Cannabis Tinctures and How to Make Them

Soft Secrets
18 Nov 2020

During the 19th-century, when Western medicine was just starting to discover the therapeutic potential of Cannabis, the plant was prepared in the form of tincture. Chronicles suggest that even the British monarch, Queen Victoria, was prescribed a tincture remedy from her personal physician to treat period cramps. More than a century later, tinctures have made a grand come back on the cannabis stage.

Cannabis tinctures are one of the more user-friendly ways to use cannabis. Tinctures are an excellent choice for novice cannabis users, including both those who want to try cannabis for medical purposes or use it recreationally. A tincture is basically an alcohol-based extract where cannabis plant material has been soaked into the alcohol to get the concoction. Below get all the answers you need to know on how to use cannabis tinctures, prepare one, store it, and dose it as per your needs.

A Different Kind of Edible

Cannabis tinctures can be ingested under the tongue, directly on the tongue or added in drinks and meals. They contain high doses of alcohol, and they usually come in small glass bottles with droppers for easy ingestion in the mouth. The method of consuming tinctures allows for very precise dosing. 

Tinctures rely on a solvent to get the cannabinoids from the cannabis plant material. The solvent for tinctures is usually alcohol, but it can also be glycerite. To ensure that THC and other compounds found in cannabis are activated, the plant material used for tinctures does need to be decarboxylated

While tinctures are most often consumed sublingually (applied below the tongue and wait to swallow), they can also be taken orally (place in the mouth and directly swallow) or infused in foods just like cannabis oils. Consuming tinctures sublingually has the fastest effect, faster than your average space cookie that may take up to an hour or two to work around your stomach.

After the initial dose, users can quickly tell if they need an upgrade or wait for the next round of dosing. Tinctures, like other cannabis products, can be found and purchased in any medical cannabis dispensary. Alternatively, you can learn how to prepare cannabis tinctures yourself. It’s easy, and it’s rewarding.

How to Make Cannabis Tincture at Home?

Forget cooking butter and making a mess out of your kitchen as you try to bake weed-infused muffins or cakes. Tinctures are easier than that. Besides cannabis and high-quality edible alcohol, all you need is some basic kitchen items. 

Stick with food-grade alcohol that is safe for consumption and has sufficient alcohol content when you prepare cannabis tinctures. Resin will better dissolve in high alcohol content. You want to avoid isopropyl alcohol, which is not designed for consumption, therefore, it should never be used for preparing stuff like tinctures. Save isopropyl alcohols for disinfecting your doorknobs and other frequently touched surfaces as you try to ward off viruses at home.

Alternatively, you can opt for glycerites for preparing the tincture. Glycerite is naturally made from plants or sometimes animal fats, and its syrupy odorless quality can substitute alcohol. However, glycerite will not bind with cannabis compounds as efficiently as alcohol. As a result, cannabis tinctures based on glycerin might not be as vigorous.

You can use both glycerite and alcohol to devise a more powerful cannabis tincture, that is, if you truly want to test your chemistry skills. In which case, the first step would be to vaporize the alcohol out of the tincture and the second to introduce glycerite in the concoction. But this process would require advanced skills, and it also requires extreme caution working to evaporate the alcohol, which is a flammable substance. So, it’s probably for the best that you stick with preparing a simple tincture solution. 

Ingredients and Kitchen Tools

Here’s a list of items that you will need for preparing home cannabis tincture:

  • Cannabis flowers (1 ounce)
  • Highly-potent, safe-to-consume alcohol like Everclear, vodka, or brandy (2 cups)
  • Grinder
  • Mason jar 
  • Cheesecloth 
  • Glass dropper bottles 
  • Glass measuring cup
  • Oven-safe pan
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Plastic gloves 

Depending on how strong you like your tincture and how many ounces of cannabis you set aside for it, duplicate the alcohol dose accordingly (e.g., 2 ounces, 4 cups). For a more potent tincture, decrease the alcohol ratio by a third.

