August 24, 2020 8 min read

By Lydia Kibet

With the ongoing legalization of cannabis throughout the United States and beyond, more and more people are getting access to both medical and recreational marijuana.

A quickly growing body of research shows that the two primary active cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant – cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – have a massive array of therapeutic benefits. 

It's no secret; there are several ways to consume cannabis products today – from edibles, flowers, concentrates, topicals, to tinctures.

The cannabis industry is always interesting and fast paced, and it seems there's always a newer, fancier way to enjoy cannabis. Cannabis tinctures are one of them. 

Today, the popularity of cannabis tinctures is on the rise in states where the herb is legal.

They're becoming better known and widely used.

While cannabis isn't for everyone, cannabis tinctures are an excellent method of consumption for both medical and recreational users who want to avoid vaping or smoking.

What are cannabis tinctures?

Before cannabis was prohibited, tinctures were the primary mode of consuming medical marijuana because of its quicker onset and simplicity.

Cannabis tinctures are typically cannabis extracts infused with alcohol. They're made by absorbing cannabinoids and other plant materials into high-proof alcohol, and the plant matter is strained out.

How to Make Cannabis Tinctures

With the right equipment, it is pretty simple to make cannabis tinctures with a DIY project at home. All you need is a strainer, high-proof alcohol or Everclear, cannabis flower, and a mason jar to collect your tincture.

First of all, you need to choose the right type of alcohol to make the tincture.

When it comes to making tinctures, the kind of alcohol you use determines the final product. However, if you wish to avoid alcohol, plant-based glycerin would be ideal. The only setback of using glycerin is that it is inefficient in interacting with cannabis compounds, resulting in a low potent tincture.

The majority of cannabis connoisseurs recommend using high-proof alcohol.

As a general rule, the higher the alcohol content, the better the cannabis resin dissolves. Everclear is, however, thought to be the best because it is considered safe and highly potent.

Step-by-step guide on how to make cannabis tincture

Before getting started, you need to decarboxylate your cannabis.

First, grind your cannabis into a fine ground and place them in an aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven (230 degrees Fahrenheit for 110 minutes).

Once you've gathered the necessary materials follow these steps:

Step #1:Place your decarboxylated cannabis in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol like Everclear, and ensure that it is fully submerged.

Step #2: Experts recommend freezing the mason jar for several days or weeks while shaking once a day—the cold assist in separating unnecessary components like chlorophyll from the end product.

Step #3: After a few weeks, strain out the material through a cheesecloth or coffee filter. Once the liquid is no longer passing through the filter, use a pair of gloves to squeeze out the remaining matter.

Step #4: Now that you have your cannabis tincture, it's time to store it properly. Transfer your tincture into a glass dropper bottle and store it in a cool, dry place. For long-term storage, leave the tincture in a mason jar. Exposing the tincture to air and light degrades the quality and potency.

How to Use Cannabis Tinctures

Once you've made or bought your tincture, there are four different ways to consume. Depending on your preference, either might be right for you.

Sublingual administration is one of the best ways if you need to experience the effects faster.

Simply place your precise dosage under the tongue and hold for a minute before swallowing.

This allows the absorption of the tincture into the bloodstream via the mucous membranes. Sublingual administration is a revered method among many tincture users because it is fast-acting. After consuming the tincture, onset begins in 15-30 minutes.

Another way to use a cannabis tincture is to drop the tincture dosage in your mouth and swallow it. Like edible cannabis products, the effects won't be felt immediately like the sublingual method. With the delayed onset, you'll start to feel the effects in 1-2 hours later.

Topical application is another way to consume cannabis.

Tinctures can be used as ointments applied directly to the affected area of the skin. Cannabis is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. This method is ideal for skin conditions such as acne and skin irritation, although it takes longer to experience the effects.

Lastly, you can infuse cannabis tinctures into your favorite food or beverage from juices, coffee, soup, to salad dressing.

If you mix it with food, it will work just like edibles.

This method is suitable for individuals who don't like the taste of tinctures. So infusing them into food and drinks would be a perfect way to reap cannabis benefits without the off-putting taste.

Benefits of Cannabis Tinctures 

Cannabis tinctures offer a wide range of advantages over other forms. In fact, they make a great option for first-time cannabis users. Tincture benefits include:

Discrete

Tinctures are a very discreet way to consume cannabis.

They come in a small, portable bottle, and they don't create smoke or have a cannabis odor. Besides, tinctures can be used on the go, place it in your pocket, purse, or backpack, and you can take your dose anywhere.

Easy to use and dose

Using tincture is incredibly easy. With the help of a dropper, you can easily measure the precise dose, unlike other forms that you may end up overdosing or underdosing.

So, if you're looking for a quicker method to ingest cannabis, and move on with your daily tasks, tinctures are the best option.

Fast-acting

The effects of a cannabis tincture are swift and can be felt in as little as 15 minutes. This particularly applies to the sublingual method of cannabis consumption.

When you place a few drops under the tongue, the tincture gets absorbed quickly through the blood capillaries, leading to faster effects. The effects also last longer, allowing the user to reap optimal benefits.

