There was an era in my life when I would spend inordinate amounts of time picking choice nugs apart, calyx by swollen calyx, thoughtfully stacking each sticky teardrop upon the last in my bowl in a ceremony that would make a monk blush. Or, I’d toss a bud in a jar and attack it with some scissors to prepare it for a rolling paper.
For many years, the thought of using a grinder never crossed my mind, mostly because the grinders I had seen in action usually looked like a science project gone very, very wrong when you opened them up. Watching friends use plastic grinders, undoubtedly smoking bits of their grinder in the process, only further turned me off.
Once we began to truly understand the structure, importance, and abundance of trichomes on our cannabis, however, pretty much every bowl, bongload, or blunt blazed at the Beard Bros. compound was run through a grinder first.
Man, you name a brand and we’ve probably owned one over the years and for such a simple device, it’s pretty interesting how certain features can make all the difference in your smoking routine.
In full disclosure, my old piece was a Compton Grinder and like most it had its pros and cons. But during a camping trip in the Sequoias last fall, I awoke one morning to the ultimate buzzkill, my grinder had ground to a halt. Not only that, but I also couldn’t even open it to diagnose the problem. After about an hour of caveman tactics, I, the human, won and was able to pry the lid off the grinder to reveal a gummy, sticky layer of residue coating most of the surfaces that were meant to glide along one another.
That residue is basically scissor hash, right?
Those are my precious trichomes pulverized into what is now a pain in the ass!
Speaking with Bill and Jeff, they said they’ve run into the same issue with other brands like Santa Cruz Shredder or the Mendo Mulcher. Having spent a lot of time at trade shows last year, we were all familiar with a brand called SLX (pronounced Slix) that claimed to be the world’s first (only?) truly non-stick herb grinder. So, we hit them up and told them we wanted to try some out and, in return, we would give them a full review.
In a nutshell, SLX makes the claim that their innovative design features a high-grade non-toxic ceramic coating that never degrades, scratches, or chips from normal use. Even if you somehow managed to break some off into your herb, it is anti-flammable and will never burn, melt, or off-gas under your lighter flame.
On the surface (pun absolutely intended!), that sounded like exactly what we were looking for.
The catch was, and always is, we are going to give an HONEST review, whether the manufacturer likes it or not. To their credit, the crew at SLX accepted the challenge and here is what we learned.
First and foremost… my personal SLX herb grinder has had close to three ounces run through it in the past month (don’t judge, I’m sheltering in place!) including both fresh/sticky and cured/dry buds from strains like Beard Bros. Pharms OG Kush, Skywalker OG, Wedding Cake, Lemoncello, and some super fire King Louie.
As advertised, the v2.5 SLX herb grinder glided through it all and with zero extra “maintenance” the chamber that I load my nugs into still looks exactly like it did after the first grind.
As a result, the act of grinding even the densest nugs is almost effortless as the precision-engineered teeth utilize four cutting edges to expedite the process.
Larger drop-through holes than I am used to served a couple of key purposes.
First, they allow your herb to fall through long before it begins to get ground down to dust. Instead, you wind up with a more “scissored” finish which we have found to be ideal for blunts and joints, and useful for bowls as well.
Second, because the weed isn’t being touched as much by the moving parts of the top chamber, far more of your trichomes fall through still intact and ready to deliver the full spectrum effects that flower smokers love.
TO KIEF OR NOT TO KIEF…
When your ground material drops down to the second chamber, it comes to rest on a fine stainless steel mesh screen. To reveal it, you unscrew the top chamber from the middle (second) chamber. This is the ONLY set of threads on this grinder! Gummy or damaged threads were so common on my old grinders that this feature really appealed to me.
This mesh screen has a tight micron weave that will keep your weed suspended on top while letting broken loose trichomes to pass through its screen. Every time the herb on the screen is agitated, golden trichomes – commonly called ‘kief’ – sprinkle down through the screen, collecting below.
Negating the need for another set of threads, the second chamber and screen use a beveled edge to nest neatly into the bottom, or third, chamber. This allows you to remove and dump that second chamber easily when rolling up, without disturbing the kief-laden bottom chamber.
Probably half of the heads that I speak to that use a grinder prefer a “3-piece” setup, as opposed to the “4-piece” that I described above (lid, cutting platform, screen chamber, bottom chamber). They’d rather not use the screen at all, instead leaving all of the kief and weed together.
The threadless design of the SLX grinder screen chamber gives you that option too. Just leave it out if you have no use for it! Options are always good.
We got our hands on two different sized SLX weed grinders – a 2.4” diameter “standard” size, and a 2.0” diameter “pocket” size. Either model can be loaded with enough bud to roll up at least one fatty and so the smaller size still packs a big punch even when you’re on the go.
We also picked up a couple of the SLX Rolling Trays – again, in two different sizes. These trays are dope because they also feature a full top and bottom ceramic, non-stick coating and they come in the same colors as the grinders so you can match or clash your style.
Along with the trays we scooped a couple of magnetic tray covers. These brilliant accessories are perfect for anyone with a dog or cat running around their house, or when an uninvited guest knocks on your door at the most inopportune time. The tray covers don’t eliminate odor, but they do mitigate it and they come in some cool designs.
Lives up to its advertised promise – truly a non-stick surface
Super lightweight aluminum grinders compared to other top-shelf brands
Priced right on the retail level – smart investment, buy it once and you’re good for years
Ergonomic exterior design along with smooth internal operation useful for anyone with compromised grip issues
Strong top magnet and precision machined parts ensure that your grinder always/only opens when you want it to
Threadless removable screen makes transfer a breeze and gives you the option to easily convert from 4pc to 3pc
Did we mention… JUST ONE SET OF THREADS!
