What is a cannabis tincture?
Cannabis tinctures are alcohol-based cannabis extracts—essentially, cannabis-infused alcohol. In fact, tinctures were the main form of cannabis medicine until the United States enacted cannabis prohibition. They’re a great entry point for both recreational and medical consumers looking to ease into smokeless consumption methods.
How to make cannabis tinctures
If you don’t have a full kitchen or just prefer simple, mess-free preparation techniques, cannabis tinctures are a great DIY project. You can make a tincture with a jar, alcohol, strainer, and cannabis. That’s all you need!
Using alcohol vs. glycerin for tinctures
When it comes to making tinctures, high-proof, food-grade alcohol is going to be your best friend. If you wish to avoid using alcohol, glycerin, a plant-based oil, is an acceptable replacement. However, glycerin is not as efficient at bonding to cannabis compounds and will produce a less potent tincture.
Some people try to make a more potent glycerin tincture by first using alcohol, carefully evaporating the (very flammable) alcohol off of the tincture, and then introducing glycerin afterward. You get the potency of the alcohol with the glycerin body. Considering the dangers associated with evaporating alcohol with a heat source, we at Leafly do not recommend this method.
Choosing the right type of alcohol for tinctures
The goal is to find a high-proof alcohol that is safe for consumption. The higher the alcohol content, the better it will dissolve cannabis resin. Everclear is my alcohol of choice when making a tincture, as it is both safe to consume and highly potent.
Products like isopropyl alcohol are not intended to be consumed and should never be used when making a tincture—save that for cleaning your pipes!
Making the tincture
To keep it simple, I like to use this ratio when making a tincture: For every ounce of cannabis flower, use one 750 mL bottle of alcohol (for an eighth of weed, that’s about 3 fluid oz).
This produces a mild effect, great for microdosing. If you want a more potent tincture, reduce the amount of alcohol by a third until you hit your desired potency.
- Step 1: Decarboxylate your cannabis flower or concentrate (if you’re using flower, grind it to a fine consistency).
- Step 2: Mix your flower or concentrate in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (preferably Everclear).
- Step 3: Close the jar and let it sit for a few weeks, shaking it once a day.
- Step 4: After a few weeks, strain it through a coffee filter.
And if you don’t feel like waiting several weeks, you can even get away with shaking it for 3 minutes, straining, and storing.RelatedWhat is decarboxylation, and why does your cannabis need it?
How to dose and consume cannabis tinctures
It’s important to be consistent when making tinctures. If you make two batches at different strengths, a dose from each won’t be the same. Write down how much alcohol and cannabis you use for each batch so it can be replicated again if it was to your liking.
Once you’ve made the tincture, dosages are easy to self-titrate, or measure. Start with 1 mL of your finished tincture and put it under your tongue. If you’re happy with the effects, you’re done.
Otherwise, ramp up your dosage slowly to avoid getting uncomfortably high—try 2 mL the next day, and so on, until you find the dose you’re happy with.
According to The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook, cannabis tinctures will last for many years when stored in a cool, dark place. Their long shelf life means you can make large quantities of them in one sitting.
Compared to the traditional cannabis-infused brownie, tinctures are a low calorie alternative. If you make a tincture with 190 proof alcohol, you’re looking at about 7 calories per mL.
How to Make a Cannabis Tincture
To make a cannabis tincture, you’ll want to have the highest percentage of alcohol possible. Not all tinctures are made the same. The potency of the final product will depend on the quality and quantity of the cannabis you use.
Ingredients & Equipment
At a minimum, you’ll want the following ingredients and equipment to make a cannabis tincture:
- A half ounce of cannabis flowers or trim.
- High alcohol by volume liquor.
- Mason jar
- Glass dropper bottles
- Oven-safe pan
- Aluminum Foil
- Glass measuring cup
Before you get started, you’ll need decarboxylated weed or concentrates. According to research from scientists in Holland, the optimal temperature for decarboxylation is 230 degrees Fahrenheit for 110 minutes.
So grind up your cannabis or break it down into smaller pieces and fill the oven-safe pan with them. Cover the pan with aluminum foil so the weed doesn’t get hot enough to burn or vaporize. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 230 degrees Fahrenheit for 110 minutes.
Once you’ve gathered the necessary materials, making a cannabis tincture is easy.
Step 1: Put your decarboxylated cannabis in the mason jar and fill it with the highest a high percentage alcohol like Everclear until the cannabis is completely submerged.
Step 2: Several sources recommend freezing the jar full of alcohol and cannabis for several days to two weeks while taking it out to shake once a day. The cold helps to separate less wanted components of the cannabis plant like chlorophyll from the final product.
Step 3: The next step is to strain the materials through a cheesecloth into a glass measuring cup. Once the liquid is no longer passing through the cheesecloth, use gloves to squeeze the remaining liquid through the cheesecloth and into the measuring cup. You can use another cheesecloth the clean the material further before filling glass dropper bottles with it.
Step 4: The final step is to properly store your tincture. Transfer everything into a glass dropper bottle for easy dosing. For long-term storage, you can leave it in a mason jar. Either way, you’ll want the environment to be cool and dark. Air, light and heat decrease the quality and potency of tinctures.
How To Use Cannabis Tinctures
Once you’ve made or purchased a cannabis tincture, there are three ways for you to use it. Add it to any dish, drop it right into your mouth or ingest it sublingually.
The sublingual method of consumption is one of the best if you want to feel the effects to come on stronger and faster. Drop the appropriate dosage under your tongue. Wait a half a minute and swallow. This allows the medicine into the bloodstream for a faster onset.
The easiest way to use a cannabis tincture is by simply dropping the desired dosage into your mouth and swallowing. The effects won’t come on as quickly as with the sublingual technique. It will take close to as long as it would with edibles to feel the effects.
The final method of consumption is relatively simple. Drop whatever dose you’d like into any food or beverage of your choosing. The onset of the effects should take about as long as edibles. By consuming a meal with the medicine, you can start combatting the munchies before they even start.
Reasons To Try Tinctures
As we’ve illustrated, there are plenty advantages to using tinctures over other methods of consuming cannabis. Here is a list of the benefits of using tinctures over other consumption methods:
- Fewer Calories: You can get the edibles experience from meals that you were already planning to eat instead of sweets like gummies and brownies.
- Discretion: Tinctures don’t smell like cannabis and in a glass bottle with a dropper, they’ll look like any other medicine.
- Faster Onset: Sublingually, the effects last longer.
- Precise Dosing: With edibles, flowers and concentrates it is easier to accidentally take a higher dose than necessary. Tinctures allow you to take a few drops at a time until you feel the desired effects.
- Simpler Than Smoking: People that dislike or have a hard time smoking or vaping cannabis are better off using tinctures.
Final Hit: Cannabis Tincture
Cannabis tinctures offer a simple and discreet way to receive the medical benefits of the plant without having to be a smoker. It only takes a few ingredients to make cannabis tinctures but you’ll want to exercise caution when making them at home because high percentage alcohol is flammable. There are also devices that make it easy to complete the entire process in one place.