Do you use a dry herb vaporizer? Do you faithfully grind your herbs before each vaping session for the best possible herb-to-oven contact? Of course you do.
There’s just one problem…
A Dirty Herb Grinder Does a Poor Job
If the herb in question is sticky, grinding it by hand is almost like mowing wet grass. The dark, sticky resins collect on the teeth of your grinder, making the grinder difficult to turn. The material also clogs the grinder’s holes. Eventually, the grinder no longer does its job effectively. Instead of collecting your ground herbs from the grinder’s bottom compartment, you’re spending all your time picking the herbs out from between the grinder’s teeth.
Alternatively, you’re skipping the grinder and breaking up your buds by hand — and if you’re doing that, you’re not having a very good vaping experience.
Most Herb Grinder Cleaning Methods Are Wasteful
Cleaning a dry herb grinder with soap and water isn’t that hard.
So what’s the problem with cleaning your grinder that way?
Think about what all of that material stuck to your grinder’s teeth and threading actually is. It’s highly condensed plant material and resins. If you’ve been using your grinder long enough since its last cleaning session, some of that material might be so concentrated that it resembles a sort of dark brown tar. If you wash the grinder, you’re washing some very potent material down the drain. We’d like to do better than that.
So we thought of a way to clean a dry herb grinder so completely that it’ll work just like new — without wasting any of the precious herbs caught in the teeth, threading, holes and screen.
This is the eCig One zero-waste dry herb grinder cleaning method — Grinderrific for short.
Grinderrific: The eCig One Zero-Waste Herb Grinder Cleaning Method
What You Need:
- Dry herb grinder made from a heat-tolerant material such as aluminum or stainless steel
- Additional cannabis or other dry herb (optional)
- Pyrex dish
- Oven bag (optional)
- High-proof food-grade alcohol such as Everclear
- Small mason jar
- Glass bowl
- Latex or nitrile gloves (optional)
- Coffee filters (optional)
- Amber glass bottles with droppers
- Small funnel
Decarboxylate Your Herb Grinder for Zero-Waste Cleaning
Our dry herb grinder cleaning method assumes that the herb you’re trying to clean from your grinder is cannabis. As you may already know, the beneficial compounds in cannabis — such as THC and CBD — are alcohol soluble. We’re going to use alcohol to draw those compounds out of the plant material stuck to your grinder. The resulting liquid will be an alcohol-based cannabis tincture. You can enjoy the beneficial compounds in your cannabis by ingesting the alcohol, and you can safely throw the spent plant material away without worrying about waste.
If you want to get any benefits from your cannabis tincture, though, you’ll need to decarboxylate the plant material first. In its raw form, the THC in cannabis is not yet ready for use by the body. Decarboxylation — making the THC bioavailable by exposing it to gentle heat — is necessary if you want to experience the psychoactive effects of THC. Smoking or vaping decarboxylates THC instantly. Since our plan is to consume the THC via an alcohol tincture, we’ll need to heat the herbs a different way: in the oven.
There are many different strategies for decarboxylating cannabis, but this one is our favorite. Before you begin, pour several ounces of Everclear or another high-proof alcohol into a small mason jar. Close the jar and put it in your freezer.
- Preheat your oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take your grinder apart and remove any plastic or rubber rings.
- Place the grinder in a Pyrex dish.
- Add a few grams of additional ground cannabis to the Pyrex dish if you’d like to make a stronger tincture. Try 4-5 grams as a starting point. The potency of the final tincture depends on several factors including the potency of the herbs and the amount of alcohol used.
- Place an oven bag over the Pyrex dish. Close the bag tightly with a knot. An oven bag is made from heat-resistant nylon that will contain most of the smells as you decarboxylate your cannabis. This step is optional. Note, though, that a very strong cannabis smell will fill your home during decarboxylation if you don’t use an oven bag. Aluminum foil will not keep the smell in.
- Bake the dish for about 30-50 minutes. The cannabis will brown slightly. Shake the dish every 10-20 minutes to ensure even decarboxylation.