Decarboxylate the Cannabis

Before you start preparing the tincture, you want to decarboxylate or "activate" the cannabis material you're going to use. Grind the flower thoroughly and arrange it in a pan. Blanket the pan with aluminum foil to prevent charring the weed. Why do you need to do this? THC is byproduct of heating THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). The THC precursor is non-intoxicating, and heat helps it convert into its mind-altering variant. THCA begins to transform into THC or decarboxylate at roughly 220°F after around half an hour of exposure. For full decarboxylation, you may want to wait for up to two hours.

People have different approaches to decarboxylating. Some prefer to set lower temperatures for heating as this helps preserve terpenes, which are also important to extract beyond getting THC or CBD. Using lower temperatures extends the time for waiting, however. A tried decarboxylating approach is to preheat the oven to 230°F and expose the weed to heat for slightly less than two hours (105-110 minutes). Decarboxylating might be the most challenging step in making your cannabis tincture, but past this point it all gets much easier. 

The Next Steps

Step 1: Take a mason jar filled with high potent alcohol like Everclear, or you can also use vodka or brandy and add the decarboxylated marijuana. The plant material needs to be entirely immersed in the alcohol of your choice. 

Step 2: Seal the jar and let it stay like that for a couple of weeks. Shake the concoction once every day. Some sources also suggest placing the jar in the fridge as cold helps produce a finer concoction, but that’s up to you to try.

Step 3: When you’ve had enough of waiting, take a cheesecloth to squeeze the liquid out of the mason jar. Using a glass measuring cup might be handy, so you can see precisely how much tincture there is. You also want to manually squeeze the plant material at the end so that you juice out more liquid from the mason jar. Use gloves to protect your hands while you do the squeezing.

cannabis tinctures microdosing

Storage and Dosing

If you are not using the tincture immediately, keep it in a jar for a little longer. Otherwise, transfer the tincture into glass dropper bottles, which are perfect for controlling the dosage. Tincture remedies are best stored in cold and dark places. This way, they could last for years. Exposure to heat, light, or air can affect the tincture in negative ways.

Once you’ve purchased or made your own cannabis tincture, test with the dosings. Start with little, for example a single drop on day one, then gradually increase until finding a dose that makes you happy. Use the dropper to place the solution under the tongue and wait up to two minutes before swallowing. The tincture should kick in quickly, in about 15-30 minutes. You can also use tincture to infuse meals and snacks, which is basically making a classic edible. 

Burning Sensations Under the Tongue?

Some tincture users report that they sometimes experience a burning sensation under the tongue after a few drops of the extract. This is a common reaction because tinctures use high-grade alcohol for preparation. It's nothing to worry about, though, if you don't want any itching in your mouth then it's better to add the tincture in a juice or some other drink. Alternatively, opt for tinctures that have glycerite as solvent. 

What Are the Benefits of Using Tinctures?

Tincture is one of the oldest delivery methods for cannabis, especially in medical practice. For those who don't want to smoke, tinctures might be perfect. The onset is faster than with other edibles and the effect lasts longer, up to 4 hours. Unlike other cannabis edibles, tinctures are calorie-free, though some medical users can actually benefit from infusing the tincture into snacks and meals. Tinctures are also very discrete to use. 

What’s the Difference Between THC and CBD Tinctures?

There are THC- and CBD-based tinctures, and you can also come across concoctions with both cannabinoids. All tinctures have a medicinal effect, with CBD normally being the one that doesn't cause any high. 

CBD and THC are subject of different legal treatment, which affects the availability of tinctures. Tinctures that contain over 3% THC can only be legally purchased in legal states. On the other hand, CBD-rich tinctures are easier to come by. But as you can see, cannabis tinctures are fairly easy to prepare at home, so you can always give it a try and make it yourself if the local dispensary doesn't have any. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

Want to Reduce Anxiety? Try out CBD Oil Tincture

How to Make THC-Infused Drinks?

How to Prepare Quick Cannabis Glycerite?

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