Your Guide to Making and Using Cannabis Tinctures

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Added 12 October 2022

Back in 1025, a Persian physician-philosopher Ibn Sina published Al-Qanoon fi al Tibb. The book’s name translates to the Canon of Medicine. And it had the first mention of cannabis tincture.

While the book was influential for some centuries that followed, cannabis products saw a lot of innovations. From various ways of smoking it to even adding it to buttermilk (bhang), cannabis grew to be a versatile plant.

However, despite all the innovations of the world, a tincture is something that has never gone out of style. It was and still is one of the popular means of consuming cannabis. But what exactly is a tincture, why has it always been so popular, and how can you make it at home — find answers to all your questions about cannabis tinctures in this article.

What is a Cannabis Tincture?

cannabis tincture in a dropper

Essentially, cannabis tincture is a type of cannabis extract in liquid form, consumed sublingually — you don’t smoke or vaporize it. Cannabis tincture is prepared by soaking the cannabis buds in a base liquid, which is usually food-grade alcohol (or glycerin or soil). 

Once the cannabis has been stepped in the base for a while, it is then strained and the remaining liquid is what becomes the cannabis tincture.

The steeping process separates the terpenes and cannabinoids from the plant material. Then, it's mixed with the base liquid, which is then placed under the tongue for consumption.

Cannabis tinctures typically come in 1 fluid ounce (30 ml) bottle with droppers, allowing low, consistent, and accurate doses for all kinds of users. And since they are not a form of edible, they can contain more than 100 mg of THC, which is a limit set on edibles in many regions across the world. 

There are two major kinds of tinctures available in the market:

Industrial Hemp Tinctures

Also known as CBD tinctures, these products are high in cannabinol (CBD) and contain less than 0.3% THC, making them non-psychoactive. If you're looking for non-psychotropic medication, this is your best bet. These tinctures are legal in most regions since they don’t produce any form of high while offering all the benefits of CBD to medicinal and lifestyle users.

THC Tinctures

On the other hand, THC tinctures are low in CBD and high in THC content, which makes them psychoactive. Most users use these for medicinal purposes, but it isn't uncommon for even recreational users to try them, depending on whether they are legal or not. You may need to check your local laws before making them at home.

Fun fact: the dictionary may say that a tincture is specifically an alcohol-based product, but in the case of a cannabis tincture, the word tincture acts as an umbrella term that refers to cannabis infused in alcohol as well as glycerin or oil. 

Why Choose Cannabis Tinctures Over Other Products?

Why Choose Cannabis Tinctures Over Other Products?

You may be wondering, what’s the point of tinctures if you can otherwise smoke a bud or make a hash brownie? Sure, tinctures aren’t as edgy but they offer a multitude of benefits for cannabis users. This is why they have been so popular throughout the centuries.

Here are some of the best benefits of cannabis tinctures.

1. Completely Safe for Consumers with Allergies

Cannabis tinctures are free of any sugar, food coloring, gelatin, gluten, and other ingredients that may trigger allergic reactions or not suit your lifestyle. Therefore, you can enjoy all the benefits without compromising your health, comfort, or lifestyle.

However, some brands add artificial flavoring to their tinctures to enhance the flavors. So, read the ingredient list on the packaging carefully if you have any preferences or allergies. It's also a good idea to check their lab certificates if they have published any. Since you're going to be using these for medicinal purposes, be cautious just like you'd be before buying regular medicines. 

2. Full Spectrum of Cannabinoids

Cannabis tinctures are made by soaking various parts of the plant, not just the buds, so you get to enjoy the full-spectrum benefits of cannabis beyond regular CBD and THC cannabinoids. 

3. Precise and Flexible Dosing

Dropper bottles help you accurately dose your cannabis intake without worrying about calculating the dose on a scale or winging it. This is especially good for medicinal users who want a precise dose of cannabis each time. 

4. Quick Action

Another benefit of cannabis tinctures is that they act quickly since they are supposed to be consumed sublingually. When you place the drop under your tongue, it gets absorbed by the tissues and produces the effect quickly (although they are a tad slower than smoking). 

