Cannabis tinctures 101: How to make, consume, and dose them
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.
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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.
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.
Cannabis tinctures can be incorporated into all sorts of meals and drinks:
- Ice creams and sherbets
- Mashed potatoes and gravy
- Salad dressing
I like to add some cannabis oil to my homemade chicken tikka masala for a delicious infused dinner.
Benefits of using cannabis tinctures
Tinctures are especially great for first-time cannabis consumers. Here are some reasons why:
- They’re discrete. Has there ever been a moment in your life when you said to yourself, “I really wish I smelled more like weed smoke right now?” Me neither. Consuming a tincture allows you to avoid the smell while enjoying all the benefits of cannabis. It is also super easy to conceal in a small jar in your bag.
- Fast onset of effects. Effects from a cannabis tincture set in rather quickly. Whereas cannabis edibles can take an hour or more to kick in, tinctures can be felt in as little as 15 minutes. This allows you to quickly understand how the cannabis is affecting you before you move onto other activities.
- Easy to dose. Tinctures are the perfect product for finding your preferred dose! You can measure your dose with an eyedropper and increase, decrease, or let it ride.
Cannabis tincture FAQs
How do I take my tincture?
Cannabis tinctures are usually taken by putting a few drops under your tongue (sublingually). When taken this way, the arterial blood supply under your tongue rapidly absorbs the THC. That being said, you can always swallow the tincture in a drink or food, but it will be absorbed slower by your liver.
Do tinctures burn under your tongue?
Some people have reported experiencing a burning sensation under their tongue after a few drops of tincture—the high-proof alcohol used to make a tincture is responsible for this. If the tincture burns under your tongue and you are looking for a different option, you can get a glycerin-based tincture or incorporate your tincture into a beverage.
How long does a cannabis tincture take to kick in?
When dosing a tincture sublingually, expect to feel the effects in 15-45 minutes and reach your peak high at about 90 minutes. If you simply drink the dose, expect a slower onset that more closely resembles traditional edibles.
How long will I feel the effects of a cannabis tincture?
Expect to be high longer than when you smoke or vaporize, but shorter than when you eat a butter or oil-based edible.
Cannabis tincture guide summary
Tinctures are alcohol based cannabis extracts. They’re a great entry point for both medical and recreational consumers looking for a smokeless method of consumption. Tinctures are easy to measure for dosing. Start with one eye dropper full under your tongue. When taken under the tongue, also called sublingually, effects should come on within the hour.
If you drink your tincture or add it to food, effects can take up to two hours to come on – more like edibles. If you’re happy with the effects, you’re done. If you’d like more, take it one eyedropper at a time. Always remember because it could take up to two hours to feel effects, the golden rule when ingesting cannabis is to start small and be patient. That way, you don’t end up uncomfortably high.
However you ingest a tincture, you can expect to feel the effects for longer than you smoked or vaporized cannabis. Tinctures will last for many years when stored in a cool, dark location. The long shelf life means you can make big batches of your own and have a convenient and accurate way to consume cannabis when you want to.
This post was originally published on June 16, 2016. It was most recently updated on March 4, 2020.
Learn everything there is to know about cannabis tinctures. Find out what they are, how you can make them, and how to dose and use them at Leafly.
How to Make Cannabis CBD Tincture
Originally published on July 14, 2020 . Last updated on July 15, 2020
Cannabis is now legal in some form or another in 29 states, with many other states likely to follow. If you are lucky enough to live in one of those states, or in a country where medical cannabis is legal, you can use it just like you would any other herb for its amazing medicinal benefits.
CBD rich varieties of cannabis are particularly nice because they deliver a powerful dose of medicine without as much of the high, which sometimes isn’t desired. Making a homemade cannabis CBD tincture is a great way to get those benefits in a concentrated and easy to administer way.
Here is a video that explains more about CBD:
We live in Oregon, where recreational cannabis is legal, and we are allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants per household. We always make sure to grow at least one variety that is high in CBD for making cannabis infused oil, CBD salve, and this CBD tincture.
If you are interested in growing your own I recommend buying seeds from Seedsman. They have a large selection of high CBD varieties and ship to nearly everywhere.
Be sure to read my post on How to Make Cannabis CBD Infused Oil for more info on the legality of CBD in the United States. This guide from NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) will tell you what the marijuana laws are in your state.
How to Use Cannabis CBD Tincture
CBD is best known for its pain relieving and inflammation reducing benefits, but it can also help with sleep issues, depression, anxiety, and nausea, to name a few.
Check out this list of CBD benefits to see what else it can help with.
To take the CBD tincture, start by putting a few drops under your tongue and seeing how you feel after an hour or two.
It can have different effects for different people, and the strain of cannabis you use can cause differences as well. Gradually up the dose until you feel some relief.
Where to Buy CBD Tincture
If you aren’t able to make your own tincture, I have found an amazing place to buy super high quality organic CBD products! I searched high and low for a cannabis company I could recommend, and Flower Child CBD is it.
FlowerChild has several CBD tinctures to choose from, each with different strengths and medicinal benefits. They also carry CBG tincture if you are interested in that. There is even one made just for pets!
They are an Colorado company, where recreational marijuana is legal, but they use pure CBD extract from organic hemp, so they are able to ship their products nationwide!
FlowerChild CBD created a 10% off coupon code to share with my readers. Use this code when you check out to get the discount: growforage10
Cannabis CBD Tincture Recipe
Disclaimer: I only endorse you making cannabis CBD tincture at home if recreational or medical marijuana is legal in your state, and you have any required cards and/or licenses to do so!
To be honest, this is a really simple recipe. Just like making a regular herbal tincture, all you really need is plant material (a high CBD cannabis variety in this case, we like to use Harlequin or ACDC) and a high proof neutral spirit like vodka.
For an alcohol free tincture vegetable glycerine can be used instead of the spirits.
Before making this tincture, the first step is to decarboxylate the buds which will help to make the CBD more bioavailable. You can see my process for how to do that in my CBD infused oil post (don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than it sounds!).
Once the buds have been decarboxylated, put them into jar. Don’t worry too much about amounts, just fill whatever size jar you want to use about ¾ full with buds.
I used a pint jar, but it all depends on how much cannabis you have access to and how much tincture you want to make.
Fill the jar with vodka, making sure to cover all of the buds. Cover the jar with a lid and put it in a cool and dark place to infuse for at least 6 weeks.
The tincture can be left to infuse for several months if you want, it won’t ever go bad and will continue to get stronger.
The homemade CBD tincture will be a green-brown color after infusing and will be very potent! Strain out the buds before using.
I find it convenient to store the finished tincture in dropper bottles, and it makes it easier for dosing as well.
Herbal medicine is great to have on hand, whether homemade or bought from a reputable place. I’m a firm believer in using cannabis as medicine and hope that everyone will soon have access to it!
Cannabis is now legal in many places and is great to use for medicinal purposes. Learn how to make a homemade cannabis CBD tincture for all of your aches and pains!