Surf City Shredder has made Santa Cruz a leader in the art of cannabis grinding

Grinding–nope, not that dirty-dancing kind—has emerged as an important and essential part of cannabis culture. Preparing for a smoke sesh and properly breaking apart your sticky icky can be a challenging endeavor, but a well-built cannabis grinder or “shredder” can make the process a piece of cake.

As key tools in the breakdown and preparation of weed, grinders come in a multitude of forms, sizes, and materials. There are single-chamber two-piece grinders, twin-chamber three-piece grinders, and tri-chamber four-piece grinders; almost all are palm-sized containers that easily and quickly shred nuggets of cannabis into finer and smaller chunks. With three main components—the grinding chamber, teeth to do the important shredding, and a lid to keep everything secure–a well-made grinder will quickly chop flower into fine and consistent little pieces.

The process of grinding cannabis allows for an easier and tighter roll and a more enjoyable (clean, even, and consistent) smoke. Many grinder aficionados note an improved flavor, potency, and taste of their herb. After all, part of weed’s magical effects stem from the tiny, delicate and crystalline “trichomes” that give it a frosty and oh-so-beautiful appearance. Breaking down weed by hand will cause thousands of those trichomes–where the highest concentrations of cannabinoids (THC and CBD) live—to stick to your fingers.

Finely prepared cannabis ensures more THC crystals get absorbed through combustion—the better cut, the better high. Three-piece and four-piece grinders, a bit on the higher end, have a rad little compartment under the normally solid collection chamber called the kief chamber. Kief is a term for the cannabinoids and sparkly trichomes that collect in the bottom chamber or the walls of a grinder. Larger ground buds collect in the chamber, and after persistent grinding, small pollen-like materials fall through a mesh screen and into the bottom extra-special chamber. The intensity of kief can blow you away—collect it and sprinkle it on a bowl or in a joint.

Every seasoned cannabis connoisseur has a preferred method for breaking apart, preparing, and grinding their herb. Today, there’s really no reason not to invest in a grinder. Most smoke shops carry a variety of herb pulverizers, and low-end models can be snagged for a measly ten bucks. (Of course, you get what you pay for.) On the other end of the spectrum, some ultra-high-end grinders can cost north of $100.

Santa Cruz Shredder CEO Matt Hanson founded the company with his partner Mark Edwards in 2007. An owner of numerous smoke shops in the early ’90s, Hanson noticed that there were no grinders manufactured in the U.S., and that innovation in the space was seriously lacking. He and his company set out to change that. And they certainly did, effectively turning an industry on its head in the process.

“If you use a standard grinder, you get BB-sized chunks. What we did is invent and patent a totally new tooth design–it’s what we became known for,” says Hanson. “We created one of the first known brands in the grinder industry and the cannabis game. We started small, and things really caught fire.”

Hanson collaborated with a NASA scientist and a special program called Seimens CAD Software to invent what he says calls “the most perfect shredding tooth design ever conceived by man.” Sharp-edged chompers are surprisingly not the best approach to grinding cannabis. They’ll dull over time and release toxic, itty-bitty flakes of aluminum into your smoking blend. Other grinders on the market cut once and allowed bb-sized chunks to pass through.

“The brand-new tube design we created ended up providing the perfect consistency, texture, and fluff for cannabis. Prior to us, the only grinder design was the diamond-shaped tooth design. I noticed this design releases burrs or metal and creates a chunky blend. Not good for rolling cannabis,” Hanson says.

Hanson says there are over 50 different brands of grinders out there. Sounds like a lot for a semi-small industry, right? Well, almost all the players are located in the same district in Shenzhen, China.

“These days, almost everything is made in China. And they are all crap. We focus on quality. A grinder is essential, and clutch, for any cannabis smoker. It’s one of the most necessary tools that every smoker needs. With a grinder, you just stick your cannabis in, turn it twice, and it’s done, “says Hanson. All of his company’s designing and manufacturing is done in California.

Prior to Santa Cruz Shredder entering the marketplace, there were very few options for those seeking high-end cannabis grinders. In just a few years, the company established itself as a leader, and jolted a stagnating industry. The company invented a unique thread design that eliminates the binding and permanent seizing of screw-together parts. It also created a superior “knurled” grip pattern that makes their products easier to rotate and provides a “butter smooth fluffing tool.”

Using the highest quality magnets in the world to ensure a reliable lid closure system and no-spills of precious herb and kief, Santa Cruz Shredder doesn’t do anything half-assed.

“We’ve spent a fortune to create an anodized machine shop to manufacture our shredders/grinders,” says Hanson.

Anodizing is an electrolytic passivation process that creates a mighty protective coating for aluminum. It prevents wear, corrosion, and failure of threaded parts. It changes the microscopic texture of the surface and the crystal structure of aluminum near the surface. Long story short, Santa Cruz Shredders are truly scratch-resistant. Cheap and low-quality acrylic grinders, shaped out of plastic, are quite fragile and provide inconsistent and imprecise grinds. Wooden grinders are cool to look at, but fall apart quickly. Aluminum grinders seem to be the best grinders out there, and Santa Cruz Shredders’ anodized aluminum is top of the heap.

There is, of course, one obvious question: why Santa Cruz Shredder and not Santa Cruz Grinder?

“Shredder just sounded better,” says Handon. “A lot of people call a grinder a ‘shredder’ now just because of our company.”