Choosing a pill crusher or pill splitter may seem straightforward, but depending on its purpose there are several things you should consider. This article takes an in depth look at the different types of pill crushers and pill splitters that are best for a variety of different situations.
There are many different reasons why a pill crusher or pill splitter is needed. Some people have trouble swallowing pills. Others use a pill crusher to break down their medication for use with a feeding tube. Some pill crushers are cheap, but hurt your hands when you use them. There are other pill crushers that are used in professional healthcare settings like hospitals and nursing homes that are nearly effortless to operate.
There are a multitude of products out there, but which is best to meet your needs? This article explores these topics and more. It is here for you to use as a resource as you research pill crushers and decide which one is best for you.
As always, consult with your doctor before making any health related decisions. You should also consult with your pharmacist to determine if your medications are safe to crush or split.
- How to Choose the Pill Crusher That is Right for You
- Pill Crusher, Pill Splitter, and Mortar and Pestle Side by Side Comparison
- Look for a Pill Crusher That is Easy to Operate
- How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
- Our Top Recommendation for the Best Pill Crusher
- Best Cheap Pill Crusher
- Best Cheap Pill Splitter
- Crushing Pills with a Mortar and Pestle
- Is it Safe to Crush Your Medications?
How to Choose the Pill Crusher That is Right for You
A good starting point to decide which pill crusher to buy is to determine how many pills you crush each day and how much strength you have in your hands.
The cheap pill crushers that you find in drug stores are fine if you are only crushing one or two pills per day AND have enough strength to operate it. Most of the cheaper pill crushers are plastic and operate with a “twist top”. The unit has two plastic pieces, a top and bottom, which you screw together to crush the pill that is placed inside. There is a considerable amount of effort involved using this method. They can be problematic if you have weak hands or you are processing a high volume of pills each day.
The other option is to spend a bit more money on a higher quality pill crusher. Our favorite is the Silent Knight pill crusher. It is commonly found in hospitals and nursing homes. It does not require nearly as much effort as the plastic models you find in drug stores. If you are crushing any volume at all, you should certainly consider it. Your hands will thank you.
When making a decision on a pill crusher, keep in mind it is a long-term investment. In many cases, the medications you take today are the same medications you will be taking for the rest of your life. Our top pick, the Silent Knight pill crusher, is not cheap, but in our opinion is worth every penny if you are crushing multiple pills on a daily basis.
Pill Crusher, Pill Splitter, and Mortar and Pestle Side by Side Comparison
|Silent Knight Pill Crusher||Carex Ultra Pill Crusher||Apex Pill Splitter||RSVP Marble Mortar and Pestle|
|Type||Professional Pill Crusher||Cheap Pill Crusher||Cheap Pill Splitter||Mortar and Pestle|
|Price||Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon|
|Action||Lever||Twist Top||Close Lid||Grind|
|# of Pills||Multiple||Multiple||Single||Multiple|
|Ease of Use||Easy - convenient for elderly and those with arthritis.||Moderate - ok if you have strength in your hands to twist the top. Best for crushing a low volume of pills per day.||Easy - simply close the lid to split the pill.||Moderate - you must grind the pill.|
Look for a Pill Crusher That is Easy to Operate
If you have arthritis or limited strength in your hands and arms, the small plastic “twist top” pill crushers may not be the best option. They have been known to make your wrists and arms sore or cramp after using them. If used frequently enough, they can even cause blisters or calluses on your fingers.
They require a firm twist to crush the pills. Our recommended cheap pill crusher has a triangular designed top which makes it easier to grip. However, you still need the strength to twist it firmly enough to crush the pill. Many elderly adults or those with arthritis may have trouble doing this. It is a very manual process that requires a significant amount of effort.
How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
The price point and quality of pill crushers vary widely. The drug store pill crushers usually cost less than $10. These cheaper pill crushers are lower quality and many will not hold up to heavy use.
The Silent Knight pill crusher is a bit more expensive. However, it is a real tool with quality construction. It is extremely durable and comes with a lifetime warranty according to the manufacturer’s website. It’s probably the last one you will ever have to buy.
Our Top Recommendation for the Best Pill Crusher
The Silent Knight is a professional grade pill crusher. It is used in many healthcare settings including hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices. This pill crusher has the ability to break down large pills to powder form quickly with minimal effort. It is BY FAR the most efficient pill crusher we have found for those who process multiple pills each day.
The Silent Knight is popular for those with limited strength in their hands and arms. Unlike the smaller plastic pill crushers, this one is very easy to operate. For people with arthritis, elderly adults, or those who otherwise have trouble turning a “twist top” crusher, this product is a life saver. Very little strength or effort is required to crush the pills and it does not hurt your hands to operate. You will save your hands from blisters and calluses using this product as opposed to many of the cheaper plastic pill crushers.