5. Discreet Way to Consume Cannabis

Cannabis tinctures come in small bottles that resemble skincare products or alternative medicine, and they don’t smell like cannabis if the cap is sealed properly. This lets you consume cannabis without alerting others.

Tinctures Vs. Edibles Vs. CBD Oil?

tinctures vs edibles vs cbd oil

Tinctures are quite different from both edibles and CBD oil, and here’s how.

Tincture Vs. Edibles

You have to consume tincture and edibles via oral ingestion, but their similarities end there. In both methods, cannabis gets metabolized in different ways, producing different effects.

When you consume edibles, the cannabinoids are absorbed through the stomach linings and the liver, which enhances the effects of THC. On the other hand, tinctures get absorbed via the tissues in the mouth, producing faster effects that aren’t as pronounced as effects from edibles.

Tincture Vs. CBD Oil

CBD oils appear quite similar to tinctures, but even these two cannabis products differ a lot. 

CBD oil is produced by the isolation and extraction of the cannabinoid from the plant using a base-like solvent or CO2, which is then bound to the carrier oil. Plus, since they are produced from hemp and don’t contain THC, they can be purchased in regular stores, too.

On the other hand, tinctures are produced by extracting plant material using an alcohol base (usually), making them distinct from CBD oil. Apart from the process, unless the tincture is produced from hemp, even CBD tincture may still contain traces of THC.

What is the Best Dose for Cannabis Tinctures?

What is the Best Dose for Cannabis Tinctures?

In most dispensaries, you can purchase cannabis tinctures in 1 fluid-ounce bottle — this is the industry standard — and contain around 300 mg THC. While this can vary, here is a general guideline of how to dose tinctures based on 300 mg THC:

Dosage (ml) Effects
0.10 Microdose for a slight buzz 
0.25 Light dose for beginners and sensitive users
0.50 The standard dose for most users
1 The ideal dose for experienced users 
2 Potent dose for intense high or those with serious ailments

Remember, this is just a general guideline. The right dose for you depends on your tolerance and consumption goals (and how potent the tincture is. For example, if the tincture is produced for users with sleeping disorders, you may want a high dose for sedation, but the same cannot be said about a tincture produced for recreational use. 

If you're new to cannabis tinctures, you should start with a low dose and build your way up to higher doses. See how your body reacts to this type of cannabis intake and consume it in the future accordingly. Start with a quarter of a dropper and when you feel confident, move on to half a drop. 

When purchasing cannabis tinctures, you must buy them from licensed sellers. They are required by the law to show accurate dosing information for tinctures on their packaging. You don’t want to take a drop of a tincture while expecting low intoxication.

How to Make Cannabis Tinctures at Home?

Things you need to Make a cannabis tincture

Tinctures are as ancient as cannabis, and back in those days, people didn’t have the best technology or equipment. They still produced cannabis tinctures and so can you. This is because cannabis tinctures are one of the easiest cannabis extracts to make. 

Here is your guide on how to make cannabis tinctures at home.

About Tincture Potency

Before we begin gathering the supplies, you need to figure out how potent you want your cannabis tincture to be. This is because its potency relies on the ratio between the flower and the base. If you want regular potency, refer to the recommended quantities below, but for a less or more potent tincture, you can either add more base or less, respectively.

Things You Need

  1. 3.5 to 14 grams of cannabis flower, depending on your strain and goals
  2. 3 to 12 fluid ounce food-grade alcohol
  3. Glass mason jars
  4. Cheesecloth or coffee filters
  5. 1 fluid-ounce glass bottle with a dropper cap

Freeze Method to Make Cannabis Tinctures 

While there are various ways to produce cannabis tincture, we will focus on the free method. This DIY cannabis tincture method is ideal for those who don’t want to wait for weeks for their tincture to induce. 

In the freeze method, you have to freeze the bud after decarbing it, which helps the cannabinoid-rich trichomes to dislodge from the plant matter. Additionally, the method also requires the use of cold alcohol, where the cannabinoids and terpenes easily combine with the alcohol.

