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Grain Mill Grinder Introduction

Grain grinders come in many shapes and sizes. Some are large and bulky and some can be picked up with one finger. Some take a lot of work and others require only the flick of a switch. As there is such a big difference between the different grinders, we've worked up these pages to give you some idea what to expect from each one. Hopefully, after studying this section, you will have a much better idea which grinder is best for you. The kind of grinder that is best for you depends greatly on how you plan on using it.

Country Living Grain GrinderWondermill Junior Grain MillVictorio Hand MillWondermill Electric GrinderKitchen Mill Grain Grinder

Grain grinders come in three basic types:

  • Stone
  • Burr
  • Impact

Stone Grinders are the oldest type of grinder there is and was the only kind until only a few years ago. Stonegrinders have two circular grinding stones. One stone turns against a stationary stone. Grooves are cut, radiating out from the center of the stone. These grooves diminish until they disappear towards the outer edges. When grain is ground, it falls through a channel into the center of the two stones. As the rotating stone turns, it pulls the grain out through the channels and is ground, with the flour falling out the outer edges of the two stones. A hundred years ago these stones were often two or three feet across, weighed hundreds of pounds and were turned by windmills or water wheels. In modern home grinders these stones are small, usually only about three inches in diameter. They are not natural stones like the grinders of yesteryear, but are made from very hard materials that will last a life time if used with care.

Country Living Mill Burr Plates
A Country Living Mill Burr

Burrs are similar to stones except their grinding wheels are made out of steel. These burrs are sometimes referred to as teeth in grinder advertisements. Burr grinders have some advantages and disadvantages over stone grinders. More on that later.

micronetic Chamber
Impact Grinder
Micronetic Chamber.

Impact grinders use 'blades' placed in circular rows on metal wheels. One wheel turns and the other wheel is stationary like the manual grinders. But this is where the similarities end. When the two wheels are put together the rows of blades intermesh, running microscopically close, yet never touching the blades from the opposite wheel. The rotating wheel turns at several thousand RPM. As grain is fed into the center of the fixed wheel, the interaction between the two wheels 'impacts' the grain and literally pulverizes it into a fine powder as the grain works its way to the outside of the wheels.

Blendtec Kitchen Grain MillConcerned about the temperature your mill heats the flour up to? The people at Blendtec, who make the Kitchen Mill Electric Grinder told me, "Our grinder doesn't grind grain but bursts it into flour on contact with the 'micronetic heads.' This is why our mill grinds grains at the very low temperature of 135 degrees, helping keep the nutrients and enzymes intact." Doing a bit of experimenting myself, I find that the flour is 30 degrees F warmer as it comes out of an impact grinder.

Some of the health food stores try to make a really big deal about this, saying, "Our wheat is slow ground at a low temperature, leaving all the nutrients undamaged. Those fast turning grinders heat up and destroy your flour." These sort of statements seem contradictory at best: Consider this, upon grinding your wheat for use, it's going to be winding up in the oven anyway and subjected to far higher temperatures than that produced by any grinder! In truth, flour starts to lose nutrients within hours of when it was ground, so in spite of what they say, your flour, freshly ground, will have many more nutrients and will be fresher than any flour you could buy anywhere unless it too has been freshly ground that day.

Hand or Electrically operated: Some consideration must be given to whether you will buy a hand or electric grinder, or both. This all depends on what your present circumstances are and any preparations you may want to make for the future. Powered grinders are nice, but the most high speed grinder won't do much good if you find yourself in a power outage. One of the hand grinders we sell can be motorized, the Country Living Mill. Incidentally, hand operated mills come in the stone and burr varieties. Impact grinders turn far too fast for manual operation.

Some positive and negative aspects for each class of grinder:

Stone Grinders

Favorable Characteristics
  • Grinds finer than burr grinders.
  • Adjustable to any setting between cracked wheat and fine flour.
  • Should last a lifetime.
Unfavorable Characteristics
  • Manual stone grinders tend to turn harder than manual burr grinders.
  • Stones quickly become 'loaded' if you try to grind oil bearing seeds

Burr Grinders

Favorable Characteristics
  • Will grind dry grains as well as oil bearing seeds - wheels will not load up.
  • Adjustable to any setting between cracked wheat and fine flour.
  • Much safer machine if you are grinding grain that has not been completely cleaned of grain sized stones and small pieces of metal.
  • Should last for many years of normal use.
  • Generally turn easier than stone grinders.
Unfavorable Characteristics
  • Will not grind quite as fine as a stone grinder.

Electric Impact Grinders

Favorable Characteristics
  • Very small, light and compact.
  • Grinds very quickly
  • Grinds grain into very fine flour
Unfavorable Characteristics
  • The blades are somewhat fragile: Small rocks or metal pieces can make the micronetic chamber eat itself! (Blendtec tells me their grinder will eat rocks, yet, I'd still be very careful.) If you take care to only use well cleaned grain, these grinders will also last many years.
  • Noisy
  • Even on the coarsest setting the flour comes out relatively fine. These things won't give you cracked wheat.
  • Won't work without electricity.

Grinder Types

Stone Grinders

Burr Grinders

Impact Grinders

  • Little Ark (discontinued)

Electrically Operated

Hand Operated

Can Be Motorized