The basic operation of the machine is similar to a press. To operate, you put your pills in a small plastic pouch, place the pills in the crusher, and push down on the lever arm. The pills are crushed inside a plastic pouch. Several pills can be crushed at once. Since the pills are enclosed in a plastic pouch, there is no mess to clean up and it reduces the risk of cross contamination of medication if multiple people use the machine.
Below is an image of the plastic pouches you put the pills in before crushing with the machine.
- Crushing is fast. Push the lever down a couple of times and you are done.
- Pills are crushed in plastic pouches. This means there is no mess to clean up. Many people reuse the pouches multiple times before replacing, however we do not recommend doing so. Using pouches also helps reduce the risk of mixing medication residue from prior crushes if you share the machine with someone else. This reduces the risk of cross contamination.
- It is a high quality, well made machine. It is heavy duty and made with a durable, metal construction. It is not flimsy plastic like the cheaper pill crushers. This is a real tool!
- You can crush multiple pills at once. If you take multiple pills at a time, you can crush as many as the plastic pouch will hold. The number varies based on the size of the pills you are crushing.
- It’s all mechanical. It does not require electricity or batteries to operate.
- It has a high degree of mobility and you can easily move it around wherever you would like.
- It has a padded bottom to protect the surface it is sitting on.
- It is more expensive than a plastic pill crusher like you would find in a drug store. However, you get what you pay for. This is a quality item and those who use it every day likely agree it’s worth the price. Think of it as a long-term investment. What is it worth to you not to have sore hands or even blisters on your fingers after crushing pills? Also, consider how many of the cheap pill crushers you will wear out. You will only have to buy one Silent Knight pill crusher in your lifetime.
The Silent Knight pill crusher is designed for use in professional healthcare settings, but if you want a pill crusher that works well and is easy to use, it is a good option. We could not give this pill crusher a higher recommendation. Check current pricing and read many other customer reviews on Amazon if you are interested in learning more.
Below is a YouTube information and demonstration video of the Silent Knight pill crusher courtesy of Links Medical Products:
Best Cheap Pill Crusher
If you are looking for a cheap pill crusher, our favorite is the “Ultra Pill Crusher” by Carex. This one is best suited for those with strong hands and only crush one or two pills per day. It is a plastic “twist top” pill crusher. This is one similar to those that you would find in a drug store. At a low price point, this pill crusher is an excellent option if you have a limited number of pills to crush and you have the strength in your hands to twist the top. If you have used cheap plastic pill crushers in the past and do not want to pay a higher price for a professional grade crusher, we believe you will be pleased with the performance of this one.
It is important to note that if you are crushing five or ten pills per day, this is not the one for you. If processing a high number of pills each day, your hands may hurt and you could even develop blisters or calluses. For higher volume crushing, see our review of the Silent Knight pill crusher. The Silent Knight pill crusher is higher quality, much easier to use, and is found in professional settings including hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.
It is made of two plastic pieces – the lid and the chamber. You put the pill that is to be crushed in the chamber and screw the lid until the pill is crushed to your desired consistency. The lid is a triangular design which allows you a better grip to firmly twist and crush pills. The triangular design also makes it easier for those with arthritis to twist. The top has rubber around the edges which allows for a better grip and extra comfort while using the pill crusher.
The biggest downside for most of the cheaper plastic pill crushers is they can be painful to use. Especially if you have to crush multiple pills daily.
- The biggest pro for this pill crusher is it is inexpensive and it simply works. As long as you have enough strength in your hands to hold on to the bottom and firmly twist the top it should work well for you.
- The lid has a triangular design that allows for a better grip and more torque to crush the pills.
- Larger pills will fit in the crushing chamber. This is convenient because several other popular models require you to split pills before crushing them.
- If you have to crush many pills each day, it may rub blisters on your hands. This is true with most of the small twist top plastic pill crushers. If you crush multiple pills daily, consider our top pick for the best pill crusher.
- You must have strength in your hands to twist the top. Even though it has an ergonomic triangular design, it still requires a firm twist to crush the pills.
- Depending on the type of pill, small amount of residue may stick to the side. This increases cross contamination risk between medications. Always wash after each use. The residue left behind may also prevent you from receiving your full dose of medication.
- There are sharp edges on the bottom which may hurt your hands. It would be nice if the bottom was designed with rubber around the edges like the top. That would have allowed for a better grip in our opinion. A workaround is to hold the bottom with a towel while twisting the top. This may help prevent sore hands.
Best Cheap Pill Splitter
Choosing a pill splitter isn’t quite as complicated as choosing a pill crusher. A cheap pill splitter will work for almost everyone since only a minimal amount of strength and effort is required. Pill splitters typically work by placing a pill inside a small plastic box-like container with a blade attached to the lid. As you close the lid, the blade comes in contact with the pill. As you press down, closing the lid, the blade cuts through the pill. Cheap pill splitters are very easy to operate.