At the same time, the cold temperatures also reduce the amount of other undesirable plant materials being infused, like lipids or chlorophyll. This is because low temperatures influence lipid and chlorophyll polarity, making them stay bound to the plant. 

When done the correct way, this method can lead to a clear and golden tincture, as opposed to cloudy or green.

Here are the steps to making cannabis tincture via the freeze method at home.

Step 1. Decarb the Cannabis Buds

Decarb the cannabis buds

The first step is to decarb the cannabis, otherwise, what’s the point? Cut the buds into smaller pieces and then spread them out on a baking sheet. 

If your buds are from a THC-dominant strain, you need to bake them at 250°F (121°C) for half an hour. For CBD-dominant strains, bake them at 250°F for 40 to 50 minutes. This is because CBDA takes slightly longer to convert to CBD compared to THCA

During the decarbing process, the cannabis may reduce in weight, so consider adding slightly more before you begin so you end with the desired amount when the buds are decarbed. 

Step 2. Freeze Cannabis and Alcohol

Freeze cannabis and alcohol

The next step is to pour the decarbed cannabis and alcohol into separate mason jars for 24 hours. This process will make the trichomes brittle, helping them separate easily while ensuring the tincture does not taste like plant matter. 

Here, add around 8 grams of decarbed cannabis to the container and 6 ounces of alcohol to another container. Do not mix both yet. 

Step 3. Mix the Alcohol and Cannabis

Mix alcohol and cannabis

After both have been frozen for 24 hours, remove them from the freezer and pour 3 ounces of alcohol into the cannabis container, shut the lid, and shake it vigorously for a few minutes. 

The shaking process will extract all the terpenes and cannabinoids from the buds — this is the first wash. 

Now, return the container with the mixture and the remaining alcohol to the freezer for a few more hours before we proceed to the next step.

Step 4. Strain the Mixture

strain the mixture

After a few hours, take out the jar with the mixture and shake it again for five minutes. Leave the other jar with alcohol in the freezer for now.

Then, it’s time to strain the tincture. First, you need to strain it through a cheesecloth to filter out the larger plant matter, followed by a coffee filter to remove unwanted smaller plant particles like lipids. 

The filtering process may take some time (around 10 minutes), so plan accordingly. 

Then, return the jar with the leftover cannabis to the freezer.

Step 5. Time for a Second Wash

Time for a second wash

Now, repeat steps 3 and 4 using the remaining 3 ounces of alcohol and the leftover cannabis plant material. Add alcohol to the cannabis jar, shake it for five minutes, freeze, and strain it into the same jar as the first wash.

Step 6. Reduce the Mixture

Reduce the mixture

The next step is to reduce the mixture by half after everything has been filtered. To do so, leave the jar open for a few hours until it reaches half of its volume. The alcohol will evaporate during this time, leaving behind just the tincture. 

Once the mixture has reached half its volume, add the lid to the container to stop further reduction. 

Step 7. Bottle the Tincture

Bottle the tincture

Lo and behold! Your cannabis tincture is ready! Transfer the mixture to the dropper bottle and enjoy!

Ideally, store your cannabis tincture in an amber bottle since they don’t expose the tincture to light, which can significantly degrade the cannabinoids. And for long shelf life, store the bottle in a refrigerator. 

Alternative Method to Make Cannabis Tinctures 

There is another popular way to produce tinctures at home, but this process can take a lot longer. So, if you have a lot of patience and don’t mind waiting around, you can also use this method to make cannabis tincture at home.

Follow these steps:

Step 1. Decarb the Cannabis Buds

Decarb your cannabis buds

Follow the above-mentioned method of decarbing cannabis buds using an oven.

Step 2. Mix the Cannabis with the Solvent

Mix the cannabis with the solvent

Next, add cannabis and the base of your choice to a mason jar. Here, an eighth of an ounce of cannabis can be added with 3 fluid ounces of the solvent for a mellow dose. Just ensure there is enough base in the jar to submerge the cannabis buds completely. Stir the mixture well.

