How to Find the Best Scale for Weed
14 Nov 2022
If you have any interest in cannabis at all, one of your main goals is probably to learn about the accessories that come along with it. But one accessory, in particular, is often overlooked: a scale for weighing out your herb. Now that cannabis is more and more accepted and even legalized in Canada and parts of the US, a scale makes more sense. You’ll be trying out brand new companies and different strains. So naturally, you’ll want to be able to check that you’re getting the right amount of product. You may even want to weigh some out to a friend. Either way, you’ll want to know the best scale for weed.
Above and beyond checking your product and offering some bud to friends, a scale can also help you stay within legal limits, keep your medical doses precise, and help you measure amounts for making edibles. Keep in mind, though, that if you live where weed isn’t legal yet, being caught with both weed and a scale could get you charged with intent to distribute. In most jurisdictions, this is a higher offense than just possession. For those of you in those areas, caution is your friend.
How to Determine the Best Scale for Weed
So, how do we know which is the best scale for weed? Well, like most things in life, it depends. The real question is, which is the best weed scale for your needs? Consider how much you’ll be weighing, and of what – just buds, or do you want to weigh concentrates or edible ingredients? Do you need your scale to be portable, or can it stay in one place? Is stealth important to you? When considering the price range, you’ll be happy to know that the prices of scales have gone down drastically in the last decade or so, with the rise of the internet.
The best scale to weigh weed will have a couple of features you’ll definitely want:
- A tare function
- The ability to weigh different types of units
The tare button allows you to place a container on the scale, and then zero out the weight reading so you can then weigh how much goes inside the container. This feature is important enough that I’m not listing any scales that don’t have it. And, of course, the ability to switch between units is a must. You never know when you’re going to have to convert one to the other.
The Weight of Weed
There are several types of measurement units that different scales can weigh. Here are a few of their names and abbreviations:
- Gram – g
- Ounce – oz
- Troy ounce – ozt
- Grain – gn
- Diamond weight total – dwt
- Carat – ct
The language of weed is usually grams (the metric system), and sometimes ounces (the US standard system). If you want to, you could consider getting a conversion table. It’s a quick and easy find online and will save you the trouble of doing tedious math.
Sometimes the common amount actually sold can vary slightly from the exact measurement and within certain limits, it is commonly accepted.
Here are some measurements to get you started:
- A kilo = 1 kg = 1000 g = 32.274 oz
- A pound = 1 lb = 16 oz = 454 g (often sold as 448 g)
- A half pound = ½ lb = 8 oz = 227 g (often sold as 224 g)
- A quarter pound = 4 oz = 113.4 g (often sold as 112 g)
- An ounce = 1 oz = 28.349 g (often sold as 28 g)
- A half ounce = ½ oz = 14.1748 g (often sold as 14g)
- A quarter ounce = 7.087 g (often sold as 7 g)
- An eighth = ⅛ oz = 3.544 g (often sold as 3.5 g)
- A “half eighth” is sold as 1.75g
The eighth is probably the most common of the non-metric measurements. Definitely, one to keep in mind. Here are a few more things you’ll want to know:
- 1oz of weed = about 40 joints
- A dub/twenty sack = $20 worth of weed
- A dime bag = $10 worth of weed
- A nickel = $5 worth of weed
- The amount of pot in a dub, dime, and nickel vary by seller, but a nickel will never be very much – usually it’ll be enough for a one-time, one-person smoke sesh.
- Hooking it up” means giving the buyer more than they asked for – normally by at least a tenth of a gram.
Got it? No? Write it down. You’re welcome.
Now, let’s talk about your personal weighing needs. Different scales handle different ranges of weight. The range that you need depends on what you’ll be weighing, and how much of it. We know you’re weighing cannabis, but in what form – flower or concentrates? Are you just weighing the weed you buy from a dispensary, or do you actually grow your own and need to weigh your harvest?
When you hear the term “capacity”, that means the largest amount that your scale can weigh. If you put more than this on the scale, your screen will say “ERROR” because you overloaded it. If you do this too often, you’ll destroy the load cell. For this reason, you should buy a scale that can weigh more than the most weed you think you’ll be weighing – just to be safe. For personal use, get a scale with a capacity of at least 200g, and for bulk at least 1kg.
Scale readability & Divisions
Readability – often termed “sensitivity” – refers to the smallest increment of a unit your scale will display. Though it may be accurate to a smaller amount, this is the most digits after the decimal that your display screen will show you. The best scale for weighing weed will have a sensitivity of at least a tenth of a gram. If you work with half eighths, you’ll want a sensitivity of at least a thousandth of a gram.
When you’re buying a scale, these stats will probably be displayed on the package or website as “capacity x sensitivity”. So, for a scale that can weigh up to 500g and down to 0.1g, you would see: 500 x 0.1g.