The best pill splitter in our opinion is the Apex Deluxe. Pill splitters are so cheap we cannot think of a reason why anyone would try splitting pills without one. Once you use one you will wish you had purchased it sooner. They are cheap, effective, very easy to use, and do not require much effort for those with limited strength in their hands.
The deluxe version of this pill splitter is slightly different from the “Ultra” version. The primary difference is the “Ultra” version has a safety blade guard and the deluxe version does not. The deluxe version, which is being reviewed in this article, does not have the safety blade guard. Be extra careful while cleaning not to cut yourself. Be aware of the absence of the blade guard if you have children or would otherwise need a blade guard for any reason.
To operate, slide the pill as far into the triangular, or “V” shaped staging area as possible. Lower the lid and you will see the blade move towards the pill. Since the top is clear, you can see where the blade is making contact with the pill. If the blade is hitting the pill where you want it, continue pressing down on the lid until the blade makes a cut through the pill. When closing the lid, press down firmly, but do not too quickly. This will avoid shattering the pill. The split pill will then fall into the holding area.
It is very important to note that you should ALWAYS consult your doctor and pharmacist before splitting pills. There are certain pills that should never be split. Those include, but are not limited to, any type of capsule, time released medicines, pills that are coated to protect your stomach, and others.
- The blade is sharp and cuts through pills easily. It does not shatter the pill when splitting if you close the lid firmly rather than giving it a quick squeeze.
- The plastic casing is extra thick making it more durable and sturdy.
- It does a very good job at cutting tiny pills.
- The orange staging area is made of a rubber-like material. This allows the pill to sit in place without moving around while being split.
- Since you have to close the lid to split the pill, the halved pill stays in the holding area. This keeps the split pill from shooting out across the floor when split.
- The holding area has a bit less capacity to hold split pills compared to the “Ultra” version.
- It does not handle large “horse pills” very well.
- The best results are on round pills. Oval or other shaped pills can be split, but not quite as good as round ones.
People split pills for a variety of reasons including the following.
- Reduce the size of pills for easier swallowing.
- Split larger pills in half so they will fit in a pill crusher.
- To save money on medications by splitting higher mg doses in half. For example, there are cases where it may be cheaper to buy 1 bottle of 1,000 mg tablets and split them rather than buying 2 bottles of 500 mg tablets. We do NOT recommend splitting your pills unless you have first consulted with your doctor and pharmacist. They should advise you whether or not it is safe to split your medications.
Crushing Pills with a Mortar and Pestle
The oldest form of crushing pills is with a mortar and pestle. Even with all the advancements in medical devices today, it remains a favorite for many. Even though it takes more effort to crush pills with a mortar and pestle, they are still the go to method of crushing pills for many people.
Our favorite mortar and pestle is by RSVP. It is a true stone mortar and pestle made from a solid, heavy piece of marble. It is relatively inexpensive with the cost in line with a lower end pill crusher.
Unlike many others in this price range, it is not ceramic. It is made of real stone. The inside is all natural without any type of glaze added. Since there is no glaze, there is better traction when crushing pills. This prevents the pills from sliding around the mortar as you are crushing them.
It is small and compact – just the right size for crushing pills. Its measurements are 2.5” tall x 1.75” deep x 4.5” diameter. The pestle measures 5” long. It will fit nicely in your hand. It also features felt padding on the bottom which helps prevent scratches on the surface it is sitting on.
It looks great sitting on your countertop as well. Each piece has its own natural and unique marble swirl design. Even if you do not use it very often, it will look great sitting on your counter.
Is it Safe to Crush Your Medications?
This is a question you should consult with your doctor and pharmacist.
If you are concerned about cross contamination risks between different medications, consider a pill crusher with disposable plastic pouches. For example, if the pill crusher is used by more than one individual, you would not want medication residue (powder) to be ingested by someone the medication is not intended for. Mortar and pestles do a good job at crushing pills, but they are notorious for leaving behind residue, even when washing them out.
If crushing pill for a feeding tube, you need to make sure the medication is crushed fine enough to dissolve in water.
The Institute for Safe Medical Practices has a list of medications that should not be crushed. You may want to review this list before attempting to crush your own pills. Again, we recommend consulting with your doctor and pharmacist before crushing any medications.
Did you realize there was so much to consider when choosing a pill crusher? We hope you found this article informative and it answered many of your questions. If there is anything we can do to further assist you in your search please contact us and we will do everything we can to help.
We wish you the best of luck finding a pill crusher or pill splitter that best meets your needs.
Be sure to check out our other articles including our top pick for the best bed cane and bed rails for seniors.