Cannabis Tincture

Tinctures have been used in herbal medicine dating back to the year 1000 AD, and are simply an herbal preparation extracted into some kind of solvent. Most frequently tinctures are made with high proof alcohol, however, there are other varieties that use vegetable glycerin, vinegar or propylene glycol. The latter options are less effective at extracting, but do offer an alternative for those who choose not to ingest alcohol.

Cannabis tinctures are also not recent; they first appeared in the United States Pharmacopeia in 1942, however, they had fallen out of fashion until very recently. There are several ways to make cannabis tincture, and they all have the same swift delivery of effects. Tinctures are used sublingually, and the user will absorb the cannabinoids through the mucosal membranes and feel the effects within 10-15 minutes. A typical dose for a tincture found on the market currently can range from 5mg THC to 20mg THC, and there are a large number of CBD and CBD/THC combination tinctures available as well. One of the best things about tincture is the ability to accurately titrate the dose you are looking for. Most commonly sold in a 1 or 2 ounce bottle with an eyedropper, the user takes just a few drops at a time by mouth, or up to multiple droppers to find the effect they desire. Due to the rapid onset of effects, the possibility of impatiently taking too much decreases significantly.

Making cannabis tincture at home is very easy. There are methods that take just a few hours, and some that can take months.

Alcohol Extraction

  • 1 ounce decarboxylated material (kief, trim, flower) per pint of liquid
  • Everclear or other high proof alcohol
  • Large glass jar with good seal
  • Cheesecloth
  • Coffee filters (2)

Traditional Alcohol Extraction:

Combine your cannabis and alcohol in a large glass jar and shake well. Store the jar in a place where it will receive no light for 30 to 60 days, shaking thoroughly daily. The final product will be a very dark green. Strain first through the cheesecloth, and then through a coffee filter, preferably two times. This will remove as much plant matter and chlorophyll as possible. Be warned — this makes a very potent tincture, however it also has a very bitter taste that most people find unpleasant. Mixing with a beverage is recommended if you really don’t like the flavor!

Cold Alcohol Extraction:

Separately chill your cannabis and alcohol in your freezer for several hours. Combine in your glass jar and shake forcefully for 5 minutes. Return to the freezer, removing every couple hours to give it a good shake; repeat this for the next 2 to 3 days. Strain through your cheesecloth and then your coffee filters. Your product should be a light green to golden color. The darker the liquid is, the more plant matter is present, which affects the taste.

Glycerin Tincture

  • 5 ounces decarboxylated material (kief, flower, trim) per 4 cups glycerin
  • Food grade vegetable glycerin
  • Crock pot
  • Cheese cloth

Combine your cannabis (ground) and glycerin in the slow cooker, setting it on the lowest temperature available (“warm” on most).  Heat your mixture anywhere from 4 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Glycerin is a less effective extracting agent than alcohol, so the more surface area on the cannabis that is exposed to the glycerin, the more potent your final product will be. When finished, strain the mixture through your cheesecloth and cool. Store in a glass container; refrigeration is recommended for large amounts.

Note: As an alternative to a slow cooker, you can use the Magical Butter Machine (retail $175) to make tinctures along with butters and oils. The Magical Butter Machine is a very easy product to use and controls time and temperature specifically for cannabis, so many people find it an easier option when making extractions and infusions.

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