Step 3. Store the Mixture for a Month

Store the mixture for a month

Now, store the mixture in a cool, dry place for at least a month. Do remember to shake the jar once a day to agitate the base liquid.

Step 4. Strain and Enjoy

Strain and enjoy

Steep the mixture for as long as you want and then strain the mixture using the same methods listed above. You will be left with a dark liquid, which is ready for consumption. 

Remember, this is a slow process and not the best way to make cannabis tinctures at home. But this can be ideal for many users who don’t have the time to cook up a tincture. 

What is the Best Base for a Cannabis Tincture?

In the guide above, we recommended using alcohol, but some users also prefer glycerin or oil. Which is the best for you? 

In the past, tinctures were always made with an alcohol base. This is because alcohol only allows the terpenes and cannabinoids to dissolve, not lipids and chlorophyll. Plus, alcohol makes it easier for the tincture to enter the bloodstream more efficiently. 

Of course, we don’t mean the alcohol you drink during parties — here, alcohol refers to food-grade alcohol. 

On the other hand, glycerin tinctures turn out to be less potent. This is because glycerin is essentially sugar alcohol derived from plant oils, which does not bind well to cannabinoids as alcohol does. 

But glycerin can work for you if you don’t want to make a potent tincture but still want it to taste sweet without irritating your mouth if you have any kind of oral sensitivities.

Lastly, many users also use oil as a base, and this base is ideal for low doses since they don’t bind too well to cannabinoids compared to alcohol and glycerin. On the other hand, oil-based tinctures can also be used as skincare products!

If you are using alcohol to make your tincture, you should use either 200-proof food-grade alcohol or 190-proof Everclear alcohol only. Both options are strong solvents that efficiently strip the cannabinoids. 

Anything lower-proof, like 80-proof vodka, is weak and contains a lot of water, which can make the extraction process less efficient. 

At all costs, avoid using rubbing alcohol.

How to Use Cannabis Tinctures?

Using tinctures is quite easy. Using the dropper, add one drop under your tongue and let it sit there for a minute before swallowing. 

Our mouths have oral mucosa — an absorbent tissue lining the inner cheeks, lips, and tongue, that absorbs tinctures and passes the cannabinoids into the bloodstream directly. 

Usually, cannabis tinctures take 15 to 30 minutes to kick in, depending on how potent the tincture is and your tolerance to it. Avoid swallowing the tincture directly since the cannabinoids in the tincture won’t be absorbed like edibles, making it a lost effort. 

On the other hand, you can also cook with tinctures to make potent edibles. But you must be careful. The cannabinoids in tinctures are already decarbed and don’t fare well with additional heat produced during the cooking process. So, if you want to add tinctures to your food, you can add a drop in a finished dish or a dressing or sauce.

Do note that tinctures ingested via food take a lot longer to produce effects since they have to pass through the stomach and liver. 

Summary: Your Guide to Making and Using Cannabis Tinctures

For hundreds of years, tinctures have been the go-to method of cannabis consumption for many users. And why not? Cannabis tinctures are just so easy to make and consume! 

They hardly take an afternoon of shaking mason jars in your kitchen to make cannabis tinctures at home. And when they are ready, they offer the full-spectrum benefits of cannabis while being fast-acting and discreet. 

If you are someone who wants to reap all the benefits of cannabis, whether for recreation or medicinal reasons, but want to keep things simple, you can never go wrong with a cannabis tincture. 

And the best part is that making cannabis tinctures at home is so easy! Just remember to use the right type of alcohol (or any other base of your preference) and an adequate amount of cannabis buds that are decarbed properly. If you play the steps right, you can produce a golden liquid that is full of cannabis goodness!

And as with any other form of potent cannabis, remember to start with a low dose and build your way up. It is easy to consume too much cannabis when one drop of a tincture can equate to an entire joint!

So, take it easy and slow and you will be able to enjoy all the benefits of cannabis in a drop.


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