Fewer calories

Unlike cannabis edibles, tinctures have a low-calorie content – a great option for anyone looking to manage weight.

Long shelf-life

When cannabis tinctures are correctly stored, they have quite a long shelf-life.

This is due to the alcohol base, which helps preserve the cannabinoids to remain active for an extended period. Properly stored tinctures – in a cold, dry, and dark place can have a shelf life of 2-4 years.

Minimum effective dose

Cannabis tinctures offer an excellent way to understand your minimum effective dosing (MED), or basically the smallest amount of cannabis that is useful in managing the symptoms of your condition.

Once you know your MED, this will save you money, help you choose the right cannabis products with the ideal potency. As a result, more effective treatment!

What to Look for When Buying Cannabis Tinctures

While cannabis tinctures are gaining popularity among consumers, it doesn't mean you should rush to a dispensary and get a bottle for yourself.

Not all tinctures are created the same, and if you're not cautious, you might end up losing your hard-earned money for a subpar product.

Here are some key things to know before purchasing a cannabis tincture:

1. Always check the label before buying a cannabis tincture

Since the cannabis industry is highly unregulated, there's a high chance of mislabeled products sold on the market. That means you need to be extra cautious when purchasing tinctures.

One of the things to look out for is the Certificate of Analysis (COA). The COA indicates the amount of cannabinoids present and the overall purity. If the listed cannabinoids don't match the ones on the label, that raises a red flag, and you should steer clear.

2. Cannabis tincture is not CBD oil

Several people confuse the two products, partly due to similar storage bottles, and the process of cultivating them is virtually the same.

However, the hallmark difference is the plant's constituents. In simple terms, cannabis tinctures are formulated from soaking the cannabis flower in high-proof alcohol and straining out the tincture.

On the other hand, CBD oil is derived by infusing it in a carrier oil like hemp seed oil, coconut oil, or olive oil.

3. Don't be misled by lower prices

Without a doubt, cannabis tinctures have powerful therapeutic benefits but don't be lured by cheaper prices.

Top-shelf tinctures are quite expensive.

While you may find more affordable cannabis tinctures out there, a plant-based oil like glycerin might have been used instead of high-proof alcohol, which might not be that effective.

4. Concentration

The concentration or the amount of cannabinoids in the tincture is an essential factor to look at when buying cannabis tinctures.

The product should state not only the amount of cannabinoids present but also in each serving. This will give you an insight into how much cannabinoids you're consuming, which helps you gauge the product's efficacy.

That said, consumers should be skeptical of cannabis tinctures that don't have cannabinoids concentration on the label.

5. Company reliability

When it comes to buying cannabis tinctures, a company's reliability is an important factor to check out.

Many sketchy brands include false claims on their products to sell poor-quality products. For that reason, consumers should avoid companies that sell products that make extensive health claims.

Cannabis Tincture FAQs

How do I take my tincture?

Cannabis tinctures are often taken sublingually – placing a few drops under the tongue. The blood capillaries rapidly absorb the cannabinoids making it into the bloodstream way faster. Besides, you can also swallow the tincture or infuse it in your favorite food or beverage – however; the effects will be delayed.

How much tincture oil should I take?

Whether you're taking it for medical or recreational purposes, it is recommended to start small and work your way up gradually. This way, you can easily find the amount of tincture that works for you best.

Do tinctures burn under your tongue?

Cannabis tinctures react differently from one person to another. Some people have reported burns under the tongue after a few drops – high-proof alcohol is responsible for this.

If you're looking for an alternative, plant-based tinctures formulated with glycerin might be right for you.

How long do the effects of a cannabis tincture start to kick in?

If you administer the tincture sublingually, the effects are likely to kick in 15-45 minutes and peak at about 2 hours.

However, if you swallow the tincture, you'll experience delayed onset, just like edibles. In fact, the effects of a tincture last longer than smoking or using a vaporizer.

How do you calculate the strength of a tincture?

The strength of a tincture depends on the ratio of decarboxylated cannabis flower to high-proof alcohol. The more cannabis flower you use, the more potent the tincture will be.

As a general rule, start with a small dose and increase up gradually.

Can I vape a cannabis tincture?

Yes, or no.

It depends if the tincture is oil-based or alcohol-based. Never vape a tincture made with high-proof alcohol. However, the confusion comes on how the products have been labeled. Not all cannabis oils can be vaped. Before placing a tincture on your vaporizer, make sure it is formulated using a carrier oil.

How long can you store cannabis tinctures?

Cannabis tinctures have a long-shelf-life if appropriately stored in a cool, dry, and dark place – away from direct sunlight. When stored properly, cannabis tinctures can last for 2-4 years.

Are cannabis tinctures right for you?

Cannabis tinctures are an excellent option for anyone who wants to avoid smoking or vaporizing.

Also, a tincture is ideal for the stoner who would want to enjoy a high in social situations without drawing attention that you would if you smoked a joint or blunt.

Lastly, tinctures are revered by many, including cannabis patients who need a fast-acting method of consuming cannabis.


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