The word “divisions” is the total amount of increments your scale can possibly read. You can find it by dividing the capacity by the sensitivity. For example, a scale with a 1000 x 0.1g range has 10,000 divisions. I wouldn’t go by just the number of divisions. Even if it has a wide range, that will do you no good if it doesn’t have either the capacity or sensitivity that you need. In general, the higher the capacity, the more you’ll have to pay for good sensitivity. Basically, the more divisions, the more you pay.
Power choices with scales
It’s very common for scales to run on battery power, so you’ll have to replace the batteries when they run down. If that’s a problem for you, and you don’t need portability, consider one that plugs into the wall.
Testing, Testing, Is This Thing On?
Don’t think you can just buy a scale, plop it on the table, and start weighing weed immediately. You have to test your scale first, or ‘prime’ it. Otherwise, you could end up thinking you have a different amount on the scale than you actually do. This kind of defeats the whole purpose of a scale, don’t you think? The fancy word for the testing of a scale is “calibration”. Let’s talk a little bit about how to calibrate your scale.
How to Calibrate your Scale
You will need two things: calibration weights, and your handy dandy instruction booklet. Some scales actually come with a calibration weight, but otherwise, you will have to buy your own. There are some great weights made by trusty old American Weigh Scales that cost around twelve dollars. If you’re not feeling that price, then Docooler makes some popular weights that are about eight bucks. Even though they’re cheaper than AWS weights, they’ve been tested, and are accurate to +/- 0.003g.
Don’t have the money for calibration weights? Here’s a little tip: use pocket change. Governments are always very precise with their money manufacturing. So if you have relatively new coins, with minimal wear and tear on them, they can actually make pretty good calibration weights. They won’t be lab quality, but they’ll at least be good enough for personal use. Here’s what each coin comes out to:
- Penny = 2.35 g
- Nickel = 3.95 g
- Dime = 1.75 g
- Quarter = 4.4 g
- 50 cent coin = 6.9 g
- Loonie = 7.0 g
- Toonie = 7.3 g
- Five dollar coin = 8.36 g
- Ten dollar coin = 16.72 g
And if you’re using American change:
- A penny made after 1983 = 2.5 g
- A nickel made after 1866 = 5 g
- A dime made after 1965 = 2.268 g
- A quarter made after 1965 = 5.67 g
- A half dollar made after 1971 = 11.34 g
The easiest coin weights to remember are the loonie and the US nickel. A loonie is 7 grams and a US nickel is 5 grams. If you’re only going for personal use, and you just want to be in the right ballpark, some things that weigh about one gram are a paperclip, a US dollar bill, and a cubic centimeter of water. But it’s best to be as accurate as you can. So you’ll probably want to spring for the calibration weights, or at least use some new, clean coins.
When you calibrate your scale, you will use these weights and follow the instructions in your scale’s user manual. If you’re serious about this, you’ll want to test your scale for both accuracy and precision. I know what you’re thinking, but no, they’re not the same thing.
The Difference between Accuracy and Precision
Accuracy is the first thing you’ll test. If you have a calibration weight, it has already been tested. So you know that it actually weighs what it says it does. Now, you’ll test whether or not the scale says it weighs that much. If the scale’s reading matches the known weight of your calibration weight, then your scale has shown that it is accurate. The best digital scale for weed will be accurate to +/- the smallest increment it can handle.
Precision is how many times your scale can weigh the same object, under the same conditions, and give you the same answer. In other words, it’s how many times your scale can be accurate. There are several things that can threaten a scale’s precision.
Some things that can affect a scales precision:
- Dust – built up on the weighing platform or in the cracks. Keep it clean, and use canned oxygen to get those hard-to-reach areas.
- Temperature – keep it within 0-40℃ (32-104℉).
- Humidity – it can not only affect your weed, but it can build up inside the scale. Keep your scale in the driest possible place.
- Drafts/air currents – this is one of the most common ways to throw off your scale’s precision. Especially if it’s not built to be portable. Try to keep it indoors and shield it from drafts.
- Gravity – This won’t be a big deal if you calibrate your scale at the place where you intend to use it. But different locations on our planet have slight variations in their force of gravity. Just remember to recalibrate if you change altitude or locations.
- Air buoyancy – This one really can’t be helped. Basically, low-density objects can be affected by an upward force caused by displaced air. Air is displaced when there are living beings around, like you and I. It just goes to show that no measuring process is totally perfect. But as long as you’re not flapping your arms around, I think you’ll be alright.
Let’s address one of the main issues we’re trying to overcome by using a scale: getting ripped off. How can this happen, and how can we avoid it? Well, I’m glad you asked.
One way someone can rip you off is to mess with their own scale’s calibration. This is why it’s good to have your own, so you can double check how much product you actually received when you get home.
