Using a Mortar and Pestle for Pulverizing Tablets

Mortar and Pestle

A mortar is a cup-shaped receptacle in which substances are ground or crushed. A pestle is a heavy tool with a rounded end that’s often used to do the grinding or crushing in a mortar.

1. Put the substance to be ground—in this case, a tablet or tablets—into the dry, clean porcelain, stone, or stainless steel (non-wooden) mortar.

pills in a mortar and pestle

2. Hold the mortar in place with one hand and take the dry, clean pestle in the other hand.

3. Firmly press and twist the pestle against the ingredients in the mortar, grinding them against the sides and bottom. Sometimes a little gentle pounding or hammering can be required to get the process started.

Note: Some people report that very hard tablets have a tendency to shoot out of the mortar. If making a liquid mixture, some find that adding a tiny amount of liquid to help break down an especially hard tablet (see photo) makes it easier to pulverize their tablets. If doing this, it’s helpful to use a small, measured amount of the liquid that will ultimately be included in the total calculated volume of the liquid mixture.

putting water on tablets

4. Grind all of the pieces until there are no chunks at all left, and be sure not to lose any contents along the way.

crushed powder

5. Once the tablet is ground evenly into powder or into a powder-liquid slurry, carefully transfer these contents to a jar if making a liquid mixture, or to a measuring tray if using a digital scale.

pouring powder into jar or onto digital scale

6. Using a small, measured amount of liquid, rinse the remaining powder off the mortar and pestle and pour that as well into the jarto be included as part of the calculated volume of liquid mixture.

rinsing liquid into jar

7. Clean the gear. (Some people find it sufficient to clean the mortar and pestle with a dry paper towel or cloth; others wash them in warm water and allow them to dry thoroughly. If washing with soap, be sure to rinse well.)