Micron level of the screen seems pretty tight, not a lot of kief production compared to some other styles – different micron options would be a cool add-on to their product line
Some plant material tends to make its way to the bottom/kief chamber due to no real seal between the 2nd and 3rd chambers
Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10, we’d give the SLX Grinder a 9.5 and Bill, Jeff, and I all agree that these are the best functioning weed grinders that we’ve each ever owned or used.
Since we like them so much, we figured you might too, so we asked for five more and we’re going to give them away to five of YOU at the end of this month! Check out our Instagram page for more details.
Additionally, to hype the launch of their new retail website, SLX is offering 10% off your order and free shipping for the rest of April when you use the code LAUNCH at checkout – get your grind on!
As you know, we are fascinated by branding and marketing here at Beard Bros. Pharms. Every brand has a story. Admittedly, some of them suck and that is usually reflected in the quality of their products. Getting to know the SLX crew a bit more in our discussions gave us some insight into their company that we feel matters.
SLX Herb Grinders was founded by a father and son team back in 2011 and the brand officially launched at the CHAMPS Trade Show in July of 2014. Rick Raphael and his son Sean own and operate this grassroots business from southern Vermont and their products are placed on the top shelf of some of the finest headshops and smoke shops across the country.
Looking to give back to the industry they love, Sean has created a not-for-profit service dubbed Urban Herb where he uses his years of experience as a professional photographer to help promote up and coming glass artists and brands that otherwise may not be able to afford such an asset.
Check out this excerpt from our recent conversation:
BEARD BROS: Can you briefly discuss your motivations and discoveries during the design phase when it comes to elements like the shape of the cutting blades, the size of the drop-thru holes, and the micron level of the mesh screen you use. How does this all play into the texture and quality of the ground-up material?
SLX: When developing SLX Herb Grinders, we learned the hard way that not all grinders can make the cut!
Tired of generic grinders just scraping by (literally), we’d had enough. We wanted change. After the 50th time our college grinder got stuck so tightly that the usual tricks didn’t work, a group of engineering students bet us $100 they could open it with hand tools in under 5 minutes (they couldn’t – but don’t worry, we all shared a smoke and laughed it off. Good thing too, because WE sure didn’t have $100!)
So we ordered the top five bestselling grinders, had a few batches tested, recorded participant feedback… and tested some more. The most common issue (beyond getting stuck, obviously), was tooth design. Size, shape, spacing, distribution, height, width, the total number, how many on TOP vs. on the BOTTOM, the potential of a “bug hole”… it went on and on. All told we spent over 6 months in R&D for SLX v1.0.
The basic diamond tooth shape didn’t “cut it” for us – neither did the cutting plate style, the “curved” diamond, forget the “pin in wood” concept. After ruling out 95% of existing teeth designs, we realized the issue was slicing vs compressing. A 4-bladed curved trapezoid was perfect – no longer were our flowers being mashed or compressed into pulp. That design kept the grind consistent and offered the best combination of smooth cutting, consistent grind, and ease of use.
Magnet placement was another common issue – mass-market grinders have the magnet post on the upper plate, with a blank space in the center of the lower teeth plate that somehow always ends up with a nugget stuck in there, resulting in a grinder that won’t close fully, jambs shut, and stops the grinder from turning. We repositioned the magnet post to the bottom, fixing the issue.
Drop through-hole size was another consideration. We spent a lot of time making small adjustments to the size and orientation of the holes. Finding the right balance between course/fine grind and consistently was critical. The grounds HAD to work well no matter how they were consumed, and we’re extremely proud that SLX Grinders produce a ground material that’s light, fluffy, consistent, and works no matter how you chose to consume – glass, roll or wrap, vape… your SLX herb grinder won’t let you down, no matter your style.
Those were the big ones – but as time went on, we focused on details. We refined the threads so they were both secure and easy to use, we re-cut and beveled the grip sections so they didn’t hurt your hands but still offered solid grip, doubled the strength of our magnets, along with a host of other micro-improvements. The most significant change was creating our lift-out screen. This was our first “dream” feature but it took several years of engineering to make it a reality.
BB: Can you talk a bit about how the innovative non-stick coating on your grinders is just as gentle on your buds as it is on your grip?
SLX: The SLX non-stick propriety coating features a host of benefits – it repels resin, prevents buildup, resists wear, and is completely inert. But the most unique benefit is preserving the integrity of resin glands. Traditional un-coated grinders break these resin glands open, causing the content to stick to the teeth, leading to rapid degradation in the presence of oxygen and light. Our coating is gentle on those fragile resin glands, keeping them intact and undamaged.
Simply put, our non-stick coating allows those resin glands to maintain their integrity, preventing them from breaking open – free to slide down the coating rather than be ripped open. With the high octane flower available now, why destroy high-quality flower with a cheap grinder?
BB: How did you come up with the name and logo for SLX? We love to talk about branding at Beard Bros.
SLX: We owe the SLX name to one of my oldest friends. He was with us from the start. At that point, we had a product, we were almost ready to launch, but we still didn’t have a name! Jack (the aforementioned friend), suggested “How about SLICKS? The tagline could be ‘Slicks Never Sticks!’ ” We all loved it. Of course, SLICK was already trademarked, so we revised it to SLX. It worked on a lot of levels – it was subtle, looked different from any other grinder on the market, and people loved it.
Unfortunately, we lost Jack about 3 years ago, but every time I pick up an SLX product I remember him, and I remember how he pushed us to keep going no matter what.
We miss you, bro. We still burn one down in his honor ever time the original gang gets together.
When you buy a SLX Grinder or Rolling Tray you support a small family business and – best of all – you get a badass product that might not improve the quality of your weed, but it will absolutely improve the efficiency of your smoke sesh!