When cannabis was added to the US Pharmacopeia in 1850, patented marijuana extracts were considered useful for everything from sleeping trouble to menstrual pain and everything in between. Tinctures, which dropped out of the spotlight after the war on drugs began, have been steadily regaining popularity within the medical cannabis movement and can now be found on many dispensary shelves. In this complete guide to tinctures, we’ll outline the benefits of using this plant extract and show you how to make your own.
What are Tinctures?
A tincture is a concentrated herbal extract made by soaking plant matter in alcohol. Medicinal plants may be soaked for weeks to separate the active ingredients from unwanted plant material. In the case of cannabis tinctures, the alcohol acts as a solvent to extract the plant’s beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes.
You can use tinctures in a variety of ways. The most popular is the sublingual method. Simply drop the desired serving under your tongue and hold it there for about a minute. The capillaries under the tongue absorb the cannabinoids and deliver them directly into the bloodstream. This method allows users to experience effects much faster than they would if they consumed other edibles. The direct route to the bloodstream means the cannabinoids avoid first-pass metabolism by the gut and liver.
Tinctures can also be added to foods and beverages. You can simply swallow the tincture instead of holding it under the tongue, or add a few drops to your daily green smoothie. The clear alcohol used in cannabis tinctures means they also pair perfectly with alcohol-infused dishes like penne vodka or beer cheese dip. You can also apply tinctures topically.
Tinctures typically come in amber-colored glass dropper bottles to filter out UV light. To protect to potency of the active ingredients within, it’s best to store tinctures in a cool, dry place like your pantry or medicine cabinet.
How to Make Cannabis Tinctures
Cannabis tinctures require few ingredients and some easy-to-find supplies. The key component in this recipe is time.
Cannabis: The type of cannabis and the quantity are up to you. The ratio of cannabis to alcohol will impact the potency of the final product. There is an easy formula to roughly determine the amount of THC per serving. Multiply the weight of your flower in milligrams by the THC percentage to get your total amount of THC in milligrams. 1 gram(1000mg) of cannabis with a THC content of 25% contains about 250mg of THC(1000 ✕ 0.25 = 250). If you used 5g of cannabis at 25%, your total would be 1250mg THC. Divide this number by the number of milliliters of alcohol. If you added 8 ounces of alcohol(about 237mL), this would mean each milliliter of your cannabis tincture would contain about 5mg THC(1250 ÷ 237 = 5.27). A standard tincture dropper holds one mL of liquid, so every dropper-full would contain a 5mg serving of THC. To make your tincture more or less potent, simply adjust your ratios.
Alcohol: Get the strongest food-grade alcohol you can find. Most recipes recommend Everclear, which is 95% alcohol by volume(190-proof). It is virtually tasteless and makes an excellent solvent for extracting plant materials. Everclear is banned in some states due to many a boozy mishap as a result of overconsumption. If this is the case, any high-proof neutral spirits will do.
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
- Mason Jar with a tight-fitting lid
- Cheesecloth/Strainer Bag
- Glass measuring cup
- Amber-colored dropper bottle
- You’ll need to decarboxylate your cannabis to activate the THC and other cannabinoids. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Use your scale to weigh out the desired amount of flower. Break up with scissors or a grinder and spread your ground plant matter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- Place decarboxylated cannabis in a mason jar. Add your desired amount of alcohol, making sure all of the plant matter is submerged. Close the lid tightly. Store in the freezer. Each day for 1-2 weeks, remove the jar from the freezer and give it a shake, then return to the freezer until the following day.
- After your tincture has infused for several days, remove from the freezer. Place your cheesecloth or strainer bag over the measuring cup and strain the plant material from the liquid. Pour into your tincture bottles and seal tightly. Clearly label and store in a cool, dry place.
Benefits of Tinctures
Easy Dosing: Tinctures allow you to carefully and precisely measure your cannabis serving. Flower, dabs, and edibles are harder to modulate. You can administer tinctures drop by drop as needed. This helps prevent the uncomfortable feeling of consuming too much THC at once.
Smoke-free: There are a variety of reasons why choosing a smokeless cannabis product may be a good choice for you. Some cannabis users suffer from throat or lung conditions or other sensitivities that make smoking dry cannabis flower painful or unpleasant. Others fear that the repercussions of smoking any product could outweigh the proposed health benefits. Some simply don’t enjoy the taste or smell of marijuana smoke. Tinctures eliminate smoke from the equation.
Discreet: Bongs, vapes and other paraphernalia can be obvious and stigmatizing. Tinctures are low-odor, portable, and they look like any other dropper product that you would find at the vitamin shop or drugstore.
Low-calorie edible: Are you watching your figure? Using our recipe with 190-proof alcohol, a one-milliliter serving contains less than 7 calories and does not contain any added fat or sugar. The calories and fat found in other edibles like gummies, cookies, and brownies can really add up. Cannabis tinctures are a low-calorie alternative that won’t add to your waistline.
Long shelf-life: When stored properly, cannabis tinctures last for years.
The popularity of cannabis tinctures continues to grow as more users are looking for easy and effective smoke-free options. Whether you pick some up on your next trip to the dispensary, or make your own, you’ll love this long-lasting, low-calorie THC product.