- Remove the dish from the oven. Allow it to cool completely before removing the oven bag.
At this point, the THC in your herbs — and stuck to your grinder — is fully bioavailable and ready for extraction with alcohol or oil. You could even get high from eating the herbs directly. Decarboxylation is a required step if you want to enjoy cannabis without smoking or vaping it.
Cleaning and Extracting the THC From Your Herb Grinder
Making Your Cannabis Tincture
Now that the THC stuck your grinder is bioavailable and ready for consumption, we’re going to clean the grinder and extract the THC simultaneously. Remove your jar of alcohol from the freezer. If you’re adding extra cannabis to your tincture — something we highly recommend if you’d like a tincture that’s nice and potent — add the cannabis to the jar first. Shake the jar vigorously for about two minutes or as long as you can stand. Add your disassembled grinder to the jar and return the jar to the freezer.
Removing and Cleaning Your Herb Grinder
After about 24 hours, remove the jar from the freezer. You’ll find that the alcohol has taken on a green-brown hue. Remove the grinder from the jar, swishing the grinder components gently in the alcohol to dislodge any bits of extra cannabis that you added. At this point, you’ll find that the plant material in the grinder is no longer sticky; the alcohol has extracted all of the sticky THC goodness. Rinse the grinder under warm water. Any material still stuck to the grinder will fall off. Your grinder is now clean, bright and shiny. Dry it thoroughly before using it.
Completing Your Cannabis Tincture
At this point, you have a mason jar that’s full of ground herbs and green-brown alcohol that smells strongly of cannabis. Close the jar and shake it vigorously before returning it to the freezer. Now that you no longer have a heavy metal object in the jar, shake it frequently over the next 24 hours to help the extraction process.
After another 24 hours, remove the jar from the freezer and give it a final shake. Place your cheesecloth over a bowl, and pour the entire mixture into the cheesecloth. Because you’ll be handling the cheesecloth directly, you may want to wear gloves at this point. Otherwise, you could potentially absorb the tincture through your skin. Create a bundle with the cheesecloth. Squeeze the cheesecloth over the bowl firmly to remove as much of the alcohol as possible. Your cannabis tincture is ready for bottling. Using a funnel to prevent spilling, pour the tincture from the bowl into your amber glass bottles. If you like, you can use a coffee filter to remove the smallest plant particles.
Cannabis Tincture: Second Flush
Empty the herbs from the cheesecloth into the mason jar. Add enough alcohol to cover the herbs. Close the jar and return it to the freezer. Shake the jar periodically over the next several days. Giving your herbs a second alcohol flush will extract the last of the beneficial compounds that remain. Although the second-flush tincture won’t be as potent as the original tincture, this method ensures that you will waste absolutely none of the beneficial compounds in your herbs. After several days, bottle the second cannabis tincture. You can throw away the spent herbs at this point.
Final Thoughts: Using Your Cannabis Tincture
By following the steps in this guide, you’ve cleaned your herb grinder without wasting any of the precious condensed plant material. If you’ve never cleaned your grinder before, you’ll be shocked by how much better it works. If you’re new to cannabis tinctures, you might wonder what they’re like. As we mentioned above, the potency of your cannabis tinctures will vary until you establish a consistent cannabis-to-alcohol ratio. Changing the cannabis strain will also change the resulting tincture. We recommend beginning with 1 ml — about one dropper full — held under the tongue for several seconds and swallowed. If you find that the tincture irritates your mouth, you can simply swallow it — but holding the tincture under your tongue gets the THC into your bloodstream more quickly. With sublingual use, you may start to feel the effects of your tincture in as little as 15 minutes. If you swallow the tincture, it may be up to 60-90 minutes before you feel anything.
Because the effects of a cannabis tincture may come on slowly, we recommend a first dose of no more than 1 ml. Wait a full day before deciding whether you’d like to try a higher dose. When you eat cannabis, it may be up to 90 minutes before you’ll begin to feel the effects. You do not want to take a second dose of the tincture while the effects of the first dose are still building.