if you’re trying to grind a large amount of bud at one time. However, be aware, without a cleaning, that grinder or blender will be difficult to use for anything other than bud going forward due to residue buildup (and it will build up fast, even with just a use or two).

A blender
The blender method is a high-tech way to quickly and perfectly grind larger amounts of weed. photo credit

I learned this first-hand when my partner “borrowed” my beloved Ninja blender for help at a joint packing facility. Thus, if you’re going the coffee grinder or blender route, removable blades are your friend, and again, will likely require a cleaning agent afterwards (as always, isopropyl alcohol to the rescue).

The Wrap Up

So, in the end it doesn’t really matter how you grind your bud — what matters is that it’s ground well because we all know that a good grind makes for better, smoother smoke. It’ll help you get more value out of your purchases, too. When you smoke unground bud, the lack of surface area means that plant matter closer to the center isn’t fully combusting, and thus is being wasted. With a good grind, you’ll be able to get the most out of your flower. Now, if you ever find yourself without your trusty grinder, these tips will have you consuming in no time.

What is your favorite way to grind up without a grinder? Share your tips in the comments!

Photo Credit: OlegMalyshev (license)


Samantha Smith Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith is a journalist, medical cannabis patient and cannabis advocate. A graduate of Ball State University, Samantha was a newspaper reporter in southwest Michigan and Indiana before entering the cannabis industry. She specialized in covering stories about local politics, the Indiana public school system and, community events.

Currently, she is the Marketing and Communications Manager at The Green Door, a medical & recreational dispensary in Bangor, and Baldwin, Michigan. Her work has been published on Leafly and in Pet Lifestyles Magazine. She is also a brand ambassador for Paw-able cbd pet treats. Samantha can be found on Instagram at @sammyliz92 or on LinkedIn.

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