Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 29, 2022

As a seasoned weed user, you must have found yourself in this situation: you’re ready to smoke weed, you have your nugs ready, you have your rolling papers, a bong, a pipe, or whatever else, but no grinder in sight. Or maybe, you’re just getting into smoking weed and haven’t gotten around to buying a weed grinder yet. Well, that’s okay, even the most prepared cannabis connoisseurs sometimes find themselves without a grinder.

This is not that big a deal because people have been smoking cannabis for thousands of years, way before grinders were even invented, and even way before rolling papers were a thing. How did they do that? Probably by using the most basic tools – their hands. Or maybe they had other tools, but certainly not a grinder.

Therefore, in this article, we’ll talk about how to successfully grind those sticky buds by using your hands, as well as using some other common household items.

Why You Should Break Apart Cannabis Buds into Small Pieces

Obviously, the biggest reason for breaking apart cannabis buds into smaller pieces is to make it more smokeable. You can’t fit a whole nug in a single rolling paper or a pipe bowl, right? Plus, ground cannabis burns evenly and makes smoking much more pleasant.

Carefully ground weed with a fluffy consistency also creates good airflow. The trichomes will be evenly exposed to the flame while steadily releasing all the goodness. This retains the potency of the weed, which means you will get the most out of the nugs.

Is a Weed Grinder Really Necessary?

Grinders are devices that were designed to make things easier, which is totally understandable (check out our comparison of the best weed grinders if you want to know more). For some people, they’re indispensable because most of them come with a kief catcher (which they harvest to sprinkle the kief over some bud for an extra kick).

However, while very useful, having a weed grinder is not necessary, especially if you’ve found a different grinding method that works for you. Some people still prefer using other tools while others like using their hands just for the experience. So, let’s see how you can break apart the nugs with your hands.

Grinding Weed With Your Own Hands (The Old-School Way)

Using your hands to grind weed is the old-school way, and they can be a pretty decent grinding tool, too. You can be as precise as you want as you’ll literally be taking the matter into your own hands.

What to Do

First things first, you have to start with clean hands. Since you’ll be touching the weed with your bare hands, you’ll inevitably end up with some resin on them which you’ll want to collect later. Therefore, make sure to maintain proper hygiene. Washing your hands after is also a good idea because they will reek of weed big time, and your fingers will probably be sticky, so be prepared.

Line a flat surface with a large piece of paper (like a newspaper) so you can work without making a mess, and so small pieces of weed can later be collected. Start by breaking the biggest nugs into smaller, more manageable chunks. Remember, you need to have a tight grip, but be gentle enough to not damage the trichomes too much. Then, you can either:

  1. Take each of the smaller chunks and break them up into smaller pieces using your fingertips and fingernails until they’re at the desired consistency;
  2. Or you can roll the nug pieces between your middle finger, index finger, and thumb with your dominant hand while placing your non-dominant hand below it, faced with the palm upwards, to collect the falling pieces.

Whatever you do, make sure the pieces are more or less even but don’t fuss too much about it. The pieces don’t have to be microscopically even because you’re not a machine. Just be patient and enjoy the experience of preparing the nugs with your bare hands.

Protect the Trichomes, Save the Trichomes

When you grind weed with your hands, you’re bound to end up with sticky fingers, especially if you’re dealing with sticky nugs. Even if the weed is on the drier side, you’ll still need to be careful. But, however gentle you are, you’ll still end up with resin on your hands.

Nevertheless, this isn’t a loss. Yes, the trichomes are important, it’s where the terpenes and cannabinoids (THC and CBD) are heavily concentrated, so of course, you don’t want to lose that. But rolling weed between your hands and collecting resin from your fingers is the oldest way of making hash, so you can do something similar.

Just use something thin but sturdy, like a credit card or a small and thick piece of cardboard to scrape every bit of that sticky resin from your hands and sprinkle it over the dry herb or save it for a special occasion.

How to Grind Weed Without a Grinder (But With Other Household Items)

If you’d like to try other alternatives to using your hands instead of a grinder, there are plenty of household items that can do the job just fine.

Coffee Grinder

Using a coffee grinder is a quick and easy way to grind the cannabis buds. Just break the larger pieces apart if you need to and grind away. Don’t pack the weed too tightly in the grinder, though, and be careful of grinding it too fine.

Make sure you clean the grinder thoroughly beforehand as you don’t want any coffee particles to make their way into your joint. It may be fragrant, but it won’t be tasty. Likewise, clean the grinder afterward, so it doesn’t make your coffee smell too much. 

Blender or Food Processor

Similarly, using a blender or a food processor is also a good alternative to a weed grinder. However, it’s more suitable for larger quantities of weed because the bowl and the blades are larger.

For blenders and food processors, the same rule applies – clean them thoroughly before and after, and don’t grind the nugs into a paste.

Cheese Grater

A cheese grater is not the ideal tool because it can easily destroy the trichomes, but if you have nothing else on hand, it will do. It’s best to grate on the side with the smallest holes and try not to press on the weed too tightly to avoid smashing it too much. Wash the grater afterward to remove the odor and sticky residue.

Pair of Scissors and Shot Glass

Many people use this method religiously, plus it’s handy when you’re at a party and you can easily obtain a shot glass and a pair of scissors in the kitchen. 

It’s easy, just pack the nugs loosely in a shot glass and use a pair of scissors to chop them. Again, clean the scissors beforehand. You can use a bigger glass for bigger quantities of weed, just don’t crowd the nugs.

Pill Bottle and Coin

This method is a little DIY grinder, which may look weird, but it actually works. All you need is a small pill bottle and a coin (a quarter or a nickel).

First, thoroughly clean the coin and put it in the bottle. Then, put the weed in the bottle leaving some room, and close the lid.

To grind, start shaking the bottle vigorously, and shake for about 30 seconds at first. Then check on the consistency and shake it again if you need to. Your arms may hurt a bit, but a little THC and CBD will fix them right up afterward.

Pestle and Mortar

Using a pestle and mortar is an unconventional way to grind your weed and it works best for dry herbs. If you’ve decarboxylated your weed for cannabutter, for example, and need to grind it, using a pestle and mortar is perfect for you.

Sharp Knife and Cutting Board

Finally, the most basic method of all, behold the good old knife and cutting board. It would be best if the knife is sharp because that way you’ll be more precise. Also, using a plastic cutting board is far more convenient as wood soaks up all the smells. Just gather the buds and chop away until you get your desired consistency.

The Takeaway – When In Need, Your Hands Can Be the Only Tools You Need

Weed has been smoked for thousands of years before grinders were even into the picture, so no wonder grinders aren’t the only tools that can get the job done nicely. The most back-to-basics method you can use is grinding it with your own hands and feeling the magic with your fingertips. Alternatively, you’ll find that many other household items can also grind those nugs.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


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