Cannabis tinctures are one of the most popular forms of cannabis products. They are easy to consume, and they do not involve any smoke. While traditional herbal tinctures are made using alcohol, not all people like its taste or want to ingest any of it. Fortunately, there are other ways to make a potent tincture.
If you are interested in making an alcohol-free cannabis tincture, follow the step-by-step instructions below. We will discuss the science behind tinctures, the best carrier liquids to use, and a note about dosing.
What is a Cannabis Tincture?
A cannabis tincture is a concentrated cannabis extract infused in liquid, usually grain alcohol, and usually placed in dropper bottles. Note that isopropyl alcohol is unsuitable for human consumption and cannot be used in any cannabis tincture recipe. While alcohol-based tinctures are the most common, you can also make a vegetable glycerin tincture and an oil-based tincture.
Food-safe vegetable glycerin can act as a substitute for alcohol, but it is not the ideal carrier for cannabinoids. Hence, finding glycerin-based tinctures in the cannabis market is not as expected. Hence, the most common alternative for alcohol-based tinctures is oil tinctures.
Cannabis tinctures made from oil are not technically tinctures but oil infusions. Nevertheless, they are usually classified as tinctures, especially when packaged in dropper bottles and used as medical marijuana. They are made by infusing THC or CBD in a carrier oil. Since cannabinoids are fat-soluble, they are best infused in oils like coconut oil and olive oil.
Coconut oil and olive oil are the most popular carrier oils because they are easily available, taste great, and are very nourishing. They are also antimicrobial and antifungal. Hence, they are less likely to go rancid.
A Note on Making THC and CBD Tinctures
You can make tinctures using fresh cannabis, but be sure to use hemp if marijuana is illegal in your location. The plant material should contain less than 0.3% THC and a high concentration of CBD. Since marijuana is illegal in many states, we will be discussing how to make CBD tinctures out of hemp in this article.
THC is psychoactive and legal only in a few states, while CBD is legal in many states. Therefore, you can only make tinctures that contain high levels of THC if it is legal in your location. It is interesting to note that tinctures that contain both CBD and THC are generally considered more beneficial to the body because of the entourage effect. Since hemp contains a small amount of THC, it is possible to make CBD tinctures that contain THC without breaking the law.
Why Make CBD Tinctures
CBD tinctures allow you to consume CBD without smoking flowers or vaping concentrates. You can also use them to make delicious edible and topical products. If you want to ingest cannabis quickly and efficiently, take tinctures. You can also take them sublingually. Place a few drops of it under the tongue and allow your cell membranes to absorb the potent cannabinoids in seconds.
If you make your tinctures at home, you can easily use them to infuse your foods and beverages with CBD. You can place a few drops of tincture in your morning coffee, baked products, salads, and other preparations.
Using Decarboxylated Cannabis for Tinctures
Fresh cannabis flowers contain raw cannabinoids (CBDA and THCA), not the same as activated cannabinoids (CBD and THC). You can activate these raw cannabinoids with heat. Smoked cannabis has potent effects because the heat activates the acidic form of the cannabinoids and turns them into potent compounds. The process of activating the cannabinoids is called decarboxylation. You can do this by smoking, vaporizing, or cooling the cannabis. Once decarboxylated, the flower should now contain activated compounds.
Decarboxylation is tricky because you have to use a slow and methodical process. The temperature should be just right to convert the THCA and CBDA into THC and CBD efficiently. If you overheat or underheat, the process will not yield the maximum amount of activated cannabinoids. Too much heat may even eradicate the cannabinoids. You have to follow a precise temperature sweet spot.
The bottom line is that our cannabis tincture made using carrier oil requires a decarbed cannabis flower. Be sure to follow the proper instructions on decarb a raw cannabis flower. If you do it right, you will ensure the activation of the cannabinoids.