Misting weed is another serious problem. Your weed should be fresh and not dry. But if a dealer puts a piece of citrus in the weed bag, or mists their buds to make them more moist, don’t buy it. They’re trying to add density to the weed, so that it weighs more on a scale. That means you get less than what you paid for. It also runs the risk of your buds growing mold. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but DO NOT SMOKE MOLD. It’s extremely dangerous. If you ever meet someone who tries to sell you soggy weed, tell them to take their moldy butts and buds elsewhere.
Phone App Scales
On the note of rip-offs, let’s talk about phone apps that claim to be scales. Do not buy these for any other purpose than entertainment. Maybe for the love of ganga. But do NOT trust a seller who is using one. Let me ask you something: does your phone have a built-in scale? The answer is no. Your phone, at best, has two cameras and sensors for touch, motion, light, and pressure. In no way do these things amount to a scale. It simply will not be accurate at all.
Now, if you think you’ve gotten ripped off, what should you do? With soggy weed or phone apps, you should walk away and never buy from that person again. If you made the mistake already, don’t go back to them. If you think their scale has been tampered with, don’t accuse them immediately. Go home, calibrate your own scale correctly, and test your weed there. If there is a major difference, go back, and ask the seller to calibrate their own scale in front of you.
Ways to Weigh
Now that we’ve gone over the details, let’s look at the different kinds of scales, and how each might best suit your needs.
These are the most popular type of weed scale. They’re small, inexpensive, and easy to use. They also come with a lid to protect their sensors, which makes them portable. All of this means they’re perfect for personal use. The best pocket scale for weed will also come with an expansion tray, which will allow you to weigh more nugs – up to about fifteen grams or so. Without that, the small weighing surface may only let you measure two or three grams of flower at once.
Keep in mind that when buying online, the term “pocket scale” doesn’t always mean that the scale will actually fit in your pocket. It only means that it’s portable and small. For the list of scales in this article, I’ll separate these into categories of “portable” scales and actual “pocket” scales.
Also, if you’re planning on weighing a whole lot of weed, you’ll want to get a different kind of scale. Because these usually have a smaller capacity than bigger scales. And if you’re baking edibles and/or want to weigh other things that are food-related, you may want to just stick to a good ol’ kitchen scale. But if you just want to weigh a few nugs real quick, then this is your best bet.
Large-platform scales and kitchen scales are excellent choices for growers, and great for making edibles. With expansion trays that can reach 15 x 15 cm (6 x 6 in), they are made to weigh a lot at once. Their only downsides are that they aren’t made to be portable, and they’re about as subtle as a billboard. An appliance this size will take up a good bit of counter space, and basically make the room scream, “I’m weighing stuff!” Another thing about regular kitchen scales is that they usually only measure down to one gram.
If you’re a grower, and you want both capacity and sensitivity, without spending hundreds of dollars on one scale, try this: get a kitchen scale to weigh your harvest, and then use a pocket scale to divide it into smaller amounts.
These are scales that are disguised as other objects. They usually fall under the pocket scale category. Even if you don’t actually need that much subtlety, they can be really cool. There’s just something fun about walking around like Inspector Gadget with your neat little scale thingamabob.
If you’re feeling oldschool, you can grab one of these. They’re actually used in school classrooms. They’re mechanical, not digital, so you don’t have to worry about plugs or batteries. They are, however, gigantic and bulky, and they’re not quite as accurate as digital scales. My advice: go digital.
Another non-digital model, the hand scale has been used in a jam to get people by for a long time. Again, there are no plugs or batteries, and this one isn’t affected by weather! You just hook your weed bag to it and there you go! However, its capacity x sensitivity is only 100 x 1g. These should be for emergency backup only. If you are going to use one, fill it about ⅓ past the intended tick mark, to be sure no one is getting shorted.
These are a fantastic option for dabs. Concentrates are very potent; less is needed because they can have a THC content of over 90%. That means the actual amount of dabs you take is very, very small. Milligram scales have the accuracy you need to weigh those tiny amounts. But they won’t have a huge capacity. The scales themselves are usually pretty small, too, and would fall in the pocket/portable scale category.
If you’re going to weigh concentrates, use parchment paper and tare the scale. You’ll also want a metal scraper tool for handling the dabs. If you’re new to dabs, 25mg is a good place to start with dosage. If you’re experienced with dabbing and know the potency well, you may can up the dose.
This is by far the most inexpensive way to go. A headshop is likely to raise the price on scales significantly. Of course, the main concern with online shopping is whether or not you’re actually getting a quality product. This can get tricky because a lot of models by different brands look alike. That’s because most of them are made in China. The best thing to do is check out the ratings, look for certifications, and find a product with a good reputation. Some of the best brands are:
- American Weigh Scales
- Smart Weigh
- My Weigh
Well, there you have it! You are now educated enough to pick a scale, calibrate it, and make sure everyone is getting a fair deal, including you!. We know that coins make good weights, phone apps don’t make good scales, and big scales make good brownies. And remember, when you’ve made your brownies… share them with me. Happy shopping!