How to Make CBD Tincture
What you Need
- 1 cup ground decarboxylated cannabis
- 1 cup coconut oil
- Double boiler or crockpot
- Glass bowl
- Mason jar
- Dropper bottles
Use a decarbed high CBD cannabis flower of your choice. Grind it loosely and measure at least one cup. If you want to be more precise, use a digital scale to measure around 7 to 10 grams of ground cannabis. Use more based on your tolerance.
Use organic coconut oil or MCT oil. It is easy to access, does not easily go rancid, and does not have a strong taste. You may also use olive oil or hemp seed oil. Keep in mind that coconut oil stays solid at room temperature, making it perfect to use in a salve. However, if you prefer to make a tincture that stays liquid, use olive oil or MCT oil.
If you like your tincture to have raw forms of cannabinoids (THCA and CBDA), you may add a few grams of raw cannabis to the recipe. These unactivated compounds may help enhance the entourage effect. Adding a few of them into the mix creates a full-spectrum product.
Be sure not to overheat the oil. Extreme heat can degrade the cannabinoids and render them useless. Some people even go as far as to infuse the carrier oil with cannabis in a dark space at room temperature for many weeks. The process avoids using heat but is painstakingly slow. Nevertheless, it works.
Of course, our goal is to make cannabis tincture as quickly and efficiently as possible. The only way to do that is to apply heat to expedite the extraction process and allow the cannabinoids to bind with the oil. Since we will use decarboxylated cannabis, it is best to avoid heating the oil to over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It would be best to stick to 120 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit to preserve the active CBD and trace amounts of THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes. Please note that when you apply too much heat, the trace amounts of THC will degrade and turn into CBN, a cannabinoid with different effects.
The double boiler or slow cooker is to maintain a low temperature while cooking. Heating oil directly on a pot can cause overheating. Therefore, it is essential to use a double boiler to ensure that the oil does not turn too hot and destroy the precious CBD and other compounds.
Prevent overheating by monitoring the temperature in the double boiler as much as possible. Use a probe thermometer for this purpose. Remember that oil does not easily boil like water, and it is tough to judge its temperature using eyesight. Be sure to measure its temperature with a thermometer.
- Start by decarbing your high CBD cannabis buds. Grind your raw buds loosely and spread them evenly on a baking sheet. Heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and heat the cannabis at this temperature for 50 to 60 minutes (high THC strains usually need around 25 to 30 minutes only).
- Pour water into the bottom pan of the double boiler and add the cup of coconut oil (or MCT oil, olive oil, etc.) into the top pan. Heat the oil until it melts. Set it in a low/warm setting if you use a crockpot.
- Add the decarbed cannabis (plus the raw cannabis) into the melted oil and stir.
- Continue to heat the oil and cannabis over low heat for at least 30 to 60 minutes and stir occasionally. You can continue for up to 2 hours if you desire, or 20-30 minutes if you are in a hurry. Be sure to monitor the temperature of the oil. It should not exceed 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It would be best to remain at around 12o to 180 degrees Fahrenheit during the entire process.
- After heating the oil and cannabis, place the strainer and the cheesecloth over the glass bowl and pour the cannabis-infused oil mixture through the strainer. Use the cheesecloth to squeeze out the remaining oil from the plant material. Remember that the oil will still be hot. Be sure to wear gloves to prevent getting your hands burnt and greasy.
- Pour the strained cannabis oil into a mason jar. You can use a quart mason jar or a bigger glass jar depending on the amount of oil. You may also place the liquid into separate dropper bottles if the oil stays liquid at room temperature. Store the finished product in a cool dark place or place it in the refrigerator.
Oil-based cannabis tinctures can last for at least six months to a full year. It can last longer if the oil does not go rancid or develop molds. It is also essential to store it in a cool dark place to prevent the cannabinoids from degrading.
How to Use the CBD Tincture
There are plenty of ways to use your homemade tincture. You can use it directly on its own, orally or sublingually. If you wish to feel the effects faster, take a few drops under the tongue and allow the membranes to absorb it for around one to two minutes. Consuming tincture on its own is boring. However, there are other ways you can incorporate the tincture into your daily routine, including the following:
- Add the tincture to your meals. You can mix it into salads, soups, and sauces. If the process involves cooking, use low heat as much as possible. Make use of a double boiler to prevent overheating. For instance, add it to chocolates, frosting, or no-bake cookies. You may also use it like butter on a piece of bread.
- You may add a few drops of it to your warm coffee or tea for your morning drink. Do not add it directly to boiling water. Wait for the water to cool just a little before adding. If you prefer to use CBD at night, add it to your calming tea or other night beverage.
- Lastly, add it to lotions, salves, ointments, and other topical applications. Use the topical product to soothe sore muscles, provide relaxation, and the like. You can apply it directly to the affected areas and wait for it to affect.
Homemade CBD Tincture Potency
It is difficult to determine how much CBD homemade tinctures contain. The only accurate way to get the exact potency of cannabis tinctures is to get them tested by a third-party lab. However, it is impractical, expensive, and not as readily available to everybody.
If you buy cannabis buds from a dispensary, you can get the estimated cannabinoid content for each gram. Nevertheless, the THC and CBD ratio would vary significantly depending on where they were grown and how they were harvested, dried, and cured. If you use homegrown cannabis, it would be even more challenging to know the strength of the buds.
The potency of the end product can also be affected by several variables. For instance, the age of the weed, how it was stored, the variables for its decarboxylation, and all the other processes affect the outcome. All these factors either enhance the potency of CBD or decrease it even further.
The best way to dose your homemade CBD tincture is to start with a small amount. You can measure your dose using a teaspoon. Start with 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of oil and monitor its effects on your body. Next time, you can scale up if necessary, but you should not increase your dose too much. If you do not feel any positive effects on the body, you may need to increase your dose. If you start feeling adverse side effects, you may have exceeded your dose.
As soon as you figure out your dose, you can easily determine how much you should add to your homemade cannabis edibles. For instance, if your dose is one teaspoon, each serving of brownies you make should have approximately one teaspoon of cannabis tincture. Then again, the potency of each serving may decrease because of the baking process. Therefore, if you add cannabis-infused oil to a recipe, it may decrease in strength. If that is the case, you may want to add more to the next batch of edibles you make.
The Effects of Cannabis
It takes longer for ingested cannabis to take effect than smoked or vaporized cannabis. When smoked or vaped, the cannabinoids cross the blood-brain barrier directly through the lungs. However, when ingested, the cannabinoids have to go through the gut, the liver, and the bloodstream. The process takes at least an hour or two, depending on your metabolism levels and what else is in your stomach.
Many people make the mistake of getting impatient with edibles. Even before the cannabinoids take effect, they get impatient and think it is not working. The tendency is they take another dose shortly after consuming the first one. When the ingested cannabinoids finally take effect, it is only then that the relaxing ride becomes an unpleasant experience.
Please note that it takes longer for edibles to kick in. As soon as they take effect, they linger longer in your system than smoked or vaped cannabis. In many cases, the effects may last up to 12 hours. In addition, the feeling is more intense. Therefore, if you take too much at once, you may experience adverse side effects.
If you wish to experience the effects of CBD quickly without smoking or vaping, you can consume the tincture sublingually. Taking the tincture under the tongue can produce quick results because the cannabinoids can cross the blood-brain barrier almost instantly through the cell membrane under the tongue.
The most common way to make herbal tinctures is through high-proof alcohol. Cold alcohol can efficiently extract the desired cannabinoids from cannabis plant material. However, not all people want to consume alcohol-based or Green Dragon tinctures. Fortunately, you can make alcohol-free tinctures using a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil, or other suitable oil.
It can be challenging to make your tinctures. It takes time, resources, and practice. If you want to consume proper doses of CBD or Delta-8 THC, check out our tinctures or our CBD products. You do not have to go through the effort of